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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Of Toddlers, Temper Tantrums, and Timely Blessings

I think Father V. at Adam's Ale is rubbing off on me. He's fond of alliteration, and now here I go, copying his style.

Anyway, this is a long post alert. None of you should be surprised. You KNOW I can't keep my mouth shut!

Of Toddler and Temper Tantrums

Sometimes I think I paint a picture of myself on this blog that is not entirely accurate. Sometimes I get the impression that some readers think of me as some kind of "spiritual giant." As my previous post and some others like it should prove, I am nothing of the sort.

Today as I locked my computer, logged off my phone, and headed out the door, I considered some of the recent events of my life and the posts I've read recently by other bloggers, most notably Terry at Abbey Roads2 and Happy Catholic.

I have been struggling in my work for at least 3 years now. I've been there for almost five. My first year was very hard, but I had a goal, so it made the work bearable, but I couldn't lie to myself or anyone else...I hated it. Then I got promoted to my current position, and for about a year, I actually loved my job...mostly. Then things changed, and the company has gone downhill, the job has changed, and what I loved about it before no longer exists....that, and I've grown as a human being. I am not in the same spiritual place and those things I loved...well, let's just say that they are not things that are compatible with growing in virtue. Not for me, anyway. Perhaps others could handle the work and the focus of it without being so affected, but I am not one of those people. You all see how emotional I am; I wear my heart on my sleeve. My temperment is not compatible with my situation. Thus suffering ensues.

Yes, suffering is redemptive, and I've gone through phases...sometimes I'm able to accept my lot and trudge along, sometimes I'm barely keeping my rebellion at bay...and sometimes, the rebel in me is let loose in full fury and chaos reigns.

I am nothing but a spiritual toddler, kicking and screaming in my own little spiritual and emotional temper tantrums, telling God, "I will not serve!" even as I return to my work each day, grumbling, yet trying to hard, still telling God, "I am not going to do this!." And even as my words convey my feelings, my actions must be obedient, and God knows this, and tolerates my insolence. He knows I have no choice, and he knows this because he placed me in this very spot.

Today as I left, I considered one of my patrons, John Paul II. He helped me with my class spring semester this year, and has greatly opened my eyes to many theological matters. I've found him easy to talk to, and in doing so, he has lead me to answers.

Today, as I conversed in my prayer to this uncanonized saint, he reminded me of the posts I read, and asked me to consider what they told me. They are a mirror of myself and my reactions to things. They reflect what I do not want to see...that being my rebellion and my tantrums. I know that things happen on God's time, and I am reacting out of not necessarily frustration with God, but my own frustration with myself. I try to rely on myself far too much and end up leaving God out of the equation. I haven't found the balance of God's grace, my acceptance of it, and the actions I'm supposed to take versus the actions I want to take and my demands to God to fulfill what I want.

I say oh-so-piously, "Thy will be done," but what I reallly mean is "MY will be done."

God definitely knows our hearts, and even if we talk ourselves into saying we want God's will to be done, in reality, we are still praying to ourselves out of our own self-love, and God will certainly answer that prayer by allowing us to wallow in our own self-deceptive ways. It's the only way we can learn, and it's far more effective than a slap on the folded hands.

We inflict our own punishments. God doesn't have to do a thing. He just sits back and loves us enough to let us learn from our trials, most of which we cause for ourselves.

Then we kick and scream, we make demands, and finally God speaks up and asks, "Just WHO are you praying to?"

And then, maybe then, we stop long enough to listen to what he has to say, because that question is shocking in its simplicty.

Today, I realized that all my prayers are constantly being answered, even before I pray. In the context of my job, a few years ago God, seeing what was coming for he created me, drew me very close to him. I was attending Daily Mass and my work schedule allowed it. I was skipping lunch and going to adoration at a nearby chapel. I didn't realize it, but this was actually a fast. I once went almost two weeks without eating lunch, and I didn't care about the hunger, for the greater hunger was being relationship with Our Savior.

Then it hit...bad management, friction with a certain key co-worker, realization that I had no future in my position, an impossible workload....and a possible call to religious life.

He saw my need and answered it, giving me strength to persevere when otherwise I would have run away. I was falsely accused, but the accusation and closed-door meeting happened upon my return from lunch Adoration, and I kept my eyes on the crucified Lord, as directed interiorly to do.

The suffering has continued...I have not found an escape.


The Saints choose us...I'm convinced of that.

During my struggles, I was also making my entrance into the Church, and it was a long painful year, for even as I returned, I knew God was calling me to more, and I was so torn between the world and the spiritual life. Even as I suffered in the temporal realm, there was great joy in the spiritual, even as I suffered there as well.

One day I was in the back of the chapel, having an arrangement to wait until the end of the line to go to Confession with Father. I could not control my tears, I was struggling with so many things, and the waiting was unbearable. I sat, crying silently, looking at Jesus. I was near the statue of St. Therese the Little Flower; I've always had a devotion to her, even if marginal. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a woman wearing a black chapel veil standing next to me. She nudged me gently and held a little homemade booklet out to me. Stooping slightly, whispering, she said to me, "I brought this here tonight for someone who wanted it, but that person is not here. I think I'm supposed to give it to you."

That little booklet was a series of prayers and novenas to St. Therese the Little Flower. That same year, shortly after, I said a brief novena to her, and in October, a flower bush outside my door burst into bloom, 3 flowers only. My other bush, nothing. Some of my neighbors have the same bushes, the same light blooms anywhere else.

Then God sent me St. Francis de Sales, and his words of wisdom headed off some other crises. Next was Fr. Walter Ciszek, a Jesuit priest who spent 23 years imprisoned in Stalin's labor camps in Siberia, falsely accused. The parallels with my situation are undeniable, spiritually speaking, and given the hardship of his everyday life, his story gives me strength when facing my own problems.

God is upping the ante on me yet again, and I'm noticing the pattern...whenever he invites me deeper, to take on more in service to Him, the temporal issues become greater and more intense. The job is usually at the forefront of this type of suffering.

Yet, I am not alone. He sends in the troops. He sends me to His Mother.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help has become my perpetual help. I have quite literally felt my hands in hers, I have recieved affirmations of her intercession, and now, the Saints are coming out of the woodwork.

St. Rita (two people, in two days, brought her to me), St. Anthony (today is his feast day), Walter Ciszek, reminding me of his aid to me every day in my work, John Paul II, with his apostolic guidance with a personal touch...and so many others!

There is another Saint especially dear to my heart, for his was a household name for us. Our family prayed to him before he was ever canonized; Padre Pio. He was a friend of my great uncle, who met him during the war. I still have a letter from that uncle (the one who wanted me to be a teacher and offered to pay for my education), indicating that he added my brother and I to Padre Pio's spiritual family long ago.

Padre Pio is so close to us that I have a hard time referring to him as "Saint Pio", because, to me, he will always be "Padre", the grumpy "uncle" bearing the wounds of Christ. I'm certain it's this grumpy "uncle" who brought me back home, and I KNOW that he's the one who brought me back to Confession.

Yet for me, he remains on the outskirts of my spiritual awareness. I pray to him for his intercession, but more often, he doesn't answer those prayers directly, but instead places me in a position to bring his intercession to someone else. He has used me to bring signs of confirmation for prayers heard, he has used me to cousel others, he has used me to make connections on behalf of others. I didn't know of the connections until they happened and the other party revealed them to me.

Yet he terrifies me; my impression of him is of his grumpiness, although I know he was exceedingly kind, and wise, and holy. I have a sense that he is impatient with me, and well he should be...for I am a spiritual toddler when he has desired I be "raised" to be more like Christ. I fall short through my own fault, in spite of every grace given to me. How he must have sighed in impatience at yesterday's post!

But the Lord is faithful, and even in our imperfections, our spiritual childhood, he stays his hand and bears us up one more time.

I am such a mess of a human being...I am so often a bumbling idiot, and I am so grateful for the Lord's patience and the presence of our Holy Mother.

Yes, I am suffering, I hate my job, and that will continue. God has not seen fit to move me, and God seems to be very forgiving of my temper tantrums. He has sent me to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, He has sent me Saints, he has sent me angels, he has sent me people on earth.

My friends, I have no right to complain about anything; I have all the blessings available, and yet, I know I will continue to suffer in misery because that is our plight on earth.

We all suffer, but even in suffering, we have to recognize the blessings, because, it seems, the blessings are more obvious and abundant when we are in the throes of abject misery.

Our God is a God of mercy and paradox; and thus in true form, I must admit I am praying for more mercy and less paradox. Because, spiritual toddler that I am, I know I should be praying for God's will, but I'm going to be honest with you all...I'm praying for my will, and I need help in overcoming such a prayer.

And that's all I have to say about that. You can wake up and go home now. Come back and visit again sometime, especially if you need a nap.


Fr. V said...

awesome alliteration as always Adoro.

Extra prayer coming you way.

swissmiss said...

St. Rita is one of the saints I attribute my daughter's miracle to. She is a very powerful intercessor.

Anonymous said...

Hmm.. Is it me, or did Adoro just give herself a head-to-toe spiritual hotfoot?

My goodness, why are you staying in a job you cannot abide?

"I'm barely holding despair at bay...I just can't keep this up. I am losing this battle, and I have nowhere to go." I'm not sure what's going on, but go to St. Joseph, patron of workers, earthly spouse of Jesus' Mother.

Adoro said...

Lily ~ What in the WORLD is a "spiritual hotfoot"??? lol

Why do I stay? The Mortgage, The car payment, the debt. And if it weren't the mortgage, it would be rent, which would be comparable in the amt.

I've been seeking other employment for 3 years now. Nuthin. I've been praying to the entire Litany of Saints. Nuthin.

Warren said...

I get the idea that you and I are the same in a very important area:

We talk a mean game.

And when it comes to self-reflection we don't see the person in the mirror that lives the way we know we ought to live, or who acts out all the principles we talk so eloquently about every day.

Am I hitting anywhere close?

This is both a good and a bad thing. It means your conscience is alive and working. And your heart is far ahead of your feet, which I think, all in all, is also a very good thing.

And another thing, I'm much better at giving advice than taking it. Have I found another point of common experience here?


owenswain said...

Lord, hear our prayer, and answer it too. Thanks.


Terry Nelson said...

Adoro, This morning I spent a long while before the image of Our lady of Perpetual Help in my parish church - the chapel...praying specifically for you. It is a huge old icon painted on copper, it was given to the church years ago in response to a favor Our Lady granted. Anyway - not due to my prayerss - but I think you should be confident OLPH is taking care of things for you.

It was either Philip Neri or Franciss de sales, I can't remember who simply prayed a memorare before her image every day and Our Lady took care of the rest.

God bless you! :)

Julie D. said...

Like Adoro, I can talk a good game but my feet don't always get it, though thankfully I am not being put through the trials that she is right now.

Adoro, I especially liked the part about Padre Pio, who I just came across a few years ago. In my case, he reminds me that prayer, especially intercessory prayer, is good and necessary and WORKS. He also doesn't work specifically in my life (that I can see anyway) but is a guidepost for me. Interestingly, I always think of him as laughing and cheerful. The stories I remember are like that and the first thing I ever saw of him was a photo with his head thrown back laughing. I stopped flipping through the book and thought, "Now THAT looks like a real saint, somebody I'd like to meet." And it was my dear Padre Pio, who I also can't call "saint" because that seems so very formal.

Anonymous said...


My wife and I were traveling today from central OH to northwest OH. A mileage sign noted that the exit for the town of Carey OH was coming up in 10 miles.

It is the home of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation. We got off the highway and made our way to the shrine.

We / I prayed for a lot of things, I'm sure. One of the things on my list was you and you 'dire situation'. You need some consoling, and she is a champion at that - after all, others took her Son from her and killed Him.

Been traveling the last couple of days and have not been online 'til now, so I didn't know of this particular post at the time of the visitation at the shrine. Point being, I think it was providential timing ... my wife and I have passed by this exit probably a hundred times and never left the highway to visit the shrine.

Both of us had been there in our youth, but that was a long time ago. Stand fast, and be ready for whatever comes next.

G-d's love!

Anonymous said...

"I am such a mess of a human being...I am so often a bumbling idiot, and I am so grateful for the Lord's patience and the presence of our Holy Mother."


As a nurse, I always tell my patients "Nothing lasts forever, good things pass away and so do bad things."

With all the prayers, everyones praying, keep looking for the job, keep advertising (telling everyone you know you want a job), and pray for those you work with--so you can "bear" the job as long as God needs you there--Sometimes God puts a little salt in the pot, because the pot needs flavoring. (You are the Salt of the Earth, the Light of the World).

Will continue praying for God to bless you big-time.

Adoro said...

Thank you, all. I am so appreciative of your prayers.

Fr. V. ~ LOL! I think the "As Always" with reference to "alliteration" applies to YOU!

Swissmiss ~ St. Rita is very powerful, and since she has come up so much lately, I suspect she is already interceeding. Have you ever "sensed" a Saint's pressence? I am sensing her right now.

Lily ~ Still wondering what a "spiritual hot foot" is.....

Ultra ~ Yeah, I think you nailed it. I don't MEAN to be a hypocrite, but so often I realize that's what I am. And no, thats not what you said, but it's how I often feel about myself.

onionboy ~ You are a man of just the right words!

Terry ~ Thank you so have no idea how much it means to me that you would go to her on my behalf. I MUST go visit that icon, too. Thanks for the info on St. Philip Neri...I didn't know that, but I do believe it. The Memorare is a powerful prayer.

Julie D. ~ I have a picture of him laughing, too, but most of the photos I have that my uncle took of him during Mass are very somber, and I just kinda took the grumpy side of him more to heart...maybe because that's what I need. I know that he was michevious and witty, he was joyful, and his prayers are powerful. I'm wondering if I'm inflicting my uncle's personality upon him, although I've read of Padre Pio's grumpiness! He threw people out of the confessional, one woman time after time! If that happened to me, I'm so weak that I would likely never return to confession. He could read hearts, so he likely wouldn't do that to me, as God would share with him how weak and timid I really am. I do dearly love Padre Pio, and want everyone else to love him, too. I have his candle lit and I will ask him to pray for your intentions. Expect miracles! And if you suddenly smell something floral mixed with roses...that's him.

Thank you, uncle jim ~ I know that all of your prayers were heard and she is holding them in her heart. I know she is very present with me. So cool that you stopped off at that shrine!

Tara ~ You must be a wonderful nurse. I do pray for my many of them are Cathlic in name, but not practice. Some of them are far better people than I'll ever be, and some of them are really struggling. Aren't we all?

I am blessed, though, in that we all get along very well together, and we've all been very thankful for that. Our particular group, well, we have fun and we have a certain unity, even in our misery (which is throughout our group).

Unknown said...

I remember when I was waiting for an answer to when I should leave my job so that I would be doing it in God's time and not mine (because I would have bolted at the first sign of unease) and each day my prayer was God, your timing really stinks, but I will do your will even if it means I am to stay here a little longer (who knew that a little longer would mean three more years.

In that time a way was being prepared so that I could walk away. The path was clear when the time came that it was God's choice, not mine, and financially we were able to handle my leaving my job.

Keep an eye out for signal graces that you are where God needs you to be and that He is there with you in the present moment. It was only because of those little graces that I was able to handle the daily onslaught of a job that beat me down for the most part. I was certain that I was doing God's will and I offered up each indignity and slight and when I look back I am stronger because I was there, but I would never go back and God will never ask me to return to that time or place.

My prayers are with you, when the time is right for you to leave, you will be so certain that nothing will be able to keep you there, until then be aware of the small graces that He is sending you to help with yor agony in the garden.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro: This post touched me so much that I've been unable to respond til now.

I'm in the same boat as you-as you know. And it frequently feels like we are taking on water. We need to keep our eyes on Him lest we sink like Peter did when he lacked Faith. However, I also remember the later scene where Peter saw the Risen Lord on the shore and leaped into the waters on his own in joy.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this. Other then I have moved from bitchin' to acceptance. I'm totally embracing: In YOUR time, Lord, not mine. THY will be done, not mine.

My priest repeats those litanies CONSTANTLY. He is a wise man.

I think we need a post on the 7 stages of job acceptance! LOL!

You are in my prayers, dear one.