“Now, as [Jesus] approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. Jesus stopped and ordered that [the man] be brought to him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ He replied,”Lord, please let me see.'” (Luke 18:35,40-41)
Let me see.
What else could the man possible want, but to see? That was kind of a no-brainer. Why did Jesus even have to ask?
Perhaps, because the man needed to be heard, as well. As the blind man called out, people rebuked him, told him to be silent. He may have lived his whole life on the edges of society, having been pushed aside and silenced by those who could see. Perhaps as much as he needed to see, the blind man needed the one who could heal him to hear his voice, to acknowledge his humanity, his manhood, by letting him speak.
God is like that. He goes beyond what is obvious, working deep in our hearts and in our lives to give us what we didn’t even know we needed.
This morning, as I entered into that place of prayer where God speaks to me as well as listens, I found myself mulling over the past four months. I was filled with gratitude for all he has done.
Our loving Father has shown me that my worth comes not from what I do, but from who I am — his child. That sounds like a no-brainer, too, but I have wrestled my whole life with identity issues. I’ve never quite found a niche where I seemed to belong, where I could put down roots, grow and blossom.
This has been hard for me. I’ve seen my brothers, who were raised in the same home, find spouses and build successful careers; I’ve done neither. I’ve seen friends overcome difficult circumstances and prosper; I never seem to do much more than survive difficult circumstances.
I’d grown to feel worthless and disposable. But, this fall, God began to heal that place in me.
He called me out of circumstances which would have reinforced this feeling, and led me into a place where he could pour out his love on me. During the past four months, I have experienced moments of intense intimacy with God, including an experience of complete surrender. During this time, I have come to feel more grounded, have come to appreciate the way God works through the most ordinary of circumstances.
Too, during this time, I have begun to feel less like a piece of trash kicked from place to place and more like a servant of the Lord, going where he has sent me. My past has begun to take on a different cast in my heart, because I have seen in retrospect glimpses of the way he has used me for a greater good. This inspires me to understand the image reflected back to me by the mirror of this world is distorted, not accurate, which in turn releases me from striving for success as it is understood in this world to focus more on serving him.
But not all of his gifts to me have been quite as ephemeral. God has given me the opportunity to spend weeks with my beautiful granddaughters, which was a balm to my soul. Since my daughter and her husband live so far from me, one of my abiding fears is that Paige and Avery will not come to know me as part of their extended family, but only as a guest in their lives.
I think being able to call upon me for this assistance was good for my daughter, too, though she may not yet realize it. She’s always been frightfully independent, and driven to succeed. I have been of little assistance apart from encouraging her and supporting her decisions, recognizing that her life is God’s gift to her and I must trust the two of them to work out her course in life. I think my assistance provided tangible evidence that she does have the safety net of a family that loves her, a reminder she may need from time to time.
Too, a retreat I attended indirectly helped my youngest daughter to begin reshaping her life. I was so inspired by the retreat leader at the Diocesan Women’s Retreat this fall that I asked Katie to attend an Advent retreat with me because the retreat leader would be there as well. Throughout the retreat, I watched her tug at her ear, a sure sign that something was going on inside her head. Sure enough, in the following weeks, she began to simplify her life and is talking about entering religious life. This feels like a special grace to me.
As I entered that place in prayer this morning where God speaks, I thought not only of these things, but also of the way clouds can prevent us from seeing the sun, from feeling its warmth on our faces and experiencing its light which lifts our spirits. I realized that this period of unemployment has — for a time, at least — burned away the clouds which have prevented me from experiencing God’s love as fully as I have known it in recent weeks.
And so, in this moment, I am grateful, not only that he has let me see, but that he knew what I needed when I could not have formed the words.