I go to a convent once a month, if you can call it that. In reality, the ‘House of Prayer’ is a little Spanish style home tucked into a residential area near my kids’ school. Sister Mary and Sister Margaret, both in their late eighties, minister by letting non-Catholic strangers like me rent a room from them for $15 a day.
The first time I went, I was seeking spiritual direction for a crisis that had manifested in my life. Sister Margaret invited me into her office. Her demeanor and voice were gentle, but shaky – fragile like a bird. She spoke softly, deliberately. “What would you like to talk about?” she asked me.
I told her all about the difficult relationship consuming my thoughts. The words tumbled out: how I knew I needed to set firmer boundaries so I didn’t feel angry and taken advantage of, but I was questioning how to do it in a Christ-like way. How do we follow a death-to-self Savior and death-to-self gospel while in some instances preserving ourselves? I wondered aloud. How do we find that line? I felt confident that here, in a convent, surrounded by real religious people, a solution to my problems could be found.
She regarded me, her pretty face tilted atop a wrinkled neck. “Can I tell you a story?” She asked me in her lilting singsong voice. “Yes!” I said, grateful for the insight about to come my way. “I am not the type . . . to receive visions,” she said slowly, thoughtfully, “but one morning I woke up before dawn and I laid quietly in my bed. I heard the Lord speak to me. He said, ‘Let Me love you.’”
I waited expectantly. I think my mouth might have been open. I was ready to consume a torrent of holy insight. After a few moments, it dawned on me that the story had finished. I searched frantically for an appropriate response. She took my pause for a final reflection and said, “Would you like to close with a song?”
“Uh . . . ok” I said. So we did.
Sister Margaret’s words clung to me, heavy and cumbersome, like a sleeping child on my back. I carried them wherever I went. They threw me off balance and disoriented me. When I sat down to pray they poked at me and in true childlike form, did not let me be until I did what they asked of me. “I let You love me,” I scoffed one morning as my way of opening prayer. “Of course, I let You love me.” Silence.
Nothing came. Day after day nothing came and the anger that had been festering over this one isolated relationship began to spill into other relationships. The angrier I got about my relationships the angrier I felt toward God who put these terrible people in my life in the first place. And the more I leaned into my anger toward God the more I felt fear – fear that my anger toward Him would eclipse the love I had for Him, and then where would I be?
There were no fireworks, no waterworks, not even a whispered vision lying in my bed in the predawn hours. But there was a crack in the door and a tiny dawn of realization that my love for God was not nearly as strong as I wanted it to be. And instead of feeling shame that my love for God had waned, there was only curiosity. Do You love me, God? How? Why?
This posture of quietness and receptivity began to align the fault lines of my soul, seemingly without much participation on my part. I couldn’t explain how. The edges of my anger softened. My patience with myself and others seemed to extend just a minute, then a second farther. My heart felt like it finally had some room to expand inside the freedom that I couldn’t love God well enough and was never expected to.
Recently, a friend of mine marveled that I left my kids for 10 days to take my dying mother-in-law on one last overseas mission trip. “Last summer you wouldn’t leave them overnight because you were too anxious. God is working on you.”
Who can explain what happens in transformation? I don’t know, except I think it’s the same thing that happens in any type of miracle. What transcribed in the bottom of the baskets of loaves and fishes? I don’t think it was all dumped down from heaven in one slimy pile – God has never wrought a miracle for me in one lump sum. What were the ingredients for the miracle except what was already on hand? Fish, loaves, time, and the inescapable love of God.
We take what we already have and trust it is enough.
Even in miracles, maybe especially in miracles, it takes all my faith to reach into the basket, praying my hand will not come up empty. Maybe that is all transformation is, reaching in for the love of God again and again, our hands never grazing the wicker bottom: one more fish, one more hunk of bread, one more illuminated day. Taking what we’ve found in there and passing it around. We step back and take a wider view of filled bellies and heaps of leftovers and wonder where it all came from.The ingredients for a miracle are what we already have on hand and the inescapable love of God. Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Needed this today, thank you.
God does work miracles you are right and it is definitely working with what we already, or sometimes it is out of the blue circumstance where provision comes and you know in your inner soul that it’s come from him! God does love us and wants the best for us….we are so blessed and lucky to have him in our corner. I couldn’t live without him!
Thank you Alyson. This is beautifully written and is exactly what my heart needed this morning!!
Wonderful! Thanks, Becky!
Michele Morin says
I don’t think nearly enough about the love of God, but it is so much more efficient and powerful as fuel for living and serving than the duty and responsibility (or even calling) that I resort to on a daily basis.
Thanks for your story offered here as a catalyst for life change!
Same here! Thank you, Michele!
Pearl Allard says
Alyson, this is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing this truth the way you did – totally met me where I’m at today. May God bless you, keep you, and continue using you, sister.
I will gladly take that blessing, Pearl! Thank you!
I was just driving home worrying myself to death about how I’m going to feed my kids this month. How am I going to pay rent? How am I going to move next summer if there isn’t anything to move with? And now the dog has to have stitches?
And then I open my computer to see this first thing.
That in itself is a small miracle, so thank you.
This reminded me of a few yrs ago when I was taking monthly spiritual discipline classes. After each class we had the opportunity to practice the new discipline. My first attempt at contemplative prayer was challenging, but oh so rewarding w patience. God met me w those same words. “Let me love you. Let me love you. Let. Me. Love. You.” Today, reading those words, brought back the enveloping feeling of complete fulfillment and acceptance.
Wow. Sounds like something only God can do. I think He does some of His best work in the 11th hour!
That sounds like an amazing class! Yes- it’s that intimacy that keeps us coming back for more. ♥️
Heidi M says
I love how God works. Thanks for sharing, Aly.
Beth Williams says
Christians don’t often think of the vastness of God’s love. We know He loves us. But do we comprehend the depth of His love? Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” The God go the universe rejoices over me!! WOW!! Do we fully understand that? Our church takes communion each week. We have a wall hanging that shows Christ on the cross with all His blood spilling out for us. The more one looks at that picture & hears good meditations on communion the more we can comprehend His love. I believe most Christians act out of “duty” like it’s something they have to do-not something they get to do. We should all let God love us fully & comprehend His love better. Then we will not act out of duty but out of love for what Christ has done for us. We want to show the world Christ’s love & this is how we’re doing it. The ingredients for a miracle are what we already have plus God inescapable love. Think on that & go spread His love to others!
Ahhh.. we are always looking to see a miracle to take place right in front of us. We ask God to send us a message such as the burning bush so that we will believe deeper, so that our faith will be stronger and we may speak of this to others. The real truth is we are the miracles of God and we should be telling everyone this message. Because He loved us, He died for us and that in itself is how great His love is for us. I pray I will be reminded of this and be that miracle for those who may need, to tell His miraculous story to others.