Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Doctor Is In

I don't normally give anything up for Lent anymore.  Typically what happens is that I see or think about something I want, and then decide whether or not to deny myself of it, whether that be food, sleep, blogging, etc.  I prefer to try to add a spiritual activity and hopefully, make that devotion part of my everyday practice once Lent is over.  That way, from year to year, my prayer life can grow a little bit at a time.

This Lent, I think the Lord chose my crosses especially for me.  And in His infinite mercy and goodness, He also gave me the grace to accept them a little more readily than I usually would.  It's almost as if He is trying to tell me those areas where I need to grow and so He decided, not me, what I needed to do.

For one thing, I am learning to get by on very little sleep without turning into Dragon Lady.  He has sent a few crosses that make that sacrifice quite possible. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop because I am not someone who does well on too little sleep.  However, when I wake up in the morning, the thought of missing Mass is enough to propel me into action.  That is a longing that can only come from God's grace, and not on any heroism or great sacrifice on my part.

The other cross is being forced to deal patiently with people I would rather avoid.  One of my nurses is going through a terrible divorce.  I'd like to ask her what she thought would happen when she hooked up with man who left his wife and infant son for her. A leopard never changes its spots.   It's all I can do not to say anything about that.  She goes on and on each day about the previous night's drama with him and I know she really doesn't have anyone else to talk to, so I have to listen.  I didn't need her to ask me to pray for her.  I would have figured that out on my own.

Worse than that, a very difficult employee with a flair for drama and controversy had to be put in her place.  She got very nasty with me a few weeks ago about an issue I had to counsel her on and it was difficult not to respond in kind.  Apparently, she's either had a change of heart or she realized that as her boss, I can make life very difficult for her, so she came to me yesterday with a literal sob story.  Not much of it made any sense, but I was compelled to listen.  After she finished crying enough that it seemed like she emptied my Kleenex box, she asked me for a hug.  I felt like Dr. Evil as I forced myself to embrace her.  Thank you Lord.

Last, one of my housekeeping people came to me, completely heartbroken and in despair.  She has two sons.  This past weekend, one of them was picked up for murder and the other just narrowly escaped being shot to death at a party. She lives in a housing project in a squalid neighborhood.  She does the best she can.  When I want to complain about the appointments I have to take my kids to all the time, I think of her, having to schlep everywhere on public transportation, and I count my blessings.  She is desperately trying to move to a better neighborhood through a program meant to help women like her escape the poverty and violence that permeates public housing.  Because of the charges against her son, this is now virtually impossible.  Rather than hide her head under the blankets and stay in bed, she takes public transportation to work every day, wondering whether the youngest is going to come home from school alive.  Of the three, she is the easiest one for me to want to support and embrace.  She doesn't blame anyone else for her circumstances in life.  She takes full responsibility for everything.  I am especially praying for her.

I really didn't take my new job to offer counseling to people I barely know.  But the Lord apparently had other ideas so for now, I, too, am trying to do the best I can, which is, of course, to listen and to pray.

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  1. Wow...God has certainly stepped in and has personally chosen your crosses...and you are leaning on Him for strength and using the graces that are readily there for us. I have issues with sleep too so that is one sacrifice that I have the most trouble with...God gives the graces...I just forget about it when I am exhausted and miserable. Thanks for sharing a great post!~Theresa

  2. I am so glad that God has chosen you to be there for those women. Instead there could be some new-agey person giving them terrible counsel.

  3. Wow. I will also pray for that poor mom. Apparently you have a little side vocation going there!
    I hear ya about the special Lenten crosses. I am having a few special ones as well.
    At least we know Easter is coming! In the calendar sense and the Eternal one.

  4. I'll keep you in my prayers Joyce...Difficult people who lean hard with their neediness on a listening ear can be sooo draining. But as you said the Lord arranges the crosses. You can bring them hope maybe no one else in their life can.
    I hope you have a good blog free Friday.

  5. This was a really good Joyce. I must say you really are a really good Christian. Not only do you do the interior worship (love God), but you also do the external service (love your neighbor) for your fellow man. We are all imperfect at loving our neighbors. I think you did great on all three of those situations.

    You know it's not healthy not to get enough sleep. But I shouldn't talk. I've been getting only five hours myself.

  6. That's very sweet of you to say Manny, but in truth, it is far easier for me to be charitable to homeless people than it is toward people I know. With a homeless person, I can hand them a meal or a care package, talk to them a little, and move on. When you have to give yourself to people you don't particularly feel an affinity for day in and day out, it's much harder. I feel like I will have succeeded at being a good Christian when I give of myself without complaining about it or even noticing.

  7. "That's very sweet of you to say Manny, but in truth, it is far easier for me to be charitable to homeless people than it is toward people I know."

    Completely understand and share the same flaw. I got into another big argument with my mother the other day and I've been all torn up over it. I don't know how I can be so nice to people I hardly know, and yet become so mean to my own mother. I've been feeling so bad over it I even broke my Lenten sacrifice and had a shot of whiskey. I needed something bitter and caustic. I need to feel pain. I have to go to confession.


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