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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Oh, to be a Saint...

We grow closer to God through the trials in our lives; each trial is a special grace, a special opporunity for us to overcome our fallen nature and be an example of Christ to the world. Sometimes these trials are deeply personal and seen only by God and our guardian angels; sometimes these trials are very public and how we handle them is quite literally a public witness.

What a barometer to see how we're doing in the spiritual life!

Of late, while there have been many great blessings which have come my way and great experiences, there have also been great, heavy, burdensome trials, and the load does not seem to be lightening in any discernable way.

And there's another element to some of this, which I have alluded to before, but don't often discuss; spiritual battle.

Now, in the time of Lent, we work to overcome our passions as a form of purification, a form of discipline, a way to begin to reconnect and renew our relationship with God, so that at Easter we can also be reborn, resurrected with Christ. We recommitt ourselves to him, and in order to do this, we have to quite literally deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow in His footsteps.

A couple weeks ago I made a joking claim about becoming a Saint by Easter. I may have inadvertantly invited God to bless me abundantly with, well, things I don't like. Because they're difficult, and they force me to overcome my knee-jerk reactions, and let me tell you, part of the graces I've received in the last couple weeks involve displaying to me in full color how far I am from sainthood. Nothing like a little lesson in humility for Lent.

Thank you, Jesus.

Some of the things I've been facing are my constant job stress, which has been no secret. My new supervisor met with me yesterday, acknowledged that the signs of burnout are obvious in both my demeanor and my work, and asked me point-blank if I intend to stay in my position. I looked him directly in the eye and told him no and that I'm looking to move on. I also told him, not in exactly these words, but that I did not care if I got fired. I'm certain that wasn't a wise thing to say.

My grad theology class began just before lent, and while it's fascinating, I'm really struggling in writing a few short papers, lacking focus, lacking concentration. When I get home from work I'm so stressed out that I can't concentrate on ANYTHING, and although I can read, I can't form a coherent, concise answer required for class. The writing I do here is "fluff" in comparison to what's expected for a class.

I compare blog writing versus academic writing to skiing: when downhill skiing, it's easy to turn wherever you want to turn. You can have incredible form, you can have the technique, you can carve perfect arcs into the snow. Yet if you are placed onto an icy race course, you're still skiig but it sure is difficult to turn where you HAVE to turn, and a simple error can cause you to miss the next gate or even blow out of the course in a trail of white.

I think that's what I'm facing now. That, and too much stress.

But there's more. On Sunday night, I woke up to a feeling of absolute terror. Both of my dogs were growling, low, neither of them was at the window. They were in their respective places, growling, but not moving. There was a sense of a PRESENCE in the room and my eyes began to water. I also became aware that the sense of terror did not seem to come from within me (as from a bad dream or something), but seemed to be thrust upon me from without. I've had this experience before and I've learned that it can be overcome by an act of the will; refuse to be afraid. Refuse to give in, and above all, pray. I don't remember saying many prayers, but I did willfully place my trust in Jesus and I went back to sleep. Then I had a nightmare which was too horrible and grisly to discuss.

The feeling of oppression has been with me constantly, my silent shadow, brooding, burdensome, becoming my cross. This morning I woke up at around 4:30 and knew I wouldn't be able to go back to sleep so I got up, fed the dogs and started to work on my papers while sipping coffee.

And it's true; those first few moments of the morning can really be clarifying, and they set the tone for the day. When I had gotten up to get my second cup, it hit me that what I am experiencing is a trial, it is a gift from God, and He is allowing it for my purification. Yes, I've got a long way to go to get to sainthood (don't we all?), but without having the opportunity to struggle and fall, we will never grow. We will never become closer to God if we run from trials, because all trials are grace, and I haven't been responding well to God's grace, especially at work. I haven't been willing to put forth the effort to overcome this gargantuan cross that is my job and so I have slipped and fallen quite far. And this morning, God gave me the insight to understand that, but of course with the reminder that this battle ain't over.

I have a few days left this week, 3 days to overcome my stress at work...it won't go away, but I can certainly change how I handle things if I just offer this up to Jesus.

Lent has only just begun, and while, no, in all likelihood I will not have attained the sanctity of a saint by Easter, I do hope to grow in Christ and learn better how to unite my suffering with His and accept my burdens with humility rather than try to cast them off out of pride.

11 comments:

daverichards said...

Thanks for this wonderful post...it was really interesting to read through it...and as Easter is slowly approaching i's also like you to drop by my blog on Easter Wishes sometime and enjoy the wonderful spirit of Easter it's filled up with!!!

Angela Messenger said...

Adoro - don't know what to say but know that I am praying for you.

RobK said...

I'll keep you in my prayers. my father told me about an experience where saw an evil spirit appeared in his room. Stay close to Christ.

Anonymous said...

it's interesting that you post this now, as i am also struggling with spiritual attacks. i can hardly sleep alone in a room, because there is some sort of wrong presence trying to get to me, and nightmares are painfully frequent. but lately, i'm seeing more and more how this is an opportunity to trust in God. He's always stronger, He's never far, He is my constant protector. Lent has been good for putting these things in perspective. I hope the season continues to illuminate your relationship with Christ, His cross and His rising.
peace
p.s. you don't write "fluff". ;-)

Ray from MN said...

Adoro

Don't do anything rash at work before you are ready, financially and spiritually.

And consider the possibility of going to your immediate superior's supervisor if you feel that the relationship isn't working. Maybe that supervisor and repair the relationship between you and your boss. That's one of his responsibilities.

Adoro te Devote said...

Ray; the issue is not the relationships with my superiors, and in fact, my Manager has been aware for far longer that I'm burned out and that I'm leaving the job.

The new team leader just asked me point blank yesterday after reviewing some of my work.

I have told them both I'll give notice before I leave. I won't do anything rash, don't worry. That's why I'm taking vacation next week.

The issue is not the people; it's the job itself that I loathe and despise, and the company policies which I loathe and despise and which are so crushing.

I'm getting out of this career "path" because it has lead me only to professional death and it is doing the same to others in my office.

My Manager is awesome and he's already offered to write me tons of recommendation letters. He's solid. The team leader...he's a pain in the ass but not a factor in my leaving.

Angela Messenger said...

Adoro...ever thought about having your house blessed by your priest? Or mabye just sprinkle some holy water around your room and on the bed.

Melody said...

Adoro, it sounds like you are dealing with some pretty heavy things. I'll pray for you.
I second Angela's suggestion for holy water in your home. My grandma used to say that the devil hates holy water.

Adoro te Devote said...

Thanks, Melody, I appreciate the prayers.

See the above comment, thugh - it's me, but I couldn't sign on last night to comment under my own name.

I have holy water everywhere, as well as blessed objects, exorcized salt etc. Yeah, the devil hats it but he still tries to attack; the good news is that he takes a beating in the process.

~m2~ said...

oooh, this gave me the chills as i have had similar things happen to me, but a few years ago.

it does sound you are under something really, really heavy. i will also add you to my prayer intentions...

Adoro te Devote said...

hmmm....all the great comments! Thanks, everyone.

I also just realized that the response I gave Melody made no sense because the post I posted disappeared...that's happened a couple times where blogger tells me the comment saved...and then later I realize it's not there. Glitch.

I of course can't remember what I said in the missing post.

About the blessing...I've had my house blessed already, although I've considered having it done again. Maybe after I clean, though because I'm embarassed to have anyone over here right now! LOL


The good news is that as of 5 pm tonight, my vacation began. I feel better already! (Unfortunately, already dreading going back to work...gotta shake that off....)