“Give God that nothing”

I am re-reading a slim volume on Mother Teresa, titled I Loved Jesus in the Night.  This book increases my hope whenever I pick it up.  Today while reading, I was reminded of something I wish I would remember  more often–and that is that nothing in our life need be wasted.  We can offer whatever we suffer, however small or insignificant it may seem, to God for the sake of others.  Whenever I do remember this truth, it makes such a world of difference for me.  It lifts me out of my small world of seemingly petty sufferings–mostly of my own making–into God who holds all things in His massive Heart.

If at the time of prayer or meditation it seems to you that not only have you been distracted in your prayer, but that you have done nothing at all, never leave that time or that place of prayer angry or bitter with yourself.  First–turn to God and give God that nothing.  (Mother Teresa)

P.S. I am continually struck by how much Mother Teresa was influence by her namesake, St. Thérèse, who wrote in one of her early letters: “If I felt that I had nothing to offer to Jesus, I would offer Him that nothing.” (LT 76)

Utterly spent

Yesterday morning I woke up feeling utterly spent.  My/our good friend’s funeral had been the night before.  Hundreds of people had come to the wake and her wonderful funeral–and it was truly wonderful–and needless to say I am exhausted both from my own shock and grief at her death as well as from helping her family from out of town with all the funeral details and packing up her house before they leave to go home.  So yesterday morning, Ash Wednesday, I woke up feeling very, very poor and spent and thinking, “I have utterly nothing left to give.”  And at that moment there was a little nudge inside me, reminding me that that is exactly the best place to be at the beginning of Lent: poor and spent.  The best place for God to be able to love me–which is the point of Lent.  Repentance basically is our attempt to get rid of all that separates from Him and His love.  It’s not about giving up things–it’s about giving up what separates us from His love.  As it says in Hosea:  I am going to lure her and lead her out into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her heart (Hosea 2.14)  God wants to speak tenderly to each of our hearts this Lent.  Let’s not get so caught up in giving up things for the sake of giving up things that we miss that.

(for a related post, see “When you feel like you have nothing left to give”)

We are just human

As you can imagine, with our good friend in the hospital and her family out-of-state, we have been very busy.  In addition, two of the four residents in one of our Emmanuel Houses were admitted to two different hospitals this week.  Saturday night during Evening Prayer I could hardly keep my eyes open.  (I had been at the hospital from 8:00 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. the day before and had not slept well that night.)  As a result of my temperament, I started thinking, “Lord, I wish I was serving you better.  I’m sorry that I’m so tired and don’t have more to give.”  Then I remembered–I am just a human.  I had given all I could give, and part of loving is bearing the cost of giving everything you have.  Feeling drained and empty does not necessarily mean that you are doing something wrong.  I remembered this piece by Caryll Houselander that has encouraged me in the past.  I hope it encourages you as well:

When you have done something really healing, it happens so often that the only way you know it at first is by your own feeling of emptiness.  Even our Lord experienced this; when the woman who touched the hem of His garment was healed, He knew it by the sense of something having gone out of Him, and emptying “[power] has gone out of Me.”  It is the same for His followers–we know the moment of healing, not yet evident, not by exaltation and triumph but by emptiness and a sense of failure.   (from Maise Ward, That Divine Eccentric,  p. 136)