I had a very unpleasant experience during the Lace Retreat I attended a few weeks ago, which has led me to a great deal of reflection--and insight!
A lifelong problem for me, is that whenever I perceive that someone is angry with me, I become absolutely paralyzedwith fear--completely non-functional, unable to think or act rationally. Unfortunately, I was not a "natural" when it came to making bobbin lace, and the Sister who was trying to teach me to do it, became understandably exasperated with my
slowness and seeming incapacity to learn the stitches as quickly as others.
I became so terrified when this happened, I could not control my emotional reaction. I was unable to tell her what was wrong, and unable to follow her directions, because I was too frightened to hear and act on what she was trying to tell me.
What I came to realize however, is that this is the direct result of how my mother controlled me for my entire life! She is a cold, unloving person, extremely domineering, who required total, unquestioning obedience in all things; if I ever dared not to comply in the smallest way, her anger was so awful, that I learned to “go limp” mentally and emotionally, as a way to cope and keep her from getting even more angry. She is a classic bully: she has no respect for anyone, especially me and my father--we are very much alike, both very gentle people--because we cannot stand up to her, which leads her to feel nothing but contempt for us. She truly believes that everyone else is stupid, and she is the only smart one.
Until now, I had never been able to see or understand this, until I thought deeply about what happened between myself and the Sister who was trying to teach me, as I tried to figure out why I was so completely helpless under those circumstances. My perception that she was angry, caused in me the same reaction that my mother knows so well how to create--and so instead of being able to listen to what she was telling me and do it, instead I just froze, and actually got worse instead of better.
As unpleasant as this experience was, God brought some good out of it, by giving me this new insight into the root cause of my problem. In this suffering which has dominated my life, I have come to cling to these words:
“‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”
I really never understood until now, how deeply my mother damaged me. I blossom when treated with kindness and love, and shrivel up without it. All my life, I constantly looked for love, but never found the kind I needed until I found God.
This morning, as I was preparing to go up for Communion, it occurred to me for the first time (I am so slow!) that the Body and Blood of Christ could heal me! So I went up, thinking about the woman in the Bible who touched His cloak in order to be healed, begging to be healed by His touch. I am going to keep asking this every day, and perhaps He will choose to do it, I don’t know. It could be that this is just something I was destined to endure, because of what it has taught me about how to treat others.
This prayer by Cardinal Newman, is one I have made my own, because this is how I want to be…
Dear Jesus, help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with Your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly,
That my life may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through me, and be so in me
That every soul I come in contact with
May feel Your presence in my soul.
Let them look up and see no longer me, but only Jesus!
Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine,
So to shine as to be a light to others;
The light, O Jesus will be all from You; none of it will be mine;
It will be you, shining on others through me.
Let me thus praise You the way You love best,
by shining on those around me.
Let me preach You without preaching, not by words but by my example,
By the catching force of the sympathetic influence of what I do,
The evident fullness of the love my heart bears to You.