December 22, 2011

"Can you stay with the pain, and trust that something is being born there that will give you healing?"
~Fr. Henri Nouwen, The Spirituality of Waiting

Recently I had spiritual direction.

For those who have never had a good spiritual director or an SD in general, I'd highly recommend finding one.  There is nothing like a director who truly understands you, is able to help and just speaks healing to your soul.  But that's beside the point.

 Recently, my spiritual director uncovered a great chasm in my life that required (and will require ongoing) healing, one that is the root cause of much of the fear I experience on a daily basis (and I experience quite a bit).  I shan't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that while healing is long overdue, I had to work through some confusion.

I have an aversion to navel-gazing; you might recognize this term, referring to the narcissistic contemplation of oneself. Complete. Aversion. When fear and anxiety would attack me, my first line of defense was to 'get over it', not think about it, carry on with something else, change the subject, anything to prevent myself from what I thought was an egotistic centering on my own self.  Unfortunately, the generalized fear only grew, largely due to my inability to realize something vital that my director pointed out to me the other day.

Any kind of strong emotion we feel becomes a helpful tool for us to know ourselves better; not for useless 'navel-gazing' purposes, but to help us overcome our very selves and allow the Lord's healing.  So in essence, when my fear would surface in the most unwanted of situations, my immediate gut reaction of avoidance was hindering, not helping.

What was, and is, required is calm acceptance, stopping to ponder the offending situation, and quite literally 'sitting' with the details of it, while still taking full responsibility for one's own sins.  The next step involves asking the Lord to be present to you in the moment to assuage any fears and bring clarity to your mind.  In many cases, just quieting the soul for a few moments is enough to bring light to our darkened minds. This is not forcing ourselves to merely 'get over' our problems, nor is it narcissistic in it's self-reflection.  It is giving our fears over to the Lord, spilling all our dirty laundry as it were at his feet, which is frightening (I mean, he's GOD).  But do you think He does not know exactly who and what you are?

That's exactly what I thought.  I thought I could pull the wool over his eyes.  I thought I couldn't do such a thing as to give him this wretched part of me.  I thought I had to make myself perfect, and THEN go to God.   But I have since realized that this is impossible.  I cannot obtain perfection myself.  I cannot heal myself.  And I certainly cannot hide myself away from Him until such time that I feel I am 'good enough' to go forward.  I am who I am.  He has made me such.  And I am me and loved by God.

Shortly after seeing my director last, I was presented with a test.  It was perfect.  I'd just been directed to 'sit with the pain and fear', sent out into the great, white yonder, and was smacked directly in the face with my own worst nightmare.  The Lord truly has a sense of humour, and if you think that he's not leading you slowly by the hand over every pitfall, well, you're wrong.  There I was, sitting at home, pangs of anxiety and adrenaline pulsing through me in time with my heartbeat - and wondering how in the world I'm supposed to just 'sit with it'.  Making myself very quiet, I found His still, small voice, and offered all of it up to Him.  And for the first time in forever, I felt the faintest glimmer of hope.  It was small, but it was there - and I felt relief.

I'd love to say that all was resolved and I went on my merry way, but this is only the beginning.  I have much to ponder as I am certain these situations will continue to crop up in my daily life.  At least now I have tools.  Tools to know when and how to call the presence of the Almighty into my life every day, into every moment, into every situation.

"There must be a period of gestation before anything can flower.  If only those who suffer would be patient with their early humiliations and realize that Advent is not only the time of growth but also of darkness and hiding and waiting, they would trust, and trust rightly, that Christ is growing in their sorrow, and in due season all the fret and strain and tension of it will give place to a splendour of peace."
~Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God

**Disclaimer: These thoughts are in no way intended to counsel those suffering with clinically diagnosed anxiety to shirk any necessary medical intervention, but merely a commentary on the general fears and worries that many experience daily.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a very frightening thing to do, sitting in your unbounded fears and anxiety, facing them. I'm not sure if I would have the courage to do that. I can see the wisdom in it, but cannot imagine the strength needed to accomplish it. I wish you all the best and all my prayers.

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