Friday, June 14, 2013

No Answer Except Love

We have to admit that life opens up a lot of questions. A living relationship with Jesus, however, encompasses and carries us even in our struggles with questions and problems.

There are times when my own "questions" are not sincere. Rather, they are pretexts for my unwillingness to grow in love. They are expressions of resistance; they come from the places in my soul that I have not yet opened to God. Too often I just want to hide from the recognition of my own sins, because I forget that I have been made to receive the mercy of God, that He wants to fill my emptiness with His love. Or else I am too proud to admit that I am empty, and thus I deprive myself of the beauty of experiencing forgiveness. Why am I so proud?

But there are other kinds of questions, genuine and mysterious questions that have accompanied me for much of my life. I have frustration when I feel like I perceive some truth, but I don't know how to communicate with others. I feel misunderstood by others, or I am restless with the "in a glass, dark" obscurity that always accompanies faith, and that seems to grow deeper even as the experience of faith increases. I have a faith that seeks understanding, and this is a gift, but how can I acknowledge it for what it is while also bearing its limits?

And then there are the daily, very ordinary trials of trying to live with other people, especially my brothers and sisters in Christ. There is nothing romantic about Christian community. Its human, its hard, its a clash of stubborn souls with so many wounds that we hide from ourselves and one another. Often my attempts to "understand" these issues only aggravates them. My mind weaves pretexts for opposition, ideologies for self defense or partisanship, or shallow evasions.

What is the point of these questions? What does Jesus want?

Sometimes Jesus wants to change my heart and sometimes He is asking me to recognize and embrace Him in His suffering, precisely in those issues, in the frailty of myself and others and our sins - this brokenness that He enters and endures, and that has no "answer" except Love.

I believe that Love happens right there. Love happens wherever the pain is, or the incomprehension, or the weakness, the resistance, the secret pride.

Love happens also in the awful burden of the gift of insight, and the patience required to understand what it means, to be humbled by the utter smallness of anything I think I understand, to learn from others who have other gifts, and to discover how to share what I have been given.

I know these difficulties are really for me -- they are places of God's love for me -- because I encounter the Cross in them. The Crucified One is there for me, and of course I hide from Him 99.9999% of the time.

I'm proud. And I'm afraid of the suffering.

But He calls me to let go of my pride, and to acknowledge my sins and experience my need for Him.
"O Lord, I am proud. Make me humble! Give me the grace to be humble and poor, with a heart open to receive Your love and be changed by You!"
He calls me to be not afraid, to trust in Him, to stay with Him and suffer, and that especially is how He wants to change me, and how He has (I hope) already begun to change me.

Sometimes He answers our questions (in part), but always He suffers them in us and calls us to join Him in that suffering.