Not Enough

Sometimes my best intentions are not enough to bring good news to those around me. I think I mean well. I try to listen truly, deeply, humbly, but much need is greater than my capacity to meet, or what I have to offer is not a preferred response for the one to whom I offer it. It discourages me. It did this week, when in encounters I had hoped to be helpful turned out to be ones in which my offering was not only inadequate, it was not welcome.

Part of me wants to feel righteously indignant. Part of me wants to take my blocks and go home. Part of me wants to yell, “After all I’ve done for you…” But then,  I am pulled back to remember what Grace is: freely, offered, freely given, without expectation of results. That is the Grace God in Christ offers, that I have experienced along my own journey. I think about the sacred text in 2 Corinthians which is a foundation of my life and ministry:

                          My grace is enough for you; for power is made perfect in weakness…for when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12: 9, 10).

After all, it is not about me. It is ultimately about how the Spirit is helping, healing, holding, and saving each one, each community, the world, right now the one who does not want  or can receive my help. All I am required to do it to offer my best intentions, in Love and in Grace to the one I am with.  I don’t need to be important, successful, effective, although I certainly enjoy it when I am! I am called to be faithful to the ones whom I am given.

I am always cheered and affirmed when one of my Saints-by-Book comes alongside me in my place of need. This week it was the delightful and challenging Joyce Rupp, in her latest book of poetry, my soul feels lean, (Sorin Books, 2013). In her poem “Refusal” she tells her version of the dismay I feel:

She’s in the desert, dying/of thirst; you offer her/life-giving water./She turns away/scornfully.      She’s in the wilderness,/starving to death. You offer her/nourishing food, but she refuses it.     “It’s okay for you to want that.”/she says vehemently,”you can believe it.”/ Then she gorges herself on self-pity/and old tears that only increase/her thirst and hunger.      You finally realize/you cannot force feed her./You cannot shove your experience/into someone else, no matter/how much you care.      You give up trying/to help./You do the one thing,/the only thing you can./You let go/and/simply love her.

Reading this, I am supported in my feelings. I am reminded of who this pain is about. I am called to Love and Grace. It is enough.

God, through Grace I am committed to Love; help my unloving. Amen

 

 

 

 

About Elizabeth Nordquist

Elizabeth Nordquist is a Presbyterian pastor, teacher, and spiritual director who writes on women's issues, spirituality and Scripture, and what is happening in the world--hers, her neighborhood, the Church and the world. Each day she looks for ways in which the Spirit is moving in and around her.

  • Rex McDaniel

    Man….I had a couple of conversations this week exactly like this. So somehow rejoice that it worked around in to an important message for me. Thank you!!!

  • Elizabeth Nordquist

    The Spirit whistle around and in all of us!


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