23 February 2011

Saint Making

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it here or not, but I'm back at work now (which explains the increasing number of days in between posts). I'm figuring out again what it is to get up at 4 am, to work a full day, and still to try and get done all I need and want to. All this happens in the midst of another struggle altogether, and a far more abstract one at that, and it's this: I feel like I deserve something.

I want a break, a reprieve, happiness, and impossibly good news. I want healthy and beautiful children and for James to find the job of his dreams.

I've had a hard time praying lately, even for the really important things. When I was pregnant with Ewan and during our time in the hospital with him, I prayed so hard for so long and things didn't turn out like I had hoped. For me, it was like the Iron Man race of praying. And then came the aftermath: dealing with the day-to-day reality of Ewan's death which further exhausted every last cell in my body and every bit of spirit I possessed. Nearly six months after the fact, I'm just now starting to feel like I have enough stamina to make it through a day and its constantly revolving checklist of demands. And it's tempting to give in to the feeling that I deserve something, that we deserve something after all we've been through.

"Deserve" is entirely the wrong verb, and I know it. I don't deserve anything. It is fair to say I want something. I want a break, I want a reprieve, I want impossibly good news to come our way. (And while we're at it, a million dollars dropping from the sky and into our laps would be nice.) There is a difference.

I was listening to a radio program yesterday and the host was quoting someone about the character of the saints: how in the face of trial after trial, they pressed on thinking not of their own comfort, but only for the greater glory of God. They didn't shrink from what they suffered, but pressed on in obedience in spite of it and didn't squeal about what they wanted or think about what their reward would be for what they endured. I saw a striking depiction of myself in the description of what it is the saints did not do (a healthy, heaping dose of humble pie if ever I had one). It's both honest and difficult to admit this is the case.

I know I'm going to continue to face challenges this way: to see others enjoying the things I hope to receive one day with joy. It's going to hurt to wait and wonder, to say yes to God in the face of watching others enjoy the things I've hoped for. It's going to feel like a bitter and hard thing sometimes, and in those times I will avoid saying something stupid only because I grit my teeth and hold my tongue. My spirit is still so weary, and it's still going to be hard to pray even for the things I know we need (and even as inspired as I was by what I heard yesterday). And it's not just because I didn't get the outcome I wanted. I know that's a part of it, but it's also a lot more than that. It goes much deeper than that and it's hard to describe how.

I know that strictly speaking, we don't deserve the things I'm hoping for (a job for James, having more children -- and healthy ones at that). But I can't bring myself to stop hoping for them -- they are neither small, nor unimportant. I'm tired and worn out and recovering from what feels like a solid beating. I want circumstances to change for the better, and I have an idea in mind of how that should look. The rational parts of me recognize that for as long as I'm not getting these things I would like, this is an exercise in trust, in pressing on in obedience and faith without a prize in sight. And I recognize that this is how those saints I admire so much are made: that when undesirable circumstances arise, they made a choice. Instead of throwing up their hands in resignation, to giving up, going back, saying "I've done enough!" and becoming bitter, they press on in ruthless trust and humble obedience.

I'm not there yet. But I'm learning.