Some of the best advice I’ve gotten in my life didn’t sound like advice at all, at the time. It sounded like soothing nothings, like meaningless truisms from someone who didn’t understand what the problem really was. But in retrospect, it was the only possible course of action.
Take, for example, the time I complained to my priest that my prayer life was basically useless, because I was so distracted and couldn’t focus for more than a second or two. He smiled and said, “Well, just keep coming back to it.”
This advice sounded so dismissive and simplistic at the time. But years later, I have to admit that there is no other advice. There is no trick or shortcut to prayer. As soon as you’re aware that your mind has wandered, just pick up where you left off, simple as that. Prayer is only efficacious because God is listening, anyway, so you just do your best and trust Him to make something out of it.
It was hard for me to see what good advice it was because there was some hidden arrogance in my frustration. I thought my problem was so subtle and complex, there must be a subtle and complex solution for it. But it wasn’t, and there wasn’t. I just need to get over myself and try again.
Another example is something that may especially come in handy to people who are, as they say, extremely online. Are you ready? Here’s the advice: Sometimes you don’t have to do anything but wait.
This is more or less the advice my therapist gave me when I complained to him about a terrible professional bind I was in. Read the rest of my latest at The Catholic Weekly.
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