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Standing at the ATM machine the other day, I had to first recall my security code and then be careful when I entered the numbers so they weren’t visible to anyone who might have been standing behind me. It dawned on me that we can learn a few things from ATMs that help us interact with God in prayer, too. Whether we sit or kneel or stand before God asking to understand what we’re called to do with our lives, we want to be as mindful of the environment around us as we are when entering our security codes at the bank.
Our willingness to quiet ourselves inside and be open to listening to whatever message God has for us creates an atmosphere where God can speak. In our hearts we can ask with the psalmist in Psalm 25, “Teach me your ways, O Lord.” The musician David Haas created a mantra with this line to assist us in easily moving into that quiet, listening space within.
When we practice this quieting regularly, it’s as easy as going to the ATM. And when we leave this quiet space, we often find we have much more than cash – and these gifts are also available 24/7!
In The Book of Awakening, Mark Nepo offers us this colorful piece of wisdom about discernment: “The instant fish accept that they will never have arms, they grow fins.” In other words, we will never discover who we are meant to be until we accept who we are not. Most of us have tried to be someone we thought we could or should be in our grandest fantasies of ourselves, only to discover that it was not in our nature to be like the person we so admired.
In high school, I played the trumpet and dreamed of being a professional musician—the next Louis Armstrong! Once I discovered that I did not have the disposition nor the natural talent necessary to achieve that goal, I could let go of my desire to be famous and instead focus on enjoying music and the companionship of my friends in the band. Once I could accept who I was not, I could freely embrace my true self and develop the gifts and talents I did have, making for a much happier me.
Take some time to reflect on your relational life, career path, or lifestyle choices. Are these dimensions of your life nurturing your true self or blocking your path to authenticity and your real purpose in life? Are you at home with yourself, or are you trying to look like someone else? While people may say to us, “You can be whatever you want,” why be someone you are not? When we decide that who we are simply is not good enough, and we strive to look like someone else, we become just like a fish that is trying to grow arms.
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Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP
Sister Katherine Frazier, OP
Sister Maribeth Howell, OP
Sister Mary Jones, OP
Adrian Dominican Sisters
1257 East Siena Heights Drive
Adrian, Michigan 49221-1793
View our video series called VOCO (Vocation Conversations) to learn how Sisters heard and responded to God's call.