Saturday, December 26, 2015

Feast of St. Stephen: Flow

"Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit." - Ps. 31:6

Surrender to God's will...Listen to your heart's deepest desires...Pray about it... These are some of the well-intentioned advices I often hear when discerning life choices, particularly the weighty ones with life-changing repercussions. And although I abstractly understand these phrases, it is sometimes foggy to see what that looks like in practice when I am mired in the thick of figuring out what is best. Often times, I would overanalyze each possibility and overthink to the point of paralysis. And if I were to finally come to a decision, I second-guess myself if I had chosen correctly.

In today's Gospel (Matthew 10:17-22), Jesus encourages his disciples to not worry how to speak to the authorities, because it is then that "the Spirit of the Father" will speak through them. How apt is His encouragement in our times of discernment. We are told not to fret, not to be afraid, but rather to just be and let the Spirit guide us. Honestly, that also sounds a little abstract. However, the psychologist MihalyCsikszentmihalyi may have given us a hint what that looks like in real world application. He developed the concept of flow, which basically says that optimal experience occurs when we are fully immersed in the activity before us to the point of self-forgetfulness. The result is joy and even rapture. In other words, if I live in such a way where I flow and follow what is life giving, the discernment will handle itself. There would not be something to discern because I would be simply flowing where the Spirit of the Father leads.

St. Stephen is a wonderful model for living within God's flow. He "worked great wonders and signs among the people" and spoke with wisdom to those persecuting him. He lived without fear and worry even up to his last breath, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."

Lord, may the intercession of St. Stephen give us the grace to live rapturously within your Spirit and follow you fearlessly wherever you may lead us.

Michael Jamnongjit

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