Wounds, Weapons ... and an Invitation
I looked across the table, glanced into my husband's eyes, and felt my heart quicken. I wish I could tell you we were on a date, my heart fluttering in response to our romantic evening. But that’s not how it happened. It was actually a quick flash of anger that sent my pulse pounding. Anger because of words spoken by my husband. A lighthearted joke, tossed into the air, not intended for ill will - but one that landed directly on an old wound in my heart. And without realizing it, my inner self jumped to attention, assuming a position of self defense as it fired back, words aimed directly at the wounds I knew existed in his heart. A sudden war, and words were our weapons. Needless to say, the rest of our evening left a lot to be desired.
Several days have passed, but the memory of this exchange lingers. This is not how I want to interact with my husband. And since our marriage is a sacrament, a visible sign of God’s love for His church, I’m certain this is also not how God wants us to interact.
But I am human. And so is my husband.
The love we offer one another is imperfect; the hearts we present to one another carry wounds - some big, some small. Some old and scarred, some new and raw. Some present before we met, others that we’ve actually given each other. And because of our scarred hearts, there is no way I can love my husband as he deserves - or as God calls me to - without help from Above. Because on days when my own heart feels empty, I know it is the love I receive from God that I am called to pass on to my husband. And when my patience is spent, when anger is my first response, and when I’m tempted to keep score … it is only God’s grace that will enable me to truly love my husband.
Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated,
it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
A question for reflection
I picked up my Advent devotional and reread the question that was gently but persistently calling my name: How have you experienced your own littleness and fragility?
I closed my eyes, allowing Jesus to lead me through countless memories… of my littleness, of my fragility.
The time I’ve spent striving for perfection, overcompensating as I try to earn my worth.
The times I’ve belabored my point for the sheer sake of being right, with no effort to actually hear the other person, and little regard for their opinions or insight.
The times I’ve hidden quietly behind my wall of insecurity, either judging another as “less than,” or becoming tangled in the trap of comparison - a trap always leading to the conclusion that I somehow do not measure up.
And times just like the other night with my husband, where I’ve carelessly thrown about sharp words, cutting another in the process.
My littleness. My fragility. Two traits of the human condition. But two traits I’ve allowed to influence my words and actions in ways of which I am not proud.
He came … and He’ll come again
Advent is upon us, and we’re called to prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of Jesus - His first coming. And so many of our recent mass readings have referenced the time when Jesus will come again in the future - His second coming. I’ve even been blessed to experience a more personal encounter with Jesus, where He has come to me individually, calling my heart to unite with His - a third coming of sorts.
But I wonder … what would happen if, with great intention, I called Jesus to come to me again and again, specifically during times I’m struggling with my own inability to love others? When my feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, and discomfort have lifted their heads, threatening to roar in defense of my tender and fragile heart?
Could deliberately calling Jesus in these times somehow prevent my hard feelings from catapulting me to a place of frustration and anger, of unkindness and arrogance, of comparison and judgment? Could it help me lay down my weapons of sarcasm and rudeness and rest my shield of perfection?
What if I deliberately picked up my wounded heart and gently cradled it in my hands as a small child would her favorite treasure? If I called to Jesus, gingerly extending my hands out to Him, and showed Him each and every crack in my battered heart? And what if I trusted Jesus enough to actually place my heart in His hands?
Could each crack and break in my heart then become the entry point for His healing love? And could this make all the difference when I struggle to love with my fragile and wounded heart?
Could whispering a silent prayer when the wounds of my heart are suddenly exposed allow His grace to flow IN instead of my own brokenness to flow OUT?
As I prepare my heart to celebrate His birth, I suspect this is the perfect time for me to find out … Come, Jesus.