“If I could do the last thirty years over again, I would do it differently. I would try to make people fall in love with Jesus.”
A story was being told about a conversation with an elderly priest nearing death, but it pierced my heart and filled me with a great desire to do the same thing. In teaching Theology, I feel these seemingly conflicting pulls on my heart. I desire to teach them concrete information yet I want to show them how to fall in love with the Lord. These two desires aren’t mutually exclusive, but the balance is a difficult thing to ascertain.
While I wish we could have daily conversations about the matters closest to their hearts or the questions they really want answered, I also have a curriculum to follow. We need to take quizzes and tests. I am required to give them assignments and to grade their work. Yet, somehow, in the midst of the formal education, I am also supposed to provide an education of the heart.
How? I’m uncertain. I know it sometimes happens when their sincere questions spring from the topics at hand. Or during unplanned times of heart sharing and depth. The Holy Spirit will surprisingly show up and elevate my lesson to something far beyond what I could do on my own.
I want to answer all of their questions about the Catholic Church and Jesus Christ. Sometimes they don’t know how to phrase the questions or are uninterested in engaging in a conversation that may challenge their status quo. Despite my desires to help them encounter the Lord, I cannot manufacture an encounter in a 50-minute class period. I attempt to provide opportunities and share experiences I have had, yet with 25-30 students in a class, I am unable to personally reach each person as they need to be reached. Continue reading “To Make People Fall in Love with Jesus”
We feel…shame at seeing our misery and our baseness exposed. Yet this misery possesses the mysterious privilege of attracting our Lord. This is difficult to understand, yet it is an incontestable truth. Our nothingness and our misery constitute the force that attracts our Lord.
(Secrets of the Interior Life)
I’ve never really understood this idea of how our misery attracts the Lord to us. Generally, when I see my own miserableness, it is repulsive or something I want to hide. It isn’t something that is attractive or pleasant. When it comes to seeing the miserableness of others, I’m not much better. My personality is one that desires perfection. The people around me (including me) are continually letting me down because they don’t live up to my image of perfection.
Yet the Lord uses all things for good. The cheating incident I mentioned a couple posts back has really pushed my heart. It made me move from anger to forgiveness. A few days later when the individuals came back and we spoke, I found great freedom in being able to express how they had hurt me and to hear them apologize. The relief on their faces was incredible. It was though they walked into my room carrying a burden and then through the exchange of a few words, that burden was lifted. My burden was lifted, too.
Strangely, over the last couple weeks, I have found a special tenderness in my hearts toward those individuals. No longer angry, I am able to love them as they are: flawed human beings. The Lord knows I have difficulty loving people in their humanity and so I am beginning to be grateful for this incident. I don’t want to love them only when I think they are perfect, but for the beautiful complexity that is wrapped up within their hearts and souls. I know myself and so I know I do not want to be loved merely for my seeming perfection but rather in my entirety. In the midst of this, I experienced for the first time, at least consciously, the way that misery attracts my heart. Continue reading “Attractive Misery”