Today at work a coworker mentioned lent and he talked briefly about something that he wanted to give up. Somehow we got on the topic of COFFEE, and I mentioned how that is something I should consider. (I did this one year by the way, and it is HARD.) He joked how giving up coffee would be disastrous for him, and frankly, at this stage and age, I think I agreed with him. So I half-joked that I should give up drinking McDonald's coffee... (so good in the morning!) and drink the crappy coffee at work, that would be penance enough for me. He talked about how he puts massive amounts of sugar in HIS coffee and drinking his black would be extremely difficult for him. Well, I love my coffee black, and I laughed about how putting sugar IN my coffee to drink would be a sacrifice on my end.
And really, where am I going with all this?
Basically, we are all so wonderfully unique that our trials in life are completely different. I can't help but think about how I started out in life not even knowing if I wanted any kids (due to fear and selfishness), and there are countless couples out there suffering from infertility who would give anything to have kids, but cannot. I complain that "I have to work" and don't see my kids enough, while the stay at home mom of 4 across the street is complaining that she cannot find a job and wants to work. Isn't the grass always greener on the other side? Your internal every day trials and my trials may seem trivial in the face of a life threatening illness or other medical issue, but it is suffering, mental or otherwise, nonetheless and is valid and real. Yeah, even aging is a form of suffering. Who out there is excited to be "over the hill" and watch your physical youth and beauty fade away, slowly, year by year?
Some insight on Temptations yesterday from my spiritual reading can be summed up like this: There is great variety in our trials and temptations. Some of us have very serious temptations after deciding to turn to God and live a Christian life. Some suffer cruel illnesses near the end of a very easy life. Some of us have trials every day all throughout life. Some of us have it easier than others. It is all part of God's mysterious plan and His great wisdom and justice. But one thing is this: All things given, good and bad, are for our salvation, if we follow the will of God. This is how we become saints!
Oh, how I hate suffering and have a hard time embracing my cross. (Maybe I'm not running from it, but it's more like I'm dragging it behind me...) I'm not sure how to really change this, but I know prayer can help.
And I'm not making this stuff up on my own, but rather sharing with you from what I am reading... Here are two little prayers for encouragement.
Prayer for Light
Enlighten me, O good Jesus, with the brightness of eternal light, and let all darkness depart from my heart. Let me see through my wandering thoughts and help me to replace them with good, healthy thinking. Defend me against the evil beasts that come to me in the shape of attractive desires. Bestow on me true interior peace through Your power, so that Your praise may echo within my soul as in a holy temple. Command the tempests and storms. Say to the sea, "Be still!" Call to the raging wind, "Blow Not!" And there shall be a great calm within my soul. Amen.
Prayer Against Temptations
Lord, my God, do not depart far from me. Please look upon me and help me. Evil thoughts have risen up against me and great fears afflict my soul. How am I to pass on without being harmed by them? Show me how I may crush them. You have said, "I will go before you and will humble the great ones of the earth. I will open the gates of prison and will make known to you hidden secrets." Dear Lord, do as You say, and let all wicked thoughts and desires flee before Your face. Amen.