Seeking Only God’s Love

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As we complete another revolution around the sun, in the dark days of winter it feels like a natural time to reflect on the year that has passed and set intentions for the year to come. It’s not a practice I have undertaken seriously in quite some time; in the exuberance of my youth, I took on the resolutions of a new year to an unhealthy extreme. Often, I would set lofty and idealistic goals, feeling that this was the year for change. I would tell myself that if I could commit firmly enough to my goals, through sheer willpower and force, I could become the person that I wanted to be. Successful, respected, charitable, loved. Not a failure, not a loser, not a burden, not a useless person who wasted all his potential on video games.

Despite all of my best intentions, endless research on habit-building, and utilization of the latest and greatest habit-forming techniques, eventually, my motivation would wane. I would slip back into my bad habits, and life would revert more or less to what it looked like a few months prior. This would reinforce my negative self-concept which I held onto so tightly. That I was essentially a bad person. A fraud. A hypocrite. Someone who just couldn’t get their act together.

Why is change so hard? What holds me back from living the best version of myself? How can I work constructively towards being better than yesterday?

These questions that used to weigh heavily on my mind now feel much lighter. The pent-up pressure to perform and achieve is slowly diminishing. Although striving still exists within me, I am aware of its presence more frequently and I am learning to relax in its midst. I now have some answers to these questions that help calm my mind when it starts to get stressed.

Why is change so hard? 

Change is still hard, but only when I think that I am in control of the change. In reality, change is the only constant in life. The difficulty lies in my trying to control the change and shape it into some idealized form based on my own preconceived notions of success and happiness.

What is holding me back from living the best version of myself? 

I am – with my attachment to what the best version of myself looks like. My need to control how others perceive me. My need for validation from others. My self-worth that feels inextricably bound to how I think others see me.

How do I move towards being better every day? 

Surrender. Let go of my personal will, and have faith and trust in the will of the Divine. Allow the Spirit to guide me. Don’t let the fear of being seen as foolish prevent me from asking for help, taking action, and making mistakes.

My wife, Tatiana, recently shared with me a powerful personal prayer: I only seek God’s love. Looking back, most of my life has been an exercise in seeking things from outside of myself to try to fill a void that can only be filled from within. Recognition, praise, and accomplishment were my favourite things to chase in an attempt to feel whole. As I start to turn around the energy that wants to seek from without to seek within, I begin to feel more grounded, more stable, and more connected.

Another prayer that I found to resonate strongly with this comes from the English mystic, Julian of Norwich:

God of your goodness, give me yourself, for you are enough for me.
And I can ask for nothing less that is to your glory.
And if I ask for anything less, I shall still be in want, for only in you have I all. 

2023 has arrived. Here’s to another year of life. Of walking the path. Of reconnection. Of stepping into the fullness of our being. Of recognizing the insecurities of the mind as signposts, leading us back to the truth. That the Spirit of God dwells within.

Bryan Tran