February is traditionally the month we focus on relationships. Not a Catholic thing per se. It’s just that Valentine’s Day falls right in the middle and Hallmark likes to make a pretty big deal over that.
Whenever we think about relationships, I like to go back to the book of Genesis. Honestly, that first book of the Bible seems to contain all the answers. Let’s start with God’s words in chapter one—let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.
Has it ever struck you as strange that God to spoke in the plural? Now as Christians, we understand that God is a trinity of persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit…but that certainly wasn’t clear way back when those words were recorded. Must have sounded rather odd.
So, what does that mean for us? I think it’s this: that we are made in the image of God as relational beings. Relationship is central to His identity from the very beginning and hence clearly central to ours.
We live in a world where a large number of people are single, either by choice or by default. The rugged individuality championed over the last century has led to a lonely existence for many. Once we reduce the importance of relationship as central to our identities, we begin to find ourselves disconnected, with the consequent anxiety and depression that goes along with that.
As this disconnect has widened, we’ve seen an increased prevalence of New Age ideas and religions popping up in our culture. We credit the Universe for our blessings, we try to tap into some nebulous life force energy for healing and we look to find peace with the god within. All of this has only furthered the alienation so many are experiencing and which leads ultimately to despair.
Wherever you find yourself—married, single or in community, the importance of relationship cannot be over emphasized. The central relationship upon which all others must be built is your relationship with God. For many who were hurt by parents as children, this can be a challenging prospect. How can one relate to an all Holy and all good God when those who were supposed to represent God to them failed so miserably?
The task before each of us is to heal the original breach of trust that occurred in the Garden of Eden, and enter back into a trust relationship with God. But how do we do that? Here are a few suggestions:
Read and ponder the first three chapters of Genesis—the creation and the fall of man. Take it to prayer. Ask God to reveal the unique ways that you’ve been wounded by original sin or the actual sins committed against you.
Follow the example of Jesus in His relationship with His Father. As the second person of the Trinity, Jesus often withdrew to enter into prayer with His Father. If He needed to do that, how much more do we need to? Regular time set aside for prayer, even if you feel you have nothing to say or feel distracted, is foundational. Over time you’ll begin to see the fruits, so commit and be consistent.
Ask God to reveal any things that may be blocking your relationship with Him. False concepts, past sins, old wounds, disappointments or fear may be obstacles to you opening up to God’s grace.
Make a good confession. Use a good examination of conscience as your guide. The goal is to clear away your own sins that are blocking your view, after all, the principle effects of sin are a darkened intellect and a weakened will. Come clean.
Start where you can relate. I’ve seen over the years that many people can relate to one person of the Holy Trinity but not the others. Or some cannot seem to connect at all but find praying for Mary’s intercession helpful. This is often rooted in our childhood experiences. That’s ok. Start where you’re comfortable and God will do the rest.
Lastly, reach out for help. If you find yourself blocked, talk to a counselor, a spiritual director, a devout and spiritual friend or a Catholic life coach. Bringing your struggles into the light can be a huge help in breaking the power of fear and putting you in the right direction. God has so many blessings waiting for you…don’t wait.
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