Friday, December 14, 2007

Backseat Driving in God's Limousine

I had a thought during my nightly Rosary the other night: I'm not letting God work any miracles for me.

I'm reminded of that little poem by Lauretta Burns that I'm sure we've all seen before.

Broken Dreams
by Lauretta Burns

As children bring their broken toys
With tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams to God
Because He was my Friend

But instead of leaving Him
In peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help
With ways that were my own.

At last I snatched them back and cried, "How can You be so slow?"
"My child," He said, "what could I do?
You never let them go."

I thought, too, of St. Therese of the Little Flower. If you haven't read The Story of a Soul please find some time do so. I've never known its match for beauty, and the profound truths of her little way are beyond my ability to translate here. There were two main things I remembered from the book that struck me the other night. I thought first of how deeply and utterly she trusted God. At one point she wrote how elated she was when her father confessor told her she ought to take Communion every day. It had been a strong desire of hers to do so, but she didn't speak of it to anyone or ask to be given permission (I'm not sure why she needed permission; perhaps someone with a better historical understanding of her time or her convent can enlighten me.) She simply let that desire well in her heart and waited for God to grant it. How pure was that trust! To not even ask for something that surely would have been granted her easily, but instead to hope for it and allow God to reveal his glory...It's something I can hardly imagine, Type-A control-freak that I am.

The second thing that came to mind during my meditation was how St. Therese liked to consider herself the bride of Jesus. When a sister of hers married and spoke lovingly of all the little things she did to please her husband, St. Therese vowed that she would not let her sister do more for her earthly husband than she herself would do for God. She took the relationship literally, even amusing herself by writing out an invitation to the reception that celebrated her union with the son of God and the Queen of Heaven, to be held at a time unannounced -- Hold yourselves ready, for we do not know the hour of His coming!

I thought about how I let my husband clean the kitchen for me every night. Some of you might be smirking at that statement, but that's how controlling I am. Early in our marriage I used to look at the job he did -- crumbs on the floor, knives in the sink, tomato sauce on the counter, a precarious tower of hand-washed dishes piled high in the drying rack -- and compose conversations in my head where I taught him how to do it properly. Praise God, the Holy Spirit kept me from saying much at the time, because this kitchen cleaning thing happens to be the number one way Dan shows his love for me. He's not demonstrative, he's not verbal, he doesn't buy gifts and we're kind of busy for quality time together. His love language is acts of service and this is a service he performs every single day. Even when I make him one of my infamous eight pot dinners and he can't even see the sink to get started, he still does it.

If I insisted on doing it my way, I'd be missing out on this gift from my husband. There's a humility in accepting gifts, I've found. It's often not exactly what you'd get yourself, or what you wanted. Sometimes it's a total miss. Sometimes it's better than you could have dreamed of, or so unexpected that the joy of it takes your breath away. Whichever scenario it is, the truly loving giftee will take it, thank the giver with a grateful heart, and use the gift.

I have a coat I hate. My mom bought it for me and it's cherry red, not my style, with a huge, flat collar. I wear it every Christmas because I'm lucky enough to have a loving mother and a nice coat. Who cares if it's not my style?

If I'm trying at every opportunity to win Dan over to my way of thinking on this adoption thing, I'm not letting God do any work. I'm trying to do it myself. I'm not bringing it up, mind you, but whenever he sends me an article that bemoans the difficulty of large families or mentions a conversation with someone who's overwhelmed by their kids' schedule, I yammer on and on about how great I think large families are and how wonderful it would be to have another child and detail all the ways we could make things work if we had more.

Maybe God is looking for an opportunity to do something for me, here.

I should just let Him.


Amy said...

Oh do just let him! I am only one person, but in my experience (both with wanting to be open to life then wanting to adopt) it was only after I stopped talking to dh and started praying *only* that things turned around. My prayer was that God would make dh's heart like His on the subject, so that I would know through dh's leading what we were to do. In both cases dh made a relatively quick turn around without me saying anything more.

Katy said...

Re: daily communion -- at the time it just wasn't a devotional practice that was very much encouraged. Most pious people held that if you wanted to receive daily, you should get permission from your spiritual director, to avoid the risk that you were just doing it out of pride, overestimating your own holiness and preparedness to receive. Also, I think (but someone please correct me if I'm wrong) that at a lot of daily (non-Sunday) Masses, the Eucharist wasn't normally offered to the faithful but was consecrated only in one small host by the priest. If you wanted to receive at some times and in some places, you might have had to arrange for it ahead of time. It's a very foreign mindset and praxis to our own, but it did have its roots in reverence and in a sense of the extreme specialness that was and is receiving our Lord in communion.

Thanks for this post in general -- it's something I struggle with too, and I can always use the reminder to get out of God's way.