This excerpt came out of a conversation I had with my aunt last week. I was surprised by what she uncovered. I never thought of myself as having an icy heart when I guarded my heart from others. I figured as long as I had good will towards them, I was good. But Betty challenged me to a higher standard. It reminded me of a conversation I had with Fr. Rich Pagano before he left. He shared how years ago he was struggling to love someone who was challenging and the Lord told him, “Love without saying a word. Love truly. Love genuinely. Love always. Listen. Listen and do not speak. Receive without condition. Always receive. Receive without expectation. Give without counting the cost.” May God give us the grace this Lent to do what is impossible for us to do on our own. May His love come through us in a greater way so that we may be truly free. Here’s what Betty said when I told her I was closing my heart to a couple people who had repeatedly hurt me:
Take your whole perception of what’s going on. Only God really knows what is happening. Acknowledge you’re not the Lord. “Lord, I really don’t know all that’s going on, but what I perceive, I give to you. Please Lord, in your great mercy, help me open the door deep within me that can best help me handle the truth of where you are with this and where it is you want me to go inside myself in order to handle this as you’d like to see it handled.”
Now hand that over and pray and try to get detached from your own limited view of life. Try to open to where God is and the wisdom He has for you. You’re acknowledging your limitations as a creature and recognizing how you can get so attached to your own opinions that often you aren’t open to the reality in God’s sight. You can limit Him from setting you free by your own stubborn decision. You are telling yourself, “This is the way it is.” But this is a perception. Give Him your perceptions.
There’s a heavy negative judgment you’ve put on these people that you haven’t renounced. That could be the hook. Pray to see if you get any insight into any open door you might have as to where you get hooked in here. Our goal is to allow Him to live through us. “Lord Jesus, continue to open my heart to see where I might be playing this very same game that I don’t like to see in them.”
They pick up that you don’t care. Look at this. Is this the way Christ would act? Take a deep breath. Our goal is to allow Him to live through us. We find areas where we’re closed down and not allowing Him to live through us. This is where we need to turn to repentance.
“Lord, please heal my hardened heart. I know these choices continue to bring me more suffering and heartache, thus lessening the glory that I can give to you. Please send your mother to help me get in a place of softening, choosing your glory above all things.
Help me see myself as the sinner I am before you, turning my eyes away from other’s faults to my own sinfulness and the part I play in this matter.”
When you act in prideful ways, you are teaching your kids the ways of sin rather than the ways of grace. Oh God, be merciful to me a sinner is very much in style during Lent. I think He’s gracing you by having you take a look at this and to see your part in it. You can pray that the Lord might help them see their part and be repentant, but first, you’re being asked to go to Him repentant. It’s your decision. Ask the Lord to show you what lie you’ve accepted in yourself that would want to hang on to being unlovable and judgmental.
Would you rather stay in darkness than move out of this place? Think about it. If your stubborn kid has made a hidden vow that she’s closed her heart to them and she’s never going to open it up to them again, then you’re choosing darkness. You have a heart of stone here that needs to go into repentance in order for the Lord to make movement. He won’t force you against your will to become like unto him. You’ve got to choose that. In choosing that, at times, we have to choose the pain of being uncomfortable and making a choice that our stubborn heart and will does not want to make. When your heart is like ice, you are imitating the evil one and the choices he made.
I think God wants to give you the grace of the right decisions, but you have to be willing to accept them. Look how God used the pain of this very thing we are talking about to help you grow stronger and to bring forth a lot of grace in you. We are standing in a mystery. The way I have chosen to look at life is that when I find stuff like this in my life, I need to be faithful to the call God gave me and then mysteriously a door opens that leads to another door leading to greater freedom. This is the mystery of good and evil that maybe in eternity we will understand. But we can look at the tools we have in the moment and cooperate with grace. The tools you have in the moment is standing before the Lord with a humble, contrite heart repenting of your sins and asking for His tremendous grace to handle this as He wants you to handle it. It is not doing it out of your stubborn will.
This part in you feels justified in hating because it’s hurt. The fact that you could feel that ice towards them psychologically shows where your heart is. Often ice is associated with hatred. But good people always have a very hard time admitting that hatred could be in their heart because they learned from when they were young that good people don’t hate others. They love people so they don’t want to be associated with hating people. Thus, it’s very hard for them to see hatred in themselves. But I find good people who hate. It’s not the good part of them that hates. It’s the part of them that’s been hurt and refuses to open the door so they don’t get hurt again. Inside they’ve often made a vow never to open that door of their heart because it hurts.
Jesus came and suffered all our cruelties and refused to close that door. He set us an example of what we do when we are terribly hurt. We don’t close the door and cover it with ice. When you look upon Him on the cross during Holy Week, think through the choices He would have been justified in making, yet He chose to love.
The way the spirit of hatred stays within is through these games. That’s how they secure their future. To get them out, you not only need to take authority over them, but you have to have a humble, contrite heart. Pride is how they manage to keep their foot anchored inside the door.
“Lord, we truly don’t understand the humble, contrite heart. Please have mercy on us today and help us be able to have the humble, contrite heart without all the humiliation.”