Let me guess what you may be thinking right now.
“That’s a bit of a strange heading for a post, isn’t it? Maybe she left those instructions at the top of the page as a reminder to ‘insert a Jesus image here’? Besides, our Lord is not an object or an ingredient in some magic formula, or a lucky coin to slot anywhere!” But stay with me, and allow me to explain.
Do you get a ‘monkey mind’ sometimes? When your thoughts run at a million miles per hour – usually first thing in the morning – when you think about all that needs to be accomplished that day, your ‘to do’ list, a circumstance, problem, or decision that you are grappling with and just cannot let go of? Or do you find yourself chattering so much in your head, jumping from one topic to another, trying to sort something through? So do I. I wrestle with ways to fix things, analyse problems, imagine various scenarios, and just cannot settle until the issue is resolved.
One morning it happened while I was praying the Rosary. Truth be told, it happens on too many occasions, I cannot count. An assault of thoughts about a particular circumstance I am dealing with flooded my mind so much, that no matter how much I tried to focus on the words of the prayer, it would not leave me alone. It went something like: “Hail Mary…What if this happens?…full of grace…Maybe I should try that… the Lord is with thee…I’ll try and contact this person… blessed are you among women…No, I need to be patient and hang in there…and blessed is the fruit…Why haven’t I heard back from them yet?…of thy womb…
And on it went. But then I stopped and realised what I was doing, and the idea occurred to me: Jesus. Insert Jesus here.
What if I put Jesus into this situation I am dealing with, and in these skittish thoughts? I realised that I was living in different compartments in my mind and life: I have my prayer time every day, and my Mass time on certain days, especially Sundays, but the rest of the time off I went with my professional hat on to work, or otherwise live a fairly simple secular life pottering around with my hobbies, or going out. God wasn’t really at the forefront of my thoughts at all. I kind of put Him on the backburner until I was ready for Him at those particular times of the week. So…what if I put Jesus into my thoughts right now? Put Him into my problems and questions the minute they popped into my head? Sort of like an instant counter-punch to the continuous nervous chatter that was bombarding me that very second?
So I tried it. I imagined Jesus in the situation, just being there, in the thick of my worries. I didn’t imagine what He would do, or make up some dazzlingly amazing outcome – like those choose your own adventure books I read as a child – but I found that He just waited there in the silence with me. But I wasn’t impressed. Being a results-oriented person, I expected an answer, a ‘do this’ sign, and some written instructions so that I would know what to do and move on with my life, if you please, thank you very much. But it wasn’t there.
What I did find was that a sensible peace had very, very and oh so quietly settled on my mind, and I was able to accept that in that moment, the thought of His presence was enough. It was enough that I had remembered Him, He was in my head then and there, and I had not pegged Him to a particular timeslot to consult later. It is hard to articulate, but it was kind of like when you suddenly remember the face of a beloved friend or an inspirational person you once knew in your life, and the memory of them still makes you smile or your breath catch with delight.
We have been exposed to so much terror, pain, and death in the world over the last few months in particular, that it feels like evil is saturating us more than ever before. But what I have realised is that, in union with God, the mind is the source of all that we can become. Every single human being has a choice. Before we do the deed, be it good or bad, it begins in our minds. God, in His amazing graciousness, gives us free will to accept Him in choosing goodness or reject Him in choosing evil. Read that last sentence again. He gives us free will. Imagine! The Creator of this ginormous universe is leaving it up to us, and it all begins in your mind, and in my mind. We must not hopelessly drift through our lives, but grab the responsibility that comes with that freedom.
Simplistic musings? Maybe. But what would it hurt to try it for one week, one day, or even in the next hour? So here is your challenge and mine: capture every thought about a problem that you are struggling with, every single negative idea or suggestion that causes you to feel beaten, or hopeless, or utterly exasperated – hold it, breathe, and insert Jesus into that space. You don’t have to speak, or madly organise any solutions, or force yourself to do anything. Just quietly invite Jesus to be with you in that thought, in that situation, and be still. Let Him have it. He can take it. See what happens.
(…Oh, and by the way, I did manage to finish the Rosary in peace!)