God has met me this week through the words of Henri Nouwen. Monday morning as I sat shocked and reeling from my experience at church on Sunday, questioning my faith and hearing voices of my past and present telling me I had to know God their way to be “saved”, I opened Nouwen’s The Only Necessary Thing and these words greeted me:
"Once I “know” God, that is once I experience God’s love as the love in which all my human experiences are anchored, I can only desire one thing: to be in that love.”
Those words were like a warm hug enwrapping my small and oh so human body. Because, you see, I know that I have experienced the love to which Nouwen refers and I experienced it yet again in that very moment as tears of joy and surrender trailed down my face. There was nowhere else I desired to be. The voices of others faded away and only the voice of God commingled with mine existed.
The other “voices” that continue to battle for my attention are the ones that say “Self-knowledge is dangerous. It is selfish to consider yourself over others. You must only listen to the word of God (i.e. Scripture) for clear understanding.” With those voices I translate, “Don’t look inside yourself. You cannot be trusted. Only trust others who know more than you (i.e. pastors and scholars).” The battle is that I really don’t believe the translation and find myself caught between knowing that I can trust myself and realizing that the battle still rages on.
And so I share Nouwen’s words that greeted me today (I realize I have just spoken of being wary of only trusting “wiser” others, however, the difference for me lies in the words having resonance rather than dissonance in my soul.) His words definitely fall into the resonance category for me. See Reeling? Healing? Kneeling? for an example of dissonance ☺.
"The mystery of the spiritual life is that Jesus desires to meet us in the seclusion of our own heart, to make his love known to us there, to free us from our fears, and to make our own deepest self known to us. In the privacy of our heart, therefore, we can learn not only to know Jesus, but through Jesus to know ourselves as well…Each time you let the love of God penetrate deeper into you heart, you lose a bit of your anxiety; and every time you shed a bit of your anxiety, you learn to know yourself better and long all the more to be known by your loving God.
Thus the more you learn to love God, the more you learn to know and to cherish yourself. Self-knowledge and self-love are the fruit of knowing and loving God. You can see better now what is intended by the great commandment to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself.” Laying our hearts totally open to God leads to a love of ourselves that enables us to give whole-hearted love to our fellow human beings. In the seclusion of our hearts we learn to know the hidden presence of God; and with that spiritual knowledge we can lead a loving life.”
Again, I experienced the warm knowing that God was speaking directly to my heart--A heart desiring self-knowledge not because it is “selfish” but because it desires “to know the hidden presence of God…and lead a loving life.”
How and where do you meet God? What are the battles that rage inside your head?