I find myself in a chilly place. Induced, in some sort of anxiety/fear/hopelessness. Entrapped in my childish foolishness, and, separated from the childish freedom and joy. Doused in guilt and ridden in shame, I enter a place of silence.
At first, I look around. No peace. No joy. Frantic and angst filled. Afraid to stay because of the destruction I have indulged my thoughts and actions in. In comes a man, slowly pacing towards me. Acknowledging my anxiety and fear, he treads softly in my direction. His empathetic demeanor sits next to my crouching position.
He looks at me and says
“Hello my friend. I’m glad to see you. How are you today?”
Afraid to look at him, I say “Not well. I am nothing”
With tearing eyes he asks “Why?”
“Because, I have thrown my life away, in the frivolous pursuit of things that have left me empty.”
With a tender voice he asks “What do you want?”
“I want to be loved. I want this ache from horrid memories to leave. I want to have faith. I want to have hope.”
With a gentle touch, he embraces my arm with his hand, I look up and he says “I am not ashamed of you. I am with you. Will you spend time with me?”
“Why do you want me? No one has ever wanted me?”
“I’m not them. I have wanted to be your friend for a long time. I won’t leave. I won’t break your heart like they did. I am patient with you, I believe in you.”
For years I dedicated myself to this quiet time that I was raised to believe was supposed to be the answer to my spiritual decline. But, the problem was of the fear of the feelings I had of myself, and, the image I had created of Jesus. When our image of Jesus, doesn’t look like Jesus, then why would I want to have a relationship with him. If this voice that I hear sounds like that of guilt and shame, and, makes me feel less than myself, then that is not a good friend, that’s not a good God. The voice of Jesus, the voice that desperately wants to speak to us, is that soft and tender voice that is far more interested in healing who we are, than damning us for what we’ve done. This, is the hope, I know I can surrender myself to. It is the thing that transforms me to look like him. And, every day, when I think and act what I see of myself, rather than how he sees me, I become less and less human and I degrade the humanity of others. This is the voice that he wants us to hear. These are the words that he wants us to speak to others. The voice we must listen to, so that others might find a sense of peace and wholeness in their broken humanity.
The late great Henri Nouwen once said-“the real “work” of prayer is to become silent and listen to the voice that says good things about me. To gently push aside and silence the many voices that question my goodness and to trust that I will hear the voice of blessing– that demands real effort. “