Saint Theophan the Recluse
You’re still worried. Tell me, where might these concerns be coming from? Externally, all’s going well. Internally, you’ve examined everything and put it in order. You’ve taken your decision. So, where’s the worry coming from? It’s all from the enemy, everything. Nowhere else.
What else could happen? Are you perhaps thinking about running your life by yourself, relying on your own abilities and efforts? If you are, I advise you to think again right now, otherwise you’ll never be free of turmoil and upset.
Examine yourself again, remember everything I’ve pointed out to you and what’s happened within you over the course of our correspondence. Finally direct your self-examination in such a way that you end with the firm decision to place your future irrevocably in the hands of God.
Once you’ve taken this decision, pray fervently to the Lord. Tell Him: ‘I confidently leave my future in Your hands. Lord as You know and as You will, direct my life, with all its difficulties and all its unforeseen circumstances. From now on, I won’t get involved and I shan’t worry about myself any more. My only concern will be always to do what’s pleasing to you’.
Speak to Him like that, but also show Him in practice that you’ve commended yourself entirely into His hands, that you’re not worried about anything, that you accept, calmly and without complaint, any eventuality, pleasant or otherwise, in the conviction that it’s been allowed by God’s dispensation. Let your sole concern be the strict observance of God’s commandments at all times.
Once you’ve taken stock of things, internally, all your worries will disperse. You’re concerned for yourself now because you want all your circumstances to come together in a way that matches your own aims. And since that- naturally- isn’t happening, you’re worried and upset. ‘This didn’t turn our right, that went all wrong’. But if you confidently consign everything to the Lord and accept that whatever happens comes from Him and is for your good, then you won’t be worried at all any more. You’ll just look around to see what God’s sent you and you’ll act accordingly.
Every circumstance comes within the scope of some divine commandment. So, act in accordance with that commandment, in an effort to please God rather than to satisfy your own desires. Try to understand what I’m saying and act accordingly. Of course, you won’t manage to do so from one minute to the next. It needs struggle and prayer.
I’ll ask of the Lord that He’ll redeem you from this depression, which you say is unbearable, but only on condition that that’s in alignment with His holy will and is necessary for your salvation. He will redeem you, without question, at the right time. Arm yourself with faith and patience. We see how quickly the conditions of our life can change. Everything’s always being transformed. Your mental state will change like this as well. The day will come when you’ll be free of this burden, you’ll breathe easily again and you’ll take to the air like a butterfly winging its way over flowers. All you have to do is bear the present difficulty with patience, for as long as the Lord permits it.
When a housewife puts a pie into the oven, she doesn’t take it out until she’s sure it’s done. The Head of the house that is the universe has put you into an oven and is keeping you there until you’re done. Just wait, then, and be patient. You won’t be in the oven a moment longer than it takes for you to be cooked through. As soon as you’re done, the Lord will take you out. But if you get out by yourself, you’ll be like a half-baked pie.
I should also tell you that, according to our faith, those who endure difficulties without complaint, in the belief that these are permitted by God for their own good, are equal to martyrs. Remember this always for your consolation.
It’s impossible to live without emotions and feelings, but it’s not right to succumb to them. You have to restrain them in a reasonable manner and give them proper direction. You’re a sensitive woman who’s easily moved. Your heart overflows and spills into your head.
Try to acquire self-control. I’ve already written about what you should do: think out, in advance, what the probable trigger for each emotion is. When you’ve done so, be on your guard to recognize any emotional disturbance of the heart, and keep your heart under the firm control of your mind. You have to practice this, but with practice you’ll be able to achieve complete self-control.
But everything comes from God. So let’s turn to Him in prayer. And yet you write that you don’t pray. What’s that all about? Have you perhaps become an atheist? What do you mean, you don’t pray? Maybe you don’t say formal prayers, but you can address Him in your own words and ask for His help. ‘Look what’s happening to me, Lord. This, that, the next thing… I can’t manage on my own. Help me, most merciful Lord’. Speak to Him about your every need, even the least significant, and ask Him for continuous support. This is the purest form of prayer.
Why do you listen to him who’s discouraging you from praying? Don’t you realise that this, too, is the work of the enemy? Yes, it is, without doubt. He whispers in your ear: ‘Don’t pray’. And sometimes, if he manages to take over your whole body, he gets you to go to bed and fall asleep. All of these are ploys of his. But while the evil one is going about his task of trying to distract you from your good works, you have to get on with them, persisting in them to the end.
Arm yourself with courage, as I’ve told you so many times, and don’t listen to the enemy. Pay absolutely no attention to his whispering. And, besides, get angry! If you get angry with him, it’s as if you’re striking a blow at his chest. He immediately becomes no more than smoke.
I hope with all my heart that you’ll finally find peace. May God be your Helper.
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