Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Withdrawal Symptoms

“The beginning of pride is man’s stubbornness in withdrawing his heart from his Maker; for pride is a reservoir of sin, a source which runs over with vice…” Sirach 10: 12-13a

There are a lot of marriages in trouble. And because of this there are a lot of families in trouble. And I observe all this and wonder how two people can love each other so much, pledge their lives to one another before God and from their love create new life and yet, years later, it all begins to fall apart. How does this happen?

In most situations, I believe it begins small, in an almost imperceptible way, when one spouse or the other beings to withdraw their heart from the other. And then we see the parents withdraw their hearts from the children and then the children from the parents, until everyone is cornered into the isolation of fear and hopelessness that only the Evil One can flourish in. This can begin to happen because love requires us to be vulnerable with one another. Love requires us to open our heart and display it for the other. It requires a risk. And when it hurts (and it will), we can be tempted to withdraw our hearts back from the one we love, thinking that it will protect us. But in the end, the protection we seek becomes a wall that separates us from the one we love.

We can do this in our relationship with God as well. He gives us His heart fully and without reservation and asks for our undivided love in return. But this love and relationship has demands that are not always easy. And sometimes we would rather go our own way and serve ourselves than serve the One who loves us. And so we stubbornly withdraw our hearts from the only One who will love us perfectly, thinking that we must protect ourselves even from Him. In these instances, we begin to erect walls of pride, selfishness and laziness around our hearts that isolate us from our Maker. And in the end we can build walls so high and so thick that our hearts become entombed: safe, yes, but buried and cold—and empty. And in its finality, this must be hell: the result of such stubborn pride that we would rather spend an eternity alone with our cold, dead hearts than allow our hearts to be pierced by the sharp sword of love.

During this season of Lent, may we wrestle our hearts out from behind our walls of stubborn pride and abandon them to the raging fury of God’s love. Only in this abandonment can our hearts be truly enflamed, filled and transformed.

Dear Jesus, take away my stubborn pride and make my heart like Your heart. Amen. 

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