The great thing about doing ministry work? You realize that there is not a soul on earth (not even the tall skinny soul with long blond hair, a brand new car, and a latte in her hand) that doesn't carry around a whole lot of stuff; garbage, filth, pain, loneliness, fear, hatred, misery, despair, worry, anxiety, brokenness. You know. Stuff. You come to learn the honest truth that all that we see is not so honest after all. We recognize, with new wide eyes, bright and clear, free of scales, that trouble exists for all, just as God promised, and that Instagram is a mere snapshot of the kind of life we pretend we live out. You learn that no amount of money can solve what matters most, and that your own poverty, thirst and hunger were never set backs, but rather, blessings in disguise. It is refreshing to know this. Ministry work, the kind I have been doing; being side by side with other women, reaching out and bringing in, has been a wonderful gift and opportunity that I feel most unworthy of. The not so great thing about ministry work? It is ministry work.
And no. I am still not worthy. In fact, I often wonder if my involvement in trying to do all that I do all for the glory of God, has made be a bigger sinner, more self centered, and just an awful person, in general. You see, when we begin to see with wide eyes...when the scales fall off and our vision becomes clear, we get a better picture of not just others, but also, ourselves. You know the horror you feel when you go to take a picture of a beautiful flower, to find that your phone camera is set facing you???? Scary, right? You see wrinkles, and lines and chin hair you never knew you had! That is ministry work. You see the horror of who you really are.
My teenage daughter is dealing with a huge disappointment. It is the end of her world, because her world, remember, is a mere 14 years spinning. And her disappointment has become my own. And let me be honest. I am angry. I get that Gods plan is not our own. I get that Gods ways are not our ways. But just once, I really wish he could throw us a bone. Maybe just once he could say, "Yeah, ya know...this thing you want...it really isn't what is best for you. In fact, if you could just hang on for a bit, I promise, what I have got planned is gonna blow what you think you want right out of the water! The water I walked on! But fine. I will give it to you. Here ya go."
But He loves us too much to do that.
Getting it, and trusting it, are feeling like two very different things to me right now.
Trusting it, and accepting it, feel nearly impossible.
And when we are asked to "hang on for a bit?" who knows what that bit might mean? A week? Two months? Five years? Eternity?? We wait for nothing today. Patience is hard to come by. What God is asking of my kid is not easy. What He asks of me on behalf of my kid is almost unbearable.
I just want her happy.
I worry to a degree that I know I should not worry.
And yeah, I know all about the birds in the sky that He cares for, and the wild flowers that do not work or spin...I KNOW ALL OF THIS.
I even GET it.
And after this rant drenched in self pity, I will even be as bold as to say YES, Jesus, I DO trust in you.
I do trust.
I just don't trust that my kid trusts.
And that is the crack that allows doubt to creep in.
That is the small, almost invisible fracture that the devil waits for.
I have been begging the angels that guard my children; pleading with their Saints, praying to no end.
Please God, don't let their hearts break big enough to allow satan in.
And so I have been sitting here, and sitting there, and wondering all the while, "Why do I even bother with ministry work? If getting closer to Jesus...if bringing others closer to Jesus, simply makes me a bigger target for the devil...then why bother???"
Because I feel that way.
Like a target.
Because I feel like the devil who once really enjoyed hanging out in my head and in my home, is really pissed off right about now.
Because he knows it is Jesus that I love.
He knows that he doesn't compare. And that he never, ever will.
And so he finds these little annoyances...these troubles...these disappointments...and he works like crazy to make sure they stick on the front of my head, and are carved into my heart.
So work with me here...because I really have no idea where any of this is going, and honestly, it may go absolutely no where, in which case, I will apologize for that in advance.
But...if God has the plan....if we are to trust...I mean, really trust...and if it is true that His plan will knock the socks off of our own...then maybe...these annoyances, this sadness, this valley he has thrown me into, along with my kid, is to help me? To help us? Perhaps an easy, care free, get everything you want when you want it kind of life would be dreadful? I know my 14 year old would disagree. I think instant gratification would feel really good right about now.
But then that is why God gave her to me. To remind her. Instant gratification feels great, until it is gone...and then you spend the rest of your life paying for that really stupid thing you did because you believed it would make you happy. In an instant.
Today is the feast day of Saint Catherine of Sienna. In the Magnificat she writes,
"I want you to open the eye of your reason and you will see that knowledge of ourselves makes us humble. We come to such knowledge precisely through all the darkness and all the devil's annoyances. And we grow in zeal and in love for God because we see that without God there is no defending ourselves."
I read this to my daughter.
I read this to my friends.
I continue to read this to myself.
God chose me to be a mother. And God chose me to be in ministry work. And I do what HE asks me to do because plain and simple, I love him. I would even die for him. And well, seeing my kid unhappy and having to just accept things the way that they are? It kind of feels like dying. But what a relief to know that in all of this darkness, we believe there is a bigger light. And so I will go where he takes me and I will follow his voice, because whatever it is I desire for my kids here on earth, can you imagine what it is God desires for us in heaven??? And so I will keep my eyes open, I will hold tight to my kid, I will trust in my God, and together, we will fly on.
"Let's never avoid or run away from difficulty, but follow our leader, Christ Jesus. I'll say no more. Fly on the wings of deep humility and blazing charity! Keep living in God's holy and tender love."
- Saint Catherine of Sienna