From Self-Led to God-Led (Part 1)

Written by Brendan Loy
Illustrated by Valerie Low

In recent times, I hear more and more people share about experiencing imposter syndrome, an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent or put together as others perceive you to be. Whether it is at home, at school or at work, many of us live in the fear of being ‘exposed’ for who we truly are, and worse still, being rejected by those whose opinions we hold in high regard. In the face of this, the world tells us that only we can right the ship in our lives; only we can seize control over our fears and overcome them through sheer force and will. In school, I listened to teachers and principals read the poem Invictus, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul”. Consequently, we often feel powerless when others tell us to “take it easy”, to “pray about it”, or to “let go and let God”.

This was also the experience of our first parents. Although Adam and Eve lived in friendship and communion with God, the serpent’s empty promises led them to eat the forbidden fruit, so that their eyes would be open and they would be like gods knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:5).  This desire to become gods in their own right led Adam and Eve to become afraid of God whom they conceived a distorted image of  – “that of a God jealous of His prerogatives” (CCC 399).

In my own way, just like Adam and Eve, I have often thought that it was silly for God to have given me so much, only to then want me to give everything up to Him. Before I came to encounter God in my own life, I often related to the story of the rich young man who came to Jesus desiring to know how to inherit eternal life. When Jesus told him to sell what he owned, give the money to the poor and to follow Him, the young man went away grieving because he could not give his possessions up. Indeed, it was far ‘easier’ for me to trust in what I could see, what I possessed, what I could control.

At the same time, I could not deny that deep in my heart I was tired of striving for affirmation from my peers and my family, of chasing things or dreams that did not really bring me peace or joy, even though I thought all these things would make me happy. Beneath these masks and facades that I wore, I deeply desired to be a child, to know what it was like to be loved, known and provided for.

As I grew in my relationship with God and encountered His love and mercy in my own life, I began to see that the Lord was not as capricious as I imagined Him to be. Although He asked me to abandon myself to Him, He did not take everything away like I had assumed. Instead, Jesus was asking me for my trust and confidence in Him. He was inviting me to see that He was for me and not against me. Unlike the evil one whose booming voice often tempted me to think that God was asking me to take these huge steps knowing that I would fall, the gentle voice of Jesus often encouraged me to take one or two small steps in faith towards Him.

In time, I came to see how my simple ‘yes’ to Him in small things could prepare me for much bigger yeses that would come in the future. Slowly but surely, I came to see that I was not made to fixate on what I could control, but to live a life of adventure, joy and hope with Him at the reins. Although allowing Jesus to be the captain of my ship is never easy, I can safely say that in all the times I entrusted control of a situation to Him, Jesus has always been faithful to me a hundred times over.

In our times of difficulty and doubt, Mary, our Blessed Mother, is always there to intercede for us, accompany us and comfort us. After all, who else could have said a greater yes to God? At the Annunciation, when the Angel Gabriel appeared with the news that Mary would bear the Son of the Most High through the Holy Spirit, she was undoubtedly confused and bewildered. Yet, she gave herself entirely with the words, “I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done unto me according to Thy Word.” (Lk 1:38). In the times when we are afraid of what the Lord wills for our lives, we can always ask Mary to point us to Jesus and to pray that we may offer our lives more totally to Him.

My brothers and sisters, let us dare to allow God show us how faithful He can be! He only desires for us to take these small steps of faith towards Him, so that He may reveal the goodness that He has in store for us. I pray that our hearts may be open to slowly cede control of our lives  to Him, so that we may live in freedom and joy!

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