Self Help

Why is it that at my most depressed,
At my greatest feelings of loneliness,
All I want to be is
Alone?

Why, when I most need advice, help,
When I utterly despair of my own devices,
The only one I trust is
Myself?

I suppose experience has shown me
On whom I can rely at any and all times,
When I cannot allow for
Failure.

In the end, with enough time, thought,
I believe the answers I must find
I’ll find by turning
Inward.

Not nearly often enough do I remember
Another option that should be primary:
Truly, I need only look
Upward.

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For Jack, a Blessing

May you increase in wisdom:
The gift of God to Solomon,
And the first gift I ask for you.

What are life and wealth,
What good fortune or fame,
If a man has not wisdom?

Seek wisdom above all these,
For a discerning heart and mind
Will be required to administer justice.

May you increase in stature:
A strong tower to those around you–
One to whom the helpless will run.

Let your physical strength be a sign
That you have the inward courage necessary
That a man must have to lead–and to be led.

For strength is truly known in weakness;
Your humility before God and the Church
Will show the world your true power.

May you increase in favor with God and man:
I pray that you will be a man among men,
That yours will be a life deserving of praise.

But let this not turn you aside from the path;
Do not create for yourself a calf of gold
Out of man’s approval or others’ desires.

Know what it is the Lord requires of you;
Act justly, my son, and love mercy;
Above all, walk humbly with our God.

May God give you all these and more,
May He make straight your life’s path,
And may you follow wherever He leads.

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52

Conversing With God

I recently had a very long talk with God. We covered every topic I could think of: careers, family, friends, past, present, future, wisdom, knowledge, mercy, grace, love. We spoke for over two hours, without outside interruption, without holding anything back–not that one could–and everything was laid bare. I did not leave the conversation with some great new knowledge of my future or a new understanding of the workings of His grace and mercy. But I did leave comforted–content to know that every single thing we spoke of was in His hands.

Very often, I neglect this opportunity–to commune with our Father. I neglect it because I don’t always see the immediate benefit. I know that if I spend my time reading, I’ll gain knowledge. I know that if I spend my time working out and eating right, I’ll be healthier and look better. I know that if I stay up late talking with a friend, I’ll discover many new wonderful things about them. These are good things, and I want to do them. But then sometimes I look at prayer and say, you know, I could do something else instead.

Actually, my prayer life has been improving in recent years; I think it’s been my area of biggest spiritual growth. I often speak with God for short periods of time throughout the day. I thank Him for a blessing I see that He’s given to me or to the world. I pray for help in times of struggle for myself and for friends and strangers. I pray after committing a sin, asking His forgiveness and for His help the next time I’m tempted to do wrong. But I still do not often spend long periods of time with Him. I admit that it’s hard for me to set aside fifteen, thirty, or sixty minutes to just spend with God.

I am not trying to say that long prayers are better than short prayers, and that if I could be a better Christian by praying for two hours every day. I am also not trying to say that I–or all Christians–have to schedule a lengthy amount of time every day for prayer. But I have recognized the benefits of spending that long period of time alone with God. And if I cannot do that every day, I at least want to do it more often. I just need to be conscious of it, and to be willing to say, I haven’t had a significant time of prayer recently, make time for it, then do it.

I also think this will help keep my view of God in my life in the proper perspective. The more time I spend with Him, the more I remember how weak I am and how strong and able He is. I remember who I am because He reminds me who He is. Maybe all great and precious things are lonely because they think they have to do everything through their own power. Spending more time with God will remind me I can be great because He is great and that I am precious because I am precious to Him.