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Broken? – Stanza XII – Part I

February 7, 2014 by  
Filed under Becky Ward, Broken

Broken? Stanza XII Part I

“No pain, No gain!” You led the way,
and showed the path we too must find.
Your saints remind us through example,
on what to set our he
art and mind.

pieta4Human beings are noble creatures. God made us in His own likeness, and if He is good, then it follows that we must be good, as well. The concept of nobility, goodness, or dignity does not include any selfishness or inclination toward evil. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Mankind is easily capable of performing heroic acts and living with an ‘other oriented’ attitude when it is asked or required. There is an old expression I learned as a child on the farm where we milked our own cows. “Cream rises to the top.” Indeed it does…. and so do souls if they are given the opportunity. We see proof of this in the heroism of soldiers and ordinary people who rush to save others on the spur of the moment, and also in the lives of people like Blessed Mother Teresa, who give without counting the cost, for a whole lifetime.

In order for us to grow in the understanding of our dignity, and for the nobility in us to blossom we must be exposed to others who understand the need, and live as true followers of Christ, as did the Blessed Virgin Mary, our spiritual Mother, and Jesus’ first disciple. I can think of no better example than Mary, of a soul who imitated Jesus in giving a complete “Yes!” to God, opening her heart and soul to be a channel of grace for the Holy Spirit, despite the pain and sorrow that doing so entailed.

As with most things we learn in life, giving our “Yes” to God is a process. It is a process that we must commit ourselves to each and every day. It is a process of conversion, of allowing the Lord to change our hearts and transform our souls into the image and likeness of Jesus, one step at a time. The following poem, by an unknown author, provides a beautiful image of the process of conversion, of giving up our need to be in control, and allowing God to lead.

DANCING WITH GOD

When I meditated on the word Guidance,
I kept seeing “dance” at the end of the word.
I remember reading that doing God’s will is a lot like dancing.
When two people try to lead, nothing feels right.

The movement doesn’t flow with the music,
and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky.
When one person realizes that, and lets the other lead,
both bodies begin to flow with the music.

One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back
or by pressing lightly in one direction or another.
It’s as if two become one body, moving beautifully.

The dance takes surrender, willingness,
and attentiveness from one person
and gentle guidance and skill from the other.

My eyes drew back to the word Guidance.
When I saw “G,” I thought of God,
followed by “u” and “i.” “God, ‘u’ and ‘I’ dance.”
God, you, and I dance.

As I lowered my head, I became willing to trust
that I would get guidance about my life.
Once again, I became willing to let God lead.

My prayer for you today is that God’s blessings
and mercies are upon you on this day and everyday.
May you abide in God, as God abides in you.
Dance together with God, trusting God to lead
and to guide you through each season of your life.

 

Giving up our need to be in control can be extremely difficult; especially in the United States where the spirit of independence is so strong. Increasing the difficulty for many souls is the trauma and abuse they have experienced, which makes them defensive and wary. I know about this first-hand, and you would be hard-pressed to find someone who had a greater need to be in control, than me. In hindsight I see that it was actually fear that fed my mistrust of others. Based on betrayals in my life that I wasn’t consciously aware of, I became very independent, and the need to be in control of even the smallest details of my life led to my being easily, and frequently, frustrated. Once I grasped the truth that control is an illusion, and that our only real safety and security come from God, it was much easier to abandon myself to Divine Providence, and let God lead.

As I write this, it is January 1st, 2014, the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, and as I reflect on her many virtues, the virtue of purity is coming to me very strongly.  This makes a lot of sense in light of the ‘moral sewer’ that our culture embraces, painting a false image of ‘freedom’, and of what it really means to be women and men in today’s world.

I read in the novel, The Father’s Tale, by Michael D. O’Brien, about women in Finland who walked around naked in public. I was struck by the sympathy of the main character, who, upon seeing these women, was saddened that no one had ever made them aware of the great dignity of their bodies. He believed that if they knew their real value, they would not expose themselves to lustful and degrading thoughts and stares, as they were doing.

The media continues to portray men in mostly one of two extremes; they are either wimpy idiots, or are macho tough guys (read ‘bullies’), who get what they want by force, and have women falling all over them. Both men and women are portrayed as being sex-starved, and unable to get through life without frequent sexual encounters. In fact, the real plot of several shows I have seen recently takes a back seat to the sexual exploits of the characters. Sadly, even those who are initially made to look like they have a great deal of inner strength and integrity, soon show the seedier side of their personalities as they engage in multiple callous, and casual, sexual relationships.

“Agere contra” is a term from the spiritual writing of St. Ignatius of Loyola, and it means ‘to act against’, or ‘to do the opposite’. The most common way of putting this into practice is in mortifying one’s ‘self’; acting against our selfish desires, and doing the opposite of what we would like to do, as we walk the path of Christian holiness. The term was presented to me in a way that I understood to mean ‘to do the opposite’ of what ‘the world’ said we should do, in addition to its original use.

In this light it is easy to see how Mary presents a perfect example for women to follow. She is a strong, brave, tender, and loving image of womanhood, and through her we see in what high esteem God truly sees women. I encourage anyone who still thinks that the Church (and therefore God), hates women, to reflect on the fact that Jesus did not have to come to us weak and defenseless through a woman. He could have simply appeared on earth as a full-grown man and started His ministry that way, but He didn’t. By coming to us as an infant in need of nourishment and protection, He showed us how important the family unit really is to society. The Holy Family is the ‘model’ for families to follow in this fallen world, and that is definitely in opposition to the way families are usually depicted by the media, and seen by society in general where divorce rates climb amongst even Christian families.

“No pain, no gain!” People spend untold amounts of time, money, and energy to learn to do things they want to learn, or to get into good physical condition. Athletes, doctors, nurses, teachers, scientists, attorneys, musicians, etc. work hard and sacrifice to reach the top of their fields, but ask most of them to sacrifice for the good of their soul and they stare at you with a blank look on their face.

Contrast this with the example of the Blessed Mother, and the beliefs and actions of the virgin martyrs who died rather than give up their virginity, or the many religious who are faithful to their vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. We were made for more than gratifying our selfish human desires, much more! And we are happy when we are able to restrain our desires, in love, for the good of another. It is a natural consequence of putting God and others first.

When we do put God first in our lives, as we were created to do, all the rest falls into place. It must, because Jesus promised that it would be so, and He showed us the path we must follow.  Yes, it is painful to give up our own way of doing things and allow God to take over; much like having our toes stepped on by a dance partner. But God knows the desires of our hearts, and if we are sincere in wanting to grow in our relationship with Him, he will let us stand on His feet as we learn to let Him lead us in the eternal dance.

Love & Prayers.
Becky

This post is part of a series. The introduction and other articles from the series can be found here once they have been published. They can also be found at Tending The Vineyard.

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About Becky Ward

Becky is a wife, mother of four (One in heaven), grandmother of five, and a "re-formed Catholic" who, after receiving the gift of a deep conversion in 2006, and working through the Disciples of Jesus and Mary faith formation program, now considers herself to be "fully Catholic" What this means is that she now, at last, understands and appreciates the beauty of the Catholic faith in such a way that she wants to share it with everyone. "I've heard that the Blessed Mother told a visionary, 'If Catholics really lived their faith, the whole world would be Catholic.' I see the truth in this, and it is my deepest hope to be a living example that draws others to Jesus. Given the nickname Rebel-Becca by her mother, Becky strongly identifies with St. John the Baptist and his call to "make straight the path of the Lord", and with his role as "Friend of the Bridegroom". The poem, "Broken?" written through her hand, is a reflection of the journey of the soul, and Becky explains what the Holy Spirit is teaching her as she writes posts for each stanza.

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  • Jeanette

    Beautiful post. Thank you Becky!

    • Becky Ward

      Thank you, Jeanette!

  • DianeVa

    Thank you Becky! I have missed your posts. This poem about the dance is exactly what I needed this morning after tears shed over discerning what and where exactly God is calling me to do and/or go. My desire is to deepen my relationship with Him. The world (and God in part) says pay attention to your families needs first. Can one ever spend too much time with God? I am being selfish to want to grow in my spiritual life, choosing that over say watching TV with my husband? How do you choose over two “goods”? To,watch TV would be a sacrifice to offer up, but I REALLY would rather read a spiritual book or the bible. I am not good at decisions!

    • Becky Ward

      Thank you, Diane,
      Discernment takes time and practice….you’ll get there. This is one area where the DJM formation really helped me……you might consider it.
      In choosing between two ‘good things’, we must be certain that both choices are actually good. What TV shows or movies is your husband watching? If they are not wholesome, you may be better off reading. But if they really are two good things, I have heard it said that we should do the one we desire to do the least.
      May God bless your journey!

  • Aimliz

    Hi Becky, great post. I feel that The Lord guided me to read this today. I didn’t see this post till after I read the “main” one today. I have recently discovered that I think I am in control, or want to be, much more than I thought. The poem is a wonderful way to imagine how to let The Lord guide us. I will be able to remember this as I LOVE dancing and what a cool way to visualize allowing God to lead. I confess, that when I dance with my husband or my dad etc… I have to take a moment, relax and allow them to lead me. An obvious hint of who I am! :). Also, something I need to do with God.

    • Becky Ward

      Great insights, Aimliz! Once we’ve ‘named’ a problem or bad habit, all we need to do is ask God for the grace to overcome it!
      Blessings,
      Becky

  • Maria

    Becky, the poem in its simplicity is priceless. Thanks!

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