“If you want me to go another round I will; but, if I’m being honest I don’t want to.” As I silently prayed, the stubborn resistance softened as tired tears rolled silently down my cheeks. I saw the bloodwork. I knew before she called. It would be another protocol, another experiment that hopefully is not mere trial and error. Obviously, there is enough reason to hope. But when you’ve ridden the roller coaster of almost and maybes, it’s natural for there to be a hesitation. The cloud of disappointment can shadows one’s willingness to try again.
What areas of your life are darkened by previous disappointments? Where are you challenged to see the reality that the Lord works all things out for the good of those who love Him? How can we bravely begin again? On the feast of JPII, may we imitate the Holy Father who persevered in trial emphatically reminding us “we are not the sum of our weaknesses but rather of the Father’s love for us”.
I wanna see you be brave
Even in suffering, I have to believe it
When he anxiously asked, I had been seeking the solution for over a year. Well before he even knew his need, the plan was put into motion. He doesn’t see the moving pieces – the way things are slowly coming together nor has he seen the many options that have been rejected and thrown out. He didn’t need to.
Sitting on the other side of the desk, it was easy to see there is a loving God who works “behind the scenes” so that all things work together for our good. When we want answers to the questions we each hold, can we trust the Lord moves mountains for the plans He has for our lives – plans for a future and a hope? As I sit and wait for my own questions to be answered, I too will live my way into the answers, directed by the One who makes crooked paths straight.
You want to give up cause it’s dark. We’re not that far apart.
So break my step and relent, you forgave and I won’t forget
“We have the Triumph of the Cross next weekend. It’s always a hard day to preach – to remind people that suffering and the cross are real,” he said.
“It’s hard to live,” I replied.
Looking through His glory wounds, it’s easy to see the passion of Christ illuminated. The soft glow transforms the brutality into the reality it is – a victory march. Yet, the crown of glory is the crown of thorns – which pierces, and at times obscures, the joy of the Resurrection.
In the midst of suffering, what anchors us in the victory of the cross? It is HOPE, which is not just a foreshadow of better days; rather, it is a life giving surrender that trusts even when we can’t change the circumstances, we can still help others personally excel where they are, as they are. Like the first responders who rushed into the World Trade Center, hope shows us how to resist evil by being and becoming a Force for Good. The Lord is the light in the darkness who allows us to endure tragedy by waiting with faithfulness to see transformation of the crown as it is – a beloved gift that pierces our hearts and allows us to whisper “I still believe.”
These wounds are a story you’ll use
The cross meant to kill is my victory
As long as you’re right here next to me, everything’s gonna be alright
“When you’re a quarterback, people look at you differently,” he commented. Articulating the pressure of the platform, he neither complained nor bemoaned his lot. Simply, he accurately expressed the privilege and responsibility of his role. Lauded for his skillset and recruited with high hopes, he finds himself in the shadows of teammates’ talent and fans’ expectations, a place he hardly has known. The transition involves a walk along a humble road where progress is often made in the hours before the sun rises. Standing at this new starting line, it’s evident just how far he has to go. Momentarily, he thinks about the day he will start.
At this decision point, the distance can become overwhelming and the destination of once again being in the limelight idolized. Yet, “the treasures of darkness” ought not be overlooked. As there is a gift in the time of secret formation and transformation. Mary, St. Joseph, and Christ shared the intimacy of the everyday which laid the foundation for the Lord to perform His public works, which were 33 years in the making. It was out of His relationship with the Father, which He received when He went away to pray, that the Lord was able to lay down His life fully. The altar of Calvary was built in the shadows of St. Joseph’s workshop. Do we trust the Lord will bring the good work He has begun in us to fulfillment? Do we trust He is present, even in the shadows? Do we trust the process, remembering the true goal line?
And He will raise you up on eagle’s wings
God’s not done with you
Always stay humble and kind
“Fortitude presupposes vulnerability; without vulnerability there is no possibility of fortitude. An angel can not be brave because he is not vulnerable. To be brave actually means to suffer injury. Because man is by nature vulnerable, he can be brave.” (Four Cardinal Virtues, 117).
The Lord’s resurrected hands are empty; there are holes in his hands. His brave heart is manifested by these access points of mercy. Yet, it is possible to see these openings and be wholly disappointed as the scars aren’t healed and the holes aren’t closed. It’s easy to foolishly believe the transformation is incomplete.
He is able to be brave because he is vulnerable; he suffered because He cared. His wounds illuminate His glory and allow His life giving water to flow. From the Father’s heart, his holy hands pour forth amazing grace as the physical reminder of the spiritual reality. He wholly offered himself up so that we might believe our wounds too will transcend reality and be invitations, and reminders, of His transformative love. May we imitate the Lord as we surrender the holes in our lives to be transformed and filled by God’s glory and grace. May our scars remind us we are brave.
I got the eye of the tiger, the fighter, dancing through the fire
These wounds are a story you’ll use
hope reminds me that i’ll hold your hand
It’s easy to look at the end result and blitz passed the process that yielded the outcome. In sports, it’s the highlight reel and in relationships, it’s the Instagram moment. In careers, it’s the promotion and in academics, it’s the degree. We climb the ladder of success seeking mountain top moments without realizing the joy of the journey is not merely found at the destination.
Similarly, for those who dare to journey, it’s easy to miss what’s happening along the way. Hypertrophy is “the increase in volume of an organ or tissue due to the enlargement of its component cells.” Coaches author programs with many reps and sets to increase each athlete’s time under tension in order to bring about hypertrophy, a process not an event.
How does the heart grow? The Lord provides opportunities, sometimes repetitious situations, that allow us to grow in virtue so that we may be more faithful, trusting, and loving. It’s easy to feel fatigue and muscle failure and burn out because we haven’t “arrived” at the goal. Similar to repping out push-ups, pull-ups, or mile repeats, practice allows us to grow. Trusting teaches us to trust; heart hypertrophy is the process and result of that increase in trust. Though the circumstances may not be what we would choose, let us allow the experience of darkness and silence to increase our trust in He who is trustworthy.
I’m thankful for the scars because without them I wouldn’t know your heart
If you say to trust, I will obey
Like a drum my heart never stops beating for you
A group of elementary school students got off a school bus at the rest stop. They instinctually gathered in formation and started a choreographed routine welcoming their classmates in the next bus that pulled up. Their joy spilled forth in rhythm as they stepped in time.
A student from our group prompted one of his classmates to join the children. The children embraced our student as he joined their circle; our students snapped the photos for Instagram. The freeze frame suggested a meaningful encounter that our student initiated and embraced. Seeing the setup, though, contradicted the reality. Perhaps, contradicted is too strong a word. At the very least, it expanded the reality beyond the portrayal and sentimentality.
Sometimes, we read situations through a lens of what we assume to be reality without ever questioning the set-up. Other times, we orchestrate and edit to crop situations to what we desire to portray or what we think is desired of us. Watching the scene unfold, compared to the still frame, it was the elementary students joy that was magnetic – not the forced participation of one of our students. This is not a call to be cynical of what we view; however, it is an invitation to question if we see through the lens of reality or our assumptions.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
It’s gonna be a bright, bright, sunshiny day