By Father Jacob Dankasa
Special to The Texas Catholic
As we grow in life, we also grow in the things that interest us. Some succeed in accomplishing a dream that they had hoped for. Others aren’t so lucky. But, in any case, life is a journey, and we keep moving toward one destination or another. In whichever direction we find ourselves heading, there is always an important need for a life journey companion — someone who will help us, guide us, shape us and tell us the truth about the direction of our journey. Some people find such companionship in friends, some in family, and others in different people.
In my spiritual and everyday life, I have come to discover the importance of a life journey companion as life takes me along my path. A journey companion may not necessarily be someone who tells you about God all the time; he may not be a person who is expert in the scriptures; he is not in any way a judge of what is right or wrong in your life. A journey companion is a person whose main goal is to see you grow humanly and spiritually by laughing with you, crying with you, listening to you, and telling you what you need to hear — which is not always what you want to hear. Most importantly, a journey companion prays for you and with you. And oftentimes such a companion does not even know that he or she plays that role for you.
We need people in our lives that we can trust, and they should also trust us, with both spiritual and everyday wisdom. Sometimes we find spiritual companions in spiritual directors who help guide us spiritually, oftentimes in a formal way. But other than spiritual directors who guide us on our spiritual journeys, we can find other life journey companions from among our friends, members of our church community, church ministries, work colleagues, etc., who are just there for us. A life journey companion is not a “gossip companion.” He is not that church friend of yours with whom you discuss other members of your congregation or ministry; he is not that family member that you unite with against other members of the family; he is not that friend that each time you are together all you do is to talk about other people and say negative things about others. Your life journey companion is one with whom you talk about the two of you — your joys, sorrows, laughter, crises, successes, failures — in short, your entire life journey. He is one whose presence adds value to your human and spiritual life. He or she brings out the best in you.
For us to grow humanly and spiritually, we need people in our lives that are concerned not so much about the wrong in others, but more about how both of us can grow and help others around us to grow as well. If you have a friend or colleague and you find that each time you meet, the only thing you talk about is other people and how they have wronged you or how “no-good” they are, then I think you may need to go in search of another journey companion that can feed your heart and life with positivity and strengthening conversations. Who are your friends? What do you discuss when you are together? I would encourage you to think deeply about this question and see whether those around you are feeding you with elements of growth or of deterioration. Our companions can be God-sent to raise us up when we’re down, to strengthen us when we are weak, and to help us feel the presence of God when they are with us.
You may have heard the saying that in each of us there are two wolves fighting. The wolf that wins is the wolf you feed the most. In each of us, the wolves of positivity and negativity are constantly fighting for dominance. The wolf that wins, that dominates our person, is the wolf we feed the most. If I feed myself with so much negativity, it will show up in my character and in my life. If I’m dominated by positivity, I’ll stand strong even in the midst of life’s struggles. The type of journey companions we choose can be either the positive wolf or the negative wolf that contributes to how we live, and even to our happiness. We must check ourselves and see which wolf we feed the most. What kind of journey companion do you entertain the most?
Let us pray, asking God to help us find a life journey companion that will add value to our life and that of those around us. Finding and identifying such companions may improve not only our spiritual lives, but our physical and mental lives as well.
Holy Spirit, show us the way.
Father Jacob Dankasa is the pastor of Holy Family of Nazareth Catholic Church in Irving.