Live From Your True Self (Thursday)
Today's devotional comes from "Falling Into Goodness," a book of Lenten reflections by Chuck DeGroat. You can purchase the entire book on Amazon in paperback or for Kindle.
Your terrors have paralyzed me.
They swirl around me like floodwaters all day long.
They have engulfed me completely.
You have taken away my companions and loved ones.
Darkness is my closest friend.
When we live from our true selves, we live free from emotional reactivity yet ever in touch with our wide range of emotions. This is an important realization, because many believe that to be “in Christ” and to live from the new self is to live in a perpetual state of bliss.
In truth, living from the true self allows us to be radically in touch with every part of us, every emotion, even the supposed dark ones. As we cultivate a life lived from our center, however, we become free from the stranglehold of particular emotions or emotional states. Our addictive habits, patterns and emotions release their grip, allowing us to live non-reactively and freely from a place of honesty and vulnerability.
Someone I saw for counseling experienced the vice grip of seething anger after a divorce. For several years, her anger occupied a center seat in her psyche, conducting her internal orchestra for her. She later said to me that it felt as if she was possessed by it. The anger overflowed into her parenting, her work, even her most intimate relationships.
When she came to me she said that a previous therapist told her that the anger needed to be expressed. This was true, but years of repressed rage came flooding in to such an extent that in time she fired her therapist in a fit of rage.
When the Psalmists express emotions of anger, sadness, loneliness, abandonment, fear and more, what they are demonstrating for us is how emotions brought into the light of vulnerable relationship with God can be released into God’s secure hands rather than held tightly. They are teaching us surrender, possible only because we’re living from our God-self, united to Jesus, where compassion for every emotion is possible.
My client’s anger took over because she was not quite ready to plunge into the depths of her rage. Her life had been a whirlwind of dominating emotional states – fear, depression, addiction. Opening the floodgates of rage simply gave another part of her free access to take over.
Cultivating a deep, experienced union with Christ anchors us for the hard work of honoring our many fluctuating emotions. When we embrace the stunning reality that the Spirit dwells within, something within us is opened. We’re not alone. We’re held, secure, anchored. We experience peace amidst the storms of life.
God’s Spirit is no stranger when “darkness is our closest friend.” God is no stranger to every emotion within. When our true self united with Christ listens within, it can hear the painful voices calling out from within, the many emotions that need to be expressed. And as a result, we can choose to give parts of us a voice, even a Psalm, if that seems best.
Allow Lent to be a season where you cultivate a deep, anchored centeredness in which your new-creation-self in Christ can tune in compassionately to every emotion within and give them a voice.
Spirit of God, can I trust that you dwell in me so deeply that no emotion, no thought, no behavior is a surprise to you? Could it be possible that I could find that center to be such an anchoring place that I can join your Spirit in extending compassion to myself? May it be so. Amen