Sometimes you are going to wake up extra early to feed and take out the dog, take her to the first morning grooming appointment of the day, follow the protocol to stay in your car and call when you arrive, but keep getting busy signals for 10 minutes only to discover the groomer has you on the schedule … tomorrow.
Sometimes you are going to go to the garage outside refrigerator to scoop up leftovers and plan a “Chopped”-type casual, easy meal, only to trip on the stoop up and tumble onto your already bad and once-replaced knees, shattering the CorningWare, swelling up the knee so you can’t even stand on it, and cutting up your hand on shards of the ceramic serving dish, thus negating any leftover food possibility as you do so.
Sometimes you are going to be ambushed by a sudden pandemic that drastically changes every part of your life in a matter of days, making everything from going to the grocery store, doctor’s appointments, school and even your mother’s house drastically more difficult or impossible, canceling your kids’ sports events and even once-in-a-lifetime events like prom and graduation. You try to keep your focus on the bright side, thinking maybe a quarantine might not be so terrible after all, as you imagine your already overworked and underappreciated husband getting a reprieve. You imagine a few home improvement projects you can spend time with him doing, only to discover the pandemic situation causes for him more work, more worry and more hours, including long interruptions on Saturdays and Sundays because he’s deemed a so-called “essential” worker — not just to you and your family, but everyone else, too. Yeah, sometimes that happens.
Truth is, these challenging and frustrating events, a list to which I’m sure you can add, are precisely the times we must rise to the occasion and respond with dignity and grace. Our kids are watching. How will Mom and Dad handle an unexpected disappointment? Injury? Full-on crisis? What we model becomes their default mode for the future.
It takes a whole lot of patience and every ounce of strength, sometimes, to peacefully navigate long-term challenges, but it is precisely what God is asking of us and promises we can do with His help, if we trust Him.
Life isn’t a bed of roses, as they say. Earth isn’t going to be heaven. Wisdom is wrought through two things: experience and suffering. Pondering that gives perspective to the daily troubles and predicaments in which we often find ourselves. A prayer that helps me through difficult events, both large and small is simply, “I offer this to you, Lord. You know my needs.”
Every living, breathing human being is going to suffer in this life, just as our Lord did. God allows suffering, large or small, ultimately for the benefit of our souls, and we simply cannot afford to waste it. Each suffering is an opportunity to grow in holiness. And if we are destined to face suffering in this world, we may as well use it for our own benefit and “offer it up.”
The Venerable Fulton Sheen once said, “Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.” St. Vincent de Paul stated, “If only we knew the precious treasure hidden in infirmities, we would receive them with the same joy with which we receive the greatest benefits, and we would bear them without ever complaining or showing signs of weariness.” St. John of the Cross said, “Love consists not in feeling great things but in having great detachment and in suffering for the Beloved.” St. Augustine of Hippo said, “Trials and tribulations offer us a chance to make reparation for our past faults and sins. On such occasions the Lord comes to us like a physician to heal the wounds left by our sins. Tribulation is the divine medicine.”
Finally, let us ponder the words of St. Josemaría Escrivá: “Those who pray and suffer… will not shine here on earth; but what a radiant crown they will wear in the kingdom of life!”
Friends, that can be all of us if we accept all events from the hand of God.
So, some days you’re going to leave out the flowers and get an unexpected frost, your toilet is going to overflow, you’ll burn a dinner. Your toddler will break out in spots just before you and your husband are leaving for a highly anticipated night out. You might get sick.
You’ll have rain on your parade but try this strategy: Take a deep breath. Take your time to think what you need to do next. Say a prayer of acceptance and offer it up. Then muster up a determined smile and press on. I promise it’s going to be all right.
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