I spent my childhood giving particular attention to this week before Easter. We were not allowed to eat between meals, or to play with friends after school. We were to try and be more contemplative and be willing to give up some things as a small similitude of sacrifice for God.
Yesterday was "Palm Sunday". It is the day to recognize the triumphant entry of our Savior into Jerusalem. On that day, the crowds adored Him, yearned to be near Him. They wanted Him to be their king and to save them. But they misinterpreted exactly how He would do that. They had an idea of their Messiah coming in clouds of glory and taking kingly control of the government and setting them free from the domination of the Roman authority. When that didn't happen, they turned on him suddenly. So on this Palm Sunday the crowds praised Jesus and called out to Him, and within days they called out to Pontius Pilate, "Crucify Him!"
When I was five years old we were at the Palm Sunday service at church. It requires a lot of standing in the Catholic mass. The priest plays the role of the Savior and the congregation plays the role of the crowds. We say "Give us Barabbas!" I started to feel weak and sick in the crowded church, while standing for so long. I said to my Mom, "I don't feel well". Her good Catholic Mother reply was, "Suffer, like Christ did." (Her intent was not to be unfeeling or cruel, but to help me to think beyond my own discomfort and appreciate what Christ had done for me. ) My response? I promptly fainted, hitting my head on the pew as I went down. My sweet Mom then held me in her lap for the remainder of the Mass. She had tried to stretch me emotionally and when I hit my wall, she comforted and loved me.
This example from my childhood is just one of many where the theme from my Mom was, "Grow, stretch - here's an expectation I'm setting, can you meet it?" And where we fell short, she continued to love and comfort and teach. She helped nurture inside me an never-ending search for growth and perfection. And I have high expectations for myself and those around me.
But sometimes that feels like those dreams where you're trying to run and you're just not making any progress, you know those dreams?? Why aren't I making any progress??? Why aren't the people in my life making progress??? But in those dreams, I am still moving forward, it's just so slowly, like a big rubber band is tied around my waist and I have to exert all my effort just to make the smallest movement forward. So there is progress, I just can't see it.
When things get to be too much for us, sometimes we get angry and start demanding retribution and what we deem to be "fair" in our lives. If we feel we have tried to live the commandments and are still finding ourselves in despair, we lose heart and we get afraid and we cry unto our God, "why?!?!". Sometimes we just reach our breaking point as our knees buckle and we barely notice our head hitting the pew as we go down.
We are weak.
And that is ok.
Because what He asks of us is to acknowledge that weakness and come to Him for comfort and guidance. There is a sweet irony in the Gospel. We must become as a little child in order to gain exaltation. We must acknowledge our weaknesses in order to be made strong. We must give up our will entirely in order to gain full authority.
This Holy Week, give some thought and contemplation to the process of weak things becoming strong. Love your husband for who he is today. Try to see that he is making progress, even if it seems painstakingly slow. Our Savior loves us for who we are right now. He knows where we came from and He knows our potential.
Which direction are your husband's feet pointing? Is he on the path to God, but just tripped and is now nursing a bloody knee? My sweet husband is frustratingly slow to progress in my human, judging eyes. But I know that he doesn't want to be where he is. His lack of progress is often based on his own lack of faith that he can ever change. But I find strange comfort in that, because it means that he sees where he wants to be, even if he doesn't think he can get there, he sees it.
Think of your Savior this week. Read the Gospel accounts of His last days. Let him stretch you, and when you cannot stand any longer, let Him comfort you and hold you in His arms. You are loved. You are known. Keep perfection as the goal, but don't demand it of yourself or those around you right now.