Henri Nouwen wrote to a young man who was filled with self-doubt and self-criticism. Henri had been in an accident, he was hit by a car. It took a long time of recuperation in the hospital. He writes from the hospital to Brian.
The older we become, the more we realize how limited we are in our ability to love, how impure our hearts are and how complex our motivations are. And there is a real temptation to want to look inside of ourselves and clean it all out and become people with a pure heart, unstained intentions and unconditional love. Such an attempt is doomed to failure and leads us to ever greater despair … Indeed we cannot save ourselves. Only Jesus can save us. … Let yourself be cared for by the mercy and love of Jesus.Love, Henri. p. 199
It is a hard road, indeed, for us to try to make ourselves into the people we would love to be. The harder we try the more we see the deficits … the failures … the weakness. I don’t know if what Henri wrote is true of all people who grow older, but the wisdom that we hope comes with age will demonstrate what I’ve seen over and over. Spiritually minded elderly people are seldom self-confident in their own spirituality. They see their faults so clearly. They know they must only be able to find peace with Christ on His terms.
When everything we’ve ever tried to do to make ourselves better has come to the bitter end, “Let yourself be cared for by the mercy and love of Jesus.” Jesus came to be our Savior not just so we could go to heaven, but He is our Savior because we can’t begin to salvage the wreck of our own lives. I admit, though, that it is hard to trust Him. I want to do it. I want to do it for Him. But God knows I haven’t made much progress at all (if any) except in the ways I have allowed Him to do what He does best. Releasing what I desire to be into His
Maybe as I get older I can rely on His mercy more and more. When I stop trying to be my own physician maybe the Great Physician can finally be at work