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Monday, December 07, 2009

Struggling for Trust

I've written before this of Trust, and it seems the more I learn from my studies in Theology, the more I learn about God, the more I learn about myself.

Everything is a new impact.

For so many years, I was in denial about the damage done to me by my parent's divorce, by my mother's bipolar disorder, my dad's alcoholism...everything.  I've rationalized, "I turned out fine, I am a college graduate, a home owner, a taxpayer...."

Yet none of those "titles" reveals who I am, but only what I've done. It ignores the reality of my life.  It ignores the fact that my struggle in finding my Vocation is deeply rooted in what has gone WRONG...not what has gone RIGHT. Which is fitting, actually, for Our Lord did not become Incarnate for those of us who are perfect, but rather, we who are sinners and in need of His Grace.

I have thought often, and have written, if you recall, on my problems with Trust. A family as defunct as my own doesn't lead to trust...it undermines it completely. Our parents are supposed to reveal God to us, and when things go wrong, we are shown a face of God that is not true.  I loved my Dad very much, but he wasn't reliable, was too permissive in general, and didn't uphold a very clear image of God the Father to me. In fact, in many ways he was the very antithesis of God the Father.  Mom started out well, but her own disease actually undermined most of it, especially when we got older and found that although we needed our mother...she was not there. We had to make our way....alone.

One of my biggest issues with accepting Mary, the Mother of God, as my own Mother was actually deeply damaged by my Mom's "mariolotry" while I was growing up, and her own reflection of what should have been an ideal...wasn't. I could write volumes on this.

My theological studies have done a great deal to reveal to me my own damaged nature.  No longer can I turn away from the perfection God intends, no more can I deny that as much as I used to protest, I have to accept I HAVE been damaged by my upbringing, by those who were supposed to reveal the face of God to me.

To be honest to all, I have shied away from the Blessed Mother and I gaze upon Our Lord with deep mistrust. Not through will, but through ingrained instinct.  Even as I struggle to come to Him, I cringe, I hide and so often, I run away.

For months now, I've been fighting with this reality, wanting to trust God, thinking that since I am aware of what causes my mistrust, by force of my Will maybe I can finally overcome it.

What idiotic thinking. What a recipe for despair!

No wonder I have been in such a spiritual depression! No wonder I have experienced such despair! No wonder I have lost contact with Hope.

I have been holding on by only a thread...for months now.

Months.

I've been grasping at straws...finally deciding to rest on what is left, knowing my struggle will only cause me to fall further.

Yet I have had a revelation:

Yes, we are to learn about God through our parents; the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) are numbered in that way for a reason.  We see that first we owe to God what He is due, then to our parents, for they stand in for God until we can discern Him ourselves.

God is Faithful, and cannot be taken by surprise. It is of no matter to Him that my parents were not perfect copies of Him. He knew them before they were born, He knew their own struggles and what would happen in their parenthood.  How could He NOT make provisions?  Are we not all His children?

What I have come to realize is that it doesn't matter that I was damaged; the fact that I was given a deep mistrust is, in fact, my Cross to bear on this earth.  Holiness doesn't depend on my parents, but upon my own willingness and desire to cooperate with God's grace. It depends upon His Sacrifice before my own can ever enter into the reality of  this battle.

The fact that I can't rely on my mother for guidance, and was damaged by my father before he died doesn't mean that I cannot become holy. Rather, it is a gift, a very deep and personal gift, from Our Lord's Most Sacred Heart to mine.  I guess it makes sense that blood is involved, and that it continues to gush in a way that no bandage or suture can staunch.

What God has given me is an opportunity to know and love Him as He is, for who He is, without seeing Him only through my parents. He has called me directly into the depths of suffering so that I could know Him that much more clearly.

This Cross that God has given me in the end will lead to perfect trust in Him, for He is all I have. He reveals His stability, His constant mercy, His ongoing friendship, His perpetual Sacrifice, even in the face of every faltering step I take, every fall, every disaster.  Jesus is present and I don't continue to fight against my passions and the fires of Hell for anyone but for love of Him. The fire that burns in my soul, placed there through Baptism and Confirmation fueled like infused coal in Holy Communion, is far hotter and more purifying than the eternal fires of the Hell that seek to consume me in the Devil's eternal and unholy wrath.

So I thank God for this struggle, I thank Him for this Cross and I keep Him in sight as I continue to stagger through my vocational discernment and my temptations, knowing that if I only keep getting up, no matter how mortal the wound...maybe, eventually, I will find eternal life.

Not through my merit, but only through God's Grace...and my willing cooperation.

Thank you, Jesus.

I Trust in Thee....I trust in Thee....Lord Help me, I'm trying....to trust in Thee...

5 comments:

brotherjuniper said...

Adoro,

For the longest time, I used to look at God in the same way that I saw my mother. He was a demanding taskmaster that wanted everything done a certain way, at a certain time, and in a particular manner.

However, I've learned a lot in the years after my conversion. He really is not what I projected onto Him and what I believed Him to be. In fact, He is so much more than I thought.

Yes, trust is difficult. I have that problem as well. However, I've found that if I let Him sit on the driver's side then I can relax and let go. He is in charge no matter what and there is nothing I can do to change that.

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

If you have not read it, you might be interested in the book, Rugged Trust: The Ragamuffin's Path to God (Brendan Manning).

Adoro said...

brotherjuniper ~ First, good to see you again! :-)

I actually haven't looked at God through parent-colored glasses for a very very long time. Because I couldn't. It's more a matter of, in the study of theology, realizing that I COULDN'T is actually a very real sign to me that I didn't get out of all that stuff unscathed.

Several years ago I also got some good advice from a priest while speaking of some issues with my family. He said, "God is your Father. Mary is your Mother." And I OFTEN ponder that.

KAM said...

Thanks for the wonderfully revealing post. It seems you asked questions of yourself and found the answers, and the cross will help you on the journey. Our Lord shows us the cross, helps to dig it out wherever we've buried it. God Bless you on your journey.

Anonymous said...

In the months I have been following your blog, this is the one post that has touched me the most.

As one who has struggled with neurological and mental illness, and a family background of violence, I have come to many of the same conclusions. Thank you for stating them so well.

I cannot project my solutions on you, nor do I wish to imply anything about the strength and severity of your burdens. However, I have come to understand that my entire vocation consists simply and solely in remaining faithful as a mentally ill, autistic lover of God. To keep picking myself up and remaining faithful -- like Therese before her Christmas conversion; like her sister Leonie.

I, too, had a strong desire for religious life after my conversion; perhaps it will come to fruition for you. God has given me a clear "No" answer, through circumstances and through the nature of my own struggles.

We must, of course, do everything in our power to achieve health. However, to carry this type of burden is a vocation all in itself, and a worthy one. It contains every bit as much dignity and spiritual power as if it were a physical disability. C.S. Lewis' words on niceness, improvement vs. redemption, make that clear.

I have especially cherished this quote from him:

"... But if you are a poor creature-poisoned by a wretched upbringing [...] do not despair. He knows all about it. You are one of the poor whom He blessed. He knows what a wretched machine you are trying to drive. Keep on. Do what you can. One day (perhaps in another world, but perhaps far sooner than that) he will fling it on the scrap-heap and give you a new one. And then you may astonish us all-not least yourself: for you have learned your driving in a hard school. (Some of the last will be first and some of the first will be last.)"