By: Sister Carmelina, OCD

The new year, new hopes for the future, new ideas for a better me. Oh yes…. A better me…. Hhhmmm…. What does that mean? There are so many levels of me. Where do I start? Definitely my relationship with God should be the first area to consider.

First I’ll need to leave a lot of my ‘baggage’ in the past so I can walk more freely into the future. How can I move into a more liberating mode in my relationship with God and myself? This is really ‘big’, and a bit daunting, but if not now, when? I just have to figure out my plan.

Fr. Jacques Philippe in his little book Interior Freedom, really had some great suggestions for plotting out a plan for ‘liberation’ from the stuff that holds us down. A good place to start is to review the basics.

Let me see… he says that “People who haven’t learned how to love will always feel like victims; they will feel restricted wherever they are but, people who love never feel restricted…” So, I guess my first step is to focus on my spiritual life, starting with my daily prayer, and ask the Lord to show me where I need to be more loving and to stop being a ‘victim’.

There are a lot of things in my life that I really don’t like and over which I have no control. These make me feel angry, resentful and victimized. How do I deal with these things? Fr. Jacques says that there are 3 ways to deal with circumstances that we don’t have control over:

  1. Rebellion: being angry at God; angry at others; angry at myself, but this is actually rejecting reality and can lead to resentment. Clearly not constructive. I need to get out of this one.
  2. Resignation: this is just putting up with situations but not in any hopeful way, and is rather sterile with no positive future. I could probably manage this, but it only leads to a dead end.
  3. Consent: is the ideal, and leads to a positive interior attitude. “We say YES to a ‘negative’ reality because we realize that something positive may arise from it. The difference between resignation and consent is that Faith, Hope and Love motivate a positive attitude of the heart when we consent to allow God to act.” Well, this is going to be tough, but I this is where I really want to be!

Fr. Jacques says that achieving a level of consent regarding circumstances, also leads to consenting to and accepting myself as I am. He says, “God doesn’t love ‘ideal persons’ or ‘virtual beings’, he loves actual real people with all the ‘messiness’ of sinners. What blocks God’s grace in our lives has more to do with the NOT accepting our own reality….our own weaknesses.”

So, this is where I’ll start my new year, praying for grace to leave rebellion behind; get through resignation, and with all the faith and trust I can muster, ‘reach for the gold’ of consent to who I am and to the situations of my life. I know the Lord wants to give me this grace, because He has put in my heart to desire it, and He wants my peace and interior freedom.