March 11, 2016
“Lord, I don’t know what I need. I don’t know what I need.”
This was the only prayer I could muster this morning, the only prayer that felt right. I prayed this in my pajamas, looking up at the ceiling of my apartment.
Yesterday, I faced a pretty crushing academic failure in my program, failing my first attempt at a comprehensive exam and an hour of negative critique from two professors. My confidence was crushed, and I have seen the damage today in how defensive I have been in almost every interaction I’ve had, trying to prove to everyone else that I’m not a failure, I know things, I’ve worked hard, I’m not a failure. I’ve seen how my heart has started beating faster when I’m making a comment in a group discussion.
I’ve seen the damage in my mind, how it’s difficult to not ruminate, not play over again and again the negative things my professors said about my paper, which I translated to about being about me. How many times have we had to tell ourselves that: that we’re not worth nothing, we’re not worth what we think others think of us? How many times have you had to defend your worth, your value as a person, silently to yourself? When we see how easily our confidence, our self-worth, shatters, we see how fickle its bearings were, we see how you can’t build a house on sand.
And yet, today, the Lord spoke very clearly about what I need: Himself. Of course, my soul, you need your Maker, you need your Lover, your Redeemer; without Him, you are not, you would not be. Today I had the urge to go to confession and receive the mercy and tenderness of absolution from God, to reclaim my worth as a redeemed daughter of God when so much of my identity otherwise had been shaken, broken, even. Praying my penance, I got distracted again with a replay of criticism, but then received a very clear message: “You don’t have to be defensive with Me.” Who was my audience, here? God reminded me: Himself.
“You don’t have to be defensive with Me.”
The Lord whispered to me these words of freedom. He knows, He knew, and He will know all that I am upset about. He knows the feeling of defeat. He knows all of my feelings, my thoughts. He has searched me, and knows me. I need to defend myself in the context of school because I need to show that I am worthy of receiving a certain degree, a title to label myself and gain credibility on certain matters, but I do not need to defend myself to God, for His Son has paid all my debt, defended me from death, from what would have been the consequences of my sins.
Jesus reminds us of our self-worth when we look at the Cross, the terrible, glorious Cross. He reminds us that He did not count the iniquities set before Him to pay; He paid all debts. He did not count your sins, so why should I? What He did see and cherish were our faces, our souls, He held us before Him as the prize of the Cross. WE are the prize of His Cross. Why should you deny Christ His wish? Why should we deny our self-worth, which is gift, which is Love? We do not have to be defensive with God, for He is the great defender and redeemer before the evil one. We must bow to His mercy.
As I sat in Mass after receiving Him in the Eucharist, I closed my eyes and chewed slowly, focusing on Him dissolving with every chew. This became an image of how God wanted me to give myself to Him: why don’t I let God consume me into Himself? Jesus reduces Himself to the form of bread to be dissolved and consumed by us, and yet, we are so cautious in giving ourselves to Him, we are so cautious with letting Him undo what we think of ourselves, how we think of ourselves. Consumption by God means transformation by God, which also means continual acts of trust in who He wants you to be.
We must allow God to consume us.
And with that, I ask for your prayers, for my healing and perseverance, and for all students who face similar trials.
Lord Jesus, in Whom mercy is limitless and the treasury of compassion, inexhaustible,
look kindly upon us and increase your mercy in us,
that in difficult moments, we might not despair nor become despondent,
but with great confidence, submit ourselves to your Holy Will,
which is Love and Mercy itself.