Sometimes you feel this huge need to pity yourself. To let the whole world know how much you’re suffering. So that the world could hurry to comfort you.
I felt like that, too. And that was when She arrived at our place – a young, beautiful woman. She was fighting to save her marriage. We supported her. Now she has to fight for her own self, for her dignity. She looked me in the eyes and said that even though it hurts so much, she is happy – because she can feel the proximity of God greater than before.
And I was ashamed. My longing for self-pity was gone.
I don’t know why for some people things didn’t work. And I have no idea why I’ve received so much that I can’t complain. The people I have in mind did not “deserve” being hurt so much. Neither did I deserve what I’ve got.
There’s only one thing I know: in both situations God speaks to us. And the ones who are crying out to Him from the depth of their wounds happen to be closer to hearing His voice than whose who forget about calling out to Him in joy. And with gratitude.
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses … For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12: 8-10)
Why did St Paul write that? Why did he “delight” in his weaknesses, why did he boast about them? He – a great saint?
“The more you experience your weakness, the more your trustfulness should grow” – maybe that’s the key to understanding St Paul? In that thought shared by a very young Carmelite sister, St Elisabeth of the Trinity?
It’s good to experience the victory over one’s weakness, overcome it with your willpower, and self-improvement. Saints could do that. We know St Paul was able to do it, too.
But it is also good to see in one’s own weakness – as he did – an ally, and not the enemy you must defeat at any cost. It’s good to stop relying just on oneself and place the whole hope in Him – that He will carry me in His arms, He will protect with His grace the weakest places in me, He will take in His hands whatever seems to overwhelm and terrify me. Then always, when I am “weak” – He will make me strong with the power of trust. Maybe that’s what my weakness is necessary for – to become allied with trust.
“Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against.” (Matthew 2:25)
In the most difficult moments of our married life I reminded Lord Jesus of His own words – asking for His help.
Sometimes we have no clear idea of what we need. All we know is that we’re not getting it, that things go wrong. In order to get rid of the anxiety, we pass it forward – to the husband, wife, children. And that doesn’t help, either – as the love we are trying to get can’t be won by a scream.
It is good to have a break and look inside. It’s good to look after oneself. It’s good to search for the source of one’s own anxiety, to have a look at the unsolved problems, complexes, fears. Our spouse may not have the remedy for some of our ailments – but God’d love that heals may cure them.
In His arms you can scream out your pain, you can cry it out with tears streaming down your cheeks. His great – and so tangible – love will be the witness that will never lose faith in you! And then you can accept His word of peace. The peace for your heart, the peace for your marriage.
A man complained to his friend that whenever he went to confession he didn’t know what to say bacause… he suffered from “amnesia”. So his friend told him that he used to have the same problem until he’d found the perfect solution. When he intends to confess, he tries being unpleasant to his wife – to give her a chance to become angry and to list all the things he did wrong during the previous month. 🙂 And he’s ready to confess.
That’s the way it is – remembering the other person’s mistakes is a lot easier than recalling our own faults. And how much happier we’d be if we searched for the symptoms of our own selfishenss – and noticed all the altruistic gestures in other people’s bahvaiour.
I can assure you, we’ll be surprised by both. And our world will become so much more fascinating.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26)
That’s how our God devised things: when I start taking care of the other people, He – in the meantime – takes care of me. When I only “look after number one*,” I waste a lot of time and energy, and I spoil His chance to look after me. And He’ll do it much better than I could – left to my own (poor) devices. I’ve experienced that many times. 🙂
*take care of myself first
– worried several individuals and couples who visited me recently.
And experts on communication say: it is impossible “not to communicate.” People communicate things all the time. So where are those problems?
Is it so difficult to communicate: I love you, you are so beautiful, I like to be with you, I have to hold you close and take some of your courage and strength, I love listening to your voice, I fell in love with your eyes the first time I saw them and I’m so happy they are looking at ME with love… (you could continue for a looooooong time, for sure)?
Don’t the problems with communication arise, becasue we choose rather: He hasn’t said any good word to me for ages, when will I get his “thank you?”, he treats me like air, I’m only a money-making machine and an issue-solving robot, she wants something from me again, I’d like some peace and quiet… (you could continue for a looooooong time, for sure)?
And maybe you could start your communication adventure with repeating aloud: “Till death do us part”? From this perspective it may be easier to communicate what’s essential.
— „You are the most beautiful woman in the world!”
I saw at once I’d missed.
—„You bake the best pies!”
I was didn’t get too many points for that one.
— „You look great… you are the most wonderful mother…”
I was trying to meet the needs. Unfortunately, the effect was poor.
—“Maybe you could tell me what you want to hear. Can you teach me?”
The lesson turned into a very nice evening. It’s good to start dialogue. 🙂
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44-45a)
That’s a very difficult challenge. Difficult and inconvenient. When we think of it the human way – almost impossible.
Fortunately, as christians, we don’t have to do anything on our own, using our own powers. Jesus teaches us every day to love “despite” and not “because of something”. He’s loved us endlessly – us, the sinners, the enemies. On no condition and with no merits on our part: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you” (John 15:9)
And He, who has loved us limitlessly, teaches us how to pray for the enemies when He is brought to die on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
And He knows it’s not easy, and that it will cost us a lot, so in the time of hardship He will be with us: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of time” (Matthew 28:20).
Success tastes great.
But it is facing the failure that is a real challenge. Because you have to cope with disappointment, sometimes anger and shame. You have to include in your self-portrait weakness, powerlessness, mistake. How much understanding have I got for our Polish national football team after their last (lost) match.
We imagine the path of our development as constatnt ascending above our limitations. But nothing teaches so good as failure, as the hard landing which finishes the flight on the wings of our own capacity.
Afterwards you can start from scratch, from the mustard seed. From learning the alphabet of love, patience and service. With Him. And it is the weakness, not success, which attracts Him to us. He can act when our self-sufficiency gives up.Our helplessness touches His heart.
Yes, we are called to ascending. In His arms, when He bends over to lift us up.*
*You can read in the book by little Therese of Lisieux.