I am in a place of nothingness. I don’t feel like doing anything or seeing anyone or talking. Not much like writing either, but I’m doing so to help me to find out why I am feeling as I do. I have no grounds for feeling empty. I am comfortable in practically every way and have every reason to be grateful, peaceful and content!
Mark E. Thibodeaux, SJ, a Jesuit priest, in his book God’s Voice Within, writes how though he was happy in the ministry he was involved in, he felt guilty about his privileged existence. He writes:
I was troubled by a notion that I should be ministering to the destitute out in the missions somewhere. I say ‘troubled’ because it was not so much a great desire as much as a feeling of guilt for all the things I had in life …. I also felt guilty for ‘wasting’ my precious young priesthood on the wealthy rather than on the poor.
It was only after a four-month stint in the Uganda bush that he came to accept his own calling back home in America, through a most enlightening and meaningful friendship with young 20-year-old, Azay. Azay had been taken away from his family at the age of 9 and forced to work and fight in the Sudanese rebel army or face certain death for his entire family. After escaping from the army in his early teens, he spent years moving through many hostile countries and situations as a refugee, eventually building a little mud hut here in Uganda where they met.
A significant turning point came when God spoke to him about the contrast between Azay, who was always happy, well-adjusted and active in his community, and one of his students back home who though he was blessed with most things anyone could want, was deeply disturbed and had been admitted to a treatment centre in America. God said to him – Mark, which of these two young men needs a priest more? Which is more impoverished?
Mark Thibodeaux says that gradually he, with God’s grace, was able to let go of the guilt that had distracted him from giving his all to the students back home.
Isn’t it strange how sometimes we can find no relief for the way we feel and then someone more admirable than us, like Mark, admits to something negative in his own life, and because of his honesty we are encouraged to tackle something negative in our own lives.
My problem of feeling otherwise, is I think, because I don’t seem to be getting any better as a loving, kind and unselfish person. This feeling sabotages my attempts to get up and try again. It also undermines my writing.
Maybe God would say to me: Jeanette, do you have to be perfect before you can share and communicate with others, before you can be used by me? Like Mark, you are getting in touch with your humanity. Sharing that – the good, the bad, and the ugly – may be just what someone else needs to hear to help them on their way.
Each of us is different, with different problems, struggles, abilities, personalities, missions, experiences, etc., and we need to trust that God is able to work with us, in us, and through us – whoever we are, wherever we are, whatever our circumstances are, whether we are young or old, struggling or victorious, etc. To wait until we are worthy before we share our stories with one another, will be too late.