On Wandering Thoughts and Dejection

  1. Two things trouble you; one is, how you may avoid wandering thoughts; the other, how you may be sustained against dejection (sadness/ depression). Be simply content to yield your will to God without reservation; and whenever any state of suffering is brought before you, accept it as his will, in an absolute abandonment to his guidance. Do not go out in search of these crucifixions, but when God permits them to reach you without your having sought them, they need never pass without your deriving profit from them. Receive everything that God presents to your mind, notwithstanding the shrinking of nature, as a trial by which He would exercise and strengthen your faith. You will never have wandering thoughts if you never will to have them, and may then say with truth that you have prayed without ceasing. Be never troubled, then, at the loss of the sensible presence of God; but, above all, beware of seeking to retain Him by a multitude of argumentative and reflective acts. Be not troubled by the wanderings of your imagination which you cannot restrain; how often do we wander through the fear of wandering and the regret that we have done so!
  2. Dejection (sadness/ depression) often arises from the fact that, in seeking God, we have not so found Him as to content us. Martha, Martha! why art thou troubled and anxious about many things? One thing is needful, to love Him and to sit attentively at his feet!  When we are truly abandoned to God, all things are accomplished without the performance of useless labor; we suffer ourselves to be guided in perfect trust; for the future, we will whatever God wills, and shut our eyes to everything else; for the present, we give ourselves up to the fulfillment of his designs. Leave it to Him: let Him make it short or long, bitter or sweet; let Him do with it even as it shall please Himself. The most perfect preparation for this future, whatever it may be, is to die to every will of our own, and yield ourselves wholly up to his; we shall in this frame of mind, be ready to receive all the grace suitable to whatever state it shall be the will of God to develop in and around us.
  3. When we are thus prepared for every event, we begin to feel the Rock under our feet at the very bottom of the abyss; we are ready to suppose every imaginable evil of ourselves, but we throw ourselves blindly into the arms of God, forgetting and losing everything else. Such an abandonment is an annihilation of self-love, in which it no longer finds any nourishment. Then the heart begins to expand; we begin to feel lighter for having thrown off the burden of self, which we formerly carried; we are astounded to behold the simplicity and straightness of the way. We thought there was a need of strife and constant exertion, but we now perceive that there is little to do; that it is sufficient to look to God with confidence, without reasoning either upon the past or the future, regarding Him as a loving Father, who leads us every moment by the hand. The question is not, what is the state of our feelings, but what is the condition of our will. Let us will to have what is the condition of our will. Let us will to have whatever we have, and not to have whatever we have not. We would not even be delivered from our sufferings, for it is God’s place to apportion to us our crosses and our joys. In the midst of affliction we rejoice, as did the Apostle; but it is not joy of the feelings, but of the will. If there be anything that can render the soul calm, dissipate its scruples and dispel its fears, sweeten its sufferings by the anointing of love, impart strength to it in all its actions, and spread abroad the joy of the Holy Spirit in its countenance and words, it is this simple, free, and child-like repose in the arms of God.

The Inner Life – Francois Fenelon


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