A terrible testimony?
“You are enough”, really?
A while ago, I was sharing about my life in general – the triumphs and the trials, and whilst I’d like to have said I was on fire and gave God my best, a couple hours later while showering I was reflecting and I was overcome by a strong sense of regret.
I knew that in my story-giving, I spoke about myself way too much, as if I did things on my own strength, gave myself a lot more credit for the graces I received.
From there, I felt like a terrible communicator who failed to pitch her story to the target audience in a relevant, clear and uplifting way. Then, I started to blame my decision-making process, citing external reasons such as taking a different angle following the previous sharing, feeling rushed because it was getting late and people needed to catch their buses, and for the audience being too varied and thus watered down the points I was trying to make.
Despite the shower, the troubles were not washed away, my heart felt heavy and my mind felt clouded with both truths and lies.
It became tremendously easy for me to say to myself that I’m such a terrible testimony giver, I was a disgrace to the degree I hold, I tried so hard and got so far but in the end it doesn’t even matter because I screwed up my given opportunity to glorify God with my life.
At the same time these statements felt like irritating flies stuck indoors, flying around my face and food. I tried to speak over the lies, that my experiences were true, good and beautiful despite the way that I presented them. I am gifted in some ways of communication (usually on slower mediums like this blog). I can’t expect to get it perfect all the time but I must remain open to try and improving and listening to loving and constructive feedback. I can do this only on God’s strength.
It’s a lot for the heart to hold. I felt like I was not enough. When will I ever be enough?
Thinking about suffering and the cold
Interestingly, a topic I was studying a couple weeks ago was human suffering. Why do we suffer? What is the point? Couldn’t God make childbirth a little smoother? Maybe we can mature by just pursuing good things and be supported along the way? Perhaps the loss of persons could be neutralised by the definite assurance of a happy ending?
Upon dwelling and reading up on this topic, I found comfort in one particular paragraph that gave me a sense of calm in my restless search, it’s from Spes Salvi (Saved in Hope) :
“Suffering stems partly from our finitude, and partly from the mass of sin which has accumulated over the course of history, and continues to grow unabated today. Certainly we must do whatever we can to reduce suffering: to avoid as far as possible the suffering of the innocent; to soothe pain; to give assistance in overcoming mental suffering…
Indeed, we must do all we can to overcome suffering, but to banish it from the world altogether is not in our power. This is simply because we are unable to shake off our finitude and because none of us is capable of eliminating the power of evil, of sin which, as we plainly see, is a constant source of suffering. Only God is able to do this: only a God who personally enters history by making himself man and suffering within history. We know that this God exists, and hence that this power to “take away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29) is present in the world.”Pope Benedict XVI, 2007, Spes Salvi, 36
Another insight I had while in Rome occured when I was grumpy about the cold and how uncomfortable it made me feel. Why is there cold? In modern times, we’ve pretty much figured out that it’s the lack of heat, the movement of the earth round the sun. Then again, even if I found out why it was cold, what could I do about it other than to try and pile on more clothes or hang out near a heater? Could you imagine what the people thousands of years thought when they wondered why it was cold? Perhaps that’s the same attitude I have towards this question of suffering, the absence of something good and comforting. What could I do to solve suffering by asking a philosophical question?
God gave me hope
From my feeling lousy, to this question of suffering, the message was the same: I am not enough, but God is.
I’ve always struggled to really relate to God as my saviour. As the creator of the universe, as the light in my life, as my best friend, that I could proclaim on a mountaintop, but “Jesus my saviour” I say with a lot less passion.
In my finitude, my limits, my brokenness, my suffering doesn’t just remain there, Jesus had quite profoundly entered and elevated it and given us a great hope. The pains of childbirth can become a sharing in the physical pains of Jesus and the rest of humanity, the moments of failure and disappointment can be great moments of pure hope and great desire, the loss of loved ones becomes a joy as we look forward to the union with God in Heaven.
So despite my feelings of inadequacy, the call is to offer it to God and with all the confidence I can muster to say “God is enough for me”. I don’t think I can explain the great beauty and peace that this amazing truth brings, especially in the moments when I feel so small.
I ended my night sitting with Shaun explaining why I was so upset, and despite my lack of ability to truly listen and hear his words of comfort, I experienced a reflection of God’s gentle and tender love for me. I thought I might not be able to sleep that night but prayer truly did wonders as I sat in the dark, in a big dark room, but in the peace of God.
“Though if I wish to boast, I shall not be a fool, for I shall be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me.And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated.Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.– St Paul, in 2 Cor 12:6-10