Your heavenly Father knows all that you need. (Matthew 6:32)
We all know people who, though never giving voice to their feelings, are hurt when others fail to fulfill their needs: “But she should have known…!” Also, we know those who tend to decide what others need. I once had the privilege to read the personal journal of a Sister diagnosed as having terminal cancer. She was weighed down constantly by wanting to live up to her community’s expectations while struggling with her own real desires to heed her body’s messages and take care of its legitimate needs. She heard countless well-meant but confusing comments: “Take care of yourself,” “There’s nothing wrong with you; you look fine,” “You’ll be cured,” “Don’t make any decisions yet,” “You should be anointed again,” and so on. She scrutinized her motivations wondering if she were prone to self-pity. She tried to “look well” and became sicker in the process. Occasionally she visited others away from home where there was no monitoring of her needs and no expectations put on her shoulders. She relaxed and felt better even physically. It strikes me as curious that, though others accept us as we are, our families, communities and those who should have our best interests at heart tend to lay the heaviest expectations on us. It seems strange, too, that those living with us are so certain they know our needs, that they let us know what they are and seek to fulfill them, whether solicited or not. The desires God puts within our hearts are the surest guide we have for discerning our real needs but somehow we do not trust these intuitions. The remedies, of course, are honest communication and trust—commodities sorely needed in today’s world. We have to express our needs and, when necessary, ask for help instead of expecting others to read our minds. The contrary is true also. We need to trust that others know what they need instead of laying unreal expectations on us.
Jesus, help us be transparent before You and others!
—Sister Mary E. Penrose
|Sister Mary E. Penrose is a Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. She edits readings for the liturgical Hours and writes reflections for the Community. And she is a tutor for the African Sisters attending The College of St. Scholastica. She was editor of a journal, Spirit & Life, for 18 years.|