I poked around some of my blogger stats and learned that some people have found my blog because it is the #1 hit on google for “ireland work ethic,” which gave me a chuckle. Of course, I also learned it is the #2 hit for “mildew conservatory” and the #3 hit for “can screaming at the top of your lungs cause a miscarriage,” so I can’t be too proud.
We don’t always get to choose what we are known for.
This lesson was more apparent to me last week when I received a card from an old friend, one of the seminarians (who is now a priest) who studied Latin with me in Ireland nearly four years ago. Among other nice things he said, he told me that he admired my “constant spirit of prayer,” and I was immediately struck by two ironies.
The first was whom it was from: I’ve mentioned this friend before as one of the people whose frequent promises to pray for me and requests for me to do the same made me realize how little I actually pray for people other than myself. A “spirit of prayer” was an odd thing for him of all people to “admire” in me.
The second was whom it was to. Seriously? Not to invoke a false humility, but his assessment of me was objectively untrue. I had just been reflecting about the way I had entirely neglected prayer for the past couple months, how the few times I did manage to pray seemed entirely vacuous, how I can hardly believed that prayer was even efficacious. My constant spirit of prayer? Of prayer?
But we don’t always get to choose what we are known for.
In a sense, this is the irony of the Gospel all over again. The poor get remembered as the rich. The weak get remembered as the strong. The small get remembered as the great. And somewhere out in Rome there is a young priest who remembers me by strengths I do not possess, by strengths I was humbled to see in him, and I don’t have the energy to argue.
It’d be just like God to rewrite my story while I’m in the middle of it, to redefine my very weakness as my gifts. Go figure. I guess if he sees us through Christ’s righteousness anyway, I may as well get used to it.