Richard Roher writes about a nun, St. Therese of Lisieux who honestly shares her inner conflict in Story of a Soul: “This young contemplative nun is daily dealing with her irritations, judgments, and desire to run from other sisters in the convent. She faces her own mixed motives and pettiness. She is constant in her concern for those working actively in the missions, and her goal is always compassion and communion. Yet she suffers her own powerlessness to be compassionate until she can finally break through to love.”
Been there? You are trying to do good, you have good motives, but in the process, you have to work with people! They are at times difficult, don’t have any common sense (according to you), or are just to you a little strange.
I know I have, and if I am honest with myself I have this inner conflict in trying to do good but having these “not so nice” thoughts about my fellow saints.
All to often my tendency is to stuff these inner conflicts and focus my intention on the task and simply deny the thoughts that are not congruent with the good intentions of the project or task.
But Richard Roher points out that we don’t have to, we can’t have one without the other saying: “I cannot risk losing touch with either my angels or my demons. They are both good teachers”.
How refreshing and true! All to often we are in this dichotomy. This is encapsulated in Romans 7:18 “For I know that good itself dos not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”
Paul directly addresses this truthful display of our sinfulness and our powerlessness to overcome our human nature. He laments about this saying: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” in Romans 7:24.
Then, the victory! He breaks out in Romans 7:25: “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Stating that: “because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.” (Romans 8:2) Thank you God!
And to top things off, if you feel like beating yourself up on all this Paul states: “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1,2) There is no condemnation. Not only are we totally free from the consequences of our innate sinful nature we are also free from guilt.
Amazing! In reflecting on all these truths I am so very thankful that God understands and uses both our “demons and angels”. We don’t have to hide our true selves from God, in fact we can be our absolute true selves. He knows us intimately, and he has provided the way out from ourselves. Because: “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
This is God’s love for us, his deep well of never ending understanding and forgiveness reconciling us to him. His grace. And these truths are the reasons we can enthusiastically respond to God with praise and thanksgiving from our hearts. Hallelujah!