The Prize Above

The stress of everyday life is bearing down on us always. Whether it be homework, family issues, jobs, or health issues; we all can feel consumed by the waves of life that seem to be never ending. Now this is nothing new, and not a surprise whatsoever. This is in accord with our nature. We overschedule, underpray, and stuff our lives with things that we may or may not feel are meaningful. We begin to focus so much on what we can do to make our lives happy and fulfilled, but only when we realize that nothing on earth can satisfy us can we truly be filled with the Spirit.

Not just stress, but hard times and tears follow us in this life. Heartbreaks, struggles, trials all come with being a human on Earth. We can’t escape them, simply because that’s the nature of this sinful world. When the waves of hardship flow over us, the only thing that can refocus us is to truly remember where our eternal home is. St. Benedict Joseph Labre says “In this world we are all in a valley of tears. Our consolation is not here; we shall have it eternally in paradise, if we suffer tribulations here on Earth.”

It took me a long time to realize this. I was always waiting till a certain test was over, the weekend to come, summer to release me from the tedious work of school; and while those things are nice, God showed me what it means to truly live for Heaven and not for this Earth. It takes daily effort and prayer to come to a life that is fixed on things above and not on the Earth. (Colossians 3:2) If you find yourself wallowing in the trials of life, try these few simple tips to start living a life focused on the Father above.

  1. Prayer, prayer, prayer. This always seems to be the answer, but hear me out. When you truly lay down these hardships at the feet of Jesus with true passion and longing, you will feel His presence and grace in your life. Ask Him for a heart that seeks Him everyday and to rid you of anything that will distract you from Him or that keeps you from spending time from Him. This can be hard, but sometimes we have to lose those seemingly most valuable things in our life in order to focus on what’s truly important.
  • Another little tip to try: Ask God to help remind you of what truly matters – even if that means taking away something that you are overly attached to. While this may sound crazy, trust me. When the things you usually look to for fulfillment suddenly disappear or no longer satisfy you, you are given a wonderful opportunity and reminder to turn your mind and your heart toward God – for ultimately, only he can fulfill you. I’m going to be honest, this is super hard. Once I asked this, God made a certain situation that I thought would be a great time miserable for me. It made me angry, but then he began to transform my heart and show me how He wanted my focus back on Him. And no, the misery won’t last forever: remember, God knows your heart, he know what you truly need. It’s simply a period of adjustment that can truly change your heart to realize what is truly important and fulfilling. Just an idea if you feel up to it!

2. Check and double check your thoughts. When you feel those feelings creeping in; pride, stress, heartache; refocus your thoughts. Say “God I know You have a much better plan in the whole realm of salvation. Nothing in this world can satisfy me, and please help me to remember that. Thank you.”

3. Fasting. Fasting from anything that brings you pleasure will bring you miles closer to God. Not just food either. Fasting an extra 10 minutes from social media at night can draw you into prayer and will keep you from seeing some of the nasty things people are tweeting and sending these days. We don’t have to know what is always going on, who is where, and what people are doing when we trust that we have a God who will lead us everyday on our path to eternity if you choose to allow Him.

Just like anything that will change your heart, this will take time. Maybe a lot of time, but think about it this way. This is eternity we’re talking about here. Think of your eternal home with no algebra tests, no broken hearts, no bad relationships with your parents. That’s where we belong, and until we begin to fully embrace that, nothing; I mean nothing; will satisfy us.

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