Joy comes in the morning. We hear this cliché time and time again. But what happens when we wake up to find that our clouds cover the sun and our proverbial lamp is out of oil? The sun does not always come out tomorrow. And that’s okay because joy comes in the mourning.
Everyone always talks about dying to self to follow Jesus, but not many people realize that death—whether spiritually or physically—is still death and a grieving process will follow. This ‘dying to self’ goes beyond eating salad over pizza, or not cursing at the slow poke on the highway. The death required of us to follow Jesus is the expiry of I want, I deserve, and it’s not fair. It is the total abandonment of our deepest dreams and desires to a will and a cause that only has one outcome: God’s glory. This requires open-ended faith in a world full of “tying up loose ends” and “closing the deals”. We even “tie the knot” with the Sacrament of Marriage in order to symbolize the finality of with whom we share our whole selves with. It seems hard, but in fact, any semblance of control that we tighten our grip on is only out of arrogance. An open-ended faith is a yes to Jesus.
Perhaps there is no better example for the Christian woman than Mary, Mother of God. She gives us the perfect ‘fiat’ [let it be done] when she willingly accepts her role in the life of Jesus. It is easy to see how such a coveted role would have been an easy ‘yes’ for Mary—she is the Queen of Saints and greatly venerated in the Catholic Church, after all. But we must remember, Mary was a contemplative—she quite literally pondered all things in her heart. Though she was without sin, she was not without suffering. Saint Teresa of Avila writes in her Spiritual Testimonies, “When you see My Mother holding Me in her arms, don’t think she enjoyed these consolations without heavy torment.” It is difficult for me to place the same amount of grief on newly-minted-mother Mary than at- the-foot-of-the-cross Mary but yet her sadness transcends the entire life of Jesus because she knew (as only a mother does).
If Mary could not hold baby Jesus in her arms without feeling a bit of anxiety then who are we to question what God has in store for our lives? Those should have been the happiest days of her life yet she spent those early weeks in fear (something I can relate to rather well). How do you play the cards life deals you? Do you run into the arms of Divine Mercy with reckless abandon? Father Père Jacques asks, “And what do we do? What have we done with God’s preparations in us? When something disconcerting happens to us, do we say, fiat, so that the divine plan may not be squandered or lessened in its efficiency?”
“Alas! Where do we stand?”
I, for one, am tired of hiding in the shadows of the guilt, despair, and anxiety of complications that thwart my plan, my comfort, and ultimately, my will. Joy comes in the mourning of your dying child, your infertility, your strained marriage, your ruthless addiction, your hopes, fears, and everything in between. Jesus WILL use you…if you LET HIM.
May you pick up your cross, and carry it worthily.