Question: What Am I To Do With My Life?
Question: I wonder a lot what am I supposed to be doing at this stage of my life. Is it enough to just visit my kids and friends, meditate, read, go to meetings and try to be a decent person? I have worked at a food bank on Fridays several times. Am I doing it out of ego, guilt that I have so much, boredom? I struggle with am I enough? Ego is something we folks in recovery spend years deflating. Richard Rohr and Bill Wilson are so on the same page! Truth is truth. Any suggestions?
Answer: Thanks for your questions. I hope my experiences are helpful. When the pandemic began, my extremely active life of going out to volunteer and do many things were quickly gone. In the sudden absence of pursuits outside my home, I found answers by increasing my Centering Prayer periods. My perspective really started to change and gave me more confidence in my connection with God because we were closer with more centering time. The gift of “right seeing” (as the Buddhists say) emerged where it was easier to discern what was important and what was not. I started noticing my motivations behind the things I do.
Here are some things I learned in the process: Ask yourself when these ideas come up: Why is this particular activity important? If the answer comes back to impress others or to do a role we think we're supposed to do, that is another temptation to act on false-self beliefs. Thomas Keating identified three false programs for happiness where we misguidedly think that what we do, what we have, or how we impress others will make us happy. If the answer is to grow closer to someone in more meaningful ways, that is truly important. When we look at the reasons behind our actions, we can see more clearly if they are temptations to be something we're not or to be who we are meant to be.
How can we find our true self? We cannot really understand our purpose in life by using logic. Centering Prayer enables us to access our deeper levels of consciousness below a rational surface where we learn and know intuitively God’s will in our true self. The more we practice Centering Prayer, the more connected with God we are. God is loving us unconditionally no matter what we do, what we have, or what others think of us. We are the beloved children of God with infinite possibilities. From that perspective, we more easily discern what is important to do and what is negligible. We learn that we can surrender to God our worries because God will take care of them and guide us. We each have our own unique role of fleshing out Christ’s presence in the world. Realizing we are in God's flow of love, worry takes a back seat because we are more aware of how our actions are participating with God. Everything seems to fall into place.
"When we look at the reasons behind our actions, we can see more clearly if they are temptations to be something we're not or to be who we are meant to be."
Our meetings strengthen our spiritual journeys with each other as we find close friends. In them we receive encouragement, kinship, wisdom, and meaning for our journey. Sharing our stories unites us with our common purpose. We are not alone. Our work is connected. When something important for us to do surfaces, there is no questioning its authenticity because it flows from our connection with God within us. Usually it is not some big showy effort. Most often no one else knows about it. But it is definitely an opportunity for us to love. Thomas Merton encourages me when he says, “I have no idea where I am going.” I feel the same way. We may not be sure about our direction, but we trust that God “will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.” (Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude, New York: Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 1956, 79)