It occurred to me the other day as I was listening to the kids prayers and their endless lists of "I wants", that I have never talked to the kids about submitting themselves to God's will. Not once! It was as though God tapped me on the shoulder one day and reminded me of this important piece of information; the ultimate key to living a happy life!
Well, I've now rectified that problem and am trying to do better about teaching the kids about discernment of God's will for their lives. Not just a one time lesson, but a lesson that needs to be taught over and over again, for it goes against our own will to let God take over our lives.
I'm finding myself in the same predicament as I am now at a crossroads in my life with dog training. I've completed my work with CATCH and will take the test for certification soon. But for the most part, I can start training, if I want. I've been stalling though, not sure which way to go with this. Do I want to start working with a company like Petsmart or Petco? Maybe a doggy daycare? Or do I want to do this on my own? Or should I want to try to get an apprenticeship and volunteer hours for more learning? There are many ways to go about dog training. It can be a very lucrative business, unlike what most people think. And although I've never been in it for the money, the whole reason why I started all of this in the first place, was to help out with money and still be home enough for the kids.
My whole experience with Marley, the dog from hell, showed me once again that I went about discerning God's will all wrong. I had thought I had prayed for direction but I didn't take time to listen to God's answer. Rather, I "prayed as I went", jumping first for the opportunity to dog sit and make some money, praying, "Lord, if You don't want this, please let me know." (That's my simple prayer for discernment. No bells or whistles for me.)
Well, we all know how my experience with Marley went.
I was so confused because I had prayed for God's will and thought that since the opportunity came my way, it was what God wanted. And yet, it was a terrible experience with so much stress, causing fights about the dog within the family. I couldn't believe that this is what God would want for me and my family.
I had another bad experience with a dog training company (I don't want to mention their name) where I observed a class, thinking that I needed some help with my lack of leadership and timidity that has developed over the months. I sat at the class thinking I would leave inspired about how to be a good leader, and instead, I witnessed two big dog fights that happened during class. Yelps from dogs and tufts of fur went flying into the air in true dog-fighting style, as the trainer grabbed the offending dog and threw him bodily on the floor--not once but twice, since the dog had not calmed down. I sat there, horrified and wishing I had never come.
(By the way, it was necessary for the trainer to be very physical with that dog. The dog was about to rip the other dog into shreds. For his safety and everyone else in the class, the trainer had to be very assertive, "top dog" in order to whip the other dog into submission. It's not how I would normally proceed with my own training, but I do understand why the trainer acted as he did.)
I had thought God had led me to volunteering for this company, but now I know I could never volunteer with them. I've changed too much, I've learned there are other ways of training. I'm not saying that being an assertive leader is wrong--there are times you have to be very assertive. But being a kind leader is not wrong either.
And then I realized that again, I didn't really ask for what God wanted. I just prayed as I went, asking Him to show me if it was right or wrong to proceed. Well, He showed me alright.
I've wondered why I have so many "bad experiences" in my life and realized that when I pray for God's discernment, I don't wait for Him to answer me. I've been too impatient, telling Him that He can "let me know" either during or after the opportunity of a lifetime.
This all clicked in my head during Mass yesterday. I finally prayed as I should: "Lord, lead me down the path that You want. Bring into my life what is necessary and take out what isn't. Help me to learn to sit still and listen. I won't move forward until You let me know."
And as usual, with this prayer came the prayer for patience to wait and let God tell me in His own time.
I told the kids God desires our happiness and has the perfect plan already laid out, if only we will ask Him. But we tend to be too proud and willful to let Him have a say in our life. I am in my forties, and still trying to figure this out. I think of all I went through particularly in my twenties, and how much grief I could've saved myself if only I had took the time to discern God's will for my life.
And so I try to teach the kids to discern early in their life what God wants in their life. What exciting things could He have planned? Marriage? Priesthood? Even Sainthood?
Only God knows.