Wednesday, October 28, 2015

This fresh battle of mine

The emotional upheaval I've been going through lately is kind of like the Loch Ness Monster. I have yet to discover its residence in the deep, but every so often it rears its head above the surface and causes fear and confusion and, later, a big let down and isolation, because I am the only one who sees how truly massive and disruptive it is.

Sometimes, often lately, I feel like I will never be a better wife, mother, Christian. In the words of St Paul:

What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate. Romans 7:15

So, then, I discover the principle that when I want to do right, evil is at hand. Romans 7:21 (NAB)

I am battling myself, and that is the hardest battle. I now more fully understand "the enemy within". As I beat back negative thought after negative thought and futile feeling after futile feeling, I am tempted to say my faith is no help at all right now, that I am on a slow, inevitable slide with every now and then a tiny ledge to cling to for a few moments or a few days.

But I know that is not so. My faith is each tiny ledge, each reprieve. My faith means I do not speak all the foolish words I could. It means I stop the thoughts - Thou shall not pass! It means I keep going when I want to give up on myself, a sinner who requires too much work and is too beaten down by the struggle, by her own innumerable foibles.

This past Sunday, one of my days of hope and reprieve, our Gospel reading at church came from Mark 10: 46-52:

As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, son of David, have pity on me." And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, "Son of David, have pity on me." Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." So they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take courage, get up, Jesus is calling you." He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him in reply, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man replied to him, "Master, I want to see." Jesus told him, "Go your way; your faith has saved you." Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way. (NAB)

And I found in this passage a personal message from God's living Word. Essentially, I must not give up. I am going through a thing right now, not unlike a spiritual, emotional and mental blindness, but that does not mean I should give up on myself. No, I must call out to Christ all the more. It means I must ignore the thoughts that tell me to be quiet, to sink, because I am not worth the effort, and instead I must recognize the words, thoughts and situations that are plainly saying, "Take courage, get up, Jesus is calling you."

When I spring up to meet Him, and He asks what I want him to do for me, I need only reply, trusting in my faith to save me, "I want to see." And, as our Deacon said in his homily, just like Bartimaeus, when Christ tells me to go my way, I must choose His way.

Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 7:24-25

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Fear's antidote: Hope, yielding courage

My sister Annie recommended a great movie to me when I recently saw her for the first time in years.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty it's called. Ben Stiller is its director and star.

I knew if Annie liked this movie, my chances were really good to love it. She introduced me to Miss Potter, after all. I also knew my chances were even better when I saw that this movie for adults was rated PG.

There's a great scene, my favorite scene, where the woman Walter Mitty admires is singing "Space Oddity" by David Bowie to Mitty - with its line of "and may God's love be with you" - and he abandons reserve and fear and runs to catch a helicopter as it takes off, amazed at himself when he jumps and hangs on as its lifting off into stormy skies.

Really, the movie is about chasing life, taking chances, embracing adventure, trading daydreams for experience and overcoming the fear that challenges our initiative.

Overcoming fear, yes. That's a theme I understand. It's the theme of my life at the moment it seems. I'm afraid I will never learn to do that expertly, but I keep trying, and that, I suppose, takes a kind of bravery in itself. The trying and not giving up part.

Fear would control my life if I gave up. The thoughts about worst possible outcomes would steal my vitality and even my love if I caved to them. I am constantly at war. I am constantly praying for courage. I am constantly beating back the large, dark, negative thoughts, growing weary in the cold waters but still determined.

I fear the known and the unknown. The possible and the impossible. But most of all I fear my fear will keep me from God.

I know it's not His gift. It is another's choice weapon, wielded remorselessly.

A couple days ago my friend Dana told me a parable of sorts as we chatted over coffee, a short story about letting go, about going with the flow and finding peace in it, and I recognized quite clearly that that's what I need to do. Let go, go with the flow. Stop being afraid of the current and its eventual destination. Stop fighting phantoms of the future so dang hard.

Not go with the flow of this convoluted culture, not follow the crowds down the broad, beaten way, but let go in a Godly way, being faithful and hopeful as I face the changes in my family's life together, as I face the changeable world around us. And that's just what an acquaintance spoke about with me today at church, being faithful in the storm, keeping Him and seeing Him, Jesus, in every new situation and new face and new challenge. I needed to hear that, and I thanked her for sharing her wisdom with me. God was reaching out to me in these friends, I believe, touching and instructing me.

I know I need strength to accept the adventure, the uncertainty of this life, to let go, trusting in myself, my family and others.

Courage to live and to live well, that is what we all need. We acquire a little more of it with each fresh step forward, with each faithful leap and spring of hope into uncharted waters.

May God's love
be with us.