This is the question in the lead article of the llatest issue of E-Voc, the electronic newsletter from the Vocation Team of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati for single women wondering what new thing God is calling forth in their lives.
May 2014_evoc (PDF)
In Psalm 51 we pray, “A willing heart sustain in me, O God!” (v.10-12). Is your heart willing or willful?
What blocks you from having a willing heart? Sister of Social Service Simone Campbell suggests that two things can hold us back: fear and grasping. Both are about control, are they not? Fear rises when we feel out of control. We grasp (or hold on for dear life) because we are trying to maintain control of a situation, of a person, of our very selves. But in order to give ourselves over to God, we must somehow let go of fear and the grasping for control that are signs of willfulness.
What triggers your fear? What raises your tendency to hold on? Identifying those triggers can be a step toward the freedom that is essential in the discernment process. You will know the deeper truth about yourself, “and the truth shall set you free.” Then, with God’s grace, you will be able to move beyond your fears, open your hands and let go of whatever you are clutching that keeps you from falling into God.
S. Simone suggests that the remedy for a willful heart is to “touch the pain of the world.” Service to others, following the example of Jesus and impelled by the Holy Spirit, frees you from tendencies toward self-preoccupation and self-preservation. It builds generosity of spirit. To touch the pain of the world can also mean avoiding the need to fix, standing in situations of powerlessness, accompanying those whose brokenness we cannot mend. We stand at the foot of the cross.
When we follow Jesus on his self-emptying way, we let our hearts be broken, again and again, by the pain of the world. “For he did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather he emptied himself ” (Phil. 2:6-7).
Mary Magdalen was one who stood brokenhearted at the foot of the cross. She was still weeping in the garden on the first day of the week. She had touched the pain of the world.
So when she heard her name, “Mary!”, spoken in love by Jesus risen, she could overcome her fear, loosen her grip, and be sent as the Apostle to the Apostles. “Do not cling to me, Mary … but go and tell the brothers …” From her willing heart came the joyful message, “He is risen!” Alleluia!