And here we are again back at the fish-slapping dance :). Like a lot of people, I am enamored of the quick fix, the miracle cure, because then I will not have to endure suffering. Part of the anger at the Spousal Unit is because he is making me suffer with his alcoholism. The whole cloth of "It's not fair!" is there to wrap myself up in and I can grumble to God while feeling safe, snug and warm any time I want.
But...was it fair for Jesus to go to the cross and suffer incredible pain and humiliation for the sins of all including those like me who weren't even born yet? No. But he did and he did it in love, obedience and faith. Who am I to think my circumstances are so special that I shouldn't have to suffer or I shouldn't experience pain. If anyone understands pain and grief, it is Abba.
It is the ugly part of me that feels "righteous" anger at the SU for taking me on this unpleasant journey along with him. I don't want to be here because it hurts and there is that weird undercurrent to Christianity that says God should be happyfuntimes! He suffered so we didn't have to, right? Um, no. Romans talks about suffering as does 2 Corinthians. We are to find our comfort in Christ. Romans 3:3-5 says we glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance which leads to character which leads to hope. And that hope "does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."
But, holy cow, are there days I'm really tired of character growth :).
Manning says that, in Jesus, "freedom from fear empowers us to let go of the desire to appear good, so that we can move freely in the mystery of who we really are". God's love is outrageous and he wants us to behave in that same, outrageous way towards others. With the SU, it means I must give up my fear and love him in that manner even in the midst of his alcoholism. I need to make that commitment and act as Jesus did with the woman caught in sin. He didn't ask for her to apologize or give him a list of behaviors that truly showed she had repented and would continue to do so in the future. He just forgave her. That's...one heck of a standard to try and meet.
"What is the story of my priesthood? It is the story of an unfaithful person through whom God continues to work!"
I'm not going to be perfect. I'm not going to hit the bar every time. But if I live my life in the belief of the hope, confidence and love found in Jesus rather than because I just "believe", the fear will depart and I will have Jesus as my companion in this. Better trade. Way better trade.
In The Ragamuffin Gospel, Manning wrote a chapter called "The Second Call". In it, he talks about how a lot of Christians from between thirty to sixty are experiencing a call from Jesus to go on a journey that is a serious look at the nature/quality of our faith and is a summons to a deeper and more mature commitment:
"And the Lord is now calling me a second time, affirming me, enabling me, challenging me all the way into fullness of faith, hope, and love in the power of his Holy Spirit. Ignorant, weak, sinful person that I am, with easy rationalizations for my sinful behavior, I am being told anew in the unmistakable language of love, 'I am with you. I am for you. I am in you. I expect more failure from you than you expect from yourself'."
I had to stop and think at that last sentence. There is such a freedom in that - especially when you've grown up with a performance orientation outlook. God already knows there are times I am going to fail. He just wants me to get back up on the horse, to come after him and ask him - implore him - to continue to develop perseverance and character in me. He wants me to push past my self-made barriers and come to him knowing I've failed or knowing I've tried to do it on my own and ask him to continue to change me and work through me so my fear can be replaced by the things of God instead of the rags of my own works or my own timidity.
I am limited. He is not.
Today is a hard day. I've left the house not knowing what I will find when I get back. I may find the SU sober, relatively sober, or completely passed out. He will not offer or promise anything in that area - he says he's broken too many promises already. My choice is to stay home because of fear of what might happen or go ahead and go out like I'd been planning. Both Nouwen and Manning point out in the story of the prodigal son that we are called to be the father in the story, who welcomed his son home. Period. I need to welcome the Spousal Unit exactly as he is, where he is if I am to keep being Jesus to him.
"Faithfulness requires the courage to risk everything on Jesus, the willingness to keep growing, and the readiness to risk failure throughout our lives."
Am I ready to risk everything - even that the SU may never choose sobriety? I can't honestly answer yes yet. I would like to. I have written in my journal about wanting to be reckless and fling myself off the metaphorical cliff but it is hard to risk when there is no visible reward. But if there was, then I guess it wouldn't be risk. ( Today's "duh!" moment brought to you by The Cyber Hermit :)). So I've been praying for peace today. First it was the peace to walk about the door with no assurance as to what I'll find when I return. Now it is peace to go through my day without fear and to love my husband no matter what and to find joy in my circumstances.
Let you know how it goes :)