Sunday, July 13, 2008

Self-Indulgences

I have been MIA these past months from a combination of writer's block, emotional frustration and personal crises. Everyone is mostly healthy now (my son broke his arm in early May and has been sick since mid-June with a nasty stomach bug that just won't.go.away and which everyone else has shared) and we're past all the big events that have taken so much of my time (trips to visit family, planning my son's 5th birthday party, and houseguests.)

My heart has been stilted for a while now. I'm trying to keep busy so I don't think about the constraints that keep me from acting as I wish to, but every now and then something reminds me and I'm upset all over again. On Thursday evening I was making dinner when the phone rang. Our alma mater was calling to thank us for the generous gift we gave them.

I said, "Oh. Sure, no problem." and then asked my husband if we had given them something. Yep. $20. I know it's not much, but according to his arguments, we can't afford ANYTHING for charity right now. I wish I could say I accepted the news with grace, went off and prayed about it, then respectfully discussed the matter with him a few days later. But instead I snapped, "Then you won't mind if I give $20 to our Church building fund, will you?"

I still wonder if I'm doing the right thing by doing nothing. There's always another financial setback (our insurance company just raised our deductible from $300 per person to $4,000 because of all our trips to the ER in the last couple months) and it just doesn't seem to me that my husband has any incentive to change his thinking. We are further from being able to adopt and give to charity than we were when I began this blog a year ago, yet I've been praying daily, offering up my Masses and sacrificing my own principles for the sake of our marriage.

Trust. The theme of every message I've gotten recently comes down to one simple fact: I am not trusting God to perform a miracle for me. I still think there's something I need to be doing, or saying, to convince my husband to my position. It might take years for his heart to be softened, and in the meantime I absolutely cannot be nagging, prodding, complaining or whining.

I just wish that it didn't hurt so much. That I didn't start crying any time someone even so much as says "Africa." That passing the empty basket at Church didn't cause me physical pain. That I didn't have to throw out every envelope from Save the Children, St. Jude's Hospital, Save Darfur, Samaritan's Purse...

In conversation with a friend the other day, it became clear that God is asking me for concrete sacrifices dedicated to my husband's conversion. I'm incredibly self-indulgent. When my alarm goes off in the morning, I press snooze for half an hour. I snack constantly. I'm on the computer a hundred times a day. I sometimes skip prayer to watch TV. I wallow in self-pity and bad moods, show all my emotions as soon as they appear, rant and complain more than I care to admit, and generally indulge every whim.

I'm willing to make sacrifices for the poor. Why not for God and my husband?

I've decided to start small. Getting up when my alarm goes off. (I call it "Sit up for Jesus!" and that's what I say silently to myself every morning. "Sit up for Jesus, Tienne. Sit up!") Fasting from one meal a week. Limiting myself to one serving size of desert after a meal.

I'm hopeful these little sacrifices will strengthen my will and fit me for the trials to come. Conventional wisdom says things will get worse before they get better. Mary, my model, be with me and guide me. Shower me, God, with strength. Amen.

10 comments:

Rosie X said...

I truly think this post was a tremendous grace for me! I have been feeling in the dumps about my own self-indulgence, and I had fallen into a bit of a spiritual trough, as C.S. Lewis calls it. I want to try the same thing with my alarm. We'll see how it goes. This baby NEEDS to see me as a model of faith, hope, and love ACTING in the world. You are so inspiring!

Jack said...

Tienne, I noticed your husband is apparently not a Catholic, and you want him to be a "convert." I have been married 45 years and never joined the Church of my wife, kids, and grandkids. You notice I put quotation marks around convert. If your husband is a Christian and he joins the Catholic Church he is not a "convert." This word is used only for those of no Christian religion. This may seem minor, but the Church does not require full RCIA for other Christians; indeed they forbid the use of the term "convert" for fellow Christians coming into communion with Rome. It took me over two years to explain this to other knowledeable bloggers and to the Churches in my diocese. Maybe I was being stubborn. But I was doing what the Church says. An irony, don't you think. Jack

Jack said...

Clarification. I am in communion with Rome now. Jack

hugomar said...

Tienne you do not know me. My name is Frank. Jack ask me to write to you. I am Jack and Alice's "son"; not really but they have adopted me in a way. Jack thought my story might be of interest and help to you. My story can be found on Jack's blog. Let me give you the dates. If you have time you might like to look them up.

Let me give you the dates they appear on his blog.
11-17-07
11-28-o7
11-29-07
11-30-05
12-1-07
1-17-08
1-16-08
1-20-08
1-26-o8
1-30-08
2-8-08
2-21-08
2-22-08
3-12-08
3-21-08

Also on my blog "How I became a Catholic."

As you can tell Jack is not that big on miracles. But I believe my story is God working---a miracle. Frank

hugomar said...

Tienne some pictures of me and Jack and his family. You might like to see these to know I am not a crank. Frank

1-7-08
8-4-07
7-8-07
7-2-07

Tienne said...

Jack,

Actually, my husband is an atheist, so convert does apply! How odd that you had to explain it to your diocese. You'd think if anyone would know, it's the RCIA program at your church, eh?

Tienne said...

Frank,

Thank you, I will check out your blog and your story on Jack's blog.

Jennifer F. said...

Tienne, I'm so sorry to hear of your struggles. It's really inspiring to hear how you're dealing with it -- a great reminder to focus on sacrificing for those who are immediately in front of us in addition to all the other people suffering in the world.

It might be inspiring to read up on St. Monica and ask for her prayers: it took her prayers a loooong time to have any effect on her family, but God did eventually pull off a miracle. I can only imagine what it must have been like in all those years that she waited.

Anna said...

Tienne,

I think I've gone through similar frustrations to yours. And I believe you are doing the right thing by focusing on self-sacrifices. When I started paying more attention to my own faults and less to his, it brought a lot of peace to our home.

God bless,
Anna

Shannon said...

Life is like jumping off a clif and saying 'dear God, carry me'. The trick is, to jump off gleefully and joyfully. Like a child.
Jump into life with the joy of a child and God will catch you and carry you. Laugh at silly things. Love your husband with all that you are.
Never forget that YOU have a precious spirit.
Please take care. Know that you are never alone!! God has a plan for you. Just smile and be joyful and watch it unfold. He loves you so much and wants you're heart to be happy.
I know how you feel. I've been where you are. It will all be okay!!
Shannon