A few hours into the day I get a phone call that ignites an ugly fire in me. Anger and frustration leap hungry, licking every drop of peace and joy. My mother-in-law is "awful sick" again. Again! Do I have a car?
I feel myself spiraling out of control and realize prayer is needed. With adrenaline surging, I call one who I know has a direct line to God's heart. I complain, angrily. They are calling the ambulance again. It's every other week now. And for what? She is so stubborn! The doctors have told her this is normal for her age. She's eighty-some years old. What does she expect?
A calm one gives advice I don't want to hear. Compassion. That's the word she uses. The same word that has been on my heart since reading Ann's story. The same one that compelled me to sponsor a child.
This word, compassion, is lost today.
And I am too angry to look for it.
I think of my husband needing to be called at work, again. Again! I think of ruined plans. Of another day sitting idly in a waiting room. Of missing my daughter's basketball game later. Of the blog I am trying to write.
Instead of compassion I think frustration. Inconvenience. Imposition. Words like stubborn and spoiled and stupid spew ugly from my lips. (Sadly, I confess.) In this moment, compassion is the last word I would use to describe what I feel inside.
Sadder the fact, I know God will pour grace if I ask. He is Compassion. He knows well what it means to co-suffer.
But I don't ask because....I don't want to.
My mom prays instead. She petitions the Lord in my behalf, in behalf of my husband and his parents. I try to form some agreement in my heart with her words, now weeping. The Spirit reminds me:
Where two or three gather in my name...I struggle to press through to wanting His will. Instead, feelings of justification rear. Can't this all just go away? I don't want to be involved. And besides, the one who needs my support the most hasn't been such a great lover lately. He's distant. Preoccupied. Silent again.
...there I am in the midst.Okay. So I admit it. I don't want what you offer, Jesus. I don't want to love in this situation. I don't want to be inconvenienced. And I certainly don't want to give of myself to someone who doesn't care about me. I am so tired of giving...
I want... I want.
Through the day I feel my heart changing. Peace eludes me Joy fades fast. Darkness creeps through the windows, steals my thoughts. I have nothing to write. I no longer hear God's voice.
Instead, the accuser speaks again, still trying to disguise himself as me. This time he directs his barrage not against my husband and family, but to my own sense of worth. You are wasting your time. You have no value. You are hopeless. He doesn't care. He never did.
I take the bait, and hopelessness pulls at my skin. I see the pit looming ahead--one I am familiar with. Fear crouches there on the top step, drooling--my enemy comes to devour.
Needing a rescue, I send out another prayer request, and visit House of God online, drink an offering from one who feeds the poor and shares stories of hope and faith. Her words, full to the brim with heaven, seem only to condemn me. I run. I lay in bed with no husband beside me. I ask for mercy and fall asleep trying to drown the sound of accusal: I am a failure.
Early morning I read about the original 12 step program 900 years old on a friend's blog.
I stare at the quote on page top and ponder.
“Evil can have no beginning but from pride, and no end but from humility. The truth is this: Pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you…for the one is death and the other is life.” Spirit of Prayer, Edition of Morton, Canterbury (1893)
Just as it was with Eve in the Garden so long ago, so it is with me. This pride--this inflated sense of self--always, always leads to a fall.
I share with the friend how ironic it is that as he was writing his post, I was walking it out. I remember how two days before the Lord was speaking to me--warning me--about the need to remain poor in spirit--humble. And how I prayed and asked Holy Spirit to purify my heart, to take me to the lowest place.
He answered. But instead of giving thanks, I turned away. I didn't recognize His coming. In writing this post I see a beautiful God, good and lovely and pure, full of mercy and grace. I see Compassion not avoiding me, but inviting me to enter in. I rejected Him, the One I so desperately love and long to know. Why?
Pride thinks first of self. Pride never bows. Pride opposes all things good, all things holy. Pride steals and kills and destroys. Pride opens the door to the dark and dangerous.
Pride must die in me. This is my prayer today and every day.Father, forgive me for dishonoring your children, my husband. Do your work in me, however painful. I choose to live humbly before You because You dwell in the low places, and because only in brokenness can I see your face. I love you, Lord. Help me love the ones you have given. Help me see You in their faces. Help me learn to co-suffer with You, and give as You do, pressed down, shaken together, running out all over. In Jesus' name I ask for your mercy and grace for all of us. Amen.
I am linking with Emily today, and sharing my Imperfect Prose. Please join us.
Photo Courtesy: flickr - Chad K.