...If, amidst the mishaps and disorder of this world, we seek God with all our hearts, we will come to understand that God’s ways are not our ways, and that sometimes love is found and cultivated in the most unlikely circumstances.
Right now we are in those months that are considered the most difficult months in the year – the months after Christmas and before Easter. From a spiritual standpoint, the birth of Jesus and the death of Jesus give us two strikingly similar visuals that are our bookends: Jesus being laid in a wooden manger, swaddled in a few white rags. The second, Jesus being laid on the wood of the Cross, clothed once again in nothing but white rags. Being between these events and looking at His birth and His death, what can we learn?
I once asked a wise therapist what she had learned from 30 years of having people open up to her their most intense suffering. Her response was, “I learned that we suffer most when we tell ourselves this is not how it should be.”
I think for most of us, our minds go to that thought pretty quickly. It’s one clear thought that permeates our minds when they are overwhelmed and fogged with grief while we endure loss. Really, no area of our life is untouched by it … it’s in our outlook on society, frustrations in driving, something we feel at work, and in relationships. The other day a woman told me she had suffered 23 years from the thought that she married the wrong person. And for many of us, not only are we discontent about the trajectory of our lives, but also who we are as individuals, with personal issues dating back to childhood that feel impossible to reverse.
And if the reason for our existence on earth is to find happiness, of course all the disorder around us and within us would rightly lead us to conclude – This is not how it should be.
But we were not put on earth to land a happy marriage, to find a job that fulfills us, to have children that don’t struggle, or to have a life that goes according to plan. The purpose of life is to seek God, and to grow in our ability to love. And though I wish it weren’t so, often the disorder in our relationships, lives and world, is the very thing that leads us to seek Him more intentionally, and are the very things that provide the greatest opportunity for us to grow in love.
None of us would think a baby should be born in an animal shed, or that an all-powerful God who became man should die on a cross like a criminal. But if, amidst the mishaps and disorder of this world, we seek God with all our hearts, we will come to understand that God’s ways are not our ways, and that sometimes love is found and cultivated in the most unlikely circumstances.
Maria Miravalle is the Spiritual Care Coordinator at Cornerstone of Hope’s Cleveland Location.