A Non-Jesuit Reflects on A Jesuit Book

The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life by James Martin, S.J., a reflection.

“We tend to think that if we desire something, it is probably something we ought not to want or to have. But think about it: without desire we would never get up in the morning. We would never have ventured beyond the front door. We would never have read a book or learned something new. No desire means no life, no growth, no change.

Margaret Silf, Wise Choices

Photo by Andrew Ly on Unsplash.

Ever since I can think for myself, I know that the life I live is different from everybody else’s life.

I have insecurities and issues that others may not have. Conversely, I may not have the comfortable life that others may have. But, I also know this life has one thing in common—the struggle in finding the answer on how to live it.

Whether I am a celebrity or a commoner, or whether I have a huge WordPress following or a little, everybody struggles to give a definitive guide on how to live it.

The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life by James Martin, S.J. is a book that has helpful insights on the questions surrounding life: How do I know what I’m supposed to do in life? How do I know who am I supposed to be? How to live? What to do in times of uncertainty? How do I make good decisions? And a lot more.

One does not have to be a Jesuit nor a believer to be able to read a book like this. I, for one, am not a Jesuit nor a too religious person. Nonetheless, I would like to share the insights that I find helpful while reading it. I hope you would find this blog the same.

“The way of Ignatius is about finding freedom: the freedom to become the person you are meant to be…”

When I was young, I wanted to grow old fast so I could have the freedom to do whatever I want. I could do the job I want. I could earn my own money to buy everything I need. I could be the person I want to be.

Now that I am in my late 20’s, the overwhelming idea of a career, building my own family, keeping my savings fat, getting my life insured, buying my own house, and keeping the image that I am living ‘the life’ makes me feel that I no longer know who I am meant to be.

I work and earn and pay and I work again. That is the adult life I have (perhaps, you may also have). At one point, it is tiring. At another, I just don’t want to do anything. But, if I won’t do it, how would I live?

For now, I have to be contented with this way of living, with the situation I am at. Hoping I would one day be able to realize who I am meant to be, what I am meant to do, and how I am meant to live.

“So live as to make more account of your own good conscience than you do of those of others; for he is not good in regard to himself, how can he be good in regard to others?”St. Francis Xavier

This insight helps me to realize to continue to treat myself well. There is a reason why I need to keep my body healthy with a conscious diet and to keep my mind sane with practical wisdom—philosophical or experiential. So that when a person I care about needs me, I can be there to help in any way I can.

I would be able to give time to someone who needs a friend to talk to. I could be there to listen to someone’s rants on ‘life’s dissatisfaction’. I could share a word or two with someone who is lost or brokenhearted or who failed at something. Or, even in the simplest way, I could sit in silence beside someone who wants to feel that he is not alone.

At the end of the day, I could never be sure how little encouragement someone needs when someone badly needs it. And it would be impossible to encourage someone when I do not know how to even encourage myself.

In the same way, it would be impossible to treat someone good when I do not know how to even make myself feel good.

So, when everything feels too much and out of control again, I would surrender and calm myself down. I know it would make me feel good.

“Can you surrender to the future that God has in store for you?”JANICE, A CATHOLIC SISTER

I have been worrying about my career for the last few months. Due to the pandemic, I have been laid off. I was upset. I was anxious. I had trouble sleeping at night and focusing on things that matter to me.

I hardly understand this book. When I could not absorb the part I read, I would re-read it. Taking me twice as long to finish it.

But upon reading this phrase, “Can you surrender to the future that God has in store for you?” I took a deep breath and surrender to God my future and the situation I was in.

I did not ‘just’ surrender it or waited for a miracle to happen. I did my part. I looked for another company. Fortunately, I found one. I got accepted and hired.

There are indeed things that could happen to me that are not in my favor; things that are beyond my control.

Why get upset? Why get anxious?

I know that when I could not change the situation, I am the one who needs to change.

Our life is like a boat. When it cracks, leaks, or breaks in two, we do not get a new one.

We fix it when needed. We change the parts of it when needed. We fix and change our boats to reach the places we ought to reach.

That is how we have to live this life—fix and change and reach our goals. When we cease to fix ourselves, when we cease to change ourselves, and when we cease to try to reach our goals, we cease to exist.

In this world, there is no perfect life, no perfect decisions, no perfect career, and no perfect outcome because there would always be sufferings, doubts, issues, and problems.

Remember, there is no one definitive way to live this life; but, we can attain a great sense of what life really means as we keep on trying to fix and change ourselves.

How about you, what is your way of living this life? Let’s chat on the comment section below.

My 2020 goal is to read a book per month; share with people what I learn from and feel about the book. For September 2020, the book I read is The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life by James Martin, S.J.

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