Don’t Freeze in Fear; Find the Way Forward

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” — Matthew 6:5-6

When you’re falling in a forest, and there’s nobody around
Do you ever really crash, or even make a sound?
Did I even make a sound? Did I even make a sound?
It’s like I never made a sound
Will I ever make a sound?

Waving Through a Window by Ben Platt, Original Broadway Cast of Dear Evan Hansen

As I was at Mass at our Cathedral this past Sunday morning, I was struck by what might be unusual. Counting the two couples with their families, I know four young couples who are expecting, two of those four who have children now. Literally closer to home, our neighbors across the street have a boy who is, I estimate, about two and a half, and an infant. Their next door neighbors have a young daughter. People up and down the street are welcoming children in their lives. Compared to a decade ago, it’s a remarkable change.

In the height of the pandemic, people are meeting, dating, getting married, setting up their home, and starting families. They have made these life decisions after, I hope, fervent prayers for guidance, in each other’s company, certainly, but, many times, I think, in the silence of their rooms. They pray, hearing their own heartbeat, and listening for that “voice” from God, through the Holy Spirit.

What I sense is emerging (with no scientific evidence, just observation) is a greater number of 20 and 30 somethings saying “Yes” to the answer to their prayers, in this case, married life, and families.

Another of our graduates (who is not married), someone I recognized right away as a “go getter”. Is changing jobs and will be working intently with young people in their search in faith. She is one of those people whom you say to them “directly”, you will change things, I know it. And, she will.

What I am also observing is a somewhat significant number of that same age group with no apparent direction to their lives; they are contributors in their workplace, their churches, and their communities.

They are folks whom I have had as students who now seem to be “frozen” by world events, certainly including COVID-19, unrest and discord, and the breaking down of societal bonds. They see themselves standing with so many questions. As I asked one of them recently, “Being an adult really is a pain sometimes” which they absolutely agreed with.

Okay, you know that, and you’re looking for deep personal answers.

What are your questions?

What, in your heart of hearts, do you want an answer to?

You’re “staring out the window, waving”, but your heart remains empty. People and institutions on which you have depended are faded away, moved onto other things.

And there you stand. with the same questions.

The answers won’t come any more directly.

Revisit the inward silence. Bring the inner peace. Be listening.

Seek in your heart the simple act of saying to God, I am not asking. I thank You for revealing what your path is for me.

It is not directing me to a new job. It is not directing me to someone with whom I will fall in love.

It is listening, looking, and being still.

Please help me know myself, so I may know You better.

Image: Tim Dennell, Flickr.

Michael Throop