Sunday, March 22, 2009

Words from Cardinal Newman (1801-1890)

I have been struggling with loneliness. Its hard to admit it, and especially in this silly public forum, but I'm convinced that the Lord wants to use my experiences to bless others (that he wants that for all of our experiences). And I know that often younger, single women look to me as an encouragement in their singleness. As I am striving more and more to be authentic, I want to be sure I am being authentic in my experience of singleness, too.

So, back to sentence #1: I have been struggling with loneliness. I like my friends here in LA, I like my church; but I have not created a vibrant, life-giving community around me yet. Also, I am touch-starved. My top love language is touch and I get very little these days. And so it has been hard.

In church we are studying the Psalms for Lent. Today's theme was Psalm 88 and lamenting. This psalm is unique because it does not have any words of hope - its 100% lament. In truth, my experience is often more like the other psalms, where as I lay out my grievances before the Lord, eventually my heart returns to songs of praise and submission. But these last few days, I have been mostly lamenting.

Tonight, I read these words by Cardinal John Henry Newman, who lived in the 19th century, and wrote not only the words below, but also an influential piece we studied in our master's program at Baylor ("The Idea of a University"). I thought these words were especially true of how I feel, and of what God was teaching me at church today.

God has created me
to do Him some definite service.
He has committed some work to me
which he has not committed to another.
I have a mission,
I may never know it in this life
but I shall be told it in the next.
I am a link in a chain
A bond of connection between persons.
He has not created me for naught.
I shall do good - I shall do his work
I shall be an angel of peace
A preacher in my own place
while not intending it
if I do but keep His commandments.
Therefore I will trust Him
whatever I am, I can never be thrown away
if I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him
in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him
if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him.
He does nothing in vain
He knows what he is about
He may take away my friends
He may throw me among strangers
He may make me feel desolate
make my spirits sink
hide my future from me - still
He knows what He is about.

Cardinal John Henry Newman