These are precious moments – those moments when I feel sad. Lost. Angry. Helpless. POWERLESS. These are the moments when I am reminded yet again that there are things I cannot change. Some things are beyond my will and control no matter how much I wish it to be otherwise. And from the many experiences of my past, trying to ignore this truth or attempting to wrest control in these situations would only lead me to deeper and longer pain – unnecessary pain.
These are the moments when it feels as if I have crashed into the wall of my creatureliness. A rude re-awakening that I am not the Creator of the world but only a creature. Even as I was writing these words in my journal, my dog disturbed me by nudging my elbow with her snout. She wanted some attention and a cuddle. And as I stroked her silky fur, I mused about her creatureliness.
There are many things she has absolutely no control over. If she could have her way, we’d be going for walks three times a day, she’d be having treats all day long, and she would never have to be away from me. But those things that she does not want to happen do happen. Sometimes she misses walks. Sometimes she’s left alone. When she begs for food it often goes unrewarded. But she – a creature – still loves and is loved. My heart hears God ask me, “Is that not enough?”
Is it not enough to be able to be loved and to love? To be content that I am not God, and not called to try and be God, but simply to love him? To let myself be loved by Him? To be content that I am called not to control my fellow creatures but to love them too. Sometimes loving means accepting the suffering that the ones we love inflict on us, knowingly or unknowingly. Sometimes loving means stepping away to tend to our own needs first. Sometimes loving means daring to show up and being our true selves before God and other creatures, no matter how we may be perceived or received.
I hate these encounters with helplessness. They make me feel weak and powerless and I instinctively reject these constraints. I want to feel strong and powerful and able to control my life. But these encounters with helplessness are God’s gift to me because they remind me that I am not in control of most things, and that everything in my life is gift – both the good and the bad. My freedom lies in how I choose to respond to what I am given.
When I have been pushed to the wall, when I have been confronted with my creatureliness and have accepted it, only then do I realise I am free to perceive where I can act – rightly, justly, lovingly.
Here’s to accepting our creatureliness, and to learning each day how to love and be loved.
He who learns must suffer.Aeschylus
And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair,
against our will, comes wisdom to us by
the awful grace of God.