All week, this song has been going round my head:
Not because it’s a one-hit wonder of the early 80s, but because it speaks of our avoidance of ourselves.
We cram our lives with ‘experiences’ and ‘things’, but we rarely spend time with ourselves, or allow ourselves to think through where we are and who we are. So often we avoid ourselves – the truth of ourselves.
Part of Lent, I believe, is to take time to be apart, not just from things, but with ourselves.
Lent is about being in the wilderness and self-examination. In the desert there is little to distract us, we are left alone with ourselves. In the silence and the space there is nothing to drown out the voice inside. It is also a place where there is nothing to fall back on, we have to rely on our own resources and we very quickly discover what they are.
Then this morning, I read this:
God wants us… to face our inner reality and bring it to God in prayer, because if we deny our pain and failures, if we try to hide our anxiety or pride, if we don’t face our addictions to work, pornography, substances or power, if we are out of touch with our emotional life, if we can’t accept our sexuality, if we won’t admit it when our spiritual life is boring and barren, we are avoiding the truth about ourselves, and denying God the chance to meet us in our present reality.
God will not force wisdom and transformation upon us, but waits until we acknowledge our need… we cannot receive God’s help until we face our weaknesses and vulnerabilities and offer them to God (p123)
by Sue Pickering in Spiritual Direction
The challenge, I believe, is can we do that, or do we keep running? Do we want to know ourselves that we might sort through the things that are there? Or do we want to keep avoiding ourselves and the God who longs to be with us in our reality and take us to a new place, a less scary place, a place where we can face the truth in us, and know his affirmation and love of who we intrinsically are.
Self-knowledge is a powerful thing. Some things in our lives may panic or worry us, but there may also be undiscovered gems hidden deep, just waiting to be found or noticed. It is only what we do not know that is scary. Once we know the reality of anything we can begin to learn to live with its truth. The truth of the things we wish we weren’t and the joy of the things we realise that God and others delight in. We can only sort out which is which by stopping running and taking time to look.
So, in all the meditation of Lent, the point is to look at our lives, honestly, before God. To acknowledge what is there, and to work with him on what is to be delighted in and honed, and what is better left behind.