So I will admit that I am a very cranky person on the inside sometimes. I go through phases where my patience runs thin and I am sharp as a knife with all those I encounter, if not in speech then most certainly in thought. Most people who know me put me on the pedestal of being rather like Snow White because they are not subjected to my private internal life. In fact, there are only two people who are constantly subjected to my sometimes porcupine interior, myself and God. And with that in mind, I find it absolutely astounding that God loves me. I believe it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t blow my mind a little bit most days. Because I love in a very human way in that my love is subject to being tested, whereas the love of God is constant in that it is and, when God took on the form of a man and was put to the test, remains eternal, sealed by a covenant, and by its nature unchangeable. God’s love doesn’t shift based on whether I am particularly loveable and at my best or particularly unloveable and at my absolute worst, and thinking about that really makes me want to be better, to have that capacity too.
And I know this will require no small amount of grace, because my nature is not predisposed to be kind or humble. I can remember when I was a little girl really admiring two women, my mother and the Blessed Virgin Mary, because they both had a sweetness and an unassuming ladylike quality about them that I recognized was not in me, but that I hoped to have because I loved them both and I too wanted to be a lady.
It’s a battle I still wage today because I certainly have my mother’s capacity to be sweet and innocently kind, but I also have the sharp wit, strong opinions, and limited patience with others that are perhaps more stereotypically Celtic (thanks Dad, lol). But above all, I’m strong willed. And it bothers me how even though I do have the capacity to love and to do good, and maybe even to be a lady, there are a few times on this spiritual walk where I don’t want to do the right thing. For example, choosing to love someone I don’t like. It is a true talent that my mother (and I imagine the Blessed Mary also) possesses, the ability to be gracious to all, patiently trusting that you should love each person because you only know a part of their story and have no right to dole out love as you see fit. It’s founded on the idea that true love is not at all based on worthiness, and I know that’s the truth because of the relationship I just described having with God.
Yet it is so hard to remember to do this, to look past my own vision of what the world should be and into the heavens, and to try to bring a piece of that kingdom back down to earth by authentically loving my neighbor. The enchanting mystery of this endeavor gets lost because it cloaks itself in the mundane and insignificant, because if you truly paid attention to your surroundings you would notice these opportunities present around you all the time. In traffic, at work, on the phone, in the grocery store, or even when you are just taking a walk. And it is so easy to be so distracted by the worldly idea that glory consists in great things, your enduring mark on the world, that it is easy to forget heavenly glory, the truth that sometimes the best crown you can wear is a crown of thorns. The scars that come from breaking your own heart and your own self will as you learn what it truly means to love.
And it is my ongoing frustrating efforts to do this for a few people in my life that inspired this post in the first place. Because I want to want to love them in the same way that God very generously loves me. But I’m mad at them for the way they treated me and the last thing that makes me feel is generous. Because if I sign on to love them, not only do I have to forgive them and treat them the same as I would people who are easier for me to love, I have to do so without the guarantee that they will change, that I will gain anything by it, or that it will be reciprocated in any way. To love for the sake of love, to love because I love God and it’s His command which, although difficult, is just. It is the tough road of perfection, not the superficial worldly kind that I find so incredibly cheesy, but the path that leads to perfect love and requires the sacrifice of supplanting my will with God’s.
Please just pray for me that I might have the grace not to turn back now.