As I listen to directees share their struggles and listen to my own, I notice that there’s a strata to our feelings and desires. Like an archaeological dig, the top layer–the first one we experience–gets our attention. It’s the hurt right under our feet. Archaeologists don’t care about that dirt. It’s where they need to dig, but mostly they need to get it out of the way to find what’s underneath. They shovel, sift and gently brush the soil away to find relics of past civilizations. These give them clues about who we are and what has affected how we live.
As pilgrims on a journey with God, we don’t need to go digging. We can simply rest in God and wonder (like I did last week): What’s under my jealousy? What’s under that feeling of being horrified when I let someone down?
God is the one who prompts me to ask, and God is the one who enables deeper awarenesses to emerge.
What was under my feeling horrified? I suppose it was the fear of rejection. The old tapes began to accuse, “Now you’ve done it.” When I named that fear while God held me, I felt accepted. I somehow “heard” God inviting me again to let go of the lie that I have to perform well to be loved.
I sat longer and a deeper awareness emerged: My desire to be perfect distances me from others. It makes me strive to be better than them. In God’s loving embrace, defended from the Accuser, I was able to hear these words without judgment.
As I continued to sit with God, an even deeper awareness emerged: I don’t want to be better or distant from others.
Then an ancient desire which I share with every creature that has ever lived stirred in my womb and rose up into my throat: my desire to be one with them.
Ah, said God to my humble soul. That is my desire as well.
Feelings and desires prompt our actions. When I stay on the surface of mine, I fall prey to the Accuser and am propelled to do whatever I can to salvage my self-esteem. But as I rest in God’s presence and look under my initial reaction to whatever is disturbing me, I find the seed of the kingdom that God has planted deep within me and am freed to tend it.
Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” –Luke 13:18,19
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It was an arts worship service and the theme was “The Kingdom of God.” Artists at New Life Community Church submitted their creations based on the theme, and we worshiped God with our senses and imaginations. That’s when I first saw Wendy Linnington’s painting Mustard Seed (above). It spoke to me of the seemingly small and unseen kingdom that is within us–potent, powerful and growing. I am so grateful for the love mischief of Wendy and other painters, potters, dancers and singers that open us to the kingdom in tangible ways.