Friday, April 30, 2004

State of unSaintliness

1. "To err is human, to forgive divine."

2. "A true state of forgiveness is reached when you can feel bad for the person doing what he did to hurt you." -- paraphrase from a bit of wisdom found on a meditation-of-the-day calendar.

Suffice it to say that I have not reached that state of Saintliness (with a capital "S"). I am just a wretched saint.

If you're unfamiliar with how the terms are used in the church, a "saint" is any person in the communion of believers. I am a saint, a believer. But I am not a Saint, which I define as a person of exceptional goodness and holiness. I am no Mother Teresa. I am no Saint Theresa.

I have not yet reached a state of forgiveness for my brothers. But I have realized through this family nastiness that God really has done a lot of healing in me the last few years. I really can turn it over to Christ. I am aware of his providence in my life, and I have learned to trust Him. His love is my armor.

I will be able to forgive those brothers. I know this because I have been able to forgive others, even as in the second definition, which is seeing what they've done as a product of their own woundedness and having compassion for that.

I have come to forgive my mother in this way. I was a terribly anxious child. I always felt I could never please -- I could never be pretty enough or smart enough or do things right enough to please her. Nothing would ever be enough to make my mother really love me.

Of course, I know she was acting out of the wounds she received in her childhood. She grew up with her own overwhelming anxiety, a product of a broken home, a father of whom she was a bit afraid and didn't trust, a mother who had to go to work (back in the days when they were supposed to stay home with their children and not get divorced, no matter what) and often had to leave her home alone or with relatives.

She never got over it, and I have seen the result of it in her life -- her loneliness, her isolation, because she feared rejection. She was never able to reach out to others, which is such a shame. I have been able to, these years, to understand her, to look at her with compassion and love and pray for her and me.

This healing took a lot of work on His part. I have to be thumped a couple of times just to get my attention.

But I've been learning, learning to lay down hurts so they hurt me no more. Learning to turn my anxieties over to Him -- I am not yet "anxious for nothing," but I don't carry the burden of anxiety with me the way I used to.

I realized that a week or so ago, when something anxiety-provoking happened that a few years ago would have had me in a complete tizzy for days. It wasn't a major thing, but it never took that much. Now, though, I was able to pray about it, ask God for his help and go on about my business without agonizing.

You know what? He did take care of it.

There have been very difficult times the past few years with a number of biggies -- job situations, family, finances. He has been right there with me through it all, helping me get through them. And He's given me so much.

He's given me a family -- I'm surrounded by loving people I've come to know because He brought me into the church. I have a job I really like. It doesn't pay much, but I've gotten by. That's a gift from God, too.

The only way I can express my appreciation to Him is through offering Him thanks, both in prayer and in action. Maybe one day, I will be much more like Mother Teresa. I'm praying to have that kind of love and compassion in me.

I'm glad I'm a saint. I'm glad for that cloud of witnesses around me.

The unSaintly Pat

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