The Inner Voice of Who Knows What

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

Day 23: Normal again.

Henri, Live Patiently with the “Not Yet”:

A part of you was left behind very early in your life; the part that never felt completely received. It is full of fears. Meanwhile, you grew up with many survival skills. But you want your self to be one. So you have to bring home the part of you that was left behind. That is not easy, because you have become quite a formidable person, and your fearful part does not know if it can safely dwell with you. Your grown-up self has to become very childlike – hospitable, gentle, and caring – so your anxious self can return and feel safe.

You complain that it is hard for you to pray, to experience the love of Jesus. But Jesus dwells in your fearful, never fully received self. When you befriend your true self and discover that it is good and beautiful, you will see Jesus there. Where you are most human, most yourself, weakest, there Jesus lives. Bringing your fearful self home is bringing Jesus home.

As long as your vulnerable self does not feel welcomed by you, it keeps so distant that it cannot show you its true beauty and wisdom. Thus, you survive without really living.

Try to keep your small, fearful self close to you. This is going to be a struggle, because you have to live for a while with the “not yet.” Your deepest, truest self is not yet home. It quickly gets scared. Since your intimate self does not feel safe with you, it continues to look for others, especially those who offer it some real, though temporary, consolation. But when you become more childlike, it will no longer feel the need to dwell elsewhere. It will begin to look to you as home.

Be patient. When you feel lonely, stay with your loneliness. Avoid the temptation to let your fearful self run off. Let it teach you its wisdom; let it tell you that you can live instead of just surviving. Gradually you will become one, and you will find that Jesus is living in your heart and offering you all you need.

me:

… you have become quite a formidable person…

Why thanks, Henri. In fact, I’ve spent the better portion of my life striving to be somebody who is essentially ‘more than’ – more than just a normal girl. Above average, not common, unique, extraordinary, something special about her – more than the average bear.

I’ll keep this post short, and say briefly that it is exhausting to be this ‘more than’ all the time.
I love that I am driven to pursue life at not just its basic life, not content with the average and mediocre, but at some point the chase gets so tiring.

As I write, I am sitting in a bed I’ve slept in for over a decade, when I come to visit MamaJo’s house in Derby, Kansas. This bed has known me since I was that fearful, vulnerable child. And it loved me just fine then. This Christmas break we spent time looking through tons of old family photos – some of my favorite with me and my mulleted-mustached-beanpole young Dad in the early 90s. And I realize he loved me just fine as this little girl who wanted to sit and be read to, no outstanding achievements or significant contributions to society to be acclaimed for.

Just normal.

Hallelujah as well, that I got to spend time with my best friend of many years in Oklahoma City, who reminded me that it is just fine to be normal. Not all of who I am is normal all the time, but I am allowed to be normal.

For so long I’ve fought against it, wanting to be more and do more and be known for more than just normalcy. For so long I’ve pushed myself to not just be me.

Where you are most human, most yourself, weakest, there Jesus lives. Bringing your fearful self home is bringing Jesus home.

The most human.
Humans make mistakes, usually imperfect, sometimes unhealthy, often irritating, mostly good. But I guess I am one after all. Guess that’s me.

The way I treated that wonderful young man from Day 22 tells me I am waaaaaaaaay more human than I thought I was.
And after the guilt of that mistreatment – after the honesty and letting it be part of my story – it’s time to move on. It’s time to learn who I am as a normal human being. Not perfect.

Cheers to a journey of learning to embrace the humanity, the normalcy.

Really, I don’t put too much stock in New Year’s Resolutions – but on this December 31st, things are looking up. Things are moving forward in a good way.

Cheers.

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One thought on “Day 23: Normal again.

  1. I’m a normal person too and glad I have made mistakes that helped me find new ways of dealing with life. When we love ourselves, warts and all, we can also love others much more openly.

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