What is it we are searching for in this earthly life? That, some might say is the million dollar question, and if you ask one million people I would wager you would probably get a million different answers. I would even venture to say that if you asked a million Catholics you would probably get a million different variations of an answer.
Some Catholics would most likely go back to the old standard Baltimore Catechism answer to the question Why God made us and what we must do to gain happiness in heaven? To be honest, there is nothing at all wrong with those answers, they are just, wading pool answers. They answer the question thoroughly, but you really only get your feet wet.
The part of the equation I am interested in at this particular time in my life is the knowing, loving and serving God part of that answer. If I am to be all in all to God in this present life how do I go about doing that?
I want to give my all in all to God and God alone, but my sinful self gets in the way time and time again. I said as much to my spiritual director just last month after I had spent some time recently going over nearly 25 years of old journals and realizing that I have continually, almost habitually been dealing with the same darn sins over and over again. Why is it that I can't seem to gain mastery over those particular demons? Fr. reassured me that those were my demons, and God had chosen them for my perfection, but he also suggested that I might do well to take a look at some tools to help me become aware of my own motivations. Perhaps, if I am aware of why I do what it is I do I will be less inclined to slip into those old patterns again and again.
So, it was with Fr.'s blessing that I went to a workshop on the Enneagram. There is a lot of information and history involved in this process than I can list here, but suffice it to say that Enneagram is simply a way to look at how we as humans learn to cope with the world around us. People fall into nine "types" based upon how they cope with stresses in their lives. After you become aware of how you react to stress, you can learn to move toward the best, instead of the worst traits to cope with that stress. To say that it was an amazingly eye opening day would be an understatement.
After listening to the descriptors of all nine types I determined without question that I am a #7 on the Enneagram. The Enthusiast.
Sevens have anxiety about their inner world. There are feelings of pain, loss, deprivation, and general anxiety that Sevens would like to stay clear of as much as possible. To cope with these feelings, Sevens keep their minds occupied with exciting possibilities and options— as long as they have something stimulating to anticipate, Sevens feel that they can distract themselves from their fears. Sevens, in most cases, do not stop merely at thinking about these options, however. As much as possible they attempt to actually do as many of their options as they can. Thus, Sevens can be found staying on the go, pursuing one experience after another, and keeping themselves entertained and engaged with their many ideas and activities.
This pretty much explains me. I love starting projects, but I rarely ever finish them unless there is a set deadline. I constantly move from one activity to the next and get distracted very easily.
This is true even in prayer, which explains (for example) why certain forms of prayer have always been a challenge for me, anything with multiple distractors (such as praying the rosary in a group of people, where different voices are speaking at differing speeds) is extremely hard for me to maintain my focus. The same can be said for Liturgy of the Hours in a group. I much rather prefer to pray by myself, where I can control the speed and the cadence to my liking.
I realize that is almost and oxymoron in terms of true Liturgy for me to want to pray by myself, but to realize that my struggle internal and not simply boredom gives me great peace.
Now when I go to communal prayer I can realize that to offer up my struggle and join in the community is gift, and not come away feeling frustrated because of the distraction I felt at prayer.
I also learned much more about why I fall into other more personal sins, but those I think I will keep to myself. But the entire day gave me much to meditate upon and much to thank God for and much, much, much to take to Spiritual Direction in a few weeks when I return to my wise director and thank him for the nudge.
I believe that this truly is a way to see myself as God sees me: in the light of his compassionate love, so that I can accept the things I cannot change, and change the things I can. The wisdom comes in knowing the difference.