Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Praying for Them

" I told myself that charity should not only be a matter of feeling but should show itself in deeds. So I set myself to do for this sister just what I should have done for someone I loved most dearly. Every time I met her, I prayed for her and offered God all her virtues and her merits. I was sure this would greatly delight Jesus, for every artist likes to have his works praised and the divine Artist of souls is pleased when we do not halt outside the exterior of the sanctuary where He has chosen to dwell but go inside and admire its beauty.
I did not remain content with praying a lot for this nun who caused me so much disturbance. I tried to do as many things for her as I could, and whenever I was tempted to speak unpleasantly to her, I made myself give her a pleasant smile and tried to change the subject. The Imitation says: "It is more profitable to leave to everyone his way of thinking than to give way to contentious discourses."
When I was violently tempted by the devil and if I could slip away without her seeing my inner struggle, I would flee like a soldier deserting the battlefield. And after all this she asked me one day with a beaming face: "Sister Therese, will you please tell me what attracts you so much to me? You give me such a charming smile whenever we meet." Ah! it was Jesus hidden in the depth of her soul who attracted me, Jesus who makes the bitterest things sweet!   pp. 126, 127"The Story of a Soul

We all have those people in our lives. The ones we don't like. The ones we can blame, whether it be righteous or not. We all have those people we would like to banish from our islands to protect our very own sanity. We all have someone to blame. Sometimes that person is staring back at us in the mirror, other times, it's someone with the worst representation of things we dislike in ourselves. Sometimes the person is just so broken that they cannot help but break everyone they come in contact with.  Sometimes, that person deserves our disdain and anger. We want to wish punishment on them. We want to hate them, and they deserve it.

It's so easy to blame and stay angry. I would prefer that entirely. Anger I can handle. I understand it, it's kind of my comfort zone really. Compassion has entered my life the last decade or so. Perhaps it's age and wisdom, or faith. Perhaps Jesus is working on those things in me that are unlikable. In the last 10 years he has smoothed out my edges. I am a work in progress like the rest of us.

I want to be angry. To me anger is like a warm wool coat or an old friend. I take comfort in my anger. It's familiar, safe, and easy.

What is a girl to do when God asks her to step outside of that anger and pain? What then?

You pray for them. That person that is the thorn in your side or knife in your heart. You take a moment and pray. At first it's through gritted teeth, with clenched fists. Despite how you feel. It's brutal and it makes you feel raw and vulnerable.

Then something changes.

You see them for what HE sees them. You see their lonely brokenness. You see the bird that has fallen from the nest. The nest we all worthy of. So you continue to pray, and somewhere along the line, your heart gets healed. Your wounds, your tears, your desperation all fade into the time between.

So you continue to pray... like it or not