Lenten Devotion - day 17
I am tired today. Do you know how sometimes it feels like you’ve done more than you can, and at the exact same time it feels like you haven’t done enough?
A couple of months back while I was taking prayer requests during a church service, a gentle soul asked for prayers for me. She spoke of how hard it is for people to help those who are suffering, and to hold the concerns of others. Then she talked about how I hold a lot of people’s sorrows and needs.
I appreciated it. Did I appreciate it for the recognition? I hope not. I don’t want that to be the reason I do anything anymore. God knows I’ve done enough of that in my life.
I hope I appreciated it because I needed it. I needed the prayer, the going to God and saying to God, “I can’t do this without you.” I needed the prayers of other people too. They also know I can’t do it alone.
By and large I love the work I do. I get to love people. And I want to love them. Sometimes I think I’m even good at it. I’m not as good as I’d like to be, however. I’ll admit that. I want to love the world, because something about loving the world feels like becoming more like God. But, it’s hard.
It’s hard when people don’t love us back, and it’s easy to become hardhearted to those who don’t love us back. It’s hard when there seems to be so much pain sometimes too. I try to let it go, but some lingers on me. It’s not like we can shake off the dust from the holy places. And pain is often holy.
I’ve been with so many people as they watch loved ones go away, that sometimes I don’t want to go into anymore such moments. Sometimes those moments break me. Sometimes they are awful beyond words, and I’ve been there. I can’t remember all of them, and yet I can’t forget them either, because in each moment I witnessed God. And that’s the only reason I go into those moments, because a lot of people can’t see God in them. But for some reason I do.
But that isn’t the hardest part of loving people for me at all. For me it’s loving them when I wish they were more aware. More aware of God all around. More aware of their own beauty, and the beauty of others. More aware. Sometimes I wish I could shake the world and yell, “Wake up!” If I get too frustrated with people it gets harder to love them.
“In all things be patient,” St. Francis de Sales once said. Patience is one of the pillars of love; although we don’t often admit that. We often think trying to make people like we think they should be would be best. It isn’t. But when I realize I’m not being patient with people I remember the second part of that St. Francis de Sales quote about being patient in all things, “but most certainly with yourself.”
Patience with ourselves, forgiving ourselves, giving grace to ourselves, these are all practices that help us become patient with others, forgiving of others, and willing to give grace to others.
Love isn’t easy. And sometimes it is exhausting. And love often takes us to places where we feel like we’ve done more than we can, and at the exact same time it feels like we haven’t done enough. But, as Paul said, “Love is patient, love is kind…”
You know where else I learn about this patient and kind love? In those moments I stop and watch Jesus on his journey to the cross. This life is a journey to be like Christ. And none of us can do it alone. It isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s the hardest thing. It’s also the greatest thing.