My own dear Bishop said to me, albeit kindly, that I have a big ego. What? How do I begin to process THAT!? First of all, is he even right? Well, Pioneer Woman, if that is your first question, there may be something in what he said. I know very well that he is usually right when it comes to shepherding my spiritual formation. Well, then, PW, you'd better give this some serious consideration.
As we learned in exegesis, first pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance. Next, in this instance anyway, ask Jesus to stand by, close by, in case this gets too painful. There is no need to invite God. He is here already, with his heart-penetrating, laser vision. Back to the Holy Spirit and pray for courage to begin and fortitude to continue. Then start with a look at the context. I was sure that someone I work with had been dishonest with me. After telling me he would not do a certain thing, he did it anyway. And because he did it, I found myself in an awkward position I would rather not have been in. That was very upsetting to me, because I had not thought he would do that, so felt betrayed. The Bishop listened patiently to my confusion, frustration, and anger, then suggested that the person had not so much done something wrong (though admittedly, had waffled a little, probably because he didn't want to do what I said), as he had not done what I had expected and wanted him to do. Objectively, no one had done anything wrong, but the story had not played out according to my script. Everyone else in the situation had done what THEY wanted to do, which was not what I had wanted them to do. Looks like I was subordinating what they wanted to do to what I wanted them to do. That is definitely a losing battle, and invariably leads to trouble. It comes of being so certain I am right, that I lose all pliancy and become brittle and vulnerable to getting my feelings hurt. I was blindsided. And blind. This is not the first time something like this has happened to me when I have been so sure I am right that I never even considered that someone else would see things differently. Why does there always have to be someone right and someone wrong? A winner and a loser? I certainly don't want to be the loser! Why am I even thinking like this?
I see that I have still a very long way to go in my journey toward turning my will over to God's will, learning to be his obedient servant, feeding his sheep and loving my neighbor. I would never have listened to what my Bishop said if he had not treated me so kindly and lovingly while I was so upset. I went home thinking that the confession part of Evening Prayer that night was going to be a grim and miserable session; I was afraid because I was expecting to be treated by God as I deserve. You cannot imagine how astonished I was that during the confession and absolution I was suddenly filled to the brim with joy and praise! I was filled to the brim and bubbling and running over with happiness and a sense of freedom such as I have never experienced before. God was treating me with kindness and love, just as the Bishop had done. What freedom! I don't have to be in charge, to plan everything so that nobody gets hurt and so that everything goes smoothly. It's not my responsibility, and it's not possible even if it were my responsibility!
Which it's not. I've resigned from being in charge of everything in the world!!!
Who would have thought this would happen to me? What an incredible gift! Do you think maybe I could learn to be like that? Loving and kind and understanding, instead of judgmental and inflexible? Maybe. Probably not very fast, though. But I am on the path, and the Holy Spirit is guiding me, Jesus is holding me, and God the Father is changing me. I just have to keep walking and keep on saying yes.
Art by James Christensen