Sunday, April 19, 2015

mercy

The mercy of God shines through our inadequacy, because we lack nothing that the grace of God's mercy cannot fill when we place our trust in him.



One Sunday at Mass, about a year ago, my pastor quoted a wise person who had once said to him, "Fear not! You are inadequate."

That quote stuck in my head. The next day at work, I wrote it on a sticky note, and fixed it on the bottom of my computer monitor so I would see it every time I sat down at my desk. I have long been accustomed to feeling completely, painfully inadequate - even when I may have the skill or insight necessary for the task at hand. This was a good reminder to me of the truth of the matter.

If I was always adequate to the circumstance at hand, I would never grow. If I was always adequate to the task at hand, I would not require the grace of God to make up for what I lack - which is plenty, trust me!

The mercy of God shines in our inadequacy, when we don't have what it takes, or when we can no longer go on - and our Lord steps in, giving us the grace to trust in his merciful love.

Almost two years ago, I had reached a point where, spiritually, I could no longer move. I was frozen in pain - I felt as if I was suffocating. It has been my experience that suffering is like that - I am sure many reading this understand what I mean, and I know some of you understand it far more deeply than I - it's like struggling to breathe, fighting for air. Slowly suffocating, you begin to think you will finally be overtaken by the terrible pain in your chest that seems never to go away, and fade into the darkness... I can only imagine this is what it would be like to drown in the ocean. 

The details of what brought me to this point are irrelevant here, except to say that part of this pain resulted from the betrayal of my trust by a friend whom I thought had my best interests at heart, but whom I had sadly discovered only wanted to change me into who they thought I should be.

No one knows better than God who he intends us to become, who he has made us to be. I don't claim to know precisely who God intends me to be at the end of this journey we call life, but I do my best to follow him, through prayer and striving to live a moral life according to the teaching of the Church. I mean that, with all of my heart. 

Yet, worse than inadequate to the path I was following, this individual believed I was following the wrong path entirely, and thought it was their job to straighten me out - which they attempted in various ways, including using other people to get the message across. Ultimately, all attempts to uproot and transplant me to the path they believed to be right, failed. However, it was enough to leave me bewildered and hurt. 

I persistently questioned myself - beyond the level of simply examining my conscience, or some kind of proper introspection - thinking that if this person (and their supporting cast) believed there was something wrong with me, there probably was, even in the face of evidence to the contrary. After awhile, the demon of semi-scrupulosity that had worked its way into my heart convinced me that the person I was, was someone who would never really have a place in a community of faith, because whether I was "too much" of one thing, or "not enough" of something else, I was wholly inadequate, and that was bad

I was ready to give up. 

Then, through what I can only call pure grace, in the midst of this confusion and pain, our Lord Jesus showed me deep and unexpected mercy. His mercy is pure, undeserved gift, and so this was - not only beyond expectation, but completely unexpected - I simultaneously met someone who has become a beloved friend, and came to a parish which has become home in a way I never thought possible. 

In what seemed like overnight, God's mercy became like oxygen to my starved lungs. I began learning to breathe all over again - cautiously at first, scared of finding out this was too good to be true. Finding it safe, I started to breathe more deeply, filling my lungs with that sweet, blessed air.

I was safe. 
My God, your mercy and your goodness. 
I am not worthy.

After spending years pitting myself against the person someone else wanted me to be, no longer had to worry about being "too much" or "not enough". 

To that beloved friend, "I give thanks to God at every remembrance of you". It's one thing to write this and post it; it's another thing entirely to share it with you - so if I've sent you the link, and you're reading this now, you know who you are - and that's all I need to say.

Your heart is both immensely strong and gentle; you understand suffering so deeply and so personally. You are patient when I struggle with putting difficult things into words, in spite of my need to talk about them. You allow me to be myself without suggesting that I make myself into anyone else, yet you never fail to help me see how to seek to do better at life. You have taught me so much about my own dignity - not only as a child of God - but more than anything, as a daughter of God. You are simultaneously a dear friend, and wise guide. 

I don't think you fully realize how deeply you matter to me. I am so grateful to our good God for the gift he has given me in you - and to you, for being that gift - and for being exactly who you are. 


Yes, Lord, I am inadequate, and that is a blessing, because I lack nothing that your mercy cannot fill.





   



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