I got some really crappy advice from a priest recently. Well, actually, let’s back up.
So, I had this little breakdown a few months ago (as I so frequently do) when I realized EVERY SINGLE ONE of my prayers (at their very core) could be boiled down to the same sentence: “Hey, God, I SUCK; please help me to suck less. Amen.” Now, the prayers sound more intricate than that, sure. I like to trick myself into thinking I have a healthy, varied prayer life by using different adjectives and verbs. I even give many different examples of my suckage in case God is confused. But, the prayer’s central theme is always the same: me.
Now, you holy gals may be thinking my prayer life was some sort of twist on humility, but you’d be wrong. You see, the amount of time I spent praying for other people was a grand total of zero seconds. I’m at the center of every prayer I pray and there’s nothing humble about that.
So, I emailed the smartest priest I knew and said “Yo! All my prayers are about me sucking. I spend the whole entire time asking God to help me suck less. How can I stop praying this stupid, selfish prayer and actually pray for worthwhile things and people?”
Crappy Advice from a Man of God
Do you know what he said? This priest (a dude who really knows his crap) said “Yo! You’re assuming the Lord doesn’t WANT you to suck. Maybe He does. Maybe He has some purpose for you being how you are—suckiness and all.” I couldn’t believe how much he missed the whole entire point. I sent him a short “thanks” email, rolled my eyes, crossed this priest off of my “favorite priest” list and went on with my life. Until…..
The next Sunday I sat in mass wrestling my gaggle of kids (who were sprawled across the pew) and tried to listen. You should know I hadn’t read any of the readings ahead of time (even though I talk about how important that is all-the-freaking-time). So, I was not expecting to hear:
“Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12: 8-10)
When I am weak, I am strong?! Whaaaaat? I was amazed to learn that maybe God does know what He’s doing after all. Maybe there is a reason He allows me to go on sucking. (Turns out that priest was right! Note to self: add priest back to list of favorite priests.) I don’t know what God’s reason is, but at least now I’m able to rest in the truth that His Grace is sufficient for me because His power is made perfect in my suckiness, my unworthiness, and my many weaknesses.
Those verses sustain me now. They are my favorite words in the whole entire Bible and I am changed a little bit more into who I’m supposed to be every time I read over them. They were written just for me! Can you believe that? I own those words. They’re mine. Written by God just for me and my sucking.
Today is your lucky day. I’m loaning out this piece of Scripture to you. You can borrow it for as long as you need.
If those verses are not quite right for you and your circumstances, I dare you to thumb through St. Paul’s books (he’s my favorite biblical writer) and find YOUR piece of Scripture. In moments of doubt, hardship, joy, gratitude and sorrow speak YOUR piece of Scripture. Your piece of scripture was written by God just for you!
(FYI: St. Paul wrote Romans, 1&2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1&2 Thessalonians, 1&2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, & Hebrews)
Do me a favor and drop YOUR verses in the comments below for our friends to read over and borrow as needed.