Thursday, October 18, 2007

Voice of God

Looking back a year ago:

I had to laugh to myself when I heard people singing (or saying) that they "wanted to hear the voice of the Lord," because for me it meant accepting that my life would be turned upside down time and again. It demanded complete self-honesty, courage, and strength. When I haven’t been totally honest with myself and have done things the way I wanted to, I made mistakes that hurt others badly. Sometimes I was so used to feeling upside-down that I didn’t realize how uncomfortable and dreadful it could be for others. Feeling upside-down also made me sensitive to wrongness, when people around me turned their environment upside down to suit themselves, instead of being willing to suffer change themselves in order to help the community grow. But sometimes my presence or example seemed to act as a catalyst for people to begin to make changes in their own lives, or sometimes a wounded person could begin to heal him/herself because of the gentleness which flowed through me.

I reexamined my call to ministry, tried to discern whether or not formal education in seminary would be helpful, and assessed what my spiritual gifts are and considered how to best use them in compliance with God’s will. My job situation had been disquieting for half a year (at that point), and I tried to analyze my strengths and weaknesses objectively, living with my feelings, which said one thing, and the doors closing, which said another. I came to think that the first half-year of 2006 in particular was an exercise in obedience and humility. Plunged into despair and shame, into the dark night, wondering if there would ever be clarity or hope, yet linked with an underlying and deep-rooted willingness to be changed, to take emotional (and some physical) risks—all of this left me believing that I had come out on another side of my spiritual life, extraordinarily transformed (not the goal of submission to the will of God, yet a welcome side-effect!) and more quietly, that I have become more “attuned to authentic movements of the Spirit leading us into greater fullness of life” (Loring 15). This experience seemed to “reflect an experience of God which is more verb than noun, more relationship than knowledge….” And I seemed to have groped my “way in search of reality, past easy definitions and conceptions of” myself, becoming “graciously freed from the distortions imposed by ‘the world’” (ibid.).

Loring, Patricia. Spiritual Discernment: The Context and Goal of Clearness Committees. Pendle Hill Pamphlet 305. Wallingford, PA: Pendle Hill Publications, 1992.

Well, I am always surprised by my lack of humility when I look back! Yet, when I take stock, that dark night did seem to help me empty myself, and there was then room for a new person to enter my life, for that relationship to turn my self-concept upside-down in a marvelous way. And I do seem to have made my way into a new conception of myself as a librarian, on the other side of grief and loss.

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