“Please, let me in”: When Jesus Used My Wife to Get to Me

February 23, 2022

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Prayer is like practicing the piano or ballet or writing:

you have to bring your body for a very long time,

in spite of your body’s frailties and conflicts and general revolt,

and then one day your body is not separate any more.

You’ve in a sense become the piano

or the dance or the word or the prayer.

The prayer is in your heart.

The prayer is your heart.

Heather King

I love Heather King. Knowing her in her writing and in life, she’s an earthy mystic living in the mucky mud of life. She gets down and dirty about faith in reality, and down there uncovers hope for the rest of us. I especially find her articulation of acquiring the habit of prayer by embodied repetition to be spot on. Habits are psychosomatic things, and bodies are designed to be habituated toward the things that perfect us as humans. Like prayer.

My spiritual director years ago told me the most important principle of a good prayer life is to “just show up.” He once wrote to me, “Trouble in prayer? Keep on. Semper fi. Fake it till you make it.” “And,” he added, “you need to beg for faith to pray: I believe; help my unbelief!” Be a pauper before God.

After reading his words, I later wrote in my journal and allowed his thoughts to carry me on:

“Beg for faith”? Seems to be a paradox! Presupposing what you ask for.

Maybe it’s a human faith begging for a divine faith?

And divine faith in God alone inspires divine prayer:

“the Spirit that cries out in us: Abba! Father!”

Such divine prayer alone grants unfettered entry into God’s love.

Entering divine love then fires-up prayer!

Devotional methods help harness the fire–

Lectio divina salts prayer with seeds of Fire.

Scripture inhabits prayer with his living Voice.

Consistency—semper fi—allows Their Voice to become flesh, bone in me.

Perseverance—semper fi—extends this incarnation of love “to the very end” (Jn 13:1).

Hope throws prayer toward the Future like an Anchor, hooking into the Rock of Ages.

Prayer opens the floodgates of the River of Life.

Pray enriches with wisdom, knowledge found in Christ alone.

Prayer permits me to live “in Christ,”

and Christ to live “in me.”

“In me.” “In” is terrifyingly intimate.

Inter-indwelling: “I in you, you in me.”

Intimacy shaking my temple foundations. 

“Let him enter, the King of Glory.”

Relentless, ruthless: pray, Tom. Stop stopping.

Ask.

Seek.

Knock.

Seek.

Ask.

Repeat.

A number of years ago, my wife and I were experiencing a painful distance in our marriage. I especially remember one evening when we began arguing about some fairly small thing. Well, it quickly exploded into a big thing, and our communication halted. It became immediately clear to both of us, separately, that the absurdly exaggerated reaction that small nothing provoked revealed a much deeper issue at work. One I certainly was not anxious to explore!

Shortly after that explosion—I’ll never forget it—she and I ended up in the bedroom together, alone, after the children were in bed. And she said this short phrase to me that, for whatever reason, broke me. She said: “Please, let me in.”

I shed a torrent of tears, exposing pain that evidently had been long festering in me—and in her. And with those tears, a high and invisible wall towering between us crumbled. Its collapse was palpable, miraculous.

Jesus felt palpable in that movement—to both of us. St. Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:14 seemed so real:

For he is our peace;

in his flesh he has made both one

breaking down the dividing wall,

that is, the hostility between us. 

While Patti and I had invited Jesus to our “Cana” back in 1995, the day we married, we had no idea what it really meant to continually permit him to seize us anew in each fresh moment of division and join us as one. We had, in a sense, expelled him from our marriage by sin, anger, unforgiveness. But now he, the Hound of Heaven, spoke to me through my wife: “Please, let me in.” I was absolutely convinced it was Christ who spoke to me through her. He broke me, and healed us. He took us each by the hand, walked us toward each other, and rejoined our hands. Patti had entered me again, and I had entered her again.

“Jesus, having looked into him, loved him” (Mark 10:21). Though her, he looked into me.

Her eyes, his eyes. I recall now I as I am writing this—in that moment we reconciled, my restored ability to look into her eyes with trust, openness, love was IMMENSE, liberating, joyous. I couldn’t even look in her eyes those days before without discomfort. Yes, “the eyes are the window of the soul.” How incredibly true that is. And how often spouses should look into one another’s eyes. Really look into. A sacramental practice, to be done again and again. So much grace is to be given and received in the exchanged gaze. Cor ad cor loquitur, “heart speaks to heart.”

And thus, prayer. Heart to heart. Habitually to learn being “in Christ,” to learn permitting Christ to be “in you.” The real you.

Here the words of the late Metropolitan Anthony Bloom ring in my ear: “God can save the sinner you are, but not the saint you pretend to be.”

Hear him each day calling to you in your sin, your anger, your pain, your unforgiveness: “Please, let me in.”

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