A few days ago I visited the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City with my dad. I had been once before, when I was 14 or 15 years old. I remember my deep faith that had yet to be challenged and the sense of awe and wonder I had in the presence of Juan Diego’s cloak (you can read about the miracle and apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe here).
Today I am in awe and wonder of what has happened in my life since that last visit. Upon reflection after being at the Basilica again, I realized how immensely my prayer life has changed and how content I am with my life. Whenever I have a chance to pray in an extra special place – like that of the Basilica or on my other travels – I usually have a very long list of things I need help with. Finding that significant other or a new job, losing weight or making enough money, finding a house or figuring out where to move.
But the other day, I just had a list of things that I am grateful for. For my work, for my living situation, for my privileges, for new opportunities, for my friends, for my community, for my health. Okay – I did slip in a prayer for my love life, but it wasn’t in desperation like it used to be, more of a prayer for him and for my growth to be ready for him when we finally meet.
That got me thinking about how I got here. For the past 16 years, my prayers have be overrun with pleas for a situation that is different than what I had. I was perpetually wanting something else. When I was 15, I was desperately wanting a boyfriend and to lose weight. When I was 17, I was desperately trying to figure out where to go to college. When I was 20, I was desperately unsure of what to do after college. When I was 23, I was desperately trying to figure out what to do after I left Brazil. When I was 24, I was desperately trying to find a new job and apartment and boyfriend, etc. etc.
The past years though, have been about action. Prayer and action. Mornings begin with prayer, setting myself in the presence of God. I can feel His love and I can reflect on the previous day and prepare for the current day. I can even ask for help with things and help for other people. And then I have to act. I wanted to have better relationships – I quit drinking. I wanted to have more money – I made a budget. I wanted to make new friends – I started a women’s group. I wanted to love my job – I made one for myself.
I was also spiritually pushed in growth areas that I couldn’t create myself – break ups and things that I had no control over. To deal with life, I have a therapist and a spiritual director and someone who helps me with my finances. I exercise regularly and read books by people who have gone before me and have wisdom to share. And I trust, trust, trust in what God has planned for me.
This is not to say that this life is what I wanted. All I ever really wanted was to be a 3rd grade school teacher and married with five children (remember my powerpoint??). But letting go of my resistance to what I am offered has allowed a lot of freedom, peace and joy.
Not to mention, maybe I’m just at the age where things are more settled and I don’t have to constantly be searching for the next step. I did sign a lease for the 3rd time – before this house I’d never signed more than once.
I still stand by the truth that gratitude is the root of joy and today I am so very grateful.