As I was preparing a little thank you presentation for the upcoming one year mark of my son’s accident, I stumbled across some miscellaneous writings of mine. Knowing how I usually use my computer to flesh out the inner workings of my heart, I was curious to see where my heart was 15 days before our lives changed forever.
I remember last Christmas being one of the most peaceful ones I had ever experienced. There was true joy. Lots of love. And I had been meditating on the book Abandonment to Divine Providence by Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade which gave me a renewed sense of spiritual progress as I grew closer to Our Lord. I see now that it was a preparation of sorts for what was soon to follow. And a great gift.
I present what I wrote in my journal to you all, not to introduce you to the mundane musings and meanderings of my mind, but to perhaps give you something to contemplate this Advent. It is a tad unpolished, as most of my journal entries are, but it accurately echoes where my heart was one year ago.
Dec. 25, 2012
My Lord has given me a great gift this Christmas. He has pressed upon my worthless heart a desire to see this heart transformed and sanctified through Him. You see, He has given to me, in a visible way, all the tools He sees fit for me to make something of my soul.
We always hear it is better to give than to receive. And it is true. Every Christmas, I take such joy in giving to others that when it is time for me to receive, it takes me by surprise. “But I have been given so much already!” I want to say as I open my first gift.
Part of the joy in giving is the knowledge that you have given the person you love the “perfect” gift. A gift that means so much to him or her, that he pauses in stunned gratitude, mouth agape. Then he smiles a huge smile. Or tears well up in his eyes. Or he bursts out in joyful laughter as he hugs the gift to his heart. Aah! The perfect gift! What a gift these reactions are to me, for I know that I have been able to express my love for that person in a way words do not always convey.
It is the same with Our Lord. Who knows us better than He? Who knows exactly what we need at all times? And who is waiting for every opportunity to give us His gifts?
I had purged my heart of a specific sin over Advent and was thrilled that it no longer had a hold on my time and energy as it once did. Yet I was dismayed at how easy it really was to drop this habit. I asked Him, “Was it that I chose a vice so small that it really was no effort to overcome? Or is it that I realized early on into Advent that I loved You much more than this sin?” I prayed that it was the latter and hoped to encourage such increased feelings of love for My Lord. I prayed that it was an acceptable gift to Him this Christmas, for what can I really give to Him that could even come close to what He has given to me?
I imagined Him speaking to my heart with this general sentiment:
“My love. There is nothing you could give to Me that could equal My sacrifice for you, that is true. There is nothing good you could do by yourself. You have nothing and are nothing without Me, yet I love you always.
You enjoy giving to others. Remind yourself daily of this joy in giving because it is the same joy for Me when I am able to give the gifts I want to give to you. Remind yourself of the ungrateful child who unwraps a present and tosses it aside. Remind yourself of how it makes you feel when your love is not acknowledged, your gift misunderstood, and know that when you glance at the gifts I have painstakingly chosen just for you and you toss them aside, it pierces My Heart deeply.
Do not be ungrateful for these gifts – these everyday moments I set in motion for you to choose My will over yours. They are the tools you need for your own sanctification. Engrave it upon your heart that the only gift I desire back from you is a soul destined for Heaven. Take every moment to learn how to use my gifts, and keep careful watch that your heart remains clean and spacious, so that I may reside there always and bring you more – even more gifts whenever I desire. Work hard at perfecting the craft, fashioning a beautiful soul for Heaven. And then give your soul to Me.”
My Lord, I know that if I should make it to Heaven, it will be Your greatest glory! Who could have a soul more unworthy than mine? Who has a soul more ungrateful? More wretched? More sinful? For I have tasted Heaven, felt its warmth radiating even from standing at so far a distance. I cannot imagine how glorious it must be within those gates! And yet I continue to let the very gifts You give to me to help me obtain Heaven gather dust from neglect or disdain.
Allow me to be the least of Your servants in Heaven, standing at the farthest point from You, to allow me to worship and love Your from afar. I dare not think I should be allowed to come closer than that! Yet nonetheless, that place in Your Kingdom would be an unimaginable gift to me!
The only reason I dare to even wish it is that I already know You wish for me to be saved. Who would dare to ask for such a privilege, unless they were sure that it was Your will? Please, Lord, keep this message ever before me, that I am able to see the gift in all things that happen to me. The crosses, the talents, the people around me – all are tools to work Your will through me for my sanctification. Do not let me offend You anymore by tossing these gifts aside. Time is short and the workshop is already so out of order! Bless me, My Lord, and strengthen me in Your work.
* * *
Two weeks after writing this Christmas evening meditation, my 4-year-old son was severely burned. I climbed into the medical jet that day with nothing more than the clothes on my back, a faith willing to be tried by fire, and a heart ready to embrace God’s will no matter what it meant. I understood, with great peace, what was being asked of me, and at that moment, Our Lord and I exchanged our Christmas gifts.
“I surrender unto You my will, “ I breathed as I beheld a most beautiful gift wrapped in terrible pain, “that Thy will be done.”
Copyright 2013 Cassandra Poppe