The Inner Voice of Who Knows What

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

Day 25: Imago dei.

Henri, See Yourself Truthfully:

You continue struggling to see your own truth. When people who know your heart well and love you dearly say that you are a child of God, that God has entered deeply into your being, and that you are offering much of God to others, you hear these statements as pep talks. You don’t believe that these people are really seeing what they are saying.

You have to start seeing yourself as your truthful friends see you. As long as you remain blind to your own truth, you keep putting yourself down and referring to everyone else as better, holier, and more loved than you are. You look up to everyone in whom you see goodness, beauty, and love because you do not see any of these qualities in yourself. As a result, you begin leaning on others without realizing that you everything you need to stand on your own feet.

You cannot force things, however. You cannot make yourself see what others see. You cannot fully claim yourself when parts of you are still wayward. You have to acknowledge where you are and affirm that place. You have to be willing to live your loneliness, your incompleteness, your lack of total incarnation fearlessly, and trust that God will give you the people to keep showing you the truth of who you are.


You have to be willing to live your loneliness, your incompleteness, your lack of total incarnation fearlessly, and trust that God will give you the people to keep showing you the truth of who you are.

I am finally learning this.

To claim myself… To say this is who I am, who I am created to be, the part I am wired to play in the kingdom of God, the identity that is Jessica in the midst of this big world. The difficulty comes in really believing it, in feeling it, in dwelling in that knowledge. But I am learning.

I do know that I am created in the image of God. Imago dei means that in amongst the imperfection and messiness and silliness of who I am, there is stamped upon me the definite, permanent mark of our creator. While standing on our own feet sounds honorable and strong and American and pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps-y –   this is only possible through knowing and dwelling in the imago dei, that gives us something solid to dwell in.

I am home, once again, from Dream Camp 2012, a weekend of worship, prayer, and community with folks I am usually not too much in community with. My weekend was full of Fresno’s black Christian community, beautiful music that was full and loud and long, art through painting and dancing and waving flags, speaking in tongues, prayers of deliverance and healing, and experience altogether pretty unfamiliar. Rarely do I seek out to experience God in this way, very different from my heritage and faith expressions and internal wiring, but this weekend I sought a different face of God than I usually see.

This weekend was a little bit of God smashed up against God, as I intentionally brought this journey of contemplation, reflection, and the quiet Catholic inner voice of God’s love into conversation with the free-flowing, sometimes chaotic, loud and full voice of God’s presence at Dream Camp. (Thank goodness God is big enough to encompass these diverse worlds and more, or else this would all be very confusing. Ha!)

From Henri and from Dream Camp come the same reminder…
I am not in this alone.

I carry a presence, a spirit, a voice, an image with me that is not my own. When I claim myself, I am not claiming just a sum of all my parts – but this imago dei permeates all of me. There is a reason to believe my friends when they tell me that I am extraordinary, that who I am is amazing, that I have goodness and beauty and ‘much of God to offer others…

Because of the image with me, these words of my truthful friends become true.


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2 thoughts on “Day 25: Imago dei.

  1. Elaine Clymer on said:

    Jessica, I experience you as someone with great compassion and love. You are such a blessing to me. The light of God shines through you. Hey, I think we should do some black gospel songs at church! What say?

  2. Thanks for your encouragement and love Elaine! I say YES! We can practice and get something ready. : )

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