a 2018 repost: Necessary Hardships
With writing deadlines, exciting work on book proposal #2, and the two weeks worth of Spanish classwork "we" forgot to do and need help with, this space has been seriously lacking. My apologies. I will be re-posting some old favorites for you until the routine here changes up. If you are looking for new content, come on over to my Patreon page and join the warrior community! Over there you will find exclusive posts, monthly gifts...and third tier warriors get a PIECE OF CAKE...
There is such grace in getting older. When I was younger, my problems in life were obstacles; unfair circumstances that got in the way of my living the life I believed I desired and deserved. And maybe it is not so much my age, but the fact that I feel I have been so beaten down to nothing, that "being small", as St. Therese instructs us to be, is not something I choose on my own, but something that happened, hit after hit, blow after blow. I have literally, been beaten down small. And so surrendering is a whole lot easier than trying to get back up on my own.
But I know it is more than just that.
Because we all have a choice as to how we respond to life's blows, and we all know that not everybody makes the healthy, productive, choice.
Lord knows, I have not.
We can choose light or dark...life or death.
We can wallow in self pity, compare our cross to our neighbor, and we can get angry.
Oh man...can we get angry!
And you do know, that all of these emotions and reactions are fear based, right?
Some of our hardships are down right frightening.
I am a big believer that the louder the argument, the more terrifying the fight, the greater the fear is.
And yet what do we hear Jesus say over and over and over again?
Be not afraid.
Yesterday's Mass readings are still stuck in my mind.
We are not only instructed, "Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid" (John 14:16)
but we are also told that these hardships we try to pray away? They are necessary.
"It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God." (Acts of the Apostles 14:19-28, read it all)
Do you know what necessary means?
Necessary means needed.
That thing you hate with your entire heart and soul?
That tragedy? That illness? That disaster? That heartache?
It is needed.
You NEED it.
And I can imagine, that some will read that, and shut their computer off and walk away. Angry.
Because this is a really hard saying.
This is not something easy to swallow.
These are the kind of verses that make non-Catholics and Catholics toss scripture aside, call us crazy, and give up on God and simply "put it all out into the universe", or hug a tree, or follow some other false idol that is not so uncomfortable.
Because who in their right mind wants to be told that the very thing that is weighing on their shoulders and pressing on their chest and keeping them up at night is NECESSARY?
What kind of God does that?
And so maybe this is something for you to think about today.
Maybe you are going through a hardship right now that you see as a problem, an obstacle an impossibility, or simply unfair.
And if so, meditate on the word necessary.
See how that feels.
And I do believe this is easier for me...in my late forties...to accept, than say, my teenagers, or youngest child. I have plenty of hardships I can look back on, and truly see that if it were not for that one hardship, I would not be walking this path, with and towards Jesus, with the faith filled friends that I have by my side. It has taken numerous wrinkles and streaks of grey for me to see and believe that every single hardship that I encounter actually was, and is necessary. This does not mean I like it! This does not mean I do not crumble beneath it all, often. This does not mean I do not get on bended knees and try to pray it all away. Because I have done, and still do, all of this.
But then...something happens.
Something miraculous happens when I stop yelling at God, and begging Him to change my circumstances. Something amazing happens when I accept my hardship as a gift from Him, and ask Him HOW I can best navigate myself and my family through these troubled waters. The moment I stop complaining, I can hear Him. The moment I stop fighting His plan for me, I soften. And it is here in this place that He assures me of His faithfulness. It is here, in this hardship, that I am reminded of how much He loves me. And it is here, in this unpleasant place, that I remember that this world is not my home, and I have my eyes set on something so much better. And it is right here, where I am washed over by His merciful grace, and I am no longer afraid.
Still, this is hard.
But in my older years, I have discovered such a simple truth.
Everything is necessary.
And my problems are not problems, but opportunities; small paths that lead me to a better life, a holier me, a place of true peace.
And if I can accept it all as gift...as a blessing...a road that will ultimately lead me to the Kingdom of God, then truly, there is no need to be afraid.
His grace is enough.
His ways are not our ways.
And when we stop trying to figure it all out, and accept it as our necessary path to a life of eternal joy, fear melts away and love takes over. Those things in our way are finally recognized as things that lead our way; to the place we desire, the life we were made for, the Kingdom of God.