Posted by: mmreflections | June 10, 2008

The Missing Key: June, 2008

A little girl was playing alone in her room while her parents were entertaining some guests.  One of the guests happened to be passing by the open door to her room and noticed how quietly and peacefully the child was playing with some of her toys.  He quietly observed the child for a short time and finally, no longer able to resist interrupting her, gently asked, “Are you not lonely playing all by yourself?”  The surprised little girl looked up and replied with a warm smile, “Oh no!  I am not lonely at all!  I like me.”

 There is so much to be learned from little children.  I suppose this is why Jesus said, “I assure you, unless you change and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 18:3)  A little child usually delights in the certainty of being loved without question.   As the child matures it begins to receive messages contrary to what it had earlier believed.  It might hear words like, “You are a bad little boy or a nasty little girl.  God will not like you if you do bad things.”  The negative messages little children often receive are beyond counting.  It will not take very long before a child begins to believe the negative messages which will be carried into adult life.   These messages may be and often are compounded by other adults, teachers, coworkers, employers and trusted friends.

 As described in the last reflection, it became apparent for me that even with the knowledge of being loved and accepted with all my short-comings and character flaws by God, family, friends and people in general, there was still something seriously missing in my life.  I found it difficult being alone in the silence and stillness surrounding me.  The truth was I didn’t like myself.  There were so many things which needed to be changed in order to be the person I thought God wanted me to be.  There were too many faults, too many shadows, too many unacceptable aspects of my personality, of my character which needed to be transformed.  My attention was more often centered on the negative aspects of myself rather than on the love of God and the abundance surrounding me.  I did not like being a broken vessel; I could not understand how the presence of God in my life could only shine through the cracks, through the brokenness.

 At some point I became weary of trying to be good, tired of trying to be perfect, exhausted from trying to change myself, and angry because God was not answering my prayers to bring about the changes I wanted to see in my life.  A new dimension entered into my life of prayer.  I stopped asking God to change me.  I stopped trying to change myself.  I could now pray and say, “Lord, what you see is what you get.  You created me.  You know all about me.  I can only do the best I can with what I have and what I am.  I am who I am!”  A strange, surprising and wondrous transformation began to unfold.  I found myself being overwhelmed by an unexpected peace and joy each time I accepted and embraced some character flaw which surfaced in my life.  This may sound childish but with a little imagination I began to love the aspects of my personality or character that I had for so long despised. This is how I did it!  I imagined a banquet table in the deepest part of my being.  As some previously unacceptable aspect of my personality revealed itself to me, I would mentally embrace it and suffuse it with love while inviting it to come to my banquet table. 

 Some may be inclined to think of this as a multiple personality disorder; I merely saw this as learning to accept all my character flaws, over which I was powerless, knowing that only a power greater than myself could transform them.  Each time I embraced a character flaw, another one came to the surface and soon my inner banquet room was getting crowded, the banquet table was filled.   I had created a prayerful, personal ritual to deal with all the personal shortcomings revealing themselves to me.  For example, when my inner judge, who was highly critical of me and everything I did, surfaced and was in the process of putting me down once more for something I had done or failed to do, I responded differently from the way I had in the past.  I imagined my inner highly critical judge in front of me, mentally embraced him and offering him thoughts of love, invited him to my inner banquet table.  I asked him to help me by being more supportive and giving me guidance instead of criticism.  The result of this prayerful, accepting ritual brought about surprising rewards.  I actually received that which I sought.  My inner judge became a friend and began to give me the wisdom I needed in my daily life.  A prayer of thanksgiving arose from my heart, “Thank you, Lord, for loving, blessing, guiding, healing, transforming, freeing, and reconciling this aspect of my being.”  As more of my faults began to surface, I personalized them and took them through this prayerful ritual.  As they joined the others at my inner banquet table, my inner joy reached heights I had never experienced before.   My conversations with the Holy One became a delightful experience wherein I could share all aspects of my being.  Prayer led to a deeper inner silence and a greater awareness of God’s presence all around and within me. It was an awesome experience to discover gifts hidden in my very flaws.  I no longer felt the aloneness or loneliness which had for so long burdened me.  I had come to understand what Jesus was teaching us about loving our brothers and sisters as we love ourselves.  I had learned what it means to love myself.  I had found the missing key!

 The fruits of learning to love and to accept every aspect of my inner being led me to a deeper and greater love and acceptance of the brothers and sisters whom God brought into my life.  I came to realize that in the past what I disdained or disliked in my brothers and sisters was the very flaw that I disliked in myself.  Strange how we can easily see the speck in our brother’s eye and fail to see the splinter in our own.  With this understanding I came to the realization that all the people whom God brings into my life are my teachers.  The moment I see something in the life of persons around me I find unacceptable, it is time to do another inner check.  If I am sincere I will soon discover another shadow in my life waiting to be invited to my inner banquet table.  At that same moment I will find myself accepting my brother or sister without trying to change them in any way.  I will find myself loving them just as they are.

 All this may appear to be a self-centered or even selfish spirituality.  Looking back on the journey this is really the beginning of the good things God has in store for those who love God.  Up until this moment of self acceptance the Holy One is laying the ground work for the plans in store for us.  Where do we go from here?  If our life is not about changing ourselves or others, what is our life all about?  Why are we here?  Does our existence have meaning?  Jesus told us that we would see greater things than what he had done!  Can we even begin to imagine the good and greater things coming our way?

  St. Paul tells us, “In order that I might not become conceited I was given a thorn in the flesh….to keep me from getting proud.  I begged the Lord that this might leave me.  He said to me, ‘My grace is enough for you, for in weakness power reaches perfection.’  So I willingly boast of my weaknesses instead that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  I am content with weakness for when I am powerless, it is then that I am strong.”   (Confer 2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

 

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