I remember when my son was a baby, and bedtime was a battle. The moment I sat with him in the rocking chair, he pushed his little legs against my body, arched his back, and wailed. He resisted sleep with everything he had. Eventually, as I persevered in rocking and soothing him, I could feel his little body melting, slowly surrendering… finally giving in. I would hold him for a while as he peacefully slept and wonder why was he fighting this? What kept him from surrendering to the peace and comfort of sleep? Then I realized how I also fight against things that are good for me. I resist change when it means giving up something I’ve grown attached to for the fleeting comfort it brings. Why do we do these things?
Ah, the struggle! Self-preservation mode kicks in when we are in danger or perceive that we will lose something we value if we give in. The human heart rebels. The mind gets confused; We misidentify our enemy. Instead of fighting against sin and vice, we resist the medicine we need. To surrender means giving up the fight and letting the other side win. Whether or not this is good depends on whether the one we are fighting is for or against us. If we are defending ourselves or others against an enemy, then putting up a fight is a good thing. But what about when we fight against the very thing we need? The first step is then to correctly identify our enemy.
People often use battle images when talking about the struggle for our souls. It is, after all, a spiritual battle. But, it is important to remember that our fight is one of resistance, of endurance, of trustfully waiting for the One who fights for us. I once saw a movie where bad guys abduct a little girl, hoping to get a hefty ransom for her. The girl was really annoying to them because she was never scared. She kept telling the bad guys they would really regret it when her dad showed up to rescue her. She was confident in her father’s love and his power to save her. She did not believe the lies they tried to tell her… she didn’t even listen to them. She resisted, and she waited. And when her dad showed up and beat the bad guys, she didn’t fight him. She ran into his arms and went home with him.
What a blessing for Mrs. Franchet to have Father Eymard on her side. He was there to guide and steer her in the storm of life. We all need someone like that. We need to have people we can turn to that can help us discern the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We need someone to help us differentiate the enemy, to help us discern when to surrender and when to resist. We need the Church to teach us and guide us. Let us then help each other throw out the water seeping into our little boats and entrust ourselves to the Love of the One who died for us. We need each other so that together, we may persevere.