Friday, May 24, 2013

A Hard Heart

Today I faced an emotional challenge, and I think I've learned something from it.

For one thing, I realized I've come a long way from the days when I would have tied myself in knots for a few weeks over something like this. (The "this" involved making a phone call and having a conversation I didn't relish.) More importantly, I've realized something about why I felt challenged in the first place.

I felt I had to proffer some information about my current health struggle to someone. It had been in the back of my mind for a few days, and I had been putting it off, always with the concern that "I didn't want to cause worry." That was, you know, my formal statement to myself. But today I had some time to be quiet with my thoughts, and I realized that if I am going to be consistent with my conviction that God has allowed this situation into my life for His purposes, and what is more, if my life is His for His purposes, then I don't get to horde, or control, the reality of what is going on. Either I live the relationships given to me openly, or I deny that my life is His. I can't control the reactions of others, but keeping them in the dark on purpose because I think it will give me greater comfort is no way to live a relationship, with others or with God.

So I called. I talked. And I realized.

I realized that probably the only thing worse than feeling like I will cause someone worry is to realize that I could not provoke a response of concern for myself at any cost. My formal statement to myself was basically a painful-reality shield.

But this doesn't make me angry. I do feel sad, but I think it is a sadness that helps me embrace wisdom. I heard a homily this morning that fits so well with what I'm experiencing. It was about how hardness of heart is really a closing off of oneself from others, a sort of self-absorption. Hard hearts are spared certain hurts, the hurts that come from others. The bad news is that they are also "spared" love that comes from others. As a result, they do not really know how to open their hearts to the needs of another, and all exchanges in life secretly (or not so secretly) boil down to how it affects them. That's a vicious cycle, because their self-absorption leaves no open door to their needs being met, either. Only love can satisfy us, and only the heart that will choose to be vulnerable and open will receive it.

I speak like I know all about this because, simply, I do. Been there, lived that. But I see now that I have thoroughly come to know and live a new way, where love is my primary reality. This is a gift from God. It is sad for me to realize that not everyone I open my heart to will respond in like manner. Not everyone is in a place of knowing how. God has a gift for them, too. I guess it makes my heart ache to realize what we humans choose to live without.

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