Spring always seems to bring feelings of hope – this year perhaps more than ever. There’s an excitement and vulnerability in feeling things start to change, but knowing it won’t always be quick or controllable. Life seems so miraculous in the spring after everything seemed so dead.
“Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.’” Genesis 28:16
It was a hard winter. I kept finding myself bewildered about the time-warp that 2020 felt like. It seemed like it never happened in some ways, yet on the other side I was barely holding it together. I felt unmotivated, unuseful, and not good enough. I was living a just-get-through-one-day-at-a-time life, which is hard for me to give myself permission and forgiveness for. The steps forward were hard to do, and harder still since they seemed so small. I’d never quite struggled with feeling unworthy of the Lord so much, but this winter those thoughts crept in a lot.
“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” This quote brings a sense of peace. It usually reminds me that He’s there even when bad things happen. It strikes me more deeply lately.
I’ve noted that a default mindset around my spiritual “success” is sort of in terms of closer or farther from the Lord. When I feel I’ve been slacking in attention to Him, self-betterment, use, etc., I seek the strength and guidance to turn back toward Him again. It seems to me that there’s something really necessary about that way of thinking – about realizing that our choices and motivations are either for or against the Lord, and can’t really be somewhere in the middle. However, though we need to take responsibility for our efforts, the reality is that He is still there no matter how far we feel. No amount of failure will find us without Him.
“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” It took my breath away reading it recently. Here? In my house, certainly. Amidst and guiding through the external struggles, of course. But here, in my deepest doubts? Here where I can’t always find my drive to prioritize His work? When I fall short, become distant, and don’t feel Him as easily? The quote became a powerful answer to my prayers that said I didn’t have to look any further than where I was for His hand reaching out to me. How I respond is up to me, but He never lost me. And how incredible to think that His presence persists even when I do not know it. In that moment, feeling weak and unworthy, I banished my need to make sense of it. Okay, He is here too.
I got a little extra proof of the Lord’s presence during a recent snow day. I spent a few hours on the couch, happened upon reading and journaling, and found some of the peace I’d been missing. I was almost surprised at how easily His strength and belief in me found me like this, and inspired me to pick my head up a little.
On that day it didn’t take much work to let the Lord reach me. On a normal day it takes more, and sometimes will just feel like going through the motions. But I’m so grateful to have gotten that bit of assurance that not only is He with me at every moment, but He also gives so willingly and easily. Regardless of how preoccupied I am, how well I understand, and even how well I accept Him, He’s there willingly. And that makes me think that the Lord must be doing something with any tiny chance I give Him. I’m starting to believe that each time I rediscover a sense of peace and strength in the Lord, it only becomes more certain that I’ll end up back there again after the next challenge.
“As long as temptation lasts, a person assumes that the Lord is not present, for he is being harassed by evil genii, so harassed in fact that sometimes he has so great a feeling of hopelessness as scarcely to believe in the existence of any God at all. Yet at such times the Lord is more present than that person can possibly believe. But once temptation subsides he receives comfort, and for the first time believes that the Lord is present.” Arcana Coelestia 840