"Purified of Self" by Nicole Johnson (CatholicMom.com) Via Freeimages.com (2009), CC0 Public Domain


I remember the nurse actually laughing when she undid the ream of tags for my blood work and it was so long, the tags hit the floor. She couldn't believe the amount of tests my doctor had ordered, nor could she possibly understand my deepest hope that something would show up on these tests that would explain why I was having so much trouble carrying a baby to term. Never did I think we would remain without any logical answer when the results were reviewed and nothing out of the ordinary surfaced. I guess I should have been happy with the results showing all was normal, but I so desperately wanted to have a problem I could fix and be assured I could once again give birth to a healthy baby.

With the incredible blessing of two healthy boys, and no abnormal blood work suggesting any medical problems, we put our trust in the Lord and prayed to be honored with new life. After months of waiting for our prayer to be answered, I was certain I was expecting. Going through the motion of taking the pregnancy test was, so I thought, a mere formality. I had convinced myself I was pregnant and was already calculating the month the baby would be born.

Seeing the negative sign appear in that little window was an unbelievable blow. I was done. I no longer wanted to be patient. I no longer wanted to be understanding. I no longer wanted to be on His timing, under His will. I was angry and, as I sat on the bathroom floor in tears, I told him exactly how I felt. Never had I yelled at my Father. I'd been frustrated, sure. But this was different. I had been stripped of all control, and I didn't like it. There was nothing concrete left for me to do; no action items on the agenda, no plan to set in motion. There was no ME left. He wanted all control and it scared me to the core.

[tweet "God purified me, bringing me to a point where I simply could not depend on myself."]

I didn't realize it that day, but I now understand that it was that very moment, in the midst of my anger, that God cleansed me of my “self”: the human being that was letting her own desires get in the way of God’s much more glorious plans. He, in a sense, purified me by bringing me to a point where I simply could not depend on myself. There was nothing more my human self could do to bring another life into our family.

Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to His beloved is that of overcoming self.”

-St. Francis of Assisi

I've been praying the Sorrowful Mysteries for years, and have to admit, the fruit of the second sorrowful mystery has always stumped me. I could just never figure out what “purity” had to do with Jesus being scourged. It was only very recently that I was reading a book with a great quote from St. Francis of Assisi about the simple fact that we are nothing on our own; we are everything in Him. I began to think about this in terms of purity and slowly began to realize that it was at what I felt was my lowest, weakest point in my life when I was purified in His sight. I was likened to a clean slate. I had exhausted all my human avenues and had come up empty. It was time to surrender and hand it all over to God; time to sink or let Him hold me as He walked on water.

If you've watched Mel Gibson's “Passion,” you've witnessed the brutality Jesus suffered at the hands of those who scourged Him. There is not a more humble sight, a more purified soul than that which would hand His life over to His Father and continue to trust in His will as He endured such horrific suffering, mockery and devastation. Jesus was cleansed of self, purified in His selflessness, His all-encompassing desire to live His Father's will. As a result, we are all washed clean in His blood. We find our purity in and through His most beautiful sacrifice.

There was great freedom and peace in handing over control to the One who is the master architect. It wasn’t entirely an easy road and there were many moments along the way when I questioned whether or not we were doing the right thing. However, every time I wrap our six year old adopted daughter in my arms, I find affirmation of our trust in Him and am reminded that God has only wonderful things in store for us.  

As we celebrate the glorious rising of our Lord, my prayer is that we will all find great hope in His most pure, most perfect gift of self.

Copyright 2017 Nicole Johnson