Suffer and Live

“Oh mother, it is very easy to write beautiful things about suffering but to write is nothing – nothing at all. One must be in it to know… I feel very certain now that all I have said and written is true… It is true that I wanted to suffer a great deal for God and it is true that I still desire to do so”

Said by St Therese of Liseux before she passed away. Saint Therese is someone who found a lot of happiness in suffering for the sake of Christ and when I first read this, I heard myself say “I’m not sure I could say that I want to suffer that much for God, that’s… tiring…” (this week was already tiring enough, what more?)

But in a sharing with a friend and seeing my life in such great contrast to others recently, I realize I’m doing it anyway. I quite happily put up boundaries and draw lines, making sure I tiptoe the line carefully and holding back my desires. And I realize it’s just way difficult because we live in a society that values making things easier, e.g. we pay for services that reduce our suffering (like how we pay lawyers to trawl through thick law books so us un-readers don’t have to 😛 ). Point is, self imposed suffering really doesn’t make sense to society, and I wonder why I do it. Why on earth do I wait things out and not just indulge in instant gratification?

Like Therese, “with a nature like mine, I might have turned out throughly wicked, and perhaps lost my soul”, but I think 2 things told me to choose that narrow path.

First, “He saw to it that the faults in my character were checked in good time, and actually helped me to grow up to the full height of my possibilities”. It’s basically the idea of knowing the danger of fire once you’ve been burnt. Actually, it’s not so much the point when you get burnt but the annoying injury after that – the guilt. Instant gratification always left me in guilt and waiting it out always paid off. Guilt is the sheepdog to some sinful sheep, but I thank God for it because I think the guilt monster turned into a conscience with the help of lots of prayers.

A little bit off but with all this saint/ year of faith talk, somehow I’m imagining my cute little conscience evolving – in a pokemon fashion – into a guardian angel.

Second is the idea that “anything which is good in me is the effect of his mercy – that and nothing else”. Actually, what I took from that is just the need to discern. If he made me good, God should be in my decision making process of how I should live my life no? My will secondary to his.

“There were plenty of degrees in spiritual advancement, and every soul was free to answer our Lord’s invitation by doing a little for him, or by doing a lot for him; in fact, he gave it a choice between various kinds of self-sacrifice he wanted it to offer. And then, as in babyhood, I found myself crying out:”My God, I choose the whole lot. No point in becoming a Saint by halves. I’m not afraid of suffering for your sake; the only thing I’m afriad of is clinging to my own will. Take it, I want the whole lot, everything whatsoever that is your will for me”

I like the last bit of the quote because I think often I feel like I could live this split life where I can be with the world and with God and excel in that, but more and more I’m realizing that I can’t because it warps the lines I draw like crazy :\ . I’m sure there’s more to this but there was this running theme in my St therese book and in my conversations, ❤ it when God gives me a theme of the week 😀

-Jes

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