Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Letting Go of "Peace"

I had a visit from a friend over the weekend. We did a lot of talking, and I shared part of what I'm doing to try and Take the Poor With me. I shared some of my frustrations with her, my feelings of impatience and the frequent sorrow that comes over me whenever I hear about women in the Congo raped to incontinence, or women in India outsourcing their wombs, and remember that right now, I can do next to nothing to help them.

We had a long conversation about peace. Her contention is that in order to feel peace, I have to truly let go of my desires in this matter. I tried to explain that I have already let go, that my whole self is now dedicated to saving money when I can and working towards the goal my husband has set for us rather than fighting for what I believe to be right or underhandedly giving away all my cash to charity and claiming I spent it on donuts.

But according to her, in order to truly let go, I have to stop wanting it entirely. If I hear a news story and still want to help those people in need, I haven't really let go. If I'm still irritated at the restrictions on our budget, I haven't really let go.

I don't think I need to spend much time telling you that this idea really REALLY bothers me. I do my very best to turn my pain and anguish over to God, that He might do what He wills with it. I am trying as hard as I can to bite my tongue whenever the topic of money comes up and let my husband lead our finances. Does that mean the feelings just vanish? NOT IN THE LEAST.

To me, her definition of "letting go" is really "giving up." How can I have hope unless I'm expecting change? And why would I expect change if it's something I don't want anymore? Since when is erasing the desire for something the answer? I think about Hannah, barren for most of her life, praying so fervently in the Temple that God would grant her a son that Eli thought she was drunk or crazy. How could Hannah simply stop wanting a child? That's the secret to achieving peace...telling yourself over and over again "I don't really want this" until it becomes true?

It sounds entirely wrong to me, but could that be because I'm not really letting go? I admit, I'm still irritated every single time I go to Mass, every time I pray, every time I read/hear God's word. Everything in my faith points to caring for the poor, to tithing, to sacrifice and sacrificial love. I'm constantly reminded of what I want to do and what I can't do.

My friend said that I should just be satisfied with my volunteer work and let everything else be, that I should find peace in submitting my will to that of my husband as God commands.

I don't even know what that would feel like. I know I'm doing the right thing by backing off and praying for God to take over. I completely, wholeheartedly believe in Church teaching and am confident that the decision I've made is the right one. So why don't I feel "peace" about it?

Either her and my definitions of "peace" are at odds, or I'm doing something wrong.

I would appreciate any insights anyone has to offer.

Picture credit.


Abigail said...

I'm having the same fight with my mom over my decision to home-school Hannah next year. It's really hard. I don't have any answers for you or myself.(Your friends words are very encouraging.) I'll be adding prayers for you and your mom to my nightly rosary intentions.

Tienne said...

Thanks, Abigail! I'll pray for you, too. (I anticipate a similar argument about homeschooling myself, when that comes up next year. Let's hope our prayers for each other help work things out!)