Friday, November 29, 2013
The Sin of Invisibility
My parents raised us to believe that privacy and independence are the highest ideals to aim for, and even now that I know this is not true I have the tendency to live as though I still believe that it is. I find a way to become invisible everywhere I go in the interest of minding my own business. This is clearly not the ideal in the Christian life. We have to carry our own crosses as well as those of our neighbor. It's about communion and community. We're meant to mind each other's business!
When I live the ideal of independence I refuse to carry my neighbor's cross. I also refuse to allow them to carry mine. I live in a little bubble and keep up appearances. As a Christian I should be wearing my bleeding heart on my sleeve. I should be open and plain about my hardships. I should feel compassion and not be afraid to reach out and rejoice or weep with others. I should offer up sacrifices for others. I should speak clearly and loudly words of encouragement, building others up and thinking not of myself.
At the same time, I have to live as though I believe that others care about me. It's difficult for me to express my opinion, reach out to others, or even express my esteem and admiration for people because I don't always believe that others care to hear from me. It's a script that runs through my head if I let it: no one cares. No reason to call my friends on the phone. No reason to comment on blogs or express a kind word online. No reason to invite someone to visit me, or show up to visit someone else. My initial belief is that to do any of those things would be an imposition on that person because I am intruding on that person's privacy and independence. My parents would complain if someone called them just to talk, or came over just to visit. So I just internalized the belief that I shouldn't do those things. As a Christian I have come to learn that it's not weak or disordered for my heart to crave fellowship with other people! It seems like an obvious part of human life, but I had to learn it. God is always after me with His hammer and chisel!
The humility of Jesus comes out in the carrying of the cross. I am reminded that Christ, the eternal Word, allowed a human being a share in his burden. As God he could have come down from the cross to save himself. He could have carried the cross alone. He didn't. He allowed himself to be crucified by his creatures out of love for them, and perhaps he allowed Simon to share in his suffering also out of love. When we allow others to share our burdens we also give them the opportunity to step out of themselves and grow in holiness.
I am so grateful to be Catholic. We have such an awesome examples of community in the Church. Not only to we have recourse to God himself, but we can also associate with our brothers and sisters in heaven, the saints. With our mother, Mary. With other members of the Body of Christ. We all have our part to play. Humility for me at this time consists in actually living as though I am loved and that there is a particular place for me in the Body along with all of the other members.
I've been making an effort lately to live visibly. That means making more eye contact with people, offering encouragement, building up my husband, viewing others with an eye to how I can bless them instead of the other way around. Making more of an effort to pray for others. Participating more in the online Catholic community. I'm starting to feel like one aspect of this journey to be visible is to participate in the Veil Project without the element of deliberate inconspicuousness. I'm feeling called to wear an obvious veil.