The Blessings of Discomfort, Anger, Tears, and Foolishness
Sometimes stepping in to action requires impetus. I find that often that impetus appears in the form of a strong emotion or desire. I think about, for example, when my daughter became the target of the school yard bully.
At first it seemed harmless and I comforted her and tried to help her with strategies to deal with the girl’s hurtful words. But, over the course of time, the words and actions of this fifth-grade girl became a constant. My daughter didn’t want to go to school, came home in tears, and no strategy seemed effective. As her mother, I felt her pain as though it were my own. I saw how this pattern of behavior affected her self-esteem, learning, and sense of safety. It had to stop.
When it reached that level–too much–I went to the girl’s parents, the teacher, the head of the school. Enough was enough. I felt compelled–by my love and compassion for my daughter, by my anger at the school’s complacency in dealing with the problem.
My emotions were a blessing. Because I loved, felt compassion and anger, I found a way to help my daughter. Without those emotions, I wouldn’t have been moved to help her.
Helping our children, family, and friends because we love them and feel deeply about what happens comes naturally. We develop connections with those individuals and the emotional connection gives us the desire to help. Without the connection we easily settle for complacency. Relationships, authentic, real relationships make the difference.
Our busy lives and caring for all our “stuff” distracts us from entering in to relationship and feeling those connections and emotions that make us loving humans that God wants us to be. The piling up of activities, jobs, possessions, distract us. We can deal with our closest family members and friends, but that is about it. To reach out to others, we need less of that stuff that bogs us down and more time and opportunity to make and feel connections with other.
But, until we feel strongly enough to change, we won’t. I need change, but I get stuck in the routine of my job, my daily tasks, and dealing with all my stuff.
So, I pray for the blessing of enough emotion–discomfort, anger, tears, foolishness, or whatever it takes–to nudge me out of my old ways and into the life Christ wants for me. A life where He is central and where relationship with Him gives me the compassion to be His hands and feet to others–not just my family and close circle of friends. Compassion to reach out to the marginalized.
This Franciscan Benediction speaks to this in terms of blessings of discomfort, anger, tears, and foolishness. I’ll take those blessings if they will make me live the life Christ meant for me.
“May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with an anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you can reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.”
— Godspeed, Elizabeth