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Interior Freedom: Loving as God Loves

A New Blog Series by Beth Booram


An eye roll, a visceral feeling of disgust, then my heart turning away. These are the things I noticed recently when I reacted to an acquaintance of mine on Facebook. Now let me ask you a question: How many of you who know me are surprised by this?

 

I ask because, as a rule, I think most people experience me as warm, loving, and generous. Over my adult life, really since childhood, I’ve worked hard to be a kind and caring person while also working hard to conceal my real, less-than-complimentary attitudes and reactions.

 

I know this “hard work” isn’t peculiar to me. This is how it is with all of us. We offer to others an exterior image of who we want them to see, while our interior self can be all tied up in knots from a host of conflicting feelings, desires, and attitudes that most would have no idea even existed. Anxiety, insecurity, fear, distrust, anger, resentment, envy, suspicion, shame, to name a few. We’ve all become masters of disguise. Image by L. Roche

 

The incident I described earlier has been niggling my conscience for a while. I’ve noticed how often I react similarly to certain people, certain political views, and certain versions of Christianity. I could easily blame the current divisive atmosphere in our country for my angst. And, honestly, there’s a lot going on to get whipped up about! Indeed, that might be a partial explanation, but it’s just not an acceptable excuse.

 

To be clear, what troubles me most about my reaction isn’t that I disagree with this person politically and in the way she lives out her faith. What bothers me is the force of my reaction that led me to turn away from her, essentially shunning her rather than remaining open to her, albeit on social media. (Truthfully, if I saw her today, I’d probably try to avoid her.)

 

It’s become clear to me that I’m not free. Not free to love. Not free to love God as God loves. To love her as I love myself. And this lack of interior freedom has become a nagging invitation from God to consent to the work of the Spirit in my heart during this season of Lent. 

 

For help and inspiration, I’ve returned to a wonderful little book entitled Interior Freedom by Jacque Philippe. This invitation and response is very much a work-in-progress, but over the remainder of Lent, I’d like to write a new series of blog posts and share some quotes from Interior Freedom that have been valuable to me, along with my own brief journal reflections. Perhaps these thoughts will be an invitation to you, as well.

 

Here’s the first in this series: 

 

  1. “The great secret of all spiritual fruitfulness and growth is learning to let God act.” 

 

Typically, when I become aware of an “issue” in my life, my first response is to try and fix what’s wrong! However, in this instance, it’s apparent that I simply don’t need to modify my behavior; I need a change of heart. I need God to act in me to transform this habit of alienating and “enemizing others. I sense the invitation to open to God in the moment of my reactivity, as well as in other times of prayer, and allow God to act in me and love and heal me as only God can.

 

I’m discovering that “learning to let God act” is best supported by the practice of pausing: pausing in the reaction before I turn the person into an enemy and turn away. Pausing creates space, openness, and a gap within the reaction before it turns into an action. It unhooks the visceral emotion from the meaning tied to it. (I.e. “I don’t like this person.” I don’t agree with this person.”) Then there’s space for God to act, to inhabit the experience and affect my heart toward them. But to pause, I must stay present and self-aware. If I miss the moment, it’s a slippery slope!

 

Prayer: I embrace my poverty to change, the temptation to try and “heal my personality.” I consent to awaken more fully to the Spirit of Love within me, who helps me pause in order to let God act.

 

 

 

 

 

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