Head over to Jen‘s to read the rest!
Earlier this week, the NAS topic of “Despair” prompted some interesting reflection on God’s will and God’s plan. You see, I’ve never been one of those women to say “It’s in God’s plan for me to be married,” or “I guess it wasn’t in God’s plan for me to be a mother” if I’m barren at 45, having made choices that got me there.It sorta makes me feel like this guy:
I mean, if everything is biologically okay…I could very easily just go down to the bars during every cycle’s Phase 2 until I get pregnant and become a mother. Because to hear the phrase “God’s plan,” I get the image of God at conception with a checklist, ordaining what will happen “College – Y; Married – Hmm, fill in ‘left at the altar’; Motherhood – N.” I call this Theory 1.
The image I prefer is, because God sits outside of time, at the moment of conception looking at my life and saying “Oh! So she followed my promptings and went to that college, but ignored her guardian angel’s whispers and went ahead and put down a deposit for the wedding to that shmuck, and now she’s not a mother.” This is Theory 2.
I am a big fan of Theory 2, but as I do not have a theology degree, I had to find out if “God’s plan” was in the Catholic canon. So I asked someone. The simple answer: it’s a mystery! The slightly less simple: it might be a dialogue between what God calls us to do and what He permits us to do. It’s still a bit discomfiting, so my Editor shared with me some quotes (and I’ve added some of my own) to help me think about it. The essence of her message is that it boils down to faith. That even if you stay home every night washing your hair, you have to have faith that if God calls you to marriage, he will make the opportunity so.
“We are created by God, for God, to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him and one day be in union with Him.” – Essence of the Catechism
This is God’s plan for every person, and what I believe should be the primary focus.
“I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next.” – Bl. John Henry Newman
Oh, so we may not know our individual mission in this life, even!
“It’s not the penance we choose, it’s the penance we live.” – Editor
God will give us desires for good and holy things, but just because they’re there doesn’t mean we’ll get them. Perhaps unknowingly going through life expecting to be a mother and not ending up one is that penance.
“Do you want the consolations of God or the God of Consolations?” – St. Francis de Sales
Oooh. That’s at least three Holy Hours right there. I can’t have both? [Hint: it’s the latter, which is harder to truly desire.]
“Each of you has a personal vocation which He has given you for your own joy and sanctity. When a person is conquered by the fire of His gaze, no sacrifice seems too great to follow Him and give Him the best of ourselves..” – Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
So we have to allow ourselves to totally sublimate ourselves to God, and when we do, we will embrace what we’re asked to do—or not do.
“It’s like a GPS! [B.L. – like a God Planning System?] You might make a wrong turn, but it re-maps you. And! It doesn’t yell at you. You have to trust that it will get to where you should be [with God in Heaven].” – Editor
This is more like it! Allows for free will, but still keeps the idea that God had a best route in mind—even if it was the one that won’t avoid tolls.
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” – Thomas Merton
Maybe if we wake up at 45, childless, we will not be sad, because we have faith that we were led to the right life for us.