Of all the devices that the enemy uses against us it is important to note that we often hand him the “perfect weapon” to do each of us in personally. It’s not that we want to co-operate in our own demise but we humans seem to have a bent toward shooting ourselves in the foot by virtue of one of the most powerful elements of our humanness, our own emotions. I have been privileged to know and companion a young friend since she was twelve and my junior high student. She is now twenty-six and a practicing lawyer. As our friendship has deepened over the years our topics of conversation have a pretty interesting range. One of the things that we frequently discuss is; “You young people and the way you think". She and I agree on this topic more often that you might think. We both acknowledge that in her time through junior high, high school and university we’ve observed the same thing: “High drama and the overblown expression of even the smallest emotion seem to be dreggier to this current generation”. You might even say that for these kids today the emotion of the moment is the only reality that they know and whatever is going on in their head becomes the reality that they must act on whether it makes sense or not. So we have a situation ripe for disaster as unreality and whatever is surrounding “me” becomes much more important than others and any adjunct situation that might be created or affected. We have made “the emotion” the deity. Just have a look at the media, our movies, celebs and what’s reported in the news. We have basically set ourselves up for disaster in more ways than one.
When we focus solely on how we feel as reality we lose all other perspective. Everything around us becomes distorted as we view it through the lens of a deeply felt emotion. Even the most skilled suicide prevention services acknowledge this by training their counselors to move the troubled client to “just one more day”. Everything looks different in twenty-four hours and the dawn of a new day. This emotion dependent society is basically a “set up” for all kinds of spiritual disaster. The more we count on the emotion the farther we move away from God. It’s an “old saw”; If you’re looking inward, you’re not looking outward. Emotions are a wedge that can very effectively separate us from faith, prayer, spiritual direction, and reconciliation. One of the most potent emotions that can wind up being a tool used for cutting us off from all spiritual realities is embarrassment. No other emotion can erode our sense of self worth so thoroughly. In the wink of an eye embarrassment has us looking totally inward and only worrying about ourselves. This emotion can be a particularly deadly tool for the enemy because it takes such little work on his part to send us over the edge of embarrassment: a glance, a comment, a tweet, an I.M., an e-mail, a bit of gossip, a simple suggestion.
So what do our “modern weaknesses” have to do with living the life of a believer and surviving the attacks of the enemy? Plenty and maybe this is not such a contemporary phenomenon. Think back about the disaster of the crucifixion and all the events which surrounded it, particularly the garden and the arrest. We have a variety of betrayals on the part of Jesus’ staunchest friends to choose from. There were those who lied and denied any knowledge of Jesus, there were those who cowered in the shadows afraid to even been seen, there were those who just plain turned tail and ran. All his BFF’s were sniveling cowards. In contrast we know that there was the cadre of believers who stayed despite the danger. We know that his Mother openly remained and appeared at his agonizing death along with other courageous women and the beloved disciple. As the saga continues we know about the Resurrection and then Pentecost which was really the establishment of the new religion and the birth of the Church. But what really happened between point D (Jesus death) and point P (Pentecost)?
There is no recorded scripture on this, but we can make some logical observations based on what is written. In the fifty days between the Last Supper and the Descent of the Holy Spirit several things had to happen. Mary, the Beloved Disciple and the women had to find a place to hold up, according to directions. The disciples who scattered had to find out where the others were and come back to the location that they had run away from and were afraid of. Peter had to “show his face” after creating a loud declaration and public fuss of denial that night outside the governor’s palace. Each one of the deserters had to face Jesus’ Mother, women who were braver than they were and their former colleague eye to eye. Now think of this: If you had publically deserted a beloved friend in his most dire time of need and ran like a coward, what emotion would you be feeling if you had to face the friends’ Mother, dear friend and women who had been braver than you were? I bet it would be an embarrassment deeper than any you had experienced in your entire life. What do you say to His Mom? How do you look your colleague square in the eye? If you’re a big burly tradesman in a patriarchal society how do you even remain in the same room with women who were far more courageous than you were?
This had to be an impossible task as well as an occasion ripe for the enemy to make these deserters feel sorry for themselves and in their embarrassment simply slink away. As the bible tells us though; “Things that are impossible for men, are possible for God.” (Lk 18: 26-27, Jerusalem Bible) and we know that this band of believers did not dissolve into nothingness. Despite the enemy of total embarrassment the disciples re-grouped and “resurrected” into a mega force that established the Church in the world. They became evangelizers, preachers, travelers, brave men who gladly gave their life for the cause of Jesus Christ. No doubt it was the steadiness of the women who enabled them to do this. Mary is clearly cited as being present at Pentecost and she obviously had to extend each of these guys forgiveness and welcome as they each returned prior to the birth of the Church in the upper room. Whatever transpired, the results were far reaching, into eternity quite literally. Embarrassment did not stop the Church from being born. The next time you feel like your personal struggles of shame, embarrassment or discouragement are enough to make you just quit it all, remember that the disciples had the same kind of experience in the extreme. Do not let this trick of the enemy deter you from the work that the Lord has laid out for you. Go to Mary for her solace. She was left behind to continue Jesus’ work and encourage his warriors. She is more than willing to do that for you. Could you possibly have any embarrassment that was more monumental than actually deserting the Savior of the World? With Mary’s compassion and help the profoundly embarrassed disciples created the one true Church. What task does He have in store for you that still needs to get done?
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Copyright© 2010, Kathryn M. Cunningham, All Rights Reserved.
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