Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Martyrdom of Me

Today I realized something about myself.  I don't mind suffering!  Physical distress, poverty, pain:  none of these bother me at all, as long as I'm not inconvenienced or uncomfortable. 

I've read gripping works about Christians in horrid circumstances.  St. Therese on her deathbed, Ignatius of Antioch on his way to martyrdom, John of the Cross imprisoned, Immaculee Ilibagiza huddled in a bathroom.  I usually read these things at night, under soft blankets in my cozy house.  From my comfort zone, I am inspired and challenged and ready to endure anything for God.

And then I wonder if someone might have misunderstood something I wrote about prayer.  Or if I might be getting a headache.  Or maybe I'm asked to go a teeeeeny bit out of my way to help someone else.  Alas and alack.  Such things can feel like the very martyrdom of me.  

(back of hand to forehead; long sigh........)

This is not my first blog post about this kind of thing.  Shouldn't I be getting 'better' by now?

I would say yes and no.  Yes, in that I should be growing in acceptance of God's will, whatever that may entail.  Hopefully that is happening.  

And no, in the sense that I will surely always dread suffering.  That is only human, only normal.  I would even say that the dread and misery makes the gut-wrenching acceptance of God's will (when it involves suffering) all the more valuable.  It is a matter of choice, and I can choose God's will regardless of how I may feel.  

I do not have the grace to endure facing lions or being imprisoned, because at this moment I don't need it.  If a lion ever comes for me, God will provide all the lion-grace I need.   

The grace to endure a headache?  Yes, that I am frequently given.  I'm sorry to say that all too often I've been too busy fretting or complaining to see and accept that grace as the gift it is.       

So I shall sit back against my fluffy pillows, maybe with a cup of tea, and let God inspire me with words like these.....

'Permit me to imitate my suffering God... I am God's wheat, and I shall be ground by the teeth of beasts, that I may become the pure bread of Christ.'  (St. Ignatius of Antioch, just before his martyrdom)

'In temporal crosses let God touch and strike whatever string on the lute He chooses.  Never will He make but a good harmony.'  (St. Francis de Sales) 

'Three times I was beaten with rods; I was stoned once, shipwrecked three times; I passed a day and night on the sea.  I traveled continually, endangered by floods, robbers, my own people, the Gentiles; imperiled in the city, in the desert, in the sea, by false brothers; enduring labor, hardship, many sleepless nights; in hunger and thirst and frequent fastings; in cold and nakedness.  Leaving other sufferings unmentioned, there is that daily tension pressing on me, my anxiety for all the churches.. if I must boast, I will make a point of my weaknesses.'  (2 Corinthians 11:25-30)

'If we only knew the precious treasure hidden in infirmities, we would receive them without complaining or showing signs of weariness.'  (St. Vincent de Paul)

'You are quite willing to have a cross, but you want to have the choice; you would have it common, physical, and of such or such a sort.  How is this, my well beloved daughter?  Ah no, I desire that your cross and mine be entirely of Jesus Christ.  As to the imposition of them and the choice, the good God knows what He does and why He does it, all for our good.'  (St. Francis de Sales)

Painting:  Ferdinand Max Bredt

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  1. Great post to reflect on as we begin Lent Nancy! Yes...we have all the courage in the world in our cozy homes don't we : )

    My insomnia is a martyrdom of sorts...some days, I can accept with much grace and I am so grateful for that! After nights and nights of it...not so good...murmuring...complaining. God asks this suffering for Him and I say that I love Him and will do anything??

    THANKS for the reminder!

  2. Oh Nancy, I love this! I can so identify! It's almost comical sometimes when I'm sick and as I take my antibiotic and Tylenol for fever and aches, adjust my heating pad or ice pack...whichever is needed, fluff my fluffy pillows, etc., I tell the Lord it's not so bad to suffer for Him...lol! But, I think for all of us, there are unexpected and dreadful sufferings for which no easy remedy can be found. That's when God gives us the "lion-grace." He doesn't waste anything, so we won't get it till we need it, and most of the time, I find He gives it only in the measure we need it...not extra. I love what you wrote about our dread etc., of the suffering makes if more valuable. How good Jesus is to have given us His Own example in the Garden of Gethsemene! I remember our beloved Therese saying, "The cup is overflowing..." Even great Saints struggled with pain. Sometimes I dread things which I know will one day come, but I find strength in knowing God has never failed to get me thru past suffering.

    Awesome post! And...just love that poor suffering woman in the picture! Perfect! ;)

  3. You are priceless, Nancy :) I both laughed and said "yes, oh, yes" throughout this post! It takes us our whole lives to die to self, doesn't it? This post is awesome!

    And the artwork? Perfect, just perfect!

    1. Thanks to you ALL, Theresa and Patricia and Mary! This post grew (I'll admit it) out of a woe-is me-day. I had a headache, earache, shoulder pain. O WOE WAS ME!!!! I plopped pitifully around the house, and by noon realized that my face had actually settled into a frown. That's when I decided to plant a smile on my face, and when I did I nearly broke up with laughter, for it was actually hard to do! I felt like someone putting on a costume mask. But I wore that "mask," for the glory of God! And realized anew how faaar I have yet to go toward holiness and selflessness.

      Thanks again to you all!

  4. This is so meaningful to me, Nancy. I suffer from migraines (and take oils and herbs and tea of all kinds) and it is rough! (back of hand to forehead. long sigh, too) I've often told Mary and I'll tell you, I think your saint quotes are priceless. Would you please take pictures and make memes with the saint quotes? I would love to share them all over facebook. No one does saint quote like you.

    1. Anabelle, what a kind thing to say! Thank you! It's very helpful, actually, because I absolutely LOVE pairing quotes with pictures. It's good to know it is "worth something" to someone else.

      I was actually trying to learn to insert text into photos some months ago... haven't really gotten the hang of it yet, and have to use an old slooooow computer (my Computersaurus Rex) to make that project work. But if I do accomplish it, I'm sure such things will show up here!

      I'm so sorry you have trouble with migraines. Having had them myself, I can empathize with the back of hand to forehead when they strike. I say a prayer for you as I write this!