Friday, June 7, 2013

It Would Be Dumb To Have A Bad Attitude, Part 3: My Faith

*Holy friends: I'm not a theologian, I'm just a simple sinner.  This is not meant to be an academic treatment of suffering, sacrifice, and Christian life.  I'm no expert on any of those.  Regular Friends:  It's about to get all full of the Lord up in here.  I know what you're thinking: "Have you met you?".  I have and so has He, and he loves me anyway.  This is just a bunch of disjointed thoughts on the comfort my faith gives me and how it helps me to remain positive in the face of challenges.  This is short because I feel called to share it, but vulnerable and inadequate in sharing it.  Besides, like I said, there are much smarter and holier people who have written on this big topic.

"Each time I am tempted to scream, Where is our God when we suffer?!, the crucifix provides its own, wordless response: He is right here, suffering with us." ~Jennifer Fulwiler

The last reason I wanted to share that helps me have a positive attitude and the most important, is my Catholic faith.  The stuff I already discussed as contributing to my positive attitude are only possible because of the foundation my faith provides.  Suffering and sacrifice are awful.  They are sticking points in the belief of many.  But they are realities of human life that cannot be avoided.  My faith acknowledges the existence of suffering and embraces it.  My faith tells me that God Himself took on human form to suffer for us.  Like seriously suffer.  Not even He was exempted from this human reality.  As a Catholic I believe I am never alone in my suffering.  I'm also truly grateful that Jesus suffered and died for me.  For me.  Even though He knew that I would continue to sin and screw up, he suffered for me.  I'm deeply grateful.  Gratitude has to move me to action.  If He chose to suffer for me, I must embrace the suffering I encounter in my life.  If it's good enough for the Savior of the World, it's good enough for me.

Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow me.  Luke 9:23

Jesus said: "...he must deny himself and take up his cross daily...".  He didn't say: "design your cross daily" or "take up your cross when you feel up to it and understand it perfectly".  He said take it up.  As in, whatever your are given get to haulin' it.  So I try.  I try with a lot of whining and denying and analyzing.  When a cross is placed in my path, I can deny it all I want, but when I finally pick it up and carry it God can start His work in my life.  But, BUT!  Even more than that, the crosses He puts in my path aren't just tests or punishments meant for me to endure until I'm holy enough.  They're opportunities to join Jesus in His work.  If I choose to try to consciously offer it up I'm joining Him in my minuscule way in His act of love. I can offer my sufferings for the benefit of others.  My suffering is never in vain.

Jesus doesn't need my help.  LOL!  But He'll take it.  He'll take my whiny, feeble, flawed efforts and use them to help another of His children.  He also doesn't care what my efforts look like if I'm really and truly trying my best.  I am humbled by that.  I am lifted up by that.  I am strengthened to know my suffering is useful, even if I will never know how it was used.  

I discussed in Part 2 of this series all of the amazing ways my life has been blessed.  Each of those blessings ultimately came from God.  In comparison he asks so little of me.  All he asks is that I take up my cross and in His abundant wisdom and love He gives me crosses that improve me along the way.  
I've talked in other posts about my pride--I could stand to be taken down MANY pegs.  Picking up my crosses instead of designing them is a major challenge to the pride.

Now if only I could do better in picking up EVERY cross he puts in my path--not just the big obvious pregnant with cancer ones, but the little kids who don't go to bed ones, the people who make me mad ones, all the tiny ones that I don't always offer up with grace.  Those I want to offer up and have Him pick them up and take them away, like some kind of supernatural relay.  It just doesn't work that way.  He will help me carry them, but they are there for me to pick up for a reason.  It took a big cross to help me see the little ones more clearly.  

Finally, this is all the supernatural part of "Why NOT me?".  I talked about the biological reality of why not me in Part 1 of this series, but there is this spiritual part too.  You've all heard that whole "Why do bad things happen to good people?" thing.  Well, that's a dangerous trap for a Christian to fall into.  Bad things happen to all people.  There are no perfect people who are beyond reproach this side of heaven.  We are all subject to the consequences of the fall.  God loves every single human being the same so I'm pretty sure He wouldn't appreciate me assuming that other of His children would deserve suffering more than me.  And then, AND THEN--while we are all subject to the consequences of the fall, we are also all redeemed by Jesus's death and Resurrection.  ALL of us.  That's a sweet deal.  We can choose to take it or leave it.  I'll take it.  I'm not deserving of cancer, but I'm not deserving of God's love either.  

So, after all that, it would be dumb for me to have a bad attitude because this suffering is mine to pick up, carry, and offer up for the benefit of others.  It will make me better in the end and I have the honor of joining Jesus in his work in my tiny way.  This is my opportunity to love until it hurts.  I would though, dear readers, appreciate your prayers in this regard.  Carrying crosses is heavy work, but I am privileged to do it.


  1. "I'm not deserving of cancer, but I'm not deserving of God's love either."

    This is so, so beautiful. I will remember this sentence forever.

    Your post reminded me of an article that my priest had in Huffington Post a little while back, about her spiritual experience as a breast cancer patient. You might like it: Mother Cathy leads two congregations in Buffalo, and you're on the prayer lists at both. :)

  2. Thank you Jaimie! That is a beautiful article, as long as you avoid the comments, but such is the internet. Lord have mercy. Thank you for adding me to the prayer lists too!

  3. Yes, those comments hurt my heart. Talk about missing the point.


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