By Evette Dombrosky

I’ve struggled to find a way to begin.  No one can top God’s words, and He reminded me of the ones I needed through scripture at Mass on Ash Wednesday: “…return to me with your whole heart…”  These words capture God’s daily invitation to us.  He created us.  He loved us first.  We were chosen, and are chosen, and are called back to Him – day after day, moment after moment, joy after joy, trial after trial, forever…  How do I respond?  

People who know me are aware of my challenge of taking on too much, thinking I can do it on my own, and being reluctant to ask for help.  I am convinced that God keeps inviting me to realize His love for me by letting me enter into these struggles and many other challenges.  He wants me to respond to his invitation and return to Him.  I believe the ultimate purpose and meaning of life is:  Reunion with our Creator.  He created me.  He wants goodness for me.  He gives me freedom to explore and choose between the goods of life.  I have found emptiness in many things that initially enticed me.  I am discovering that life is an opportunity to love and to be loved.  Nothing else really matters in the end.  God created me out of and for love, and He wants me to return to Him with my whole heart. 

How do I make my way back to God?   I can’t fully return to God if I don’t completely know Him in the first place.  How do I get to know anyone better?  I spend time with them.  This is what prayer is:  Spending time with God and sharing my life with Him.  I work hard at this and I am not perfect at it.  When I do it well, I feel encouraged, understood, and usually stronger than before I prayed.  That doesn’t happen every time, but the more time I spend with God, the more focused I am on what brings peace and clarity to my life.  How do I pray?  Many different ways.  

A game changer in my prayer life was learning to listen to God.  Pretty often, I am quick to spill my wants, frustrations, and hopes when I talk to Him.  When I come to listen, I quiet myself.  Often, I start by reading His words in scripture.  It usually takes reading more than once.  I write down the word or words that seem to stand out.  I ask God how these words relate to my life, and then I just sit and wait.  Sometimes it takes a few minutes (or a lot longer!) and sometimes the message is very clear.  Honestly, this took months and months of practice until it became a habit.  Now it’s something I do often when I need advice, peace, or clarity.  If I feel overwhelmed or without direction, it is comforting to know I am never alone and someone always wants to hear what I am going through.  Just like all honest friends, God doesn’t always offer the answer I want to hear.  I don’t get discouraged when I don’t hear any answer at all.  I am beginning to realize He always wills good for me, even though sometimes I do not like what is happening in my life.  He knows what I need and allows me to make my own discoveries and make my own choices.  He loves me no matter what I do, and he’s always there waiting for me to come back.  I just described a really good friend. 

Prayer, spending time listening to God and sharing my life with Him, is the first step for me on the path to returning to Him – the purpose of my life.

Prayer is, at its root, paying attention to God.  (Ralph Martin)

Prayer is in fact the recognition of our limits and our dependence;
we come from God, we are of God, and to God we return.  (Pope St. John Paul II)

What’s next?  Being honest with myself about who I am – humility.

Disclaimer – I realize how little I know, and how much I need to learn.  I’m just trying to challenge myself and keep growing.  Writing and sharing these reflections is a good challenge for me.