After encouraging a friend, who admitted to feeling grumpy, I received this note:
I know it's only temporary and I will keep bringing my worn out self to The Lord's altar despite wanting to crawl back into bed or have a temper tantrum. It hit me in mass that I ask Christ to bring me close to Him and empty me of all my selfishness and pride and earthly things that separate me from Him. He answers my prayers and keeps giving me the chance to do that but I keep failing at it!
And we do this, don't we? We pray for something...that thing, that dream, that need. We spend early morning hours in devotion, we make quick trips to the altar and get small beneath the cross, we go to daily mass. And we get hit by this and that; life and all of the trials and bumps and mountains and obstacles, and we feel we have been blindsided, that our circumstances are unfair, that the struggle is never ending, and think, "Good grief, why???? Why are you not giving me this or that? Why are you making my life harder when all I asked for is this?? Why won't you help me? This is the last thing I need!"
And then you get an e mail from a friend who reminds you. Who opens blind eyes. Who unzips your heart and opens it to the truth.
Maybe...just maybe...this awful thing that you are experiencing right now IS what you prayed for. Maybe, the circumstance you find yourself in right now...the one that feels like it will ruin you, and suck every bit of joy from you, is the very thing you need. Maybe, this crappy situation that is currently drowning you, is actually your oxygen mask? Could it be that this trial of your life IS your help?
I mean, really, honestly....I would prefer to just go to bed and wake up humble, gentle and patient. That is my prayer. I don't really want to work at it. I don't. I just want to be it. Being tried and stretched, and exercised hurts. And I prefer to avoid pain. I prefer the easy way. And so God sends me these things...these people...these irritating situations that bring out the worst in me; My selfishness, my need for attention, my aggressiveness, my total lack of patience for anyone who dares to stand before me, near me, or breathe on me. He tests me. Not because he wants to prove to me that my prayer is so clearly out of my reach, but because he loves me enough to show me that it is there within me...the well of humility and gentleness and patience...it is within my reach. But I have to work at it. I have to strengthen it. I have to flex that muscle. I have to choose it. I have to want it so much more than I want anything else. I have to put God first, and everyone else second, and maybe...maybe put myself third.
And that is hard. Because we like to be first. And by we, I mean me.
On good days I recognize exactly what this God of mine is doing, and why. And I am grateful for it. But on other days; the ones that involve bloating, and a head ache, and a dog that can not stop peeing on the carpet, I am a little less responsive to the good he constantly provides. And so it is on those days, that God gets crafty, and speaks to me through a dear friend who he knows I will listen to. Like the red robin that glides across my driveway, or the warmth of my son's neck upon waking, he approaches me so quietly and beautifully, sure to not startle, but certainly, gets my attention. A sweet voice that whispers to me that all of these annoyances I am currently faced with and wish would go away? They are the help I have been begging for. These are the answers to my prayers.
Too funny, really. Because when you think about, it never fails; that what I think I need, is usually the last thing I need, and what I think is the last thing I need, God knows I need, and I am given first.