A long time ago, my spiritual director suggested that I ask myself a question any time I'm feeling distant from God, or anxious about something, or adrift in any way in my faith. The simple question is:
"What am I doing differently?"
In other words, I stop and assess what was going on, what I was doing, and what shape my prayer life was in when I felt peaceful and close to God. And, what am I doing differently now?
At various times, since becoming a Catholic, the answers have been things like this:
"I'm not reading Scripture and I used to do it every day."
"I haven't been praying the Rosary."
"I stopped praying the Liturgy of the Hours."
"I'm not starting my day with prayer."
"I'm watching too much HGTV."
I can always pinpoint something. And it always comes back to my prayer life, in some form. If I'm not communicating with God, how can I be close to Him? How can I trust Someone I never talk to?
Which brings me to the second thing.
Trusting in the following phrase is one of the most important things I can do in my faith life:
"The Lord will provide."
Another long time ago, the same spiritual director was around when I had a miscarriage. I'd had miscarriages before, but this was the first time I was going through it with Anne and Betsy around. I was falling apart, and although I was trying to hide it from my girls, my poor Anne, at age five, was too smart for her own good. She connected a lot of dots and in no time she was grieving, too, because she's not only smart, she's a very sensitive soul.
I thought I'd reached my breaking point that week when my priest emailed four simple words: "The Lord will provide."
I stared at the screen.
The Lord will provide.
He will provide.
I didn't know how, I didn't know what His provision would look like, and on a rational level I didn't see how anything was going to change any time soon. But, on a deeper level, at the level of my soul and in the core of my being, I knew that my priest was right. The Lord will provide.
I return to those words again and again. They're so simple but they pack a powerful punch. They help me to take a deep breath, step back from whatever stress or difficulty is pulling me away from God, and then remind myself that I am loved with a providential love that is beyond my ability to fathom.
Two things I make myself live by:
Regularly ask, "What am I doing differently?" Answer that question, and make the necessary adjustments.
Remember, always remember: "The Lord will provide."