“I don’t want to be here,” my insides were shouting.
For months, I disregarded my feelings and kept doing what I should, what a good Christian would.
Then in Advent, God, who hears my thoughts and feels my feelings, asked me a question. “What would you like to do?”
Relief washed over my body as I held the possibility of not showing up. God wasn’t asking me to sacrifice what I needed for another. I’m not indispensable. I don’t have to keep trying to be what I’m not.
For a few days, I walked around with the delicious thought that I don’t have to be in this group anymore. I imagined myself not being there.
As I thought about that possibility, I felt sad. I would miss each person there.
I brought the relief of not having to go and the desire to continue to God and we listened. What was making my insides shout?
With that loving invitation to be an observer of my own story, two feelings came out of the shadows. Under my frustration, I noticed I was feeling discounted and irrelevant.
In other groups that I’m in, I’m often able to share articulately about what’s going on for me. I can tell by the way people respond that my words have opened a door for them. But in this group, I often stumble over my words, what I say falls flat, and the same questions get asked over and over.
Then I saw it. I don’t like being discounted and not making a difference in other people’s lives. It’s really uncomfortable for me. To put it more precisely, my ego doesn’t like it.
I could have gone into blame and shame, but remember, God was right there with me. I didn’t get a lecture about my ego. God said, “That’s so hard.”
I let myself feel how hard that is, and with every breath, my feelings lightened.
God asked me again. “What would you like to do?”
I listened from a deeper place in me.
I don’t want to only be in groups with people like me, that are safe and comfortable.
I wondered: What would it be like to keep going and allow those feelings of being discounted and irrelevant to be there? If I wasn’t so afraid of them, what might they offer me?
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
– Jelaluddin Rumi
(translation by Coleman Barks)
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Please join me for an online weekend silent retreat and introduction to Ignatian Prayer on February 19-21. The retreat is designed for anyone who would like a silent, guided prayer retreat, for anyone who is considering participating in the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises or anyone who would like to experience these Ignatian ways of praying: Lectio Divina, Joyful Mysteries, Gospel Contemplation (Praying with your imagination) and Prayer of Examen. Go here for more information. Here’s what participants in the last one said.
- “This retreat offered me an opportunity to have encounters with God like never before. It has opened a door for me that I didn’t know exists.”
- “I was guided with grace and tender wisdom. I met my God in each prayer initiative and was encouraged to listen for the heart of Jesus’ love for me, as I met with my director. Our weekend was well planned and flowed gently in the Spirit’s movements. As we shared together on Sunday, it was evident that we were met and experienced an encounter with God that was unique to each of us.”
- “The Introduction to Ignatian Prayer retreat was a highlight of my year! Thank you for making it available online.”