My last post prompted another sister and friend to send a beautiful email. As usual, after responding, I found that my reply consisted of reflections that I would also like to share here. Enjoy! :)
Hi hi back!
Thank you for sending me this email… I’m very touched that you’ve shared something so personal with me. But I’m also very glad! For as I said in my blog entry, such sharing always makes me feel the warmth of God’s love, and I know He didn’t mean for us to make such an important journey alone!
I know exactly what you mean about thinking that I know myself well, and the part about being afraid to venture further. Honestly, although I naturally love to reflect and think about a lot of things, especially about the meaning of life and of relationships, I didn’t use to spend a lot of time thinking about my self, as in my inner self. I’m someone who relies a lot on how others see and define me to get at my own identity. As you can imagine, that can be very stressful, and also very painful… but for whatever reason, God made me a ‘born pleaser’. :P
My attention is so much focused outward that when I think about myself, it is often with regards to myself in relationships with the outside world..with other people, or about my work. And while that is also important, of course, I never realized that until I also come to know who I am as God has created me, I would never fully understand myself in the world.
When circumstances ‘forced’ me to make the introspection, it was quite terrifying… I was afraid to look in. I guess if I didn’t know what problems I had, I could at least go on pretending that everything was alright, since things have worked pretty well all this time anyway! But God was there. He reminded me that whatever state I thought myself to be in, He had chosen to dwell in me. Surely I cannot be afraid of God’s home? That was what gave me the initial courage to step through that door.
Since that first step, a lot more has happened and you probably know cos you’ve been following my blog. *heh heh*. One of my most recent realizations, one I haven’t put on my blog, is that God’s love for me is so full and complete from the moment of my conception that it can neither increase nor decrease throughout my life. This touches me because I think subconsciously, I can’t stop feeling that I should make myself ‘more worthy’ or ‘more lovable’ by getting rid of my imperfections and becoming a better person. While becoming a better person is, I’m sure, what God wishes for me, I haven’t really understood in my heart that self-improvement of any kind is not a prerequisite of God’s acceptance and love.
If being God’s instrument is what I wish to be, I have to understand that the most powerful way I can be used is to surrender myself completely to be used on His terms, not mine. God doesn’t make mistakes, and He does not create junk. Which would mean that the way I am, even with those character flaws that seem to explode when I am tempted or hurt, was lovingly crafted by His will. It blows my mind when I try to comprehend that those traits I may be ashamed of could have been created for His purpose. I am still too concerned in general about the way I am perceived by others to say I’m more than happy to be made a fool in the world’s eyes if it serves God’s purpose. But I think that as my identity as God’s beloved begins to take root in my consciousness, I will slowly become more free to be God’s fool. :P
I think we all have hidden pain… hidden from others in our life, and even hidden from ourselves. And in our attempts to live a ‘happy life’, I think we deny our pain even as we inflict pain on others in retaliation or confusion.
The process of coming to know ourselves may be difficult and painful at times, but it is also a joyful journey of love. In another of Nouwen’s books, he said that at baptism, we allow Christ to ‘land’ into our hearts. But it takes the rest of our lives and our faith journey for Christ to conquer the entire territory of our being. I feel that, in my attempts to know my inner self, I am simultaneously surrendering new parts of myself which I didn’t know was there to God. Every time I seek to go deeper, I always still feel fear of the unknown. But every time, when I ‘arrive’, instead of finding what I fear most, I find God waiting for me with outstretched arms. How beautiful, isn’t it, that God’s bottom line to me is always a simple but complete, “I love you.”
We are God’s beloved. As Christians, I think that’s something we ‘know’ very well with our heads but don’t quite understand with our entire being. But I think that He has meant for it to be that way… that we are invited to discover what it means to be His beloved.
Heh… didn’t intend to write such a long email, but this happens when inspiration strikes. ha ha. Besides, I am very glad to share with you, dear sister! :)
Btw, I think external silence really does help with trying to attain inner silence… and maybe God has given us time to be away in relative quiet so that we can begin our journeys! I wish you ‘bon voyage’, and may you be filled with God’s peace as you come to know yourself as The Beloved! *big hug*