Friday, April 15, 2011

Whose Will Is It?

“You don’t understand!” How often I heard those words from my now ex-wife, and how often I felt like answering (and perhaps sometimes did): “No, it is you who don’t understand!” I heard those words again last night, and they echoed through my morning prayers, and I could not find peace.

“Lord, what would you have me do?” One of the writers for the book I am pulling together wrote to me last night, suggesting that perhaps he should not be part of this project. “If that’s what you want …” he replied to my editorial comments to his first draft. I could read that he was deeply hurt, perceiving rejection of his efforts by wording changes, stung by blunt comments of my perceptions of his efforts, perhaps too blunt. I spoke the truth as I saw it, but not everyone sees the truth as I do, no matter how much I explain. I’d like to believe they just haven’t taken the time to analyze things as I have. “Go read that again; your perception is not what I meant; look at the logic of my argument.” But perhaps they can’t see it as I do. But then again, perhaps it is I who can’t see.

If one person challenges your opinion, perhaps they can’t see things clearly yet --- but know that some can’t and never will. But if two, three, and four challenge your opinion or repeatedly challenge your opinions, perhaps you should also. But it is such a hard thing to do. I know my difficulties with patience with those who “feel” about things. I “think” about things, and often want to analyze someone else’s feelings, to discuss them. But feelings can’t easily be discussed, criticized or defended, because they are unbidden emotions. I want to discuss with logic, but their feelings are not logical.

But there is always one thing which we could discuss (but people rarely do), and that is from where their feelings arise. But if we did, I’d want to discuss their feelings, but not consider my own.

“Lord, what would you have me do?” is an oft-recited prayer of mine. All my logic doesn’t tell me His will; His ways are too deep for my mind to fathom, and so I pray to know. But sometimes when something comes to me out of the blue, a “feeling”, I wonder if perhaps it is His will or not, and stop to question it: “Is this your will?” If I were truly seeking to do His will, I should just be off to do the inclination, trusting that if it is basically a good thing, then it is indeed His “small still voice.” Questioning it only serves the purpose of finding reasons to ignore it, considering why “I” think something else is better to do or more important. While seeking to do His will, by stopping to question His urgings I am also in effect questioning myself: “And what is MY will about this thing?” I open the door to asking myself whose will should I do: His or mine. And yet I know there is only one proper answer to that question, it’s His.

I think the reason I sometimes stop and question God’s hints is that I fear the question exists, whether I ask it aloud or not. The question is: “Where did this small still voice come from?” Do I really trust Him? Is this thing I hear truly an opportunity to do His will, or an inclination of my own will, my ego? In stopping to think and question, before acting, am I really considering such things as: “Helping this person is a good thing to do --- and look how many people will see me and admire me.” Or, “Stopping at church for a prayer will be appreciated by God, and perhaps He (and any others in church) will perceive me as more holy.” When I stop before doing a good inclination, what are my real thoughts and questions? And what are they when I stop and question someone else’s good actions or intentions?

Ensuring that these authors who are writing for me tell good, convincing stories will help them get support for their works of mercy, and I’m sure will help others to see that God may be calling them to do similar good works. I’m sure that criticizing the form of their writing is a good thing, for I write and read much, and with a critical eye I know what it takes to write in a convincing manner. I’m sure.

I’m sure.

How often do I proceed without thinking, without even that short prayer: “Is this Your will” because “I’m sure?” And of others who wrote from their heart, are they also moving to do His will, or are they writing from their emotions and perhaps egos: “People should read of the good God has done through me, and they will admire me.” And who am I to judge where these feelings of theirs arise from, their heart or their pride? And when they say to me “you don’t understand,” is that their wounded ego speaking to me, or God?

Discovering His will versus mine is always a difficult thing, perhaps more so for me because I am so tempted to analyze everything. Or perhaps it’s just an excuse, for perhaps I am just so defensive of my ego: “You don’t understand? Let me explain it to you, because I’m right.”

Challenging the “feelings” of another, whether a business partner, a spiritual friend, or a spouse. Is our challenge a seeking to do His will, or ours? Is their “You don’t understand” their irrational emotions responding to our comments and questions, a temptation from their ego to not allow valid criticism for their good, or their vehemence in wanting to do the will of God --- even if they can’t explain it? And who am I to judge? Who am I?

If I am truly a servant of God, I should seek to do His will without question, if what I perceive as His will seems to be a good thing to do. Whether it’s a writer who says “This is how I need to say it,” or a spouse who says “I just want to do this,” or my mom who cries out “Please warm my coffee” --- even if it is already warm. Challenging things or ideas of others which will do no harm, but are not our ideas or ways serves no real purpose, except perhaps to disturb our peace, and even that of another. And as for trying to decide whether something is the will of God, who are we to know or understand His ways? We are to be just servants of His will. As soon as we unnecessarily question something, we are opening the door to our ego, our will. It is a most wise man who knows when to shut up.

Lord, what would You have me do? Lord, help me to see You in the least of my brothers. Help me to know, and do Your will, not mine.


  1. Wow, do you know how to complicate things! (Just kidding!) All good questions, and although I'm not in the same field as you, I can see how these things can happen. As you usually do you wade through your problems and more times than not find your way at the end, and this post is no different, but I'll add my two cents anyway 'cause I'm here. Sometimes God speaks in a loud voice, one that echoes deep and strong inside of me, a voice so powerful in its silence that it stops me dead. No doubt there. But at times it is like the moments you question, Is that me or God speaking? Him or the ego? The voice is quiet, only a stirring. Then is the time to ask God for the grace of discernment, the grace to 'step back' for a moment, in order to slip deeply into the light of humbleness and humility. Having just recently re-consecrated to Jesus through our Blessed Mother her ultimate humility is still fresh in my mind. She is the dispenser of all graces. To her do we turn to seek His truth. Sorry I'm long but your post got me thinking. Peace to you on the eve of Palm Sunday...

  2. I say that I write these posts to help others see my anxieties as examples of things they might see in their own lives, and how God is there for us. But I have to admit, that sometimes He is hard to see, even for me. Thank you, kam, for your thoughtful comments.

    Yes, you mentioned a critical factor which I also forget often --- I have a mother who loves me, too. I know beyond any doubt that it was Mary who called me back to the Church when I was far astray. Short of my daily rosary, I really don't call on her enough, as a mother, to be with me in my trials. Yet I know she is waiting and willing to help me. She's done so much already.

    Thanks for the reminder. I really needed that.