Out of the woods: it’s a phrase that dates back to Roman times indicating that you are not longer lost, no longer in danger, or no longer in darkness… and I gotta be honest, right now… I think I’m still in the woods…
Sometimes life is freaking hard. Sometimes… it seems as though life is freaking hard all of the time. This weekend, I was an emotional, spiritual and physical mess.
I could not get out of the mud puddle… I tried to swap for God’s grace multiple times and kept getting pushed back into the filth (hello spiritual warfare). I seriously couldn’t get anything done… I felt like an incredible failure. On top of it all, I have a habit of self-condemnation, so I was not being very kind to myself. I was very aware of the spiritual warfare and was so relieved to reunite with Chris after four days apart. Having missed the morning Masses at our local parish, we drove an hour away for an evening Mass at a church we had never been to before. The name of the parish was St. Michael the Archangel; “Seems appropriate…” Chris remarked, “hopefully he can help us out.”
There hasn’t been a quick fix… evil keeps throwing us punches on this “lovely” Monday… and the temptation is to believe that it’s all my fault. That I wouldn’t be struggling with this if I was doing something better… if I had more virtue… more faith… more strength…more humility… but I know that’s a lie (even though my emotions like to tell me otherwise).
I’m so grateful to return to the office today. God is certainly using my daily responsibilities to illuminate his grace. As luck would have it, today I’m reading John 6, and for those of you who don’t know, this is a chapter jam-packed full of miracles, goodness, and wisdom. It contains the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus walking on water, and the Bread of Life discourse. It’s in this chapter that Jesus’ teaching makes absolutely no sense according to the wisdom of man. To the crowd, it sounds as though he’s telling them that in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, they have to become cannibals and eat his flesh and drink his blood. As you can imagine, Jesus lost a lot of followers that day. People who had once been his disciples turned away from him because what he said made absolutely no sense.
That’s kind of how I felt about this last week or so… my days weren’t quite so strange, but there was definite confusion as to what was going on and how I was supposed to deal with it all. None of it made sense. Mostly… I just wanted to know what I needed to do “better;” I wanted to figure out what I needed to do to fix it.
My answer came as I read this chapter and witnessed St. Peter’s humility.
As I already mentioned, many of Jesus’ disciples ceased to follow him after this… Jesus, being human, undoubtedly feels the sting that often accompanies being misunderstood, and asks the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?”
For the record, this line breaks my heart. I almost want to cry for Jesus. If it was a movie, and I didn’t know what was coming next… tears would be streaming down my cheeks…
Saint John only records the response of St. Peter, which seems to indicate that he vocalized the feelings of all twelve men. “Lord,” St. Peter replies, “…to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life.”
Translation: “What you said makes absolutely no sense and I don’t understand it… but what I do understand is that you have the answer… so I’m staying until I understand.”
And that is how I feel at this very moment. I have absolutely no idea if I’m out of the woods yet… things aren’t clear… but one thing is for certain, turning away from God in my own struggle will not bring about any clarity…
So for now, I’m hanging out with St. Peter (a good place to be)… and realizing that I don’t have to understand what’s going on, and I don’t have to try to fix it either. I simply have to stay close to Christ.
This counts as “swapping” right?