I keep seeing comments online about feelings. “When will Monday be over? I don’t want to ‘adult’ anymore. I’m so done with this day. The next person who crosses me better watch out. This week is crap.” And then to deal with these feelings there are images of drinking.
We all have days that are difficult. But I can still remember a time when we were called to “grin and bear it.” In fact my son memorized a poem written in the 1940s called “Grin.” We had him memorize this so perhaps the message would sink in. (Though I’m not saying it is easy!)
I don’t remember my mother EVER talking about her “bad day.” We might overhear her asking a friend for advice about something. But there was never a complaint that wrote off, dismissed or proclaimed “doneness” with life. My mom, born in 1925, would always tell us to “offer up” our troubles. That was a concept handed down within the Catholic Church. My grandmother would say, “Make it a mortie (mortification.)”
Within our faith, we know that suffering can be redemptive. But just how this happens has never really hit home for me until recently. I knew my grandmother fasted from food at least one day a week. And she offered up her fast, united with prayers, that her father would be converted. On his deathbed that happened. It’s been a family story and so I know that prayers need to be united with an offering of some kind. But still, what does it mean?
Recently a friend shared how she plans to make her suffering a “mortie.” You see, this friend has cancer. She went in to the hospital with terrible pains in her stomach. On the way there she sent out a request asking for prayers “for strength” because she sees this as “a great opportunity to unite my suffering with Christ’s for the conversion of souls.” Since her first request for prayer, she has learned that the cancer is spreading throughout her body and the doctors now predict that she may be dead by Christmas (though, of course, that is totally in God’s hands!) Still she is seeing this as a time to win souls for Christ.
She has incredible grace…always a smile through the struggle. Always remembering that pain can have a redemptive purpose. Always remembering other people. I cannot think of anything more saintly. And her willingness to offer the rest of her life, in all of its struggles, for the needs of others is a huge wake-up call for me and for all of us.
No matter what the challenge is, it does not have to be a miserable day or a time for complaints or an excuse for drinking too much. What if we truly put those troubles in God’s big hands and asked Him to make use of the suffering? What if this “offering it up” means refraining from lashing out at others? What if it means showing grace and humility to the world—as this woman is doing—because this is what Jesus did and though this kind of graceful, loving, prayerful endurance the world is saved!
As hard as it is to accept, salvation comes to the world only through this form of coping—humility, love, grace united with the Cross.
Copyright 2015 Judith Costello.
Art copyright 2015 Judith Costello. All rights reserved.