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Interior Freedom: To Love as God Loves, Part III



David L. Booram, artist

 

I began this series of blogs because I had noticed in myself a concerning pattern of overreactions to people I encountered who I knew held religious and political beliefs that were opposite my own. In the moment, these individuals or groups were not a real threat. However, my reactions to them were so strong, so “over-the-top,” that you’d think they were holding me at gunpoint!

 

“What’s going on?” I mused.

 

This is the question I’ve been engaging during Lent, with the desire to experience healing and a transformed response to others who I perceive as threatening to me or the well-being of our world.

 

One thing my overreactions reminded me of is a condition I learned about during the pandemic called the “allostatic overload.” It’s “what happens to us when we’re chronically exposed to a climate of toxic stress that exceeds our ability to cope.” In other words, we absorb stress around us and begin to take on the toxicity of the stress unconsciously.

 

This unconscious absorption relates to another quote I'd like to share from Interior Freedom, by Jacque Philippe, along with my reflections on it:


“One of the essential conditions of interior freedom is the ability to live in the present moment.... All we have is the present moment. Here is the only place we can make free acts. Only in the present moment are we truly in contact with reality.” (Pg. 81)

 

As I read this quote in the section “Freedom and the Present Moment,” I finally saw—literally had an epiphany—of “what was going on” when I reacted with such intensity. I realized that I was disengaging from the reality of the present moment and projecting threat into the future. In the present moment, I was fine, but I wasn’t living in the present moment. This perceived “enemy” seized my imagination and catapulted me into the future, a future that I feared.

 

In truth, I do have grave concerns about the future. It seems reasonable to consider the dire consequences if authoritarian ideologies and the people who espouse them are granted power to govern our lives. However, if I’m to be of service to God and others, if I’m to act lovingly, freely, and creatively, I must live in the present moment, responding to what is real, not what is imagined!

 

Prayer: Oh, God-of-the-Eternal-Present, tether me to yourself and to this present moment where grace alone is available.  

 

 

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