Afraid of me.

“By way of conclusion, I offer for the reader’s meditation a beautiful dialogue between Jesus and a contemporary Spanish spiritual writer, who has had a close relationship with our Lady since childhood and who has chosen to remain anonymous.

’Have you ever wondered which of all things you experience causes me the greatest joy?’

‘No,’ I said to Jesus.

He answered, ‘When in lucid freedom, you say yes to God’s calls.’ And then he continued, ‘Remember what is says in the Gospel ‘The truth will make you free.’ You can only respond freely to the calls of grace when your own truth becomes clear, when you accept it humbly, and when, on that basis, you maintain a conversation with God, realizing that everything that has happened and happens to you is part of a loving and providential project of you Father God.

Yes, many things will cause you perplexity. They will even plunge you into intense darkness and, still more, into suffering that wounds and paralyzes you. But if you have recourse to your faith, it will be your shield. Doesn’t God reveal himself as your Abba? Have not I, the Son, taken on your condition at its most wretched? Doesn’t the Paraclete defend you? Believe all this with heart and soul, and it will fill you with trust and confidence.

Don’t be afraid of yourselves! Don’t be afraid of all that you are, in your human reality where God pitches His tent to dwell with you. God is Incarnation. God’s new name is Emmanuel, God with us: God with your reality. Open yourself to it without fear. Only in the measure you discover yourself will you discover the depths of His love. In the depths of what you are, you will experience that you are not alone. Someone, lovingly and mercifully, has entered into the mystery of your humanity, not as spectator, not as judge, but as someone who loves you, who offers himself to you, who espouses you to free you, save you and heal you…To stay with you forever, loving you, loving you!’”

This excerpt comes from the book Interior Freedom by Jacques Philippe. Just this passage alone had been given to me on a half sheet of paper in high school by one of my youth ministers at the parish I grew up in. She gave it to me before I came to TCU. I am unsure of how it made the transition with me to Fort Worth without getting lost, but it ended up in the Bible a dear friend gave to me as a gift my freshman year. I put it in my Bible of course but how it didn’t get lost or misplaced along the way is quite remarkable. Anyway, I have had it in my Bible as a place holder for one of the passages I like to go back to often. Earlier in the summer I flipped back to it and found that the piece of paper had some water damage, so I couldn’t read part of the dialogue. This sparked my curiosity about where this passage had come from, so I googled a couple sentences and found the book by Philippe. Since filling in the words I could not read before, the message articulated in this beautiful dialogue has been something I have been reflecting on often to get a better understanding of the depth of its meaning. Not only this, but I recently ordered the full book from Amazon, and it has been incredibly relevant and renewing.

“The truth will make you free.” What does this mean? It says in the gospel of John that Moses was given the Law, but grace and truth are realized through Jesus Christ. What truth is realized through Jesus? What is my own truth and how do I accept it?

“Don’t be afraid of all that you are…only in the measure you discover yourself will you discover the depths of His love. In the depths of what you are, you will experience you are not alone.” In Romans, Paul discusses the two natures he finds in himself. He says that he knows the law of God in his mind and desires to follow it, but his members, or his flesh, follow a different law, that of evil and sin. “Wretched man that I am!” he exclaims. This is incredibly significant on a number of levels, but most significantly, I think, is the reality that Paul went there. He has experienced the depths of his humanity and is real about the evil present within him. The measure in which he has discovered himself is quite close to complete, probably as much as humanity allows us to know ourselves. But check this out, it is in these depths, in the full measure of humanity- flaws, weaknesses, triumphs, joys, the most detestable evil that the Divine would spit out, and the most genuine love- that our truth really does become clear. And that truth is that we can accept ourselves as sinners, accept that we are defected and stained and miss the mark, while also daring to be holy, daring to say yes to God’s calls, daring to live in the reality that in our detestable sins and fallen nature, God is not only there but asks us to join Him, to take part in His loving project for humanity.

There is an amazing passage in Isaiah chapter 6 where this reality is apparent. Isaiah is in the presence of the Most Holy God and feels as though he should die, be “lost” or undone,” because of his iniquity and “unclean lips.” But then God asks who to send to the Jews. In all his apparent vileness and filthy rags in comparison to the Divine glory, Isaiah is filled with zeal in response to God and says yes to His commission in lucid freedom. He says to God, “Here am I. Send me.” In Hebrew, hin-ni.

With the realization of God residing with us and calling us in our wretchedness, there is a lie revealed in how we view ourselves and others. “We find it so difficult to accept our deficiencies because we imagine they make us unlovable,” When I read this in Interior Freedom, it hit me like a ton of bricks. There was something here that needed to be unveiled in my heart. This idea wasn’t something I haven’t heard before, as it is part of the Gospel message. However, there was something more, a greater measure of myself that this applied to. In a moment, the scales over my eyes were removed. The truth is I had a hard time loving my dad because of his physical deficiencies. The disease robbed him of his ability to do so many things. But I attached those deficiencies with being unlovable. In my head, how could his inabilities be lovable when they were the absence of the truly lovable things. Being able to walk was lovable, being able to eat was lovable, being independent was lovable. Needing help to shower was unlovable, having a feeding tube was unlovable, not being able to give his daughter a hug was unlovable. Woe is me, wretched man that I am! This was the way I thought; thus, I could have none, show none, be found having no deficiencies. And because the reality is this is impossible, in my rejection of reality, I shut out every way reality might creep in, might be hinted at, might shatter the crystal world of lies I lived in. I worked tirelessly to pretend, to be someone I was not. In thinking deficiencies were unlovable, I was not living under the gaze of my loving Father or the truth that it is in these depths of my humanity, that the depths of His incredible love are known. Deficiencies and all, He calls me to be with Him, to share in His holiness through His beloved Son. I ask Him to help me believe this with my whole mind, body, soul, and strength, so that I may take the posture of Isaiah and respond in lucid freedom to His calls, “Here am I Lord, Send me.”

Love,

Lauren

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