Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Suffering the Small Stuff

Am reading a book titled Self-Renunciation. The points regarding being over-sensitive find berth in self-examination. Being sensitive could be considered a suffering; but it is really a kind of vice, for behind the scenes of too much sensitivity lurks pride. The author explains how this is so. It does make sense. Also, sometimes when one is too sensitive, the sensitivity can become an excuse.

Some people might say they are "weak" and rely on their weakness to not have to change their ways, or to put forth more effort. Some even say, "Well, Jesus loves the weak. He loves me as I am!" But this is not a holy kind of sensitivity, in weakness, or in over-emotion in situations. Being overly sensitive reverts to "self"; and the sensitivity can become a means of drawing attention, of even enjoying how sensitive one has become.

In another aspect, being too sensitive allows one to more easily take offense, to think someone who ignores or makes a passing comment, has intended it for the person who is caught up in self and sensitivity to self, regarding all events and actions surrounding self.

Being overly sensitive can become a hidden illness. The suffering of it is not a holy type of suffering but more a vicious suffering, meaning: of vice. But, if one catches oneself in this form of suffering, it is as well to offer it to God--and then change one's ways! Selfish suffering is not good for us and can be easily healed through prayer, will, and desire to be not insensitive--but to be balanced through other-focused sensitivity.

Even in being other-focused, the sensitivity must be modulated, for no one is helped by one's extravagant feelings. Rending the heart is good; rending the garments is unnecessary display.

The next point the author makes deals with facing that most think they could do something great for God, when the time would come--yet daily have difficulty enduring the small challenges which equally beg heroic virtue.

These are the small sufferings of the body, mind, heart and soul. They include very much the encounters and experiences with others and with self. The author suggests expending effort in these seemingly small duties (which often are akin to small sufferings) with the reminder that many of us may never have the opportunity for a massive, heroic show of virtue and love of God. So it is in enduring the allergy, not being piqued by the customer service rep in handling a material matter, closing a door gently, keeping the voice soft and even in tense conversations (or in any conversation), standing guard over our words, maintaining a pleasant, peaceful facial expression, assessing our body language with the goal of meekness and modesty, and doing all unpleasant or menial tasks as if they were the most valuable to God and for souls.

Victim souls of the Sacred Heart of Jesus may tend to await the day of horrendous suffering, of the stigmata's arrival, or other such eventful agonies. It is subtly revealing of temptation to pride, to find it easier to suffer well in public or when others know of some major pain or problem. But the lot of most victim souls, all their lives, is to suffer the small stuff.

When one suffers the small stuff, with no one knowing and with no one even suspecting, the training in heroic virtue commences. If a note to a sick person can be written without self-acclaim, if the carpet can be vacuumed despite the painful back, if the slights and insults can be accepted without complaint to others--and even to God and self, then there are the beginnings of wisdom. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord, and victim souls must learn to fear--and to be in awe--of God Who suffered all the small stuff just like we are called to do, and He suffered them in silence and penance. He also suffered the Passion, but this, too, in silence and penance. And He suffers day in and night out, still, for He is right here with us, as we also are through, with and in Him. And that means all our small, daily faults are known to Him and cause Him no small amount of suffering.

Christ is as close to us as He was to the paralytic of whom He asked, "What do you want?" The man wanted to be healed, and so he was healed. Jesus asks us, "What do you want?", and a victim soul's answer might be quite different than others' answers; but only Jesus should hear the reply.

Perhaps today we answer Jesus, "I want to suffer well the small stuff, for the glory of God and the salvation of souls."

What do I want? Well, today I want to cough and blow my nose as a prayer for all the intentions I've been asked to pray for. I want to vacuum the whole hermitage for the return of missing children to their homes. I want to finish organizing the office items and books in the small library room: for every priest in the whole world to have increased zeal and obedience in their vocation. I want to preach Christ crucified in very small ways today, in words and gestures, in thoughts and hopes. I want to not criticize anyone or anything but rather to consider others' excellent qualities and the good aspects of all God's creation.

Yes, I want to be healed of this allergy, to be allowed to know what is the cause, but I also want everyone with allergies to be healed of them. Yet, I want to be patient with it and not focus on self, of the breathing pain and the coughing. And not to leap into clearing out items that might be the cause, for I want to suffer the small (but huge) fault of impulsiveness until patience reigns.

This is what I want, as Jesus is constantly here, asking, "What do you want?" I want to be perfect as Our Heavenly Father is perfect. And suffering the small stuff is an offering to Jesus that hopefully will help, at least, shave off yet more of the many small human imperfections.


Blogger Joyful Catholics said...

Every time I open one of your blogs and read one sentence or paragraph, it's like you've "diagnosed" my heart. I have been too "thin-skinned" and "thick of skull" in my life. I'm going to be 53 soon. Only now am I doing battle with this 'over-sensitivity' that I've had in my life. This post, though I've not even read it in it's entirity, is hitting the nail on the head, and makes me once again know that I am at times, much too prickly, as a friend of mine calls it. Thank you nothing.

Your friend,
btw, my 'name' came to me this morning while writing to you. I am little and onlhy long to be more little as the years go by.

11:25 AM  

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