Today’s “Dear Katrina” column comes directly from my always inquisitive 13-year-old son.
Last week my son hit me with a barrage of questions, like how does he know what God wants from him if he can’t hear God, and how can he know if that tiny voice in his head isn’t really his own ego telling him what he wants to hear and not really God? But mostly he struggles with knowing what God wants from him because he feels like he’s not getting any clear indication.
His concerns are perfectly relatable whether you’re a seasoned Catholic or a young teenager. So I will tell you how I answered my son.
God communicates to us in various ways, just as we have numerous nonverbal ways of communicating. I can tell if my son had a bad day at school from his body language and the way he drags around the house. I can tell if he’s lying to me by the way he won’t meet my eye. He knows he’s in trouble when I give him a single sideways glare. So much can be communicated without ever uttering a single word.
We all have that shared nonverbal language with family, friends, and even co-workers. We also tend to develop our own language of inside jokes and jargon. But how do we get to that point where we can communicate almost telepathically with someone else? We have a relationship with them built through intimacy, bonding, shared experiences, familiarity, and knowledge.
I know my son and he knows me. So I told him if he wants to know what God wants for him and if he wants to communicate more clearly with God he first needs to get to know Him. So how does a 13-year-old boy start getting to know God? Read the Gospels. I told him to start learning about Christ’s life and read His words to develop familiarity. I also encouraged him to regularly go to adoration, explaining that this will build intimacy. You know that acronym WWJD (What Would Jesus Do)? Well, we can’t know what Jesus would do if we don’t know Jesus or anything about His life. Once we begin to know Christ we can then start to better recognize those ways in which He communicates with us.
We need to learn the language of Christ and Catholicism the same way we’d learn any other foreign language… through frequency and total immersion. Immersing ourselves in His word by regularly attending Mass, reading the Bible, and praying daily is the surest way to fluency.
And as far as knowing what God has planned for us… His plan is pretty much the same for everyone. Love Him above all else, follow His commandments, be obedient to His church, and desire heaven. There are a lot of roads to sainthood so trying to discern our “one true path” can actually cause us to miss the big obvious trail already blazed for us by 2,000 years of Church teaching.