Friday, December 11, 2020

Ask.Offer.Accept




O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved...
From the desire of being extolled ...
From the desire of being honored ...
From the desire of being praised ...
From the desire of being preferred to others...
From the desire of being consulted ...
From the desire of being approved ...
From the fear of being humiliated ...
From the fear of being despised...
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...
From the fear of being calumniated ...
From the fear of being forgotten ...
From the fear of being ridiculed ...
From the fear of being wronged ...
From the fear of being suspected ...
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I ...
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease ...
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

The Litany of Humility.  It's the prayer that is on my bathroom mirror, with the idea that I'll pray it daily.  But it's difficult for me to do so.  In praying it, I realize just how attached I am to the things of this world and how far I am from the meekness I need.  But, I continue to pray.

And, in doing so, I beg God to break me...to use me for His purpose...and to forge me in a way that I prefer Him to everything, because on my own, I don't.  I put my stock in people.  I idolize my role as a mother.  I crave control.  I don't want to be weak.  And, I care what others' think.

Earlier this year a friendship went awry.  It affected me more deeply than it maybe should have.  Then, my sister lost her baby boy, Jack, and if I'm being honest, it was maybe one of the most difficult, heartbreaking situations I had experienced (sounds selfish, as I know it was nothing compared to their pain)...the ache and pain for my sister and brother-in-law, coupled with the helplessness I felt, was heavy.  

Soon after, COVID hit, and with that a divisiveness in our Church that was the very opposite of what was needed.  Coupled with a nine year broken relationship with a family member, I sought spiritual direction from a priest, hoping to put into place these feelings I knew I should not have and to learn to let go in order to move forward.

Instead, the meeting with the priest was anything but that.  It was a meeting that never should have happened, with words spoken that couldn't be retrieved, and I left thinking, "I've lost my source of refuge." Coming to the Church for solace in times of pain and confusion no longer seemed possible.  

In essence, it wasn't the Church.  It was a priest who I had made too much of an idol in my life.  And, through the early months of 2020, I learned that I sought refuge anywhere but where I needed to.  I wanted to run to my sister with every concern, or to fall at the feet of my husband in moments of loss.  I wanted my mom to know everything going on in my life in order to help me sort through.  None of those being bad things in and of themselves.  But, what another priest so eloquently stated was that there was one thing I was missing.  One major thing.  Allowing myself to be loved by the Father.

To do nothing, to just be.  To sit still and let Him love me.  And, if I was able to rest in that, it would no longer matter if that family member loved me, or if that priest was a source of strength, or if anything else fell apart.  Because...I would have all I needed.  His love.

So it began...God's prep work for the remainder of the year (or more!).

I began to beg for the ability to surrender - to truly let go of the pains and hurts I had held inside for so long, and to release the idols I had created for myself.

Then August came.

Agnes's birth changed me.  In some ways, it was as I expected.  I would find myself mentally saying, "If I can only get through (insert some aspect of her health journey), all will be well."  Or if I can get to this particular appointment or surgery, then, I can catch my breath.  But, it seemed just as I put those stipulations on each individual situation, plans would change.  Appointments were pushed out.  Snowstorms almost kept us from getting to the doctors.  Doors would close (or in some cases, never fully open).  Yet, if I took the time to sit with it all and look back, I could see what we were being prepared for and His hand in it all.  He was helping me let go of control.  Very slowly.

All the while, in the depths of my being, I thought, "Maybe having a sick child will bring my family member around."  Maybe that's the miracle I was praying for.

In the middle of October, we got news that we didn't expect.  Agnes's scans were worse than anyone thought.  We went from wondering when her spine would be de-tethered to asking if it would ever happen.  Each doctor whose opinion we sought said that there was a very high likelihood that her spinal cord would not be un-tethered, and regardless there would be significant neurological risks involved.

I knew I had to let go and trust.

A week later, letting go was taken up a notch.  I received a phone call that the lump in my breast I was sure was just a clogged duct was, in fact, cancer.  And, life would never be the same.

Suddenly, Agnes's possible surgery date became more critical, as I wanted to be there for it, and I knew my treatments would soon take over our lives.  What in the world would we do?

Luckily, He had been preparing us for such a time as this.  He had slowly helped me realize that I had nothing without Him.  And, my worries and anxieties were getting me nowhere.

So, I went back to my litany and remembered that I begged for this...begged to be broken and made new in Him.  Begged to only need His love.  Begged to not feel so much at times.  And, begged to be a saint.

And, while I'm so very far from being a saint, what I do know is this...

...that family member came around...apologizing for the years of pain.
...the motherhood that I based my worth on will likely end with Agnes (not saying I'll no longer be a mother, but that the desire to have more children will likely not come to fruition).
...the vanity I wrestle with will be chipped away piece by piece through this cancer.
...and that need for control...well, it's a tough one, but it's slowly being taken, too.

Miracles abound in these dark times.  Maybe not the ones you envision.  But, it just takes stopping for a bit to see them...in mended relationships, in a diagnosis that consequently allows you to find the world's best doctor for your baby girl, in having things taken from you that in essence will make you more whole from the inside out.

So, as I sob into this keyboard as my baby girl is eleven hours away undergoing her second (and unexpected!) extremely intense surgery in the span of a week, pushing back her return to a date likely after Christmas, and wresting with the affects of chemo, I rejoice.

Not in a superficial way.  In a way of truly letting go and letting Him lead me.  In a true, "Thank you Jesus" kind of way, because I've never felt more loved and at peace in my life.

I have asked for it.  Now I offer it.  And, finally I accept what comes.

Jesus, I trust in you.


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