Monday, October 12, 2009

Self-control and obedience.

Magnificat had a splendid, if predictably opaque, little meditation by Hans Urs von Balthasar today. It struck me particularly as I wrestle with a few sickness-related demons. But first, the quote:

"Christ's act of creating space in himself for God is not self-mastery, but is itself already obedience, an obedience willing to take on whatever task the 'ever greater Father' gives."

He's drawing a profound distinction here between self-mastery and obedience, which is at the heart of our relationship to Christ, "who became obedient to death, even death on a cross." The difference is that in self-mastery I am the one doing great things, I am the one accomplishing the will of the Father. In obedience, however, it is not I but Christ living in me. Obedience is not only the perfect imitation of Jesus himself, but is also the forgetting of myself even to death.

This distinction has been driven home to me these past weeks (almost months now) of illness. Early on, the demon that plagued my heart was fear: "How can I do this again? What if I have to go through this three more times? Five more times? I can't do this!" I had multiple people telling me that we were being so obedient to the Church, so open to life, so brave. But their encouragement was a burden to my tiny, contracted heart: "What if I give in? What if we're not obedient to death?" And I cannot tell you how all of the sudden the world became full of women saying, "Oh, three is enough for me" or "I was done at two."

And it was all wrong. You see, I was trying to be strong and trying to master my fear. I thought that Todd and I had to do it. Buckle down, folks, and bear your cross! It was all wrong.

When it comes to these intimate and (sometimes) frightening invitations from God--especially the invitation to accept our fertility in all its seeming brokenness--He doesn't ask us to show how brave and strong we are. All he asks is obedience, a simple yes. Letting him come and do it for me. Is three enough for me? It doesn't matter, because that's wrong question. The only prayer that matters is this: "Lord Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner. All of you is more that enough for me." All he has for us is enough for us.

Obedience unto death, even death on a cross. The willing heart will simply say, "Do in me whatever task the Father has given." And he will do it. Not me.

An Easter Alleluia.


Jessica said...

As a fellow HG-er, I have SO MUCH respect for you!! I know that fear, and you have written such wisdom here. Honestly, I am not where you are at in terms of my fertility beliefs. I am, however, open to learning and changing .. . we aren't there yet, and honestly, with what I am currently experiencing, the thought terrifies me. Thank-you for writing honestly, I am keeping you in my prayers!

e2 said...

Thank you! I really need those prayers. Many prayers for you, too, right now.

Sarah said...

Thank you for sharing this wisdom. It's just what I needed to hear today. I'm ready to work on self control with my children; I know that I have a problem with yelling at times, and I really want to teach my children gentleness and self control. But I've been feeling overwhelmed at the thought of trying to control my frustration next time it arises. This is the right perspective for my situation. It needs to be about obedience to scripture, not about me controlling my emotions.