Elliott and Keith were brothers. Elliott was married and in his late 50’s. Keith was a priest in his late 40’s. They were spending a few days together—just the two of them, fishing. Neither was a great cook, so they found themselves in the only restaurant in town, a place called The Lighthouse. They both ordered a drink as they were waiting for their meal. Elliott asked, “Do you like being a priest?” Keith said, “Yeah, I think I do. To be honest, I don’t know what else I would have done with my life.” There was a pause, and Elliott said, “You have always landed on your feet. Me, not so much. Sure, I have a good wife, and a good family, but I have this sense that something’s not right.”
Keith didn’t say anything but thought that his sister-in-law, although a good woman and a great mother, did have a bit of an edge to her. She tended to be rigid and wasn’t all that good at compromising. And so that was what Keith thought that Elliott was going to talk about. But he didn’t. Instead, he went on about how his life hadn’t turned out the way that he had wanted it to. He had been successful at work, but he was still disappointed. He wished that he had done better for himself: a higher position, bigger salary. He was also disappointed in his son, who seemed to be wandering through life not able to settle into anything. It didn’t seem that he was going to make anything of himself.
Then Elliott said, “My life’s been disappointing, and there you are, single, no family worries, no bills, settled with a nice parish and pretty content.” And Keith said, “It hasn’t been as easy as it might seem on the surface. I’ve had to face some challenges over the years, and I’ve struggled with some things in my life. But I think the real reason why you are feeling disappointed is because you are not really understanding what life is all about.” Elliott gave a kind of funny look and said to his brother with a wave of his hand, “So, tell me, what’s life all about?”
And Keith said, “There came a point in my life where I asked myself, ‘Why am I living, what’s my purpose?’ When I first became a pastor, I wanted to fix everything at once, but after facing a few bumps in the road, and a little push back over some issues, I began to see that it wasn’t all about me being successful. Things were going in a different direction than what I had expected. I even started to despair. When I was able to get over the disappointment of that fact, I realized that I had been living my life to achieve my goals.
So, I made a decision. More and more, I let God take over my life. I started to take prayer seriously, and when I did that, God began to show me more clearly my reason for living.”
God is the one who gave us life, and it is this same God that has a purpose for each one of us. And this is not always the plan or purpose we have for ourselves. But, because we want things our way, we go off on our own and keep God out of our life, until we come to that point where we start paying attention to the feelings we are having—especially those feelings of disappointment or depression or agitation.
So, ask God to take over your life. Get closer to Christ by taking prayer more seriously. Be mindful of those in need. Let go of the anger or resentment you might be holding on to. Forgive. Place all that at the foot of the cross. Live each day as an offering to God.
Life is not a play where you think that you’re the director. That’s when things get messed up. The better way is to let God take the lead and live life his way.
Also, when those feelings of disappointment seem to overwhelm, don’t give in to them, don’t despair. In my view that’s what it means to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit—to accept the notion that there is not hope, that God really has no power in your life. Remember, nothing is impossible for God. Try to allow God’s grace to heal the divisions you might feel deep within yourself and find your purpose in life.