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In his tenderness…

“In your tenderness we all exist”
Benjamin G. Buelta sj

God’s tenderness becomes more apparent in my moments of weakness, when I experience harshness, rigidity, doubts, reproaches or guilt. Is this not so because the Lord is closer to the broken heart?

It was at the beginning of my religious life. I was working in the pharmacy of a diocesan hospital. It was the time when nuns were employed even though they had no qualifications. I was happy to do this work which allowed me to be close to the pain of my sick brothers and sisters. One day, the head doctor suggested that I go down to the treatment room to learn how to dress wounds. At home, the little sisters thought it was a good idea. So I started going until the day the head nurse stopped me, telling me that I should go and get a proper training instead of gleaning knowledge here and there. From that moment on, doubt and frustration took hold of me, bringing sadness in their wake. I began to wonder what I was doing there and felt useless, incapable, incompetent, unqualified.

It was during a retreat that God came to visit me in his tenderness to bring me out of this melancholy. And how did that happen? It was during a meditation on the washing of the feet in the Gospel of John.  When reading the introduction to the passage, the preacher insisted on the fact that it was because Jesus knew who he was with the Father that he lowered himself to wash the feet of his disciples. This sentence was the trigger. I immediately felt myself invaded by the love of God.  I could almost hear him saying to me, “You are precious in my eyes, you are valuable, that is why I have called you.  You are worth more than what you do, you are my beloved daughter”. I felt renewed in my mission, invigorated and ready to help others who were going through the same difficulty. As I was living in a context of contempt for one people by another, it helped me to better understand their pain. This experience allowed me to live everyday life as a gift from God: in peace and joy, so much so that several people said to me: “But don’t you ever get angry? You always have a smile on your face! What is your secret? You make me want to be a religious!

In recent years, the difficulties and misunderstandings of life have sometimes led me to lose this joy to the point of letting circumstances decide my life. The tenderness of God again reached out to me, this time in a commentary on the Gospel of Luke about the quality of fruit a tree bears. “The fruit are what Saint Paul describes as peace, joy, kindness, gentleness…these are the characteristics of a person who lives interior freedom to the point of no longer depending on the circumstances in which they find themselves. Jesus shows us that we can live in a way that no longer depends on the situations and conditionings into which we have fallen, but on an inner revolution that can be unleashed in the most difficult of circumstances: “This word calmed the storm raging within. Once again God in his tenderness visited me.

I have experienced his tenderness in my moments of weakness, and it is always his Word that has brought me out of the abyss. When I go through difficult, dark moments, it is in meditating his Word that I find the light, strength and energy, which transform all my existence. God’s tenderness finally gives me back a taste for life, makes me exist, brings me back to the essential. In my turn, I feel called to live this tenderness around me and this makes me more sensitive to the sufferings of others. God’s tenderness truly reconciles the impossible in us and among us.

L.sr. Nathalie-Flore