The "I'm fine" trap9:43 AM
"Oh, My Lord! How true it is that whoever works for You is paid in troubles! And what a precious price to those who love You if we understands its value." St Teresa of Avila
This is such a horrifying quote. Such a terrifying sentiment. It's like that scene in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
I've been thinking a lot about suffering recently and thinking about how every Catholic in the world has said/heard/been told to "offer it up" or "unite your sufferings with Christ". I've heard it a thousand (million) times and on a basic level, I get it.
But how do we do it.
What does that actually mean?
I've fallen into a trap of "I'm fine/It's okay". When you are suffering or struggling, and someone asks you how you are, and maybe you talk about your actual sufferings, do you end with a..."but it's okay, I'm fine" or something similar?
"My car exploded and prayer has been so hard and I stepped in dog poop but it's fine"
But it's so not fine.
This has been my mantra. Well meaning and wonderful people will ask if we are expecting or if we are hoping to be pregnant, I said yes, I talk about how it's been really hard and we don't have answers yet and it's a real struggle...but it's fine.
It's not fine and that's the point.
When Jesus was dying on the Cross, when He was beaten to the point of death, while He was suffocating in agony, He didn't say, "it's okay, I'm fine".
He embraced His sufferings. He prayed for those who persecuted Him. He fully committed to that time of agony and made the most of it. And then He died and then He rose again.
It's okay for me to be in agony, to feel the weight of this Cross, to feel totally beaten and bruised, to be angry and upset and sad. I am allowed to feel those feelings because Jesus felt those feelings.
But it's not okay for me to stay there. Jesus didn't stay on the Cross, He didn't steep in His agony, He didn't refuse to move. He died, He drank the bitter dregs of that cup, and then He rose again.
Pain demands to be felt because it reminds us that we aren't invincible, we aren't unstoppable, we aren't in control. When we say "it's fine, I'm okay, whatever" we brush it off and try to, once again, control it, to minimize it.
Let's try and share this message. What if we let ourselves feel the pain, acknowledge it, nail it to the Cross of Jesus, and then rise again? Can we allow our brothers and sisters to share real suffering with us, can we have our hearts expanded in compassion and sympathy instead of just brushing it off. Can we invite others into our wounds and have it point to the glory of God.
Happy feast day of St. Teresa of Avila!