An unlikely location for a lesson on the Holy Spirit: In the back of a taxi
Editor's Note: This is the first in a seven-part series on the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The back of a cab seems an unlikely place to get a lesson on the Holy Spirit, but that's what happened one evening after a girl's night out with two of my Catholic friends.
I was in Washington for vacation and they met up with me after work for wine and pizza. The three of us shared a cab back to their office and my hotel when Sera told Maggie and I about a new job opportunity.
Sera wasn't sure if she would apply and added that she was going to pray about it, to see if she should.
"I pray about big decisions too, but how do you know what the Holy Spirit is guiding you toward?" Maggie asked.
I was glad Maggie asked the question. Back then, I felt like the Holy Spirit was a small voice, only a whisper I heard if I was very quiet -- which wasn't very often.
Sera seemed to read my mind. "It took me a long time to be able to hear him. As I got to know the Holy Spirit better and as he showed me how to understand myself better too. I am better at hearing his voice and seeing where he is leading me."
After we said our goodbyes, Sera's attitude stayed with me. She seemed so confident in her relationship with God. It is a rare thing to see, even more rare to hear someone speak aloud about it.
In the years since, I prayed for guidance from the Holy Spirit on small issues, like friendships and conflicts, and larger ones, like parenting, financial decisions and voting.
As the years wore on, I've been able to see what Sera was talking about. When I ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom, I am able to see the bigger picture more clearly. I see how these decisions would affect those around me and other consequences I would not have foreseen without his wisdom.
Some people talk about a peace that comes over them when they contemplate a certain decision. I've seen this in the lives of my friends. As God has shown me more about myself, I see that I am often too stubborn and bullheaded to find peace in his ways.
My physical response seems more akin to a child as I get butterflies in my stomach and want to stomp my feet. I've discovered this is a good indication that I want to do things my way, instead of God's.
It is often in hindsight that I best see the Holy Spirit's grace in a situation but as I grow in faith, I begin to see it more clearly in the moment.
Last year, I called Sera on the phone. It had been over 10 years since that cab ride, but in the years since we'd shared trials and joys with one another. I had called her because I had an opportunity to go back to school for an advanced degree. I wasn't sure what do to.
"Well, I know you've prayed about it," Sera said after I told her my predicament, "I think you want me to walk through discernment with you, to see what is God's desire for you. But you already know."
I saw how God had lined up events for months, even years to bring me to this place and how he had brought this opportunity into my lap without my searching for it.
"Congratulations!" I could hear Sera smiling on the other end.
She was right.
The Holy Spirit knew what I needed more than I knew myself and I was finally mature enough not to stomp my feet and feel his peace instead.
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(Gonzalez is a freelance writer. Her website is www.shemaiahgonzalez.com.)