Friday, April 20, 2018

Giving Our Weakness to Him

Lately I sound like I have been beating up on myself a bit. Maybe I have. (That's not good.) But by writing, I'm trying to work through it and get to the root of things.

This is a mood going around in me, for diverse reasons including the recent sufferings and health-and-living-situation needs of my beloved parents, and of course my own physical and mental health problems, which are always ready to hijack any stressful situation.

I am aware of all of this, and I am coping as best as I can. I am not discouraged.

The bottom line, of course, remains the same: I am a sinner.

I can't deny it. But I also must never be satisfied with it. There is no time for complacency or presumption. God is moving my life and changing me, and He wants me to cooperate with Him.

Easter means that Jesus has come into the midst of all my mess. Jesus is here with me, and I want to follow Him.

I'm on His mysterious journey, and it has plenty of dark valleys and sorrows on many levels. It's about healing me and raising me up to a supernatural life, making me a new creation, an adopted son of the Father.

I feel so small and superfluous, like an aimless floating piece of dust in this vast material universe. Yet at the same time I aspire to a beauty and greatness beyond the whole universe.

And in fact, I am drawn by the Mystery who creates all things, and I am called in all my smallness and empowered to take up this unimaginable journey of transformation so that I might live forever in the glory of the God who has revealed Himself as Love.

The journey, with all its depths, is also about sharing in the mysterious solidarity of the whole human race. We are all called to journey together as brothers and sisters, helping to carry one another's burdens, and allowing ourselves to be plunged into the great love of the heart of Jesus, which is always going out to the margins....

Sentimentalism won't get us very far. This is a difficult journey on a narrow road with gigantic obstacles and constant struggles. Again and again, I discover that I am weak and broken.

But God wants to carry us through all of that. He wants our crying out in pain–spiritual, emotional, or physical–to be a cry that begs for Him.

Where else can we bring these pains?

Jesus has already borne all of it, my weakness, my brokenness, all of it right down to the core of me… He has endured it all and wants me to open up that vulnerability so He can transform me. That doesn’t mean he’ll make me “feel better” (at least, not in the way I think He should), but He will deepen my trust in Him, and it is through trust that I am changed.

It is through trust that I begin to taste joy.

A priest once suggested to me a kind of "spiritual/mental exercise" that makes sense both on the level of faith and on the psychological level.

He told me to imagine I had a basket. I should take the anger, the fear, whatever, and (in my mind) put it in the basket, and then (again in my imagination) put the basket on the altar before the Blessed Sacrament and say “Jesus I give this to you.”

If I find more stuff still there inside me, I put it in the basket again. Bring it to the altar again. Give it to Jesus.

And again.

And again.

And again. Give it to Jesus.

"But I can't do this..." Grab that feeling right there, and put it in the basket. Bring it to the altar. Give it to Jesus.

"I feel so helpless..." Basket.

"My head hurts, I can't think, I'm exhausted..." Basket.

"But I don't want to change. I love myself. I want to keep my life. I don't want to give myself away!..." BASKET!

Okay, that’s a “technique” — it might be helpful, or it might not. If all we can do is groan in pain, let’s groan to the Father and let the Spirit groan in us. I am convinced that He works deeply this way. Just “give” it to Him.

God is not surprised by our pain. He has made it His own.

Somehow, we have to open up to Him and let Him "have it." He takes it to Himself, and transforms it even as He allows us to continue to "share it with Him."

This sounds mysterious because it is mysterious. But it touches faith and flows into hope and love. Whatever we may "feel" in the present moment, there is a deep level of encouragement that sustains us (somehow) and enables us to grow in the Spirit.

Feelings of discouragement? Put them in the basket. Jesus, have mercy on me. I trust in You!

On the other side of it all is an indestructible joy. A spark of this fire has already begun in our hearts, and sometimes others can see it even when we can't.

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