Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lion and Lamb...damn it

I read the "Let Your Lion Lie Down with Your Lamb" Nouwen imperative quite a few days ago. I felt nothing. The words were not resonating. I talked with my counselor today for a few minutes about just this, and she said that when I started reading Nouwen I was in the beginning of my deep depression, and perhaps everything I read in Nouwen was hitting me at my core. I told her I was going to read an imperative a day and meditate on the words to see what I (or should I say God) came up with.

I am only a handful of imperatives away from finishing the book that has been at the core of my journey to freedom and contentment, and I am not giving up because I don't "feel" the words affecting me, or I don't "think" the imperatives apply to me anymore. Giving up because of thoughts or feelings is one of my strongest weaknesses and one which pains me deeply. I will not give up.

So...here are the ideas and thoughts and what-not that came to me after tonight's second-installment reading of "Let Your Lion Lie Down with Your Lamb", and after quite a few minutes with my eyes closed and pen in hand.

Nouwen says, "Your lion is your adult, aggressive self. It is your initiative-taking and decision-making self. But there is also your fearful, vulnerable lamb, the part of you that needs affection, support, affirmation, and nurturing."

I thought, isn't the most general need of all human beings to feel accepted and affirmed as individuals, through all of our uniqueness, strengths, and faults? The lamb in me, something I viewed as a weakness, is not just something I experience - the human race experiences this. My lion and lamb have been at war; I can feel the war inside me. I didn't think I could be gentle and strong, much like everything in my life. It was all or nothing with my mother, as a child, teenager, and up until the point I discontinued letting her into any part of my life. To me, gentle meant weak; strong meant mean. Or maybe strong even meant fearless and bulletproof...so I could never be considered strong, because fearless and bulletproof are two things I definitely am not.

"Developing your identity as a child of God in no way means giving up your responsibilities."

I immediately thought of the old phrase, "To much is given, much is expected." Then a train of random thoughts started firing off in my brain. I have a cycle and it goes like this: I am doing and doing and I have this momentum going. More and more opportunities are coming my way, be it in the form of friends or work or good grades. Then, I feel overwhelmed and this feeling continues until I give up. Then, I'm in a bad place of depression and loneliness. It is in this bad place where I beg God and everyone around me to get me back to where I was, the place of opportunity that bred my feeling overwhelmed. What does all of this mean? All I could come up with was: Take it slow. Life is about distance, not speed.

Now this is where a lot of silence and shut eyes came into play.

"The more you can feel safe as a child of God, the freer you will be to claim your mission in the world as a responsible human being. And the more you claim that you have a unique task to fulfill for God, the more open you will be to letting your deepest need be met."

Que paso? I had to reread this passage over and over again. Then I broke it up sentence by sentence, then half of a sentence by half of a sentence. The difficulty in me understanding this told me that God has something he wants me to learn. After a short while, thoughts began flooding into my mind. First was my interpretation of Nouwen's words "And the more you claim." My heart told me this really means ownership.

What is it to be a child of God? To feel safe not in the driver's seat, to be in control by relinquishing control. To be confident in doing what needs to be done, because you can take on anything with the Lord as your father. A child of God wants to be responsible.

So, does the reverse say anything? I don't feel responsible and I have difficulty with responsibility. Does this mean I am not feeling safe as a child of God? I don't feel as if I can be responsible, and I make poor decisions. Is it because I don't respect myself, because I don't know whose I am? Then these words formed in my mind: Serving God opens me up to allowing myself to be served.

I've pinched myself a few times and gave my cheek a light slap. So far I haven't morphed into some kind of Goddess of Insight And Incredible Perspective. I don't know what I expected to happen once I finished reading this imperative and writing about what came to mind. I gave this imperative all I had; surely I deserve something. But still, nothing. This might be it, another blog post completed and a night's rest to be had.

1 comment:

  1. I hope you were kidding about not finding insight... I loved all that you discovered about ownership and responsibility... responsibility not just for being a good citizen sake, but for something much much deeper. Because you are a child of God, because He has chosen you and now refers to you as heir of his throne... you can respect yourself, take ownership for yourself, and ultimately live authentically and responsibly. Because of those things you can be responsible.

    pc

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