Last night I was praying about someone very brave. I’m not going to identify her because she wouldn’t want to be identified, but in a situation where someone else needed help, she risked getting hurt in order to help that other person. I was telling God how I admire this person and the way she just trusted and did God’s will for her in that situation.
Only how did she know God’s will for her? She’d been hurt in the past in a similar situation, and it would have been understandable if she’d hung back and not reached out to help.
I was falling asleep, and I found myself thinking: God’s will for her in that situation was for her to be fully herself; her full self was someone who empathized and gave help to those who needed it. If she’d clung to her fear of getting hurt, she wouldn’t have been fully herself because the fear would have been crimping off part of her.
I think it was CS Lewis who said that all evil people are evil in the same fashion, but good people become good in a tremendous diversity of ways. It felt to me then that part of God’s will for all of us is that we fully inhabit our selves. The selves God created to be good in this multiplicity of ways, but which came into this broken world themselves damaged and broken.
Then life harms us, and we cut ourselves away from the parts of us that get hurt. They don’t hurt as much, but we lose access to some of ourselves.
Years ago, during the consecration at Mass, it went right through me when the priest quoted Jesus: “Take this, all of you, and eat it.” Right then, it wasn’t “Take this, all of you people,” but rather, “Take this, Jane — all of you — and eat it.” All of me, fully present. Fully focused, fully open, fully vulnerable.
That’s what spiritual healing is: it’s uncrimping and unclamping, letting grace and light flood through the parts we’ve sealed off. Take this, all of you. Don’t hold back parts of yourself. Be vulnerable, risk getting hurt if that’s what it takes, but be yourselves. This one person did, and she showed me what it means to answer God’s call.