“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”
This seems like an apt reflection for the day. For a while now, I have been pondering a situation which I have found myself in. Let’s start by using a Jonah analogy (because I love Jonah), and go from there.
God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh. Jonah’s not particularly excited to go to Nineveh. Jonah decides to go for a boat ride, because boat rides are fun and then he doesn’t have to think about Nineveh. He falls asleep, and wakes up with the boat on shore. God tells him, “You’re in Nineveh.” Jonah pouts, “What?!? Are you serious? I didn’t want to go to Nineveh.” God says, “Tough. Here you are.”
As you may have guessed, I’m Jonah in this story. As necessary background, I suppose I should say that I have odd views on family, and I tend to “adopt” people into my “family.” My “chosen family,” as I call them. And I love them as I love the members of my family: completely, unconditionally, permanently. I also have other categories: such as my close friends, my long-term friends, and friends whom I consider to have been given to me by God. I tend to feel, for the most part, that I have some active choice in who I designate as my “family.”
Except for this one case.
[Ignore the wrong pronouns, I’m trying to be non-gender-specific…. 🙂 ] I met this person a while ago, and I thought they were fine, pleasant, interesting, intelligent — any manner of things. But also a little scary, in the way that they seemed to “get me” so quickly and accurately. There were other factors that went into it, but suffice it to say that I decided that I would keep this person at arms length from me. Oh, I would definitely interact with them, but I wasn’t about to make it personal.
Critical Steinbeck Error — you know, “best laid plans of mice and men….” ? Or that other quote, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.”
So, this arms length thing being my decision, God says, “Oh, really? Nope. Actually, I’m going to make you care for this person.” [Okay, God didn’t really speak to me in words as such, so this is my translation of what I got. I’m sure God can speak much more eloquently than this, but He’s speaking to my level here….]
“What? No, no, no. I want an impersonal, working relationship. Nothing complicated or messy or, well, involved.” So, I go about trying to minimize contact with this person, to create a bubble between me and them. My little ostrich head was firmly planted in the sand, and my fingers were in my ears, “La la la, I can’t hear you!”
A little while later, Gods tell me, “You know what? Not only are you going to care for them, but you are going to love them. They will be your family.”
“But I don’t want that!!!” I didn’t actually go so far as to tell God “No,” but I made my preference clear. “I don’t want to love this person!”
Then, God laughs. “Tough. Look in your heart. You already do.”
Oh no. I did.
After that, it’s like a phrase that a friend of mine likes to say: “You will do it. You will like it. And you will like liking it.” But first, being me, I had to spend at least a little time grumbling about the fact that I didn’t particularly choose to make this person part of my family. But, what do you do? When you love, you love. And God didn’t give me one of these fleeting affections. It’s like all of me is deeply involved in the well-being of this Other. And of course, being me, I was concerned about this. What if it wasn’t something of God, and was instead some personal psychiatric disorder? What if for some reason, I had developed some unnatural fixation or obsession with this person, and was trying to justify it to myself? Maybe I just wanted love or approval in return and thought that this person would reciprocate? Any sort of questioning you can think of — I put myself through it. Basically, I didn’t trust myself not to be messed up in some way. I’m not the best at relationships. Haha, or trusting!
So, now I have this person. And they are my family. And I pray for them every day. And I worry over them. I’m okay if they are okay. I don’t have to be a major player in this person’s life, even though they are a major player in mine. It’s not necessary or even expected that they would care for me. And I’m okay with that too.
Sometimes, I wondered about all this, but mostly I just accepted it and went about my business praying for and worrying about and rejoicing in the fact that God made this unique individual, and that He wrote this person onto my heart.
Recently, however, I came across this Vatican document or other. And it was kind of talking about this: that sometimes God may give a person to another person, for them to carry spiritually. To love and nurture and pray for and suffer for. Sometimes, a person is given an Other to carry, and s/he may have never met the person before. Or may not ever meet them (until heaven).
Maybe this is what has been going on with me and my person.
Which brings me back to John 15:16, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”
I didn’t choose God. God choose me. I have no idea why, but God called me from my secular, atheist life and gave me a new heart and faith and a deep hunger to know Him. And now He’s given me this Other. So, now I have to go bear fruit. I had not ever consciously decided to pray for this person every day. It just happened on its own. I wanted to. It is a joy. And maybe that is a purpose for me. A task. A calling. A something.
And so while I didn’t want to go to Nineveh, I ended up in Nineveh anyway. And you know what? Nineveh’s a pretty awesome place. And I will continue to muddle my way along, trying to discern God’s will.
Thanking Him for this gift.