Instead of the usual Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love, I have chosen different words for each week in Advent this year.
I’m feeling pretty good, then suddenly I’m not. I received an email, and in it, my friend tells me she’s frustrated and overwhelmed. I worry that I’ve contributed to this. I feel agitated and want to connect with her to make sure we’re okay, but she’s unavailable for a few hours.
I don’t know what to do with myself, so I decide to deliver my papers. Fred has asked me more than once why I keep doing this job that pays so little. “Because it gets me outside and doing something physical for half an hour,” I say.
As I begin my route, I realize my reaction to the email is disproportionate to the situation. My friend is not likely angry with me. Even if she is, we’d sort it out. Our friendship means a lot to both of us.
The Burnaby Now lands on a doorstep with a thud. I’ve been triggered again by that old fear of rejection.
When will I ever be done with it? Another paper. Another thud.
Maybe I need more counselling. Thud.
Maybe I’m not going deep enough in spiritual direction. Thud. Thud.
“Sometimes it’s hard to be me,” I said to my spiritual director the day before. “I’m so tired of being surprised by the thought that people like me. I often think they’ll only remember the thing about me that annoyed them.”
I felt sad and my director asked me, “How does God want to be with you in your sadness?”
The session had been a good one, so I’m disappointed to be back in the dumps again.
After I finish my route, I remember that I’d planned to look over my blog post one more time before it goes out. I’m alone in the house, so I read it aloud. I slow down when I get to the part about God wanting to be with us. Tears come when I read, “What is going on in your life right now that has your attention?” God is present right now, with me and my irrational fears.
“You’re brave,” Jesus told me when I met him in my sadness the day before. He knows it isn’t easy to be me sometimes.
Here he is again, right beside me in my disappointment that I’m still so easily triggered. I thought I needed a big fix, but God knows all I need is Christ with me, holding my hand till the fears subside.
You can guess how the story ends. My friend isn’t angry with me. In fact, she tells me how much she appreciates being able to say how she’s feeling.
Sometimes I enjoy being me, I’d also told my director. I do.
If God has come in the flesh,
and if God keeps coming to us in our fleshly existence,
then all of life is shot through with meaning.
Earth is crammed with heaven,
and heaven (when we finally get there) will be crammed with earth.
All are grist for the mill of a down-to-earth spirituality.
―The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery
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Some Advent Love Mischief:
- What’s going on for you right now? What feelings emerge as you think about it?
- Now imagine Jesus in the flesh coming to you, revealing the reality that God is present.
- How does it feel to have Jesus welcome and listen to your feelings with compassion?
- We often want to dismiss or fix uncomfortable emotions. Yet to God, nothing is wasted, lost or absurd. Each feeling is precious, containing God’s presence.
- Linger with Jesus and “what is.” Ask him to show you what he sees and feels when he looks at you at this present moment.
Just so good, Esther. Don’t quit writing—and thinking, and so bravely facing yourself. I’m often afraid of “me.” Tired of me. Sick and tired of my introspection. To “meet” someone else who feels similarly and still pursues the difficult path is the kind of inspiration I so much need.
BTW, My husband told me the other day that he’s quit doing his Advent retreat (from Sacred Space) and has been following your blog instead. It has been what he needed this month. So thank you from both of us.
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Oh, Martha, thank you for sharing that! It is so encouraging to hear. Thanks to both of you.
May the peace of Christ be with you and enfold you.
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