Fourth Station of the Cross: Jesus Meets His Blessed Mother
By Adam Salonen (inspired by Mrs. Jean Eppler)
“Our worth is in our being not our doing.” – A good friend
My reasons for turning off my comments and refraining from commenting on other blog posts during Lent were multi-layered. Part of it was a need to turn down what I call “brain buzz,” that frenzied activity that goes on in our head and sometimes distracts us from our relationship with God. Part of it was a gut feeling that, in general, I was spending too much time online and needed to pull back and make room for other pursuits. Part of it was a need to simplify as many areas of my life as possible; the “less is more” mentality.
But there was another part as well. Though I might not have been as consciously aware of it at the outset, I’ve slowly come to see what a vital role it played in my fasting.
The exchanges involved in being engaged in the online world can and do serve a life-giving purpose at times. The frequent stream of esteem stroking that goes on can be a positive push to keep one moving forward. It’s a give and receive that most days can be helpful, and mightily appealing, especially on those down days when a little lift is needed. But at some point, even when the words are sincerely given, an empty feeling can creep in. Despite this daily infusion of loveliness, on some level the recipient is aware that it is not enough; that the soul is thirsting for something deeper.
I think it’s fairly human to desire a regular sense of affirmation that we’re on the right track. We can go along our path only so long before we begin to look for that little nugget of something that says to us, “You’re doing great — keep going!” Sometimes we get that, but what about when we don’t? Or what about when the words of affirmation we receive are not enough to quench that deep-down thirst at the bottom of our souls?
In the last couple of days, I’ve been feeling thirsty, and I’ve been wondering why. My unconditional-love-giving mother just paid a visit, I feel very alive in my faith, and I have a lively family, the members of which often let me know I’m appreciated, even if in the subtlest of ways some days. I really have no reason to feel sorry for or to doubt myself.
And yet, here I am, feeling a little uncertain about some aspects of my life despite all of the signs that point out that I am exactly where I ought to be; that, in fact, everything in my life that has happened up to this point has led me to this moment in time, and all is well.
I shared some of my nagging vulnerabilities with a good friend this morning, and in the middle of an encouraging email message back, these words from her popped out: “Our worth is in our being not our doing.”
I recognized the words. I’d heard them before, in a different context and by a different person. But on this day, they lilted away from the computer toward me, wrapping themselves around my tender heart. And I realized that this is what I have thirsted for – this realization that I am loved, not because of anything I have done or aspire to do, but simply because I am.
That kind of love, the deepest kind of affirmation there is, can come from one source only: God. Ultimately, that knowledge is the only thing that will truly satisfy. No amount of blog followers or publication credits or achievements by our children can raise us up like the unconditional love of God.
The death of my friend Ryan on Holy Thursday helped this statement resonate even more fully with me today. After listening to family and friends share at the Vigil what made Ryan special, what stood out most wasn’t any amazing earthly accomplishment, but the fact that he was such a genuinely good person. It was such a simple reality and yet the love that became evident in his parting was so palpable as to be felt physically, in some strange sense. There was joy even in Ryan’s death because of what he had left behind: the mere fact of his having existed. A sense seemed prevalent that the world had become an infinitely better place simply because he had been with us, and that because of this fact, the world would never be quite the same again — ever.
Ryan was just a few months younger than I, but in his 40 years of life, he had accomplished all that he needed to in this life just by being, and by being the kindest person he could be in the time that he had among us. It was clear to me, and others I think, that Ryan had done everything God had wanted him to do in simply showing up and offering himself to others.
How often do we allow ourselves to realize that our worth is not in our doing but in our being? The very fact that we are alive on this earth is the most amazing contribution we will ever make, or need to make. God loved us into being, and so we are. And that…is enough. Compared to that, everything else is peanuts.
(Thanks, Mary, for the inspiration today!)
Have you allowed yourself to realize that your worth is in your being? At the point at which you are able to wrap your brain around that reality, how does it make you feel?