Sorry I’ve not written here as much recently as usual. A number of projects are currently in work, and I’ve not had my accustomed time available. But that’s what I wanted to mention here, because grace teaches (me) all the time.
A week or so ago, I had a bad day. Let me rephrase… I had a BAD day! I had one of those (rare for me) days where by the time the sun was setting I looked up towards the Lord and said, “OK, Lord… this isn’t fun any longer. I don’t want to play anymore… let’s do something else with my life, eh?”
Seriously, stuff that had been in work for months, all arrowed in with crisis traumas at the same time, none of which I could fix or do a blessed thing about but pray. These were people in terrible and traumatic situations for which:
- I couldn’t DO anything helpful
- I couldn’t SAY anything helpful
- I didn’t KNOW anything helpful
All I could do was pray, which I did with intensity… feeling utterly exhausted and drained by the end of the day.
Are you feeling sorry for me yet? Well, if so… thank you, but I was feeling more than sorry enough for myself by then to cover all that was needed. I seldom succumb to much self-pity, but I guess this was my scheduled day. Know what? Self-pity and petty self-indulgence is exhausting, too!
The Lord, with His customary patience, just sort of stood aside watching and let me “play myself out”, before I actually NOTICED Him! I mean, after all, He was supposed to be sitting somewhere writing down all my desperate prayer needs and requests, right? Oddly enough, He seemed to be doing no such thing.
I didn’t criticize… after all, that wouldn’t be polite. But I wasn’t happy. And He knew it. (It sorta works like that.) It wasn’t like He was upset with me or my attitude, or that He was making fun of me. None of that. But I could tell from the look on His face that it was like… “He knew something I didn’t”, and I don’t mean that in the obvious sense. I mean that He wanted to say something to me that would help, but He knew I wasn’t yet calm enough really to HEAR Him.
The day had drawn to a close, I was starting to cook the evening meal, and over time the adrenalin receded. I wasn’t happy. He knew I wasn’t happy. I waited to see who would speak first, while we chopped onions. Finally, I couldn’t stand it. But it was hard to figure out what to say without being impolite (which I really didn’t want to do).
“I’m not happy, You know.” (the best I could do).
“I know,” He nodded. “I’m sorry about that.”
“Well… what about this? What am I supposed to do? Why don’t You do something? Why don’t You fix it all?” (Not sure if I SAID all of that, but it’s certainly what I was THINKING, and with Him, it amounts to the same thing.)
“I AM doing something, and I CAN’T ‘fix it’, in the way you mean. Neither can you, which is what has you so upset. That’s what I’m sorry about. Oh, and by the way… I don’t have to tell you this isn’t always ‘fun’. But perhaps I do have to tell you, um… no, you’re not going to go do something else with the rest of your life.”
At this we both laughed. “I know, I didn’t mean that. But really… today? Really? This was NOT one of our better days, eh? I couldn’t do a THING! I didn’t accomplish a THING! And all of those are situations with people hurting. So, what am I supposed to feel?”
Time passed as we cooked, and I continued to cool…
I’ve always been drawn to the scriptural image of the disciples and Jesus just sitting together at their fire, eating, after a long and trying day. I can readily imagine the conversations that took place as they shared experiences, impressions, questions, and answers. I always think Jesus just sat, enjoyed his fish or lamb chunks, wrapped them in some flatbreads, maybe spread with some hummus, or enjoying some dipped in honey for dessert, as He just encouraged them all to share… before He began to speak and sort things out.
Well, that’s sort of how things were at dinner that evening. The day kept replaying with my frustrations and concerns, and after a bit more venting I was able to calm down. He is so very patient.
Finally, He said, “I know you’ve heard this before, and you know what I am about to say. But sometimes, you just need to hear it again.
“You’re looking at this all wrong, which is really easy to do. But you’re angry because you’re setting the wrong goals, the wrong expectations. You feel like a failure because you couldn’t ‘fix’ everything.
“Little Monk? That’s not your job! That’s not even MY job! Both of us DID our ‘jobs’ today. The difference is, I recognize that and you do not.
“You are to hold an unconditionally loving relationship with these people. You did that. You are to embrace them and their experience without judging, with empathy and compassion. You did that. You are to share what words I give you to bring My grace into the moment. You did that. Sometimes, there are no such words, or they are minimal. And you are to lift them up to Me, wrapped in love, that My grace flow. You did that.
“You did your job today, and it was a very demanding day. Yes. When I walked, I often had very demanding days. But today, I did My job, too. My job is not to ‘fix’ as you think of it, because each of these people have their own free will and are making choices, and their lives are woven with others doing the same.
“You want to ‘fix’ everything, in terms of ‘making everybody happy’, and ‘relieving all pain’. Sometimes, beloved Little Monk, that is not possible. What I DO, and what you are committed to, is to lift up My presence and My grace in ALL the moments… painful, joyful, or otherwise. I ‘weave time with all the freewill choices’ in such a way that every encounter is perfectly ‘redemptive’. Every person you encounter and interact with, brings a gift of grace and growth into your life in that moment. And you impart such a gift to and for them.
“My ‘job’ is to uphold all things with the word of My power, given Me by Our Father… such that all things work together for good in Our Father’s love. Sometimes… what is truly ‘good’, is not necessarily ‘fun’ or even ‘painless’. That’s just the Truth.
“You say you had a ‘bad day’. Well, if you see it so… that’s up to you. But, in Truth, you had a Good day, doing precisely what you are called and gifted to do. I regret that you’ve felt frustrated about it, but that’s only because you’ve mistaken what you’re here to do. And that is in YOUR control, not Mine.
“But here is your bottom line, and maybe this will help. You’re upset because you didn’t meet your own expectations… you didn’t reach the ‘destination’ you set for yourself. But that’s not My expectation of you. That’s not what I intend for you to do. I want you to be a traveling companion, enjoying the journey and embracing and supporting your fellow travelers. If you will just do that… just focus on that… you’ll take a lot of pressure and frustration off yourself.
“I give you more than enough grace to travel these journeys, I am He who navigates the route and terrain in the first place. I am the only One who can bring you safely to your destination. So, quit mistaking your goals and worrying about that. Just bring grace in and to the trip, and embrace your fellow travelers.
“Just know your role, Little Monk. And embrace with My grace.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Oh, yeah. I’d known that… but I forgot. Sometimes, I just need to hear it again.
Thank you for your prayers, Gentle Reader. I am ever a work in progress. Blessings and grace to thee — The Little Monk