So, many of you have asked about the state of our old/new house down the street. I haven't written about the progress as much as I thought I would for many reasons. I must confess, the reason I've written so little about it because I've been a bit pressed for nice things to say as of late (about the house, that is).
The house has been a huge undertaking for us. We knew we were going to be putting much into this home, but I don't think we really knew how much it would take to live there. This is, after all, the first home we've remodeled, in fact, it's the first home we've ever owned.
So, all the times I've wanted to write, I've ended up having thoughts about the things that were keeping me up at night. I would think about the hole that seems to have found it's way into our bank account. About the fire in the rental property, the plumbing, the...here I go again.
Every time I had a sarcastic e-mail to write about our new little place I would get to the end of the e-mail and hit delete. I simply couldn't post it. Now, don't get me wrong. Those of you who know me personally have probably heard all that you want to hear about this place-and then some.
The fact is I am so very grateful for the house that we bought. While it has been a source of stress for us, it has also been a blessing. I have had ample opportunity to analyze myself in the face of all sorts of situations-good and bad. And I'll say this, almost 90% of the time I wished that I had responded or thought differently or had simply prayed. I wish that I had given thanks to God for every situation that has come our way. But I haven't. I've worried, fretted, lost sleep, doubted...
I read a book the other night about a Catholic priest who was in prison for many years in Russia after being falsely charge of espionage. His living conditions were horrible and he was starved, beaten and mentally abused severely for years and years. While he was enduring daily psychological and physical torture, he was praying for God to give him strength, wisdom, direction, to deliver him, anything! Nothing. He felt nothing. He never felt abandoned by God, but the things he asked for didn't come-for years. Finally, when he was completely broken, and had totally given up after agreeing to charges that were brought against him, he was racked with shame.
"Slowly, reluctantly, under the gentle proddings of grace, I faced the truth that was at the root of my problem and my shame. The answer was a single word: I. I was ashamed because I knew in my heart that I had tried to do too much on my own, and I had failed. I felt guilty because I realized, finally, that I had asked for God's help but had really believed in my own ability to avoid evil and to meet every challenge. I had spent much time in prayer over the years, I had come to appreciate and thank God for his providence and care of me and of all men, but I had never really abandoned myself to it..." Fr. Walter J. Ciszek, S.J.
Now, I am in no way comparing my own personal challenges to this man's. Or to all the other people who suffer. But I do believe that God works with us within our own lives and situations and that each of our suffering, however great or small, is still suffering. Each of us is called to abandon ourselves to Christ-in every single area of our lives, every single day, every single moment. This book reminded me of this calling and how I had, once again, missed the mark.
I will speak frankly here now and say that I simply don't know how people live without the fullness of the Christian faith. I don't know how people live without fasting, prayer, almsgiving. Without the Jesus prayer. Without the mysteries. Without prostrations. Without participating in the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete. Without all the services the church has to offer. (As my husband always reminds me, "You don't need to know. Just pray.")
It's definitely Lent. It is most assuredly time to bow before the people I know and love and ask forgiveness. It is definitely time for me to cry out to God that I have been faithless and not submitted myself to Him...that I have sinned immensly. I thank God for this opportunity. I doubt very seriously that I would ever humble myself in this way without the church walking me through it all.
So, a blessed Lent to you all. May God grant us strength, humility and forgiveness and the ability to submit ourselves wholly to Him at every second of our day!
Please forgive me a sinner!