The Inner Voice of Who Knows What

the pilgrimage: Henri Nouwen and my own topsy-turvy little heart

Day 19: Coexisting.

Henri, Befriend Your Emotions:

It can be discouraging to discover how quickly you can lose your inner peace. Someone who happens to enter your life can suddenly create restlessness and anxiety in you. Sometimes this feeling is there before you fully realize it. You thought you were centered; you thought you could trust yourself; you thought you could stay with God. But then someone you do not even know intimately makes you feel insecure. You ask yourself whether you are loved or not, and that stranger becomes the criterion. Thus you start feeling disillusioned by your own reaction.

Don’t whip yourself for your lack of spiritual progress. If you do, you will easily be pulled even further away from your center. You will damage yourself and make it more difficult to come home again. It is obviously not good to act on your sudden emotions. But you don’t have to repress them, either. You can acknowledge them and let them pass by. In a certain sense, you have to befriend them so you do not become their victim.

The way to “victory” is not in trying to overcome your dispiriting emotions directly but in building a deeper sense of safety and at-homeness and a more incarnate knowledge that you are deeply loved.  Then, little by little, you will stop giving so much power to strangers.

Do not be discouraged. Be sure that God will truly fulfill all your needs. Keep remembering that. It will help you not to expect that fulfillment from people who you already know are incapable of giving it.


Amen, Henri. Good word today.

It’s so tempting to just aggressively exorcise the loneliness/fear/pain/discomfort/dissatisfaction that live inside me, and banish them to the ends of the earth never to return.
The problem is, all these feelings will never cease to exist. They are a part of me – not welcome parts, but still there. And as a good pacifist, my job is to learn to coexist with them, rather than exterminating them.

(I’ve held to the same theory for years with things like slugs, spiders, and cockroaches – but I think I’ve let myself become okay with extermination. Just on special occasions.)

These wretched emotions are not going away, but I believe they can learn their proper place. They will always live in my house, but they can learn to live in a house where belovedness and fulfillment and joy are bustling about as well.

I am just so tired of giving them this power to run it all.

What if we shifted the power to these alternative emotions, of belovedness and fulfillment and joy?
What if these truths took the lead, instead of being hidden away?
What would change?


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One thought on “Day 19: Coexisting.

  1. Elaine Clymer on said:

    We would live in the light of love instead of darkness.

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