While on that trip recently, I went to our favorite church. I had intended to pay more attention to Mary while I was there, and we did get some novenas from the caretaker to light on her side of the aisle, but I felt compelled to go see Jesus first, whether by impulse or by force of habit.
I wasn’t before that statue for more than a minute before I started getting a lesson.
“How’s my driving?” I asked. “How am I doing? Am I doing the right things? Am I doing a good job?”
“You could do more.”
…What? How? I bust my ass every day for people. I exhaust myself often. I work pretty much non-stop. But it’s still not enough? I had to get up and go over and sit in a pew just adjacent for a minute and try to figure out what in the name of God more I could be doing.
“Work harder?” I ventured.
“Work… differently? Use different methods?”
Then I started getting annoyed. What was it then? I sat for a while trying to work out what I was doing wrong.
“You’ll figure it out,” I heard. This only got me more agitated. I’ve been trying to figure all this out for years (without instructions for some reason), and I’d just been handed yet another puzzle. I just wanted to do a good job, not play some kind of cosmic guessing game with the Man Upstairs. My mind worked overtime to try and figure out what more I could be doing for people, and I started wandering over into desperation. The only thing I could come up with was to bust my ass even more, be stronger somehow. I started getting a little choked up. I was already doing what I could, without sacrificing everything left that I needed to be whole… my own family, and time with them… so what should I…
Then he had mercy on me.
“Stop denying who you are,” he said.
I often spend so much time fighting with what I am, where I am, that I don’t allow myself to fully be who I am. I deny myself, because I’m afraid of sounding vain to others. I allow old wounds to continue to hurt me and old fears to hold me back.
I’m not perfect. I’ve been through a lot. I have a mind and a memory, just like you, and our past informs our present life. If you’ve been whipped every day for a year, you come to expect the whip, even when it’s gone. Sometimes, we take over the whipping job ourselves because it’s familiar and we know of no other way of being.
I will stop denying who I am. What I am. This is how I can serve better. This is how I can do more.