In these or similar words ...

Dear Mary,
A week like this is humbling when I look at the patterns in my own life and see how they are designed for my honor and glory instead of God’s. It’s so easy to convince myself that what I am doing is God’s will when I suspect deep down that it is for my benefit. I look at the way I distance myself from people. Mary, did you ever want to distance yourself from all of your critics or the people who wanted to judge you? I can feel myself doing that, and then I look at the three responses for this week. Often, like the first response, I’ll tell myself, “Yes, I know it might not be a good thing to always pull away from people and relationships.” I’ll decide to change, to make myself more vulnerable and open — but somehow I never get around to it.

Or I might tell myself that there’s nothing wrong with protecting myself from pain and that doing so helped me cope with a difficult childhood, so it’s really OK if I simply pull back from connecting with people. After all, would God want me to expose myself to the pain that can happen if I really let people see who I am?

Mary, ask Jesus to help me. I want to do it all alone and I simply can’t. Ask Jesus to help me see that if I ask for help from him, it’s not a failure but an opening up of myself.

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I need your help and I don’t know where to start. I do so many things that protect me from harm and isolate me from other people. When I look at the photo of Mother Teresa this week, my first instinct is to dismiss her. “I can’t be holy like that! Do I have to be like her?” But maybe that’s not what you are inviting me into, Jesus. If I look at her life, she was so open to others, so vulnerable to their pain and suffering. Maybe she just reminds me that I keep myself from feeling others’ pain as a way of not feeling my own.

Jesus, help me to interact with people in a less closed-off way. But maybe that’s not it either. It’s not about fixing me. Maybe it’s not whether I protect myself but whether everything I do is for God’s glory. I’m not sure what all of this means now. All I know is that I want to get to know you better and to free myself from the things in my life that keep me from living life the way you did. Jesus, please ask God for the grace to choose only what is for God’s glory and the salvation of my soul. If that means that I should open myself up more to people, then give me the help I need to do that.
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Loving God,
I turn to you and beg you for help that I might be able to choose only what is for your glory and the salvation of my soul. Help me to relate to people in a way that is not for my self-protection but for your glory. Accept my humble prayer and give me the guidance and wisdom I need to live this day only for you.

Help me to remember that I can get easily confused and sidetracked in examining my own motivations. God, sometimes too much scrutiny merely makes me self-absorbed. Help me to focus only on you, on how I can serve you and how I can live out my life in the way you desire for me.

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