One of my favorite artists is a musician by the name of Michael Card. Several years ago, he wrote a song called, Underneath the Door. This song is about his childhood, especially about his father, who was a small down doctor. In this song, Card sings about joys and sorrows, adversities and blessings. There is a line in the song that has captured my imagination for many years. Card sings, “But it was meant to make me who I am.”
This line reminds me that our lives are made up of both joys and sorrows, both adversities and blessings. Together they make us who we are. In a strange way, we could almost say that we cannot have one without the other. Or perhaps it would be better to say that we simply could not recognize the one without the other. Without joy, we would not understand what it means to have sorrows. Without adversities, blessings would not make as much sense.
In our lives we dream of having all joys and blessings with no sorrows and adversities, and we sometimes envy those who we think have all joys and blessings with no sorrows and adversities. Yet, such lives simply do not exist, at least on this side of heaven. So, what then are we to do if our lives must have both joys and sorrows, both adversities and blessings, if together they are meant to make us who we are?
One of Ignatius of Loyola’s main teachings is about interior freedom. At the heart of interior freedom is the understanding that instead of seeking blessings or joys while ridding ourselves of sorrows and adversities, we seek instead to find God in all things. It is the recognition that where there is joy, God is present. Likewise, where there is sorrow, God is also present. Where there is adversity, God can be found, and where there are blessings, God will be found as well. Yet, finding God in all of these places only happens when we are free to seek God in all these places.
Such freedom does not come easily, of course. Seeking God in the midst of joy and blessing is easy, but, who of us really wants to seek God in the midst of adversity and sorrow? Instead, we want God to take us out of those moments. But, if joy and sorrow, adversity and blessings are meant to make us who we are, then finding God in both becomes imperative, especially if our desire is to live into the fullness of our being.
The desire for interior freedom is the first step in finding such freedom, the first step in finding God in the midst of all things. In prayer, we share this desire with God. We share this desire for interior freedom when our lives are full of joy and when they are full or sorrow. We share this desire for interior freedom when adversities comes our way and when blessings abound in our lives. Asking God to lead us to a place of interior freedom can become a daily prayer, so that finding God in all things can become a daily reality.
As we head into a new year, may this new year be a year of freedom, interior freedom, so that we can find God in all things, in joy and in sorrow, in adversity and blessings. After all, they are meant to make us who we are.