I know what it’s like to wake up in the morning, drag myself out of bed, go to work, come home, sort of check-in as a dad and husband, eat a bunch of food, fall asleep on the couch watching TV, and drag myself upstairs to bed only to do it all over again the next day. There is no real thought—I am just going through the day and letting the day set the agenda and tempo for my life.
The thing is that my life was kind of working. I had a wonderful wife, young kids, a growing career and there were a lot of external things that would make it seem as though life was pretty good.
Even though externally, things seemed to be going okay, I knew there had to be more to life than the routine of daily life. I wanted more—more purpose, more peace, and more joy. Not just for myself, but for my family.
I didn’t know what it looked like or how to get there. I needed something or someone to guide me through these feelings. Over lunch with my brother one day, he told me that he’d been spending time on a regular basis meeting with a priest—not to discuss theology or the catechism but life and how to navigate it.
So I started meeting with this priest, which was admittedly uncomfortable at first. I’d never had regular meetings like this with anyone, and I wasn’t sure what questions to ask. But over time, as I shared my story, his guidance and the resources he gave me helped start to answer the desire I had for more. It started with reorienting my heart and my life towards God.
His first suggestion was to set an alarm on my phone to remind me to pray at lunch. He gave me other resources and whether they were podcasts or readings relevant to the particular place my life was at the time, these resources helped me to see the tangible ways that I could transform my life from being focused on daily routine to striving for greatness in God over a lifetime.
Sometimes when we think of cruise control, we can think of an easy life. In my experience, cruise control is struggling through life half-engaged because it’s easier than examining the way I live.
It’s easy to default to mediocre or “pretty good” because it’s too hard to search for something more. The problem is that I don’t think we’re meant to live a life that is “pretty good.”
God calls us to greatness. To achieve this requires courage to engage and to take back control of our life and start driving again.
One of my favourite authors, John Eldredge, often quotes Saint Irenaeus who said, “The glory of God is man fully alive”. As far as I have researched, there are no saints that have said, “the glory of God is man sleepwalking through life.”
When I first experienced the closeness of relationship with God a few years ago, it unlocked something in my heart that changed everything. I began to experience gratitude, joy, and peace in the same places where I had previously felt dissatisfaction, frustration, and restlessness. But I had to get out of cruise control and become more engaged in life.
Getting to this place was challenging as I had to acknowledge that my ways weren’t working. But after accepting that a part-time relationship with Jesus would not deliver the lasting happiness my heart was after, I began to want to make new choices. I wanted God at the centre of everything.
Prayer, which for so long had been about as appealing as doing the dishes, became foundational. I was awkward at first, trying to figure out what I should be doing, worried I was praying “wrong” or not intently enough, but eventually, it started to come more naturally and with it a richness that created a desire for more.
After years of trying to pray in a formal manner to a distant God, I encountered Jesus as a friend and real person that loves me.
I think the distinction between a God who “loves all of us” in a general way, compared to God who loves me—Sean—has been one of the biggest markers on my journey in faith so far.
As a husband and father, I realized how much more I was capable of offering to my wife and children. Occasionally being present and going through the motions was not going to cut it. Though I often fall short, I know God is calling me to something greater than I could achieve on my own, and He’s there to show me how.
Though it has been challenging, I’ve also been working on protecting time with God first thing in the morning, whether that is walking in my neighbourhood or spending time with Him in my home. When I walk, I pray and just soak in the silence and beauty of God’s masterpiece unfolding as the sun rises. While the act of getting up and out of bed at that hour is truly a difficult one for me there is a deep sense of gratitude that comes from my time with God in the morning and it prepares me for the day ahead.
It is scary how easy it is to live life on cruise control. It’s scary because it can happen without us being aware. The good news is that there is more waiting for us. On the other side, is a life that is rich and full and adventurous and a heart that is fully alive.
For me, it was an attentiveness to my heart. In the midst of life, even as I neglected it, my heart was unsettled and yearning for something more. I had to pause and listen and ultimately, that yearning led me back to God.