Betty Duffy

Monday, October 6, 2008

God is Love...and Betty is Confused

(Note: The following post is based on the a priori assumption of an omniscient, omnipotent and all loving God.)

I went on a retreat this weekend based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatious, which is never fun, but always internally wrenching and revealing. Three days of silence and hours upon hours of meditation to work out all the spiritual kinks, to kick out any obstacles to my complete unity with Christ. Well, I’ve had a few obstacles lately, one of them being this computer, in front of which I currently sit.

To blog or not to blog? I told my Spiritual Director that I really do it to glorify God, or at the very least, I strive not to offend God through my writing. His response was that you can tell if something has become a disordered attachment by taking stock of what you give up in order to do it. “Oh really?” I responded innocently, remembering the numerous mornings I checked for comments on my blog posts before completing my morning prayers. I flashed back to the kids at my elbows saying, “Mommy, look at my drawing.” And my response, which sounded something like, “Shut up, Mommy's ‘working’.” Because who wants to manufacture praise for stick figures when they could be receiving praise for their own belly-button-lint-musings about life and God?

What a dumb sin I have fallen into: I started this blog to glorify God…for the glory of me. I want to confess my failures, my sins to the universe so that people will identify with my failures and thank me for verbalizing on their behalf what they were unable to verbalize themselves. And then what? Sure I hope my readers will be encouraged to fight against THEIR sin, to which I have so brilliantly enlightened them. But what about MY SIN? I don’t hate it. I don’t change it. I may not even get around to expressing it so brilliantly to a Priest in the Confessional. How very Pharisaical of me.

Which moves me to my next quandary: How does God love the unlovable? Because if anyone knew me…really knew me…they could not possibly love me. I say this not to evoke pity, but in sincere recognition of what a flawed human being I am. When someone loves themselves as much as I love myself (ex: Where’s my public? What should I eat? Who’s helping me?); if I am doing such a good job of loving me, caring for me, feeding me, beautifying me, and providing for my needs, then why should God bother? What does He have to gain by loving someone like me?

He has nothing to gain, which only proves how incredible his love is. He loves me knowing that what I have to return will be meager, that my love for Him will be in constant competition with a persistent love for myself. His love dwarfs my love in every way, especially because my love and concern for myself is masking an equal self-loathing. I love and hate me. I hate my self-love. I build myself up because I have torn myself down: the vicious cycle of a self-absorbed person without God. (This is Oprah psychology at its finest: I’ve spent years in psychological self-battery for my failures, so now I must spend money to build myself up. I should buy some of Oprah’s favorite things. I should nurture myself because of all the damage I’ve caused myself. But then I will feel bad for spending so much money on myself…a vicious cycle.)

So here is my "AHA!" moment: The only one who cares about me more than me is God. The only one more interested in me and my things than I am myself is God. God’s love is stronger than my self love, and stronger than my self loathing. What a miraculous love! I am such a sucker for those who love me. I love being loved. I can’t help but love anyone who loves me.


(Note: I still haven’t answered that “to Blog” question.)


JenX67 said...

Oh, we do have so much in common! I have to know the story behind the amazing pictures on your masthead. Everytime I come over to see them, I'm just in awe. I love them. These people were/are in love...

Betty Duffy said...

Those people are my paternal grandparents. They were married for over 60 years until my Grandpa died in 2000. Granny is still ticking, fit as a fiddle at 96 years of age. Though she is suffering from dementia, she's still as sweet and lovable as I've always known her to be. When we show her these pictures though, she says, "Who are those people? They're certainly having a good time."

I haven't dropped any comments on your blog yet, but I am enjoying your thoughts on writing and faith, etc. I had to smile about your post on Victoria Magazine--definitely some of the most influential images of my younger years came from that magazine.

Duffy said...

"Because if anyone knew me…really knew me…they could not possibly love me."

The people in our lives love us not because of who we are but in spite of who we are.

God loves you because He can do no other.

He loves you because you were created in His image.

Because you need it.

Because you love and appreciate all that He has done (and will do).

I'm sure there are many more reasons and if you ask Him he'll probably let you know.