temptations in the wilderness

co-posted on Beauty From Chaos


During his 40 days in the wilderness, Satan tempted Jesus with 3 things: adulation, self-sufficiency, and immortality.


Jesus and I have this in common.


I was sick all last week, horizontal on the couch for much of it, and one thing I realized is how much I hate being in need. I like to be the caregiver; I like to think I can handle anything, alone. It’s sinful, full stop; if we think we are beyond the need of our fellow humans, we’re also believing ourselves beyond the need of God. Yet while I could certainly stagger to the refrigerator and fix myself lunch last week, despite my weakened condition, I can’t assure my own salvation. I can’t offer myself forgiveness of sins. How much better to be reminded of my neediness by accepting my family’s care, by letting my husband bring me lunch and my daughter tuck a blanket around me.


How scary, to rely on other people. How imperative.


And for me, a novelist, adulation and immortality are in some way combined. Shakespeare’s words live today, and Milton’s, and Austen’s–and wouldn’t I love to be known like that? I would settle for a few days–weeks–at the top of the New York Times’ Bestseller List. Or thousands of people could flock daily to my blog. Or Wal-Mart might carry my books–that would be pretty cool.


Me, me, me. The self-centered introspection that is the opposite of a journey through the wilderness.


I wrote a blog post at the tail end of last week. It was an angry post, because I was angry about some specific events that happened last week within the American Evangelical faith tradition. You could argue that as a Catholic I ought to leave the Evangelicals alone–but, at any rate, I didn’t. That’s fine except of course for my desire to be not only critical and angry, but also right. And justified. Perhaps even celebrated? For my wisdom and erudition, of course.


Fortunately I am still not alone. I can rely on the grace of others, even if it takes me some time to believe it. And so my friend Jess emailed me a link at the close of the week–no explanation given, just another blog post to read. The entire post is here, but the salient part reads, “love is without limits, every one of us is a part of the sacred, every one of us has worth and dignity, each of us is tied to the other in an infinite web of love and connection.” In other words, quit exalting yourself, Kim Bradley. Remember to love as you are loved. Remember the temptations in this wilderness, and if you can, step aside.

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