My friend Mama Cloud has a 3rd grade son who is not very cuddly. Every time she wants some sugar from that kid, it’s like wrestling with a greased pig. Eventually she tires him out and he consents to a few minutes of love. She named this phenomenon “the struggle to the snuggle.”
That phrase pretty much summarizes my relationship with God.
Don’t tell my parents, because it would probably break their hearts, but I often find myself pretty damn unloveable.
Shhhhh. Don’t say a word.
This is between me and me.
So I keep busy. I declutter things. I take up new hobbies like running, and glass fusion, and wheat grinding, and over-sharing on the Internet. And of course, I drink a little.
All these things are marvelous distractions from achieving real goals and fixing broken relationships.
“Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith.” ~Christopher Fry
But I think God’s unwavering desire to love me, the real me, “warts and all,” even when I can’t love myself, must be wearing me down a bit. I’m starting to let God put His/Her arms around me for a few minutes at a time. And I like it.
I’m in this kick-ass book study group I like to call the Renegade Catholic Priestesses. This is a group of about 20 amazing women I’ve come to know over the past few years, mainly through my church. We range in age from our 30s to our 70s and we come from a variety of backgrounds. These women make me laugh, think, and cry on a regular basis.
Yesterday we were discussing an idea from Fr. Richard Rohr’s book Everything Belongs. I was visibly wrestling with a concept in chapter 4:
“…sometimes we don’t do God or the Gospel a service by spending our life comparing ourselves to others’ gifts and calls.”
“The most courageous thing we will ever do is to bear humbly the mystery of our own reality.”
I felt myself on the verge of an emotional outburst. It started with a heavy sigh and our fearless leader Marian jumped on it like a duck on a June Bug. Before my brain could stop my mouth, I heard myself lamenting out loud about my daughter Mini-Me and her struggles at school. “How can we not compare our gifts and calls to others’ when society obviously rewards very specific gifts! For instance, my daughter. I worry that she’ll never fit in; she’ll never succeed. She simply can’t behave like little girls are expected to act and as a result, she suffers. It’s so hard to watch.”
The group swooped in to protect their fallen baby bird.
“You’re a great mother!” “She’s an awesome kid!” “Don’t make her conform. Celebrate her!” “Is there any more pumpkin bread?” (Fine, that last one was me.)
But Marian smelled a rat.
She knows me too well and sensed that what I said was obviously code for my deepest fears: I’ll never fit in; I’ll never succeed; I don’t belong.
But everything belongs. Even a hairy, foul-mouthed, half-breed, Cafeteria Catholic like me.
Apparently, according to Marian, and my Renegade Catholic Priestess friends, and Fr. Richard Rohr, God thinks I’m awesome. I just have a hard time always seeing myself the way God sees me. But I’m trying. The good news about God and the struggle to the snuggle? This greased pig is no match against unconditional love.
I write about this today on WTF Wednesday because “WTF” isn’t necessarily a negative thing. Sure, we can use “WTF!” to express horror or shock or disdain for the crazy things people do, like this, or this, or this. But it can also be a question that leads to further exploration. As in: “I criticize my daughter constantly. WTF? What is it about her that reminds me of what I don’t like about myself?” (Uh, everything. You don’t call her Mini-Me for nothing. Der.)
And that simple question might be all we need to take the next step toward that next right thing.
“If God can receive me, who am I to not receive myself – warts and all?” ~ Fr. Richard Rohr
Hey, guess what? God sends me love notes sometimes. Marian is one of his official transcribers.
“Someday, with God’s love, you might find some more room in your heart for you.” ~ Marian
I hope you have a Marian of your own. If you don’t, I’ll share mine.
authentically yours, with slightly reduced self-loathing,
© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris. All rights reserved.