Have you ever taken lengths to do something on your own? I’ll admit that I sometimes go out of my way just so I can do things on my own. I’ll refuse help, and just work on my own.
But why do I do this to myself? Sometimes, working on things by yourself is good. I can attest to that, having opted out of doing quite a few group projects during high school. Aside from that, I think for me personally it has a lot to do with pride. Not the puffed-up, holier-than-thou kind of pride, but a pride that involves thinking that you’ve got it all worked out. I find myself with this need to prove to myself and to others that I’ve got this. I don’t need anyone.
But the problem is that I do. I need God. We all do.
Allow me to share with you a story about a guy.
Once upon a time there was a Spanish man who grew up with a thirst for power. He grew up in an aristocratic family and was the youngest of thirteen children (doesn’t that remind you of anybody in particular?) He was ambitious, and dreamed of becoming a great leader. At eighteen, he became a soldier and fought many battles. He earned acclaim for emerging unscathed, which allowed him to easily rise up the ranks.
This guy, he had it all. He was proud of his accomplishments. He did all by himself, right? Just when everything seemed to be going right, life threw him a curveball. Actually, it was a cannonball.
During battle, he was hit in the leg by a cannonball, and had to endure multiple surgeries. He spent his days recovering, and when he’d asked for some stories to read, stories of chivalrous people, he was given books on the lives of the saints. The book claimed that a life in service to God was a chivalrous one indeed.
This man, he realized the pride of his past self. He wrote that he had been “a man given to the vanities of the world, whose chief delight consisted in martial exercises, with a great and vain desire to win renown.” Once he’d healed, he radically changed his ways, spending his days in prayer and fasting. He spent years studying and eventually, he founded the Jesuit order. This man was St. Ignatius of Loyola.
I may not have been hit in the leg by a cannonball, but I can resonate with St. Ignatius’ story. I’ve spent so much time thinking that I could get by life on my own. I thought I didn’t need anyone to support me, that I could handle things by myself. However, God had other plans. Throughout the past few years, I’ve come to humble myself and allow God to work in my life. Don’t get me wrong, it takes faith to offer up your struggles to Christ, to let His will be done in your life.
One particular time in which I prayed for God’s will to be done was in my senior year of high school. I was applying to different colleges left and right, and I was faced with many options. What do I study? Where do I study? Which career path do I pursue?
I was overwhelmed. I was paralyzed by the number of choices I had to make. I would spend night after night struggling to fall asleep, fearing for my future.
St. Ignatius of Loyola once said,
“Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him and if they were to allow His grace to mold them accordingly.”
Back then I didn’t know much about St. Ignatius, but that phrase was a prayer of mine. I prayed for abandon, to allow God to take control of my future. I prayed that wherever I chose to go to college, whatever I decided to study, that it was God’s will.
I’m currently studying at UCF in Orlando, with a double major in English and Political Science. I’ll be honest with you, some days I’m still unsure as to what I want to do, but I have peace. This peace definitely isn’t my own doing, but God’s.
This trust isn’t just a once-and-done deal, though. It’s a day-to-day agreement, choosing to let Jesus take hold of my life. Letting Him take care of my struggles, both big and small.
Let us not lean on our own understanding. God has amazing things in store for each and every one of us. Psalm 20:7 says,
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
Trust in Him. Let down your guard for the Lord because He’s with you in this fight. And the battle has already been won.