I was talking to my mom recently about a foul mood that I could not shake. It lasted for days, and I was aware the whole time that there was a physical cause to my mood: dropping progesterone. I was so, so crabby. I tried to be a kind wife and friend and a patient parent, but I felt so annoyed all day long. My mom suggested to me that this mood, my desire and yet inability to shake it, and this knowledge of my own misery was a gift. The Lord, in a sense, scourged me with this mood through the hormonal cycles I experience as a woman.
May his holy name be praised
throughout all the ages,
Because it was he who scourged me,
and it is he who has had mercy on me. (Tobit 11:14-15)
Perhaps PMS is a result of the Fall. Yet, even this difficulty outside my control reveals to me how utterly dependent I am on the mercy of God. He is the one who helps me in all good that I do, any act of charity I perform. And just when I think I am doing well on my own, I hit the end of my cycle, have a bad night of sleep, or simply wake up on the wrong side of the bed.
When a good man is troubled, tempted, or vexed by evil thoughts, he comes more clearly than ever to realize his need of God, without whom he can do nothing good. (Saint Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, I. 12, source.)
I am like Tobit, striving to live justly, but struck blind in my own attempts to follow God’s commandments. Tobit was physically blinded after an act of charity and God brought him healing through the gall of a fish. I am spiritually blind, taking pride in my own accomplishments and striving to prove I am enough. When my self-sufficiency falls flat, His mercy is the gall that heals my soul and frees me from my blindness of heart. God, in His great mercy, allows us to fail at times in order to see more clearly how feeble we are without Him. And when He picks us back up, let us, like Tobit, give Him praise.
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Where in your life are you prideful of your own abilities? Have you forgotten that all you have is a gift from God, and it is He who deserves the credit? Offer Him your weakness and let Him be your strength.
Susanna Spencer once studied theology and philosophy, but now happily cares for her three adorable little girls, toddler boy, and her dear husband in Saint Paul. She loves beautiful liturgies, cooking delicious meals, baking amazing sweets, reading good books, raising her children, casually following baseball, and talking to her philosopher husband. You can find out more about her here.