I was blessed this evening (thanks to my gracious husband who stayed home with the kids!) with the opportunity to listen to Father Peter Laird speak on the topic of rediscovering meaning in our lives. This talk was the first of a series of talks that will be given throughout the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis as part of the Rediscover movement that is taking place. For more information on other speakers, book clubs, and retreats that will be offered, or to listen to speakers online, visit their website at www.rediscover-faith.org
Father Laird touched on a number of interesting points as we walked through our journey toward finding meaning and purpose in our lives. In our harried lives we tend to quickly run from moment to moment, trying to experience all that we can in our day or week. But, in our busyness, we miss out on truly experiencing any of those moments. We are trying to soak so much in, that we are missing out on soaking anything in. I notice this in myself in that I am sometimes so focused on trying to get the perfect picture to capture the perfect moment, that I miss out on experiencing the moment completely. Father Laird described it in a very picturesque way in that through our busyness we are building a foundation made out of sand. The waves of busyness slowly eat away at our foundation, and when the storms of life come we have nothing to stand upon.
The big take-away from this point was that every action and every decision we make in our day and in our life is an investment in our future. Every decision we make and action we take reveals what we think is important in our life. We are either moving toward God, or we are moving away from God in every choice we make, because our relationship with God cannot stand still. As parents, our choice as to what we are investing in goes beyond impacting just our lives, for it is impacting our children as well. We all know that our children are watching our every move. We can talk and we can teach, but they are going to do as we do. What are you investing in, and what do your children see you investing in? Is God at the center of your life and Is God where you find meaning? Or do you find meaning and purpose in something else?
Father Laird highlighted the main areas in which humans naturally seek meaning in their lives. We are all striving for true happiness, and in our quest for happiness we seek it in many places. For some, happiness is sought in material possessions. These possessions provide us with immediate gratification, but the happiness is short lived and fleeting. We find ourselves constantly searching for the next “fix.” For others, happiness is sought in competing with others and trying to be the shining star in the spotlight. It is human nature to want to be better and to want to be recognized as special and unique. The downfall of our seeking happiness in recognition for our accomplishments is that we always have a fear in the back of our minds that someone, somewhere, is better than us. We begin to treat others as threats and to seek ways to prove that we are better than them. Finally, we seek happiness in giving of ourselves to others through love and friendship. We are seeking to be truly known and loved for who we are deep down inside. We are seeking someone who will seek our good and love us always. While we may find this in friends or our spouse, no person can ever know your darkest secrets, nor can your friend ever be your everything and the provider of your true happiness.
Finally, after years of seeking happiness in all the wrong places, we find our way to God, who is our one true happiness. It is only in seeking God’s will and finding meaning in God that we will find true happiness. God is person, He is seeking us, and He loves us for the unique individuals that we are. God is the only one who knows us and the secrets we keep locked away in our lives. God gives himself to us so that we can give ourselves to Him. God loves us so that we might love Him.
True happiness is seeking God in everything we do. God is love, and He is the foundation we must build our lives upon. Not just when it is easy, not just when it is socially acceptable, and not just when it fits with our plans for our life…He is the foundation we must build our lives upon in every decision, in every action, and in every choice that we make. Only God can give us true happiness and true purpose in our life. Stop seeking happiness in fleeting desires and in stepping on others to make your way to the top. Seek happiness in God and watch Him shower you with love and bless you in more ways than you could have ever imagined.
“For I love you Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands, without reserve, and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.” Can you set aside your own desires, your own will, and trust in God? For that is the real question we all struggle with, isn’t it…can I trust God with my whole life and with all that I am?