Letting Go of Misery

 

Or at least trying to.

Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I am a person who likes to be miserable.

I prefer a cloudy day to a sunny day.

I prefer a watching it rain than going to the beach.

I prefer being mopey than to be outgoing.

I prefer to be unhappy by myself than have a good time with others.

I prefer to dwell on the evil in the world than to contemplate all of the good.

I prefer sorrow over joy.

But that is not what we were meant for. At least that is the message I’ve been trying push away for quite awhile now. We were created for the joy of heaven. Heaven is a joyful place where every tear will be wiped away. That terrifies me. The thought of being joyful in every moment of every day makes my heart stop dead in its tracks. The idea that there will be no more pain and suffering is scary. I’ve been trying to figure out how I could feel something so irrational, that I would be afraid of letting go of suffering. And I think I’ve found it. Suffering is an inevitable part of life. For me, it is how I know I am real. It is how I know I am human. It is how I can relate to others. It is how I empathize with those slaughtered in abortion. It is how I derive my solidarity with the oppressed. It is how I know Jesus Christ, the suffering servant. It is how I slowly sanctify myself, one microscopic step at a time.

And so the thought of a place where the thing that I perceive that makes me human doesn’t exist makes it seem like a fantasy. It doesn’t seem real, and I can’t seem to get a grasp on it. It seems to good to be true because in my experience I’ve always focused on the sorrow in every situation, no matter how joyful it was supposed to be.

Becoming Catholic was the most joyful experience. But it became a harbinger of self-imposed martyrdom.

My birthdays became a reminder of how much closer I am to death.

Weddings become an occasion to contemplate the fact that I’m not anywhere close to having a family.

This mentality seeps into every aspect of life. And that is why I think I love Lent so much. Lent is hands down my favorite time of the year. For people like me it is a season dedicated to our favorite pastime: being miserable.

Or so I thought.

Lent is not a time of sorrow. Lent is actually a time of joy and hope. A time to look forward to the Resurrection. We sacrifice and do penance so that we are ready, body and soul, for the Day of the Lord. We don’t do penance to become miserable, we do penance to help us see that the material goods and luxuries that we have are what bring true sorrow into our lives, and to realize that replacing them with Jesus Christ brings us true joy. If we “do” Lent “right” we should be joyful for the next 4o days! The melancholic in me says “Blech!”

But I am starting to change I think. My penance of praying the all of the liturgical hours as I am able is really doing something. As it fortifies and strengthens my prayer life, it causes me to focus on the kingdom at regular intervals throughout the day, and that is really starting to chip away the skeptical, misery loving exoskeleton of my heart. I don’t necessarily “like” what is happening to me, but I am trying to accept this grace from God so that I can truly let go of misery and live in joy!

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