By Mariah Mulderink
Have you ever experienced the situation where you find yourself frequently crossing paths with someone and really wishing you could become friends with them, but you can’t seem to find the right opportunity?
Well, I have. From my senior year in undergrad to 2 years after undergrad, there was this one girl that I kept running into. And it wasn’t just in person; she’d also come up in conversations and we had a ton of mutual friends. However, for some reason we just never really connected. This was such a bummer because, from what I could tell, she was super cool, into her faith, and someone I’d love to hang out with. Well, give it a few years and finally the opportunity came in a big way. She and I were bridesmaids in the same wedding. The wedding was out of state and so we travelled together and ended up sharing a hotel room. It was like a middle school sleepover. We were up until who knows how late talking about life, our struggles, our dreams, dating, heartbreak, the whole nine yards. And guess what? She’d been wanting to be my friend for a long time too.
It was such a joy to finally have the opportunity to be friends. However, there was another step that needed to be taken in order to solidify this friendship. It had to go beyond that one awesome conversation...
Friends, why am I sharing this? Because this story of my friendship is so often how our relationship with the Lord goes!
For a lot of us, our encounters with Christ start out small. We went to Mass all growing up but maybe we just went through the motions. The sacraments were given to us, but they were just another mile marker in our lives. Maybe there were people in our lives who truly imaged Christ, but we couldn’t recognize Him. There are so many ways that we encounter Christ, but do not always recognize it is Him we are encountering. But our hearts do desire Him even though we may not know it is Him we long for.
Then, there comes a moment or a series of moments, when the fog is lifted and our vision becomes clear. We recognize the Lord. We see Him. We encounter Him. Our hearts pour out to Him all that is contained in them. We express our desire for Him. We experience His love for us.
But is this the final step? Or is there more?
I became good friends with the girl I mentioned earlier. We became good friends because after that one awesome conversation, we had many more. We got coffee. We spent time together. We invited each other into our lives. This was what solidified our friendship.
It is the same with our Lord. It does not stop at the encounter. The encounter is an opportunity to enter into a deeper relationship with Christ. From that encounter, we must continue speaking with our Lord and spending time with Him in prayer. We strengthen that relationship by receiving the sacraments. Our relationship with Christ can be nurtured and encouraged when we surround ourselves with friends who move us towards Christ.
Last week, we reflected and identified where Christ has been present in our lives. Where can we see Him working? What has He done in us? This is good and so beautiful. But now, we must take the next step. We must beseech the Lord to fully enter our lives. We must invite Him in and open our hearts to Him totally.
Take this next step. Do not leave the Lord in that one encounter. Enter into relationship with Him.