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I once saw a cartoon of a woman lying on a sofa in a psychiatrist's office. The caption read: How can I relax when this couch would look so much better in the other corner?
For many years when ancient pain awakened I'd lull it back to sleep with activity. Imagine, God seeks to heal an old wound--a wound that if left unhealed is likely to destroy the relationships I hold dear. And so the Divine beckons. He allows a painful memory to surface.
Tears swell beneath a watery surface so calm it resembles glass. "Deep calls unto deep" (Psalm 42). Meanwhile, an under current of inadequacy circles my feet, and I fear being swept away. I'm compelled to draw near. But wait, I have things to do! And with that thought, I resolve to cry and feel in God's care after I've mopped the floor. Within twenty minutes, my mind has successfully hijacked my senses with the smell of lemon pine-sol and a job well done.
I add a check mark to my to-do list though nothing meaningful has been accomplished. My spirit longs for so much more.
A Prayer for So Much More:
God of all comfort, I ask for comfort when the tide rolls in and the memories flood the shoreline of my capacity to suppress pain. Forgive me for all the times I unknowingly deny your outstretched arms and kick against the natural flow of your plans for me. Fine-tune my ears to hear your voice and unite my heart to rely upon you. Direct my steps, and help me to recognize the ordinary moments you use to accomplish extraordinary works within my heart.
Altogether now: Be still, and know. He is God.
Published on Friday, January 15, 2021 @ 2:30 PM CDT
I took a chance on something that I believe in wholeheartedly. I spoke up, and then I fell seemingly flat on my face. The great thing about falling is the direction in which I fell--forward. With a mouth full of dirt I stood up and realized with gentle surprise that I'd fallen across the finish line. (At least for this heat of the race I run.)
I fell in the right direction, which is to say, I gained spiritual territory smack in the middle of the uncertainty of outcomes. God continues to reveal that vulnerability is not a weakness. It's tempting to believe that vulnerability threatenes to taint my future or diminish my identity as His child, but it isn't true. Josef Pieper writes in The Four Cardinal Virutes that "vulnerability presupposes fortitude." This is an extraordinary thought to ponder.
I encourage you to speak the truth in kindness even if it's frightening. Take back territory in the areas of your life where you've gazed too long at the scene of your last fall. Look back long enough to recognize where you do not want to be, but refuse to live backwards. Have a sober look at the destructive patterns in your decision making that trip you up and perpetuate past hurt and trauma. *St. Thomas Aquinas calls these destructive actions "vices."
Ask God for wisdom and fortitude. Choose to move forward. Map it out. Where are you now? Where do you desire to be? What life-giving action can you take on behalf of God's will for your life, which by the way, is love and mercy itself. Is this action likely to edify you intellectually and morally? Are they virtuous?
Create a plan that best illustrates not merely where you want to be, but who you hope to be in Christ. And then trust the Divine to direct your steps despite the hecklers in your head who chant you'll never make it. Stuff a sweaty sock in your ego's mouth. Trust that you can and will make it.
"The human heart plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps" (Proverbs 16: 9 NAB).
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perserverance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1 Didache).
We do not walk, run, fall, or cross finish lines apart from the love of God. I think it's fair to say that many of us crossed over into 2021 with considerable stores of aches and pains. And thanks be to God, Divine Mercy in greater measure.
" . . . But the greatest of these is love."
*Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologiae, also known as the Summa Theologica or the Summa.
Published on Tuesday, January 5, 2021 @ 4:31 PM CDT