I admire a great many people. I rank getting to know people as probably my favorite hobby. When we go the library, I am immediately drawn to the biography section as each life present in the pages I read opens up the door to yet another human being that God created for a reason to lead people to heaven. To me, that is why each person matters so much. My mother taught us to say, "What can I learn from you?"
My spiritual life pretty much can be summed up by introducing you to the one person I admire almost more than any other human I've ever met. I will call her Stacy. I grew up knowing Stacy in my rural hometown in Kansas. She was always quick to call out my name when she drove her motorized cart past our home eagerly anticipating my mother being outside as she knew my mother always had time to listen to her stories she told over and over. Upon glancing at Stacy, you cannot help but be drawn back in disgust. She slobbers, drools, her hands are in braces which flail about, she smells, her past meals are always present on her mouth or her clothes, and she sweats profusely. She is visibly Christ crucified.
As a result of a tramatic birth and lack of oxygen, Stacy suffered severe brain damage. Due to her disabled state, her parents abandoned her and she was given to the state to take care of. She was passed from home to home in her youth. She was raped by several of the workers in one facility that left her with an STD that she still suffers from. So, let's back up a moment. She was abandoned by her parents due to circumstances outside of her control. She has never learned to walk and has been wheelchair bound her WHOLE life. I believe she is in her forties now. On top of that, she was raped. The sufferings she endures daily due to that incident leave me often without words. She lives alone in an apartment about a block from my childhood home. Once in the winter, her wheelchair had tipped over just outside her apartment and had to wait hours for somebody to come help her. She called my mother often for assistance as she depends upon everybody for everything. She has normal menstrual cycles, gets the flu and throws up, and suffers numerous other womanly issues just like everybody else except the fact she can't take care of any of it. When I was home this past summer, my mother informed me that Stacy was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy.
To me, we all have to earn heaven. To me, Stacy has set the bar so high and the athlete that I am following. We all have to run the same race. God loves us all the same and wants us all to be with HIM. You see, she is doing her sufferings on this side of heaven. I have known nothing but love my whole life. God blessed me with great parents, a happy and holy home, and great siblings. I grew up in their love only to meet John and continue to know God's love so strongly through him and our children. She has had none of that. Even though her body is "deformed", most of her mind is perfect. She mentions to my mother often about wanting to find somebody to spend her life with. She has never known the love of anybody especially as a woman, the love of a man. EVER.
So for me, if she has already suffered so much, I say to myself, "Lindsay, you better get going." You better start picking the hard road now if she is already on lap 2,000,000,000 and you are only on lap 50. The saints understood this concept perfectly. They knew that the road of suffering was the ONLY way to go while on earth. They would look at Stacy and know that she was the one truly blessed not us "normal" people who have life "easy." We really need a return to the old phrase of "Offer it up." I recently finished Fr. Emil Kapaun's story. I was love sick for a week about the heroism of this man. He understood this concept perfectly. When the guards were taking him off to die and the fellow prisoners were crying, he told them
"You're sorry for me? I am going to be with Jesus Christ. And that is what I have worked for all my life. And you say you're sorry for me? You should be happy for me. I'm going where I've always wanted to go."
I came across three quotes this week that have stuck with me.
"What we suffer should be our own secret, this silence is pleasing to the Heart of Jesus."-Ven. Mother Barat
"All that We Do without Offering it to God is Wasted." St. John Vianney
and the words right before we receive Our Lord in Communion, the priest says quietly,
"May the Body of Christ keep me safe for eternal life."
"May the Blood of Christ keep me safe for eternal life.
I loved especially these last words as what more shall we want here, but to be kept safe for eternal life. I do know that sufferings keep us safe as Christ has shown us by His own example. I do not understand the cross, but I do know that is the road we are to desire.
Please help me to get it right. Stacy has it right not the world that blasts me to seek perfection in the opposite direction. Help me to desire to be like HER. I am mindful of her a lot and because of her fine example and the grace of God, I am often motivated to pick the hard road. If she can endure a lifetime of that intensity of suffering, I can certainly strive to endure what God has so simply chosen for me today.
As always, I continue to encourage all to choose the hard road. Do not be afraid of the interior resistance you find. Our fallen nature is draw back and scorn the hard life. Our souls long for it and need it. Unlike Stacy, most of us are at least afforded a companion while suffering. That is why Stacy is all the more heroic to me. God asked the additional gift of her to be alone while carrying her heavenly cross.
I know I will be jealous of her on the other side.