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Hitting the wall

First slide

In marathon running there is a phenomenon called “the wall.” Around mile 20 of running a marathon, the runner often hits the wall and feels a tremendous amount of temporary pressure to stop rather than power through for a couple of minutes.

I imagine many of us have felt a similar experience of hitting a wall during this pandemic (at least once). As challenging as these walls are, they speak perfectly to the Christian-human experience, and can be privileged times of learning about ourselves.

My wall — which I first hit in week three of Lent — was the experience of my own insufficiencies, wounds and insecurities. Perhaps it was the reduced activity and greater silence that left me face to face with my limitations. This is all very normal; we entrust the feelings to God and move on to do what he asks of us, trusting that he can make up for all we lack.

Five months into this pandemic, I find I continue to face the same limitations. So often I pray to the Lord saying, “Lord, I want to be virtuous, I want to live up to being your beloved, I want to be an essential part of your mission; I want to go deeper with you, I want your freedom … ” Yet, often he permits me to find my limitations, to hit the walls of life.

Many of us have recently hit our own personal walls and been forced to confront our limitations. Where do we go from here? We must remember that the experience of our limitations is the threshold for transformation: God meets us at the walls of our lives, ground zero for transformation, and brings us restoration.

This all sounds good, right? So what do we do now? The answer lies not in us but him. There is an antiphon in the Liturgy of the Hours, the prayer of the church, that reads, “Surrender to God and he will do everything for you.”

We are not going to restore ourselves; our job is to abandon our inclinations toward control and self-reliance and let God do the work here. He does it. We are simply invited to play a small role. He invites us to give him our own surrender, our own abandonment, our own “yes.”

In prayer, please join me in going to the walls of our lives, the places of our limitations, and invite Jesus Christ to come and sit there with us. When we invite him into our struggles, he always promises us rest. Through our surrender to him, he gives us the grace to loosen our grip on life. He truly will do everything for us.

Iglesia, from Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Winchester, is entering his second year of theology at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020