It’s happened more than once to me and I’ve done it to others. Something bad or humiliating happens and we tease, “oh oh, you been praying for humility again?” I remember one friend recently crying, I was praying for humility not humiliation! It’s also a bit of a running joke that praying for humility is the fastest prayer God answers.
Well last week I wasn’t praying for humility but experienced it just the same only not in that humiliation kind of way we joke about or lament about when it happens. Not in a way that has any negative connotation to it.
A long time close friend sent Marc and I the link to a really wonderful talk on YouTube given by Fr. Ron Rolheiser on Bringing God’s Consolation to a Weary World. In the talk Fr. Ron gives ten consolations of God and #6 at the 53 minute mark was on God’s trustworthiness. He says:
God is completely trustworthy, faithful, and self surrendering. You are never in safer hands than in God’s hands. As an example. It’s very hard to preach at the funeral of someone who dies very young, someone who still needs a mother, they still need a parent. It’s one thing to die at 90, it’s another to die when you’re 9. This young person dies who still needs mothering.
At that point my heart lurched upward into my throat because someone was naming the struggle within me. My constant wrestling with God: But God, Bernadette still needs me! I’m her mother. And I need to be there for her. You gave her to me to mother, why take her away in the middle of me doing my job? But then he went on to say:
I always give this homily: You know this young person still needs a mother, this young person is not ready to [die], but they’re going into the hands of a mother. They’re going to land in far gentler hands than they were on this side. In God’s hands we’re in the safest, gentlest hands than we can ever imagine.
God is completely, completely, completely trustworthy.
At first I took in his words and they were a consolation, but it wasn’t something I didn’t already know – in my head. In my heart it was still hard to believe that someone loves Bernadette more than I do. It wasn’t until the next afternoon while I was driving to Salmon Arm and because I was alone I had a chance to visit the cemetery that that wrestling with God came up again, only this time it ended with Fr. Rolheiser’s words, she’s in far gentler hands than she was on this side.
Hearing those words after two years of this wrestling match with God was very humbling. As much as I wanted to be the perfect mom, I knew I wasn’t. In the past 20 months I’ve relived countless times every instance where I fell short in loving Bernadette as much as I could have and should have. If only I’d done better. If only I knew we had so little time with her I wouldn’t have put off letting her paint because it was too much work for me at that moment. I would have read her more books when she asked and played more willingly with her with her toys when she brought them to me. I would have loved her better.
It’s very humbling to realize just how much I fell short of being the best mom I could be. But even if I had been the best mom I could be, it still would have fallen infinitely short of God’s perfect love for Bernadette.
Reminds me of the priest speaking to Rudy in the movie Rudy, when he said:
Son, in 35 years of religious study, I have only come up with two hard incontrovertible facts: there is a God, and I’m not Him. “
Yes, there is a God and I’m not Him. Bernadette is in far gentler hands than she was on this side – in mine. 🙁 And that in itself is a great consolation I need to hold fast to the next time I’m tempted to wrestle with God – which I will indubitably do again and again because the heart of a mother always longs for her child. And that is not a bad thing either, or a lack of faith, because God created the love of a mother and He doesn’t expect us to turn that love off just because our child is no longer in our care but His.