Saturday, June 30, 2012

There is No Need to Fear

Somewhere on this blog I have the badge that goes with my Myers-Briggs profile. You can see that it has me as 100% Intuitive. I've taken this test many times, and it always comes up the same way. It makes me think that there is another way that people -- like the vast majority of people on earth -- process information (sensing capacity) that I simply don't relate to at all. I wonder if it is the same sort of thing as being color blind; like there's a whole world of blue-green out there that I know nothing about.

But I do know something about being intuitive. It means that I often know things, and know them completely, without being able to say what I know or say how I know it. But then there comes a time, sometimes, when pieces come together, ideas come together, experiences come together, understanding comes together, and all of a sudden I say "naru hodo"! Now I get it! And then I can actually say what I know.

Sometimes these moments are so profound that they strike me as far more than "understanding."  It's more like they envelop my soul and inevitably make me weep.

I was on the cusp of something like this this morning, and at Mass, right at the consecration, it hit me with full force. I'm not sure I have the words to do it justice, but I will try.

The last blog post I wrote, called "Learning to Trust," located the thread that I needed to pull on. My take-away idea there was that God is the "bigger than" that is involved in any event or circumstance in my life.

What I saw since writing that is something within my own heart. We don't trust as generic people; we trust out of our own unique history. It takes going back through that unique history to really hear God's word that speaks into our souls.

Fears are funny things. We know when we are afraid, but knowing exactly what we are afraid of and being able to say it are, well, hard, at least for me. I don't know if this goes back to an intuition versus sensing thing or not. I realize that some people are afraid of concrete things, like snakes, and figure out easily to say "I'm afraid of snakes!" It seems reasonable to other people for a person to fear snakes, so it isn't like admitting a fear of milk (like my friend Mr. Monk).

When a fear sounds like a betrayal of people in one's life, though, I think it becomes very hard to admit. Because it isn't nice for children or those with emerging maturity to sound like they are blaming those around them for failing them. And, apart from a good grounding in theology, that's all it could be....

What I'm talking about is this: I can now articulate the fear that I've had since childhood, which is fear of being the strongest person I've known. A fear of the utter incompetence I've picked up on in the people around me.

That's sounds incredibly arrogant. But, objectively, it makes sense, because nobody is perfect. I think I have always been extremely sensitive to that fact, but I didn't know what to do with it. What I did actually try to do with it, I also realized, was disregard my intuition on this point, sometimes when I sensed it the strongest. This helps me understand how I flung my trust into the hands of some completely unworthy people in my day. Sometimes I took horrible advice from people close to me, just because I was thrilled to be given advice by them. I could grind my intuition into the dust and trust their in words as in a magic potion. All because I desperately did not want to be disloyal and say "That's stupid." Or, at least to rationally process it that way, and act accordingly.

So, what I've found is that either I've been left to my own strength, which has terrified me, or I have leaned on what I perceived in someone else as the type of strength I've been looking for, and have ended up taken advantage of, treated harshly or shamefully, or something else that left me smarting.

But the Lord has been doing something in my heart for the last few years. It began with my becoming a parent, which did not happen in the customary way for me because of very slowly adopting my son out of the foster care system. One day, I suddenly had an 8-month-old baby to care for. It took some time before I developed any natural sense for what I was doing. It may have even taken until I was pregnant with my daughter. But here's the thing -- when one is a Mommy at home all day with children, one needs to no longer fear being the strongest one around! I learned though that strength does not equal domination, but that it entails showing respect and looking out for others' best interests and not just my own.  This was all a learning adventure for me, and it helped me that my son has an extremely strong will. He made sure I learned both about being firm and respectful.

But there was something else the Lord wanted to get to. And it was not just about not fearing my strength, but about experiencing strength through someone else, so that I could know that the "something" I have been looking for, and bemoaning not seeing in others all these years, was actually God Himself, deeply engaged in my life. I've known that God is deeply engaged in my life, but God has chosen to operate through His Church, which necessitates other human beings responding to the Holy Spirit's directives to them. Like it or not, these other people are just necessary! That's the norm.

A few years back, God sent a certain friend to my life with a sort of nonchalant directive, "Here. Trust this guy." At first I thought, "You're kidding me, right?" But as time went on, I saw God was very serious about teaching me something. Many things, actually. Things that had to do with me not being the strongest person I knew. Things that had to do with me being built up, not torn down or taken advantage of, or being treated shamefully. All along, I knew God was working, but of late it has been hot on God's agenda with me to sort of peel back my friend's tutelage so that I could truly see His work.

And today at the consecration, with tears running down my face, I realized: God is infinitely stronger than I am, and never, ever would He steer me wrong, take advantage of me, treat me harshly or shamefully, or do anything to harm me. I can be as strong as I can be, but I'll always be at heart like a little child to Him. He, however, does a great job at ordering the universe, and I don't need to worry about that. It is also no burden at all on Him for me to expect everything from Him. That's exactly what He's after. His strength is my freedom.

And, as for what I lack: as I drink in the reality of His strength that surrounds me, I can learn to be gentle and relaxed about this life, even if circumstances are dire. It doesn't all depend on me. I can respond to people yes, with strength, but also with peace that comes from knowing the One who is bigger than it all. Then His presence will be evident through me.

I'm not there, but at least I see where I need to go. That's a lot different than wandering aimlessly, crouching fearfully in a corner somewhere.

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