When I used to hear the quote from St. Therese, “Everything is Grace,” I thought of fat little angels playing harps, cotton ball clouds slowly drifting by and green meadows with no weeds but a perfect scattering of wildflowers with a clear, fresh stream running through it. But the other day while reading Divine Intimacy: Meditations on the Interior Life for Every Day of the Liturgical Year, I realized my saccharine scene was not only gross, but all wrong.
Everything is Grace
In Divine Intimacy, right after the “Everything is Grace” quote it states, “…everything is the result of His infinite love.” Really? Then I beg to ask, why do mommas die and babies suffer and hardworking men get laid off?
“If He permits sorrow, interior or exterior trials, personal or public vicissitudes, it is only to draw out of them some greater good. Virtue and goodness are strengthened in time of difficulty.”
I’ve mentioned before here at The Littlest Way and on my older blogs, I suffered with my mind. And I shake it off now and say, “Oh but at least…” or “I know others suffer more.” Sometimes I wonder if I can only say that now because I’m not in the deep, deep, dark pit. It was a terrible suffering; a flat out crushing cross and I don’t ever want to revisit that place or time in my life again. But it was worth it–strangely and said hesitantly.
When one of my children come to me struggling with fear or scrupulosity–and they all have at certain growth spurts, it makes my neck stiffen and the hairs on my head bristle. And almost immediately, my heart softens because I know. Oh I know, how I know…and along with a mother’s words of comfort, I can give them instruction–first hand knowledge, not something read or heard, but lived. And I can plant my feet and my prayers as any momma bear would and use similar words of Christ, “Get behind them Satan!”
And when one of you reach out and up through a darkness that is so scary and has such a stranglehold on you that even if you got over the trepidation of sharing your innermost fears, you wouldn’t even know what to say or how to say it for fear of how it would be–how you would be, seen. Honestly, my first reaction is to look away, close the email before it can spark those memories. My memories of that awful time are deep, but not so deep they cannot be stirred up again and sometimes rather easily. But I don’t look away because I know, how I know…and the courage it took for you to email me–I know that too. And my heart softens and I put you on my prayer list and I pray because sometimes you just can’t pray for yourself down in that place.
And the first thing I’m going to tell you…You are courageous! You are so much stronger than this thing that is strangling the very life and light out of you. Do you know why?
The very fact that this darkness tried to force you into silence and you reached out to someone to quietly whisper, “Help.” You are not rolling over and letting this thing win. You are proclaiming–affirming what God wills for you, as Jacques states in his book, Interior Freedom, “Live! I want you to Live! Here is the first and the most fundamental call to us from God.”
Everything is Grace!” That phrase doesn’t mean everything is perfect or easy. It means we can have confidence in God–even when and especially if we don’t feel like it. I heard someone say once, if we really trust in God, if we have faith in Him, we need to ask ourselves this one simple question, “What am I worried about?” I agree it is a simple question, but not an easy one.
I’m learning God’s love and concern for us is not determined by how much we feel it or don’t feel it. As a matter of fact, in my morning prayers, I reaffirm to myself my feelings have nothing to do with my relationship with God. This is why I believe daily affirmations are so important–they are statements of truth and that truth doesn’t change because our feelings do…but that truth can change our feelings.
So, “Everything is Grace.” Let that be our morning prayer, our motto for the day, our battle cry as the day drags long, and our bedtime affirmation. A constant reminder on our lips, in our heart, and embedded deep within our minds.