Objective #6: To encourage people to live as God sees us
Our Thoughts from the past several weeks have had a very positive feel to them. What joy to turn our attention to the idea that we are loved and valuable! What joy, indeed, to be ambassadors of God’s good will, to first believe it ourselves and then demonstrate God’s trustworthiness to others!
Folks: if that was all there is to be done, it would not require the likes of a Missionary effort to accomplish. It would already be widely in practice.
“To live as God sees us” means to believe that God loves us, both as we are and as He sees our potential to be – but this is just the foundation of the entire process, not the end itself.
God is, after all, outside of time, so He sees both “now” and “what can potentially be” in one totality. If we are imperfect right now (… which applies to all of us), God sees both our imperfections “now” and our greatest potential state of triumph. We acknowledge that God sees both our worth AND our current progress toward achieving its fullness. Let us illustrate it like this:
“As God sees us” = The line of totality between who we are now and who we are meant to be at our fullest;
“To live” = To enter into the full experience between “now” and “our fullest;” to engage the gap.
This is a radical suggestion to most of us. We are conditioned to avoid being wrong and to stay on steady ground. To engage the gap means not just to step in, but to actively experience and participate with all of our faculties. It is not a passive ride. It is not a powerless freefall. It is not dropping into a pre-defined role or pre-destined outcome. Engagement means taking head-on the challenge of navigating from wherever we are now to the point where we accept that God accepts us – and then flying fully into it. This is the entry point toward becoming more and more of who we are meant to be. Every moment we are in the gap, we experience and live out our needs – knowing that we are the same person now as we will be at the finish line.
Convincing people we are okay with our brokenness is the hardest Missionary work we will have to do. People do not expect us to be joyful being not quite there yet. People expect us to be anxious, defensive, self-preserving and protective of our vulnerability. Exposing our needs and admitting our imperfections is frightening to others because it goes against the very survival instincts that govern so much of our social behavior.
Nobody says it is not frightening to us, either. Revisit last week’s post and see that our job is encourage others by being the first to experience the fear and then report back that it is survivable.
Being vulnerable is VERY frightening. Being needy, being imperfect, being wrong and being open about it is an admission…
… that we are not suppressed by the fear of not being perfect…
… that we have nothing to hide…
… that we have nothing to lose…
… that we have no need for armor or weapons to guard our vulnerability…
… that we believe we actually are, right now, the person God has created us to be – even though the creative process is still in progress. Even if we have a long way to go. Even if our actual and potential selves are at opposite ends of the globe. We believe we still are that same person, not-quite-there-yet, engaging the gap because we trust we will get there.
It frightens people…
… who are frightened by vulnerability in general…
… who are frightened by their inability (yet) to be as vulnerable as we are…
… who do not recognize the glimpse we give of our potential selves, and fear we are drastically different than the person they know…
… who fear for our emotional safety when they see us taking risks with our vulnerability…
… who have been degraded during their most vulnerable times.
Bottom line, and important fact to remember: It frightens others when we are vulnerable.
Remember the old formula, fright = fight or flight? Do not be disheartened if our early efforts are met with fear, criticism, opposition, derision and pushing away… fight, or flight. Summon all of your patience and confidence, and greet the fear in others with the same kind of encouragement we discovered last week: “It’s okay! It’s only me!” And, we will be waiting here when the fear subsides, so that we can pick up and keep going on our journey together.
Pray: From the Diary of St. Faustina: “Eternal God, in Whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Thy mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Thy holy will, which is Love and Mercy Itself.” (950).
Contemplate: Consider any of these verses slowly and thoughtfully in light of what we have thought about this week:
Mark 6:50 Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Isaiah 35:4 Tell everyone who is discouraged, Be strong and don’t be afraid!
1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not yet perfect in love.
Psalm 94:19 When anxiety is great within me, your consolation brings joy to my soul.
Relate: How attuned are we in recognizing expressions of unease? Can we recognize unrest when it is masked by irritation, bravado, avoidance or disdain?
May the power of Divine Love shine in and through my weakness, so that He might be glorified in and through me, and that in my weakness, His power may reach perfection. Through Christ Our Lord, AMEN.
Fr. Mark P. Nolette - Spiritual Director for the Mission of Saint Thorlak