That feeling of gut-dropping panic – and then its abeyance

I’ve always heard to “wait on the Lord.”  That those who do will run but not faint.  They will rise up on wings like eagles.  I never understood any of it.  But then I heard this story about how mother eagles teach their young to fly.  Eagles nest way up there in the mountains, on cliffs and crags.  You can’t just throw the babies over the edge and hope they learn on the way down.  Except, that is exactly what mother eagles do.

Then, something amazing happens.

No, the babies don’t magically fly on the first try.  Because, like everything in life, you can only learn by doing.  What does happen is even more cool:  the mothers catch them.  On their backs.  They fly up under their young and catch them.  Then they fly them back to the nest until the next series of flying lessons.  (I’m not crying – YOU’RE crying!)

In this scenario, we are the baby eagles.  Falling and terrified.  Because how is this possibly going to end well?  I’m dying.  Right now.  I’m falling and dying and no one cares.  My own mother pushed me out of the nest to fall to my death.

And then: a swoop and a save.  A gentle catch.  And I’m rising again, impossibly alive.

That’s what happened to me today.  I’m not going to lie.  I’ve been pretty suicidal these last few days.  I felt the ground rushing up to meet me.  Financial stress, loneliness, the divorce, living in a rental with lots of mold, not much mental bandwidth to focus on a larger purpose, not knowing what to do with my life or where to live or even if it’s all worth the effort.

Things have happened today to make me think that all these problems are conquerable.  As I was on my knees thanking God for His Providence, I realized that this is exactly what we are waiting on when we wait on the Lord:  his awesome Providence.  His swoop and catch.

It has been so tempting the last few days to rage and demand.  To try to force things to work.  My car is in the shop.  I’m low on groceries.  Low on funds (less than a dollar in the account yesterday evening with the electric bill due today).  The trash needs to be taken to the collection point.

I told my friend Quinn, “I need to take my trash out, but I don’t have my car!”  He said, “So just wait until you get your car back.”  As a person of action, I found this answer annoying.  I mean, I could call and impose on my neighbors, couldn’t I?  Shouldn’t I?  But I decided to wait.

And now today, I got an offer not only from the Honda dealer of  a loaner car, but also an offer from my mom of a ride to take me to the Honda dealer (which is over an hour away from me, two and half from her) to pick up said loaner car.

It’s not just that.  Plans for the future are taking shape and coalescing out of the swirling darkness of nothing that I thought was my future.  Ways of making them happen financially are kind of becoming clear, too.

I feel like God let me fall an exceptionally long way this time.  But I also feel like I had the most practice at learning to fly.  I mean, I can’t fly.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not over.  I may be on God’s back right now, hanging out, enjoying the ride, gaining a little altitude.  But I know I’ll be dropped – over and over and over.  And it’s going to suck each time.  The ground will rush up to meet me, and I will probably panic every freaking time until this life is over.  Except.  Maybe?  Maybe I won’t.

The Woman Who Jesus Called a Dog

Remember when Jesus called that woman a dog? When I heard it, I was horrified!

Here’s the passage from Matthew 15:21-28:

Then Jesus went from that place and withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour.

I always felt bad for this woman. Jesus called her a dog, and yet she continued to beg him for help. Shouldn’t she have told him where to go and then huffed off? Isn’t that what we are supposed to do? I mean, he blew her off three times! I think I would have left after saying a few choice words. My pride would have been too great and too injured. I would have wanted to leave with at least a shred of dignity, especially since it seemed he wasn’t going to help me anyway.

But not this woman. She cared more for her daughter than for her own pride, her own “dignity.” That is just not how we do things here in the world. We are supposed to rant, get righteous, demand to speak to Jesus’ manager. We don’t want to look like fools when we tell this story to our family and friends, do we? “So then after this man and his friends had ignored me and told me to go away and called me a dog, I begged him some more.” That just doesn’t sound good in the retelling. Makes me look bad.

The Canaanite woman didn’t care about all that. She didn’t care how it looked. She continued to subject herself to Jesus, even after apparent rejection – three times over.

Do you ever feel rejected by God? I do. I remember after my father died. I was so miserable. The misery went on and on and on. For months, then years. I felt rejected and like I was being punished. God must not like me, I thought. Or else he is just too mad to deal with me. I mean, I haven’t led a spotless life. I’ve done things that were so wrong that I’m too ashamed to even mention them here. This crushing pain must be my punishment, I reasoned.

I’m reading the Diary of St. Faustina. She went through crushing mental and spiritual pain – nothing eased it. You know what she said? She said to Jesus, “Even if you kill me, still I will trust in You!” (See Job 13:15.) She continued to be faithful to her vows and the Sacraments. She writes, “…this blind obedience was for me the only path I could follow and my very last hope of survival.”

That’s what the Canaanite woman was like! She continued to be blindly obedient even when ignored, even when she felt rejected. She persisted in her pleas. And she was rewarded for her faithfulness. “O woman great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed that very hour.

God, please help me to be patient, persistent, and obedient. Help me even when I feel rejected to do you homage and say, “Lord, help me.” I want you to be able to say to me, “O woman, great is your faith!”