God and Backseat Drivers


Psychologists tell us that backseat drivers, folks who find it necessary to give unnecessary, unwanted advice in the car and elsewhere, are really just expressing their own insecurities, lack of faith in others,  or reaction to feeling powerless.  Many of us have been the victims of such people, both in the car and in life, and it is no understatement to say that such people can be irritating, annoying, and even dangerous.

The expression “backseat driver” of course, has expanded beyond the automobile to include people who obsessively mistrust, find it necessary to control or judge, or think that they have all the right answers.  Consequently, such people tend to feel that the one in perceived control of the situation, be it a driver, manager, or other, does not always know what he or she is doing.

The question is, are we God’s backseat drivers?   Do we poke our nose in God’s Will, questioning where He is taking us and why?

A Little Faith Goes a Long Way

We can talk a good talk about trusting God with our affairs, problems, and concerns, but the proof is in the pudding, not the meddling.  First, we need to humbly and sincerely ask God to help us.  Second, we need to follow that request for help with true trust that God knows what He is doing in our lives. Lastly, we need to respectfully and obediently step out of the way and let Him do the driving.

Too many times, we pray asking for our way at our time, and write off the prayer as unanswered if we do not get our way.  Absurd as it seems, how many times do we micromanage the Manager of the Universe?  It is a contradiction to pray the Our Father asking God to follow our instructions, guidelines, and preferences to the tee.

Locus of Control

Locus of control is a psychological concept referring to where people feel that the control in their lives is found.   This society promotes an internal locus of control, wherein folks feel empowered to guide their lives, as the sign of a healthy, responsible, and ultimately successful person.  Conversely, this society paints having an external locus of control as being a weak, irresponsible, rationalizing loser who plays the role of victim all the time. Where society has this locus of control thing wrong is in how locus is used.

While it is true that using an external locus of control to play the victim, avoid responsibility, and blame everybody else for one’s issues is wrong and destructive, it is also true that using an internal locus of control to bully, manipulate, intimidate, judge, and project our insecurities on others can be just as harmful.  Thus, how one uses an internal or external locus of control is more important than merely having one or the other. Using either one for selfish reasons is wrong, and using either one to bring glory to and obey God as well as love others is right.

Proactive vs. Reactive

Proactive people make things happen, and reactive people wait for things to happen to them.  Needless to say, proactive types are normally associated with an internal locus of control and, conversely, reactive types are commonly viewed as tending to have an external locus of control.

Most of the time, being proactive is better than being reactive. However, there are times when we should step back, process what is happening, and then react to that, as opposed to just blindly jumping into every situation  swinging like some crazed, self-perceived super hero.

Once again, society oversimplifies the relationship between locus of control and being proactive or reactive.   It assumes that having an internal locus of control is akin to being proactive and, conversely, that having an external locus of control parallels with being reactive. While this may often be true, it is not always so and, beyond that, the good and bad of all of this is not so clear cut either.

Our Way and Sin

If you think about it, sin is really selfishly doing things our way regardless of what we should know that God wants.  Claiming that we think God wants this or that, based purely on our own subjective, biased agenda, is playing make-believe morality.  Likewise, pretending that we do not know what God wants, without making a concerted, sincere, and legitimate effort to discern that Will, is purposeful moral fraud.

The Key and Bridge

The key to all of this is to be purposeful in seeking and trying to actualize God’s Will as found in Scripture, Christ’s example and teachings,  and our own constantly developing conscience.  Once we are trying to function within that Divine Will, we must remain purposeful in carrying it through while becoming reactive in allowing God to speak to and through us.

God does not want us to be babbling moral idiots, spewing excuses or fawning mindless, oblivious adorations we do not feel. Neither does He want us to be insolent backseat drivers, bullying and questioning everything that happens in our lives like irritated accountants counting pegs or measuring perceived wins and losses on some ledger. Sincere prayer,  honest reflection, and purposeful meditation and study often help us to balance the purpose, reaction, and locus of control in our lives.

Conclusion

Each of us is riding a life taxi to our ultimate destination.  We can either ask God to achieve His Will through our proactive efforts and reactive trust, or we can rant and rave about where our taxi should be going and why. Ultimately, we must each ask ourselves how much we trust the Divine Driver of our life taxi and how sincerely we accept and want Him to take us home…His way.

 

 

 

2016  Gabriel Garnica

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Let God Be Your North


 

 

Just as a compass always points North, so too we should always point to  God in our thoughts, words, actions, and intentions.  It is not always easy, and sometimes we just lose our way and are not sure which way to go to fulfill this mission but, if we maintain our faith in God and God’s Will, we will ultimately find the way again.   In order to do this, we must maintain constant interaction with God through prayer and meditation, reading the writings of mystics and other sound thinkers, and regularly reviewing our process through this life we have been given to see how and when and why we may have strayed from time to time.

Keeping our eyes on the prize is what this is all about. That prize, of course, is our ultimate salvation and that of those we love, as well as that of as many people as we can influence and assist.  There are many forces in the world today pulling us away from that prize, from the goal of salvation and serving God, but we must devotedly and with the highest dedication continually strive to fight against these forces and maintain our efforts, and focus, toward serving God.

If we are to effectively and purposefully serve God, then, we must also strive for clarity as to the Will and teaching of the God we are focusing in the first place. Thus, it is critical to constantly nourish our minds and souls with the true teaching of the Church, and be free of any false or so-called “progressive” Catholicism or Christianity which is only a fraud, counterfeit front for liberal and secular causes and groups.

In brief, avoid the opposite pull of the devil and the ambivalent pull of a world which relishes apathy, confusion, selfishness, and self-obsession.  Let God be your North, and your soul will never go south.

Copyright, 2013   Gabriel Garnica.  All rights reserved.

The Body Prayer


 

 

          

 

 

Dearest Lord,  Let my mind be filled with Your Word, Your Will, and Your Example, that it may guide and direct me in every way toward You.

Let my ears only hear You call my name to Your service, and Your Word filling my mind, heart, and soul with Your guidance.

Let my eyes only see You in those I meet, and the opportunities to bring You daily into this world.

 

Let my tongue only taste Your Blessed Body and Blood as my true nourishment.

Let my mouth only deliver You to others, as a minister of You to all I meet, as a gentle guide, loving assistant, humble messenger, and constant relief in Your Name.

Sweet Lord, let my shoulders gladly carry the crosses you send me, my arms eagerly embrace those I can help, my hands reach out to those in need, and my fingers always point toward You and not myself.

Let my heart be filled with Your example of love and charity and my soul be immersed in a desire to someday return to You happily bruised with the experience of having soothed others’ bruises, and deserving of the eternal opportunity to bathe in Your Presence.

Let my knees always bend giving You praise and thanks and working for others, and let my legs take me to where You need me to be to better serve You.

Finally, let my feet stand firm in dedicated and loyal service to You, always ready, willing, and able to proclaim, represent, and defend Your Name and that of Your Blessed Mother as well as the gift of Faith You have lovingly sent me.

Above all, let my whole body serve You all the days of my life, and serve as Your tool in this vineyard rather than an obstacle to that service and my eternal salvation.

Dearest Lord, Let my body serve as a humble, unworthy, but willing chalice bringing You to others through my thoughts, words, actions, example, and love. Let me always strive to keep this chalice a worthy vessel of Your love, Will, and Word, all the days of my life.

Copyright, 2013,   Gabriel Garnica     All Rights Reserved

Turn Your Life Into a Perpetual Prayer


                   

 

If Prayer is connecting with God, if it is the essence of keeping God in your life constantly, then it is clear why the failure to pray is being oblivious to your own soul’s hunger for prayer and thirst for closeness with its creator.  We have all fallen far short in this regard at some time or another.  How many times will we run to the TV set or radio to catch up on something, or perhaps latch unto the internet as some sort of lifeline, before we will get on our knees and pray?  I know that I am as guilty as anyone of talking a big game, of preaching a desire to be so close to God, yet failing miserably in putting those big words and grandiose plans into consistent, tangible action, starting with prayer.  As I look back over my life, my prayer life has been a pathetic shambles.  Sporadic swipes toward some fanciful aspiration, born of a mix of delusion, pretension,  presumption, and selfishness, represent the sum and total of my sorely deficient prayer life.  Simply put, with as big a mouth as I have, prayer has represented less than 1% of what comes out of my mouth over the course of my life.

If we pray more and speak less, we will sin less and grow more into being like Christ.  Probably half of our sins start in our words because we have allowed our words to become contaminated with the superficial arrogance and selfish ignorance of this world.  Humility starts with speaking less, with using words prudently and carefully, as if we only had so many to use in our lives.  Perhaps we should see words as steps toward or away from God. There can be no middle ground, no neutral place here.  Either what we say will take us toward Christ or it will push us farther from Him.  The kind word, the gentle advice, the words of support and encouragement, and the expression of love are representative of Christ in our mouths.  The boastful arrogance, the hurtful gossip, the selfish demands and expectations, and the cutting insults are, on the other hand, steps away from Christ.

What goes for our words, likewise goes for our thoughts, actions, plans,  conduct, and attitude.  Every waking part of our lives spent outside the bathroom can and should be a persistent prayer, a transcendent expression of gratitude, love, loyalty, and dedication to God.  Prayer, then, should not be something we do when we get the chance but, rather, something we get the chance to do when we immerse ourselves with God.  We can, and should, turn our entire lives into a prayer, a song of praise, thanks, love, and dedication to God and God’s Will.  Do not look at prayer as a respite from the insanity of this world, as a temporary escape from the asylum we face on a daily basis.  Rather, immerse  yourself in prayer to the point where you do not drink prayer but rather live it.

Live in prayer; turn your life into a prayer;  know that, if you do this for the rest of  your life, you will truly bring God into your very existence as He deserves to be.

Copyright, 2013   Gabriel Garnica    All rights reserved

The 7 Mantles Our Love of God Should Wear


 

 

 

 

We speak, from time to time, of our love of God yet, do we really immerse ourselves in that love?  There are 7 suggestions, or mantles, that our love of God should wear.

1.  Our Love of God Should Be Relentless…………We must never cease loving God, and demonstrating our love for God, as well as spreading that love whenever, and wherever, we can. When we feel that we have done enough for  now, we have merely scratched the surface of a small grain of the largest desert we can imagine in comparison to the love God has for us and has so completely shown us.  It is the least we can do to be relentless, unceasing, in our feeble attempt to return that love as best we can in our imperfect way.

2.  Our Love of God Should be Passionate………..We must so fervently love God that we cannot contain ourselves in that love.  We must experience and demonstrate a love so fervent that it is all we can do to restrain our expression of that love in all parts of our lives.   Our love for God should literally overflow from our souls, heart, and mind and spill throughout our lives and the lives of those we touch.

3.  Our Love of God Should be Creative and Resourceful……….We must love God so passionately and relentlessly that we are constantly looking for new and creative ways to demonstrate that love, as well as devising ways to overcome whatever obstacles the evil one puts in our way to prevent us from expressing, spreading, and living that love.

4.  Our Love of God Should be Selfless………………We must love God totally immersed and focused in His Blessings and Importance in our lives, completely independent of whatever needs or desires we may have.  To transcend JFK’s famous lines,  we must not ask what God can do for us but, rather, we must ask what we can do for God and for others in His Name.

5.  Our Love of God Should be Sincere……………..We must love God to the depths of our being in honest praise, and never for effect or show.   Our love of God should be the most honest part of our lives.

6.   Our Love of God Should be Pure and Innocent…..We must love God free of preconceptions, assumptions, cynicism, hypocrisy, resentment, and any of the other myriad emotions and pollutants inspired and perpetuated by this world.  We must love God as innocent children love, with true simplicity.

7.   Our Love of God Should be Infectious….We must become carriers of our love of God, spreading that love to others with an open and public freedom.   We must never be afraid to reflect, in our own imperfect way, God’s love to everyone we come in contact with.

If we truly and completely love God with the above traits, or mantles, we will assuredly be patient, kind, and unselfish in our love of both God and others. The only place where our patience will be tried will be with ourselves, for we must accept and embrace the reality that our struggle to more effectively and completely love God will be a lifelong struggle, but what matters is our effort and good intent to do our best to grow in that love.

Copyright,  2013    Gabriel Garnica

 

Prayer………A Drink, Not an Escape


 

 

 

I recently read a comment online wherein someone asked if prayer was an escape meant to transcend this secular existence we all face. As I thought about that question and its implications, it occurred to me that I see prayer, not as an escape but, rather, as a drink we are meant to then share with the world.

To see prayer as an escape implies that, as Catholics and Christians, we are somehow striving to flee this rock we call home for a relatively few number of decades in comparison to eternity.  Believe me, many times I remember an old 60s ( or was it 70s?) commercial where this woman would bathe with Calgon soap and cry “Calgon, take me away!” which implied that, somehow, that soap was so good that it took you to another world for the length of your bath.  Is prayer a bar of Calgon?   Is the idea behind prayer to “get out of town” for a while?  While we would perhaps like to think so, it is not.

Escaping is a very attractive option for Christians. After all, we have been in the eye of the storm since day one, and running for your life seemed a good idea when Nero was running the show.  The popular notion of the praying hermit or the cloistered nun invokes the sense that, to be holy, one must transcend this earth, hide from it, so to speak.  However, while some are called to do that, most are not.  Christ was tempted to avoid His Cup but, in the end, He drank it.  Prayer is that Cup.  We may think it is a magic potion designed to help us get away from this mess but, alas, that is not what it is meant to do. In fact, praying to avoid our duty as Christians makes no sense at all.

Would a good pilot pray that he never flies again?   Would a good surgeon pray that he never operates again?  No, if we want to follow Christ, truly walk in His footsteps, we have to see prayer as a drink, and the Holy Eucharist as the food, which will strengthen us, not to head for the fence, but to turn around and march right into the mess with Christ in our heart.

Feeling thirsty today?  Pray, and then go to the trenches knowing Christ is by your side.

Copyright, 2012,  Gabriel Garnica

Prayer of Faith


Dear Lord,  a few words from Your sweet lips were enough to calm the sea and wind  soothing Your followers’ fears.  We believe that You stand by us during the storms of our lives, despite our weakness.  Help us to release our fears and doubts to the embrace of Your eternal love and protection.

Sweetest Jesus, You knew the pains of poverty and the struggle to find work. We believe in Your purpose for our lives and surrender our wants in the service of Your  Divine Will. Help us to escape the material poverty of this world and seek the eternal wealth of Your warm embrace.

Gentle Master, You faced the injustice, ridicule, persecution, and hatred of a world not always willing to hear or live Your message of  unselfish love,  devoted service, genuine humility, and total sacrifice.  We believe in the truth of that message, and the blessing of Your example. Help us to overcome these earthly obstacles in the service of Your name and the footsteps of Your example.

Lord Almighty, we believe in the depth of Your love, the strength of Your protection, the warmth of Your embrace, and the virtue of Your message. We believe that You are the purpose of our lives and the Truth we seek. Above all, we believe that with You as our goal, the battle is won regardless of whatever setbacks we may face along the way.

Amen.          Copyright,  2013   Gabriel Garnica   All Rights Reserved