Deep Thoughts ... by Susan Rose

Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12)

Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless, of course, you fail the test. I hope you will discover that we have not failed. But we pray to God that you may not do evil, not that we may appear to have passed the test but that you may do what is right, even though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we are weak but you are strong. What we pray for is your improvement. (2 Corinthians 13)

Warning … deep thoughts time. I’ve been reflecting on these two passages from 2nd Corinthians over the past few days. To be honest, I don’t know if I’ve ever read them before. If I have, they’ve never registered. But at the present moment, they speak volumes to me.

As much as I’ve been trying to be in the present moment – particularly as the clock ticks away on my 3 month ministry experience here in London – I can’t help but look back on the past year. I think in part it’s something about being away from the "fishbowl"-like environment of the Novitiate House. Time and space away allows me to reflect on that experience, on my own role in the more challenging moments. When you’re caught up in the little dramas of life, it’s harder to find perspective. It’s also harder to claim your own responsibility.

This past week at our novice course we spent a bit of time looking at our own power style. I sometimes wish I came across as more like a lovable bunny but more often than not I come across as a fish eating whale – read this post if you want to know what I’m talking about! Really what this means is that my deep desire is to be collaborative and participatory, to use power in the service of love rather than as power over or control. Unfortunately, as is often the case with us humans, my actions don’t always match up with my desire. Hence the fish eating whale image.

As I said I’ve been a bit retrospective lately, looking back at various incidents of the past year and seeing connections and patterns in other conflict situations of my life. One interesting phenomenon as I try to recall the details of some of the situations from the way back machine is that it’s hard to remember what the conflict was even about! And yet the hurts or misunderstandings can last for years and years, particularly when we stay in our own hurts rather than trying to move past or through them into reconciliation and healing.

It is helpful to have tools and language to look at our actions and motivations. But it’s also helpful to realize that we are weak … I am human. I will make mistakes. And some more mistakes. And some more mistakes. Ad infinitum …

There are steps I can take to live more as my heart desires to live … a life of gentle strength that respects others and is open and willing not only to affecting change but to BEING changed. I can work on being aware, of using good communication and conflict resolution skills. I can reach out to others for help. As part of a religious community I am beginning to realize I don’t have to do this on my own – we are in the struggle together.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in faith. Test yourselves.

But in the end, I’m starting to realize (and maybe even accept) that it’s not up to me or even those I am journeying with. I/We can desire growth, change and gentling but in the end, I/We need to open ourselves up to God. I/We need to reflect upon our own actions, see where our lived reality meets (or doesn’t meet) our hearts’ desire. But in the end, we need to ask ourselves the question that Paul poses …

Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?

Jesus, Son of God, you who walked amongst us crazy humans during your time on earth, walk with me now. I desire to be gentled and to live gently. Help that desire grow. Increase that desire until it envelops me, lifts me up and beyond my own petty desires, insecurities and woundedness. By the grace of your love, may I live a life that nurtures peace in myself, in those I journey with and in our troubled world. So may it be, Amen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A beautiful and powerful post. It speaks volumes of the struggles that we all go through. But most importantly it makes us look at ourselves and gives us hope that we too can become more gentle with one another. Thank you for sharing cause with your sharing you have soften a lot of trouble hearts with your gentleness. You are no longer that fish biting at the whale...May God continue to bless you...