Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Spiritual Life’s Greatest Enemy

“Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the ‘Beloved’.”  
— Henri Nouwen (1932–1996)
There is no condemnation more mysteriously or tenuously dangerous than the condemnation we inflict upon ourselves. Sure, we are rejected a lot in this life, but we only feel rejected when we reject ourselves. If we were to, otherwise, refuse the impact of others’ rejections of us, we would enjoy much more inner peace, because presumably our thinking would divert us onto much more productive thoughts.
Self-rejection, or the hating of oneself, because we believe another person and their view more than our own (which is normal), is a regrettable act—we are given to it when we deal in life without God’s help.
Even many Christians still suppose a faith in God that allows such self-condemnation. They may have never learned that, in salvation, they are freed of this, to the very extent that they acknowledge they have been delivered from this very thing. But, we all feel rejected from time to time.
It’s up to us to live a life free of feeling rejected.
God will force us to do nothing. By divine grace we have been saved, but the healing is up to us; we must approach it, desire it, and take every road in order to get there.
Being saved is no guarantee of healing. And healing of the propensity to deal in self-rejection is an ongoing need. We may need to be continually reminded.
Acknowledging Something So Deep in Our Identities
Woven into the fabric of the identities that cling to our beings is this felt sense of inner shame at each bout of rejection we have dealt with—the thousands of those.
The phenomenon of existence involves rejection and being alive qualifies us. It’s a morbid fact.
Rarely do people learn by themselves that such rejections are neither helpful nor right; by the way they make us feel.
Ideally we should be resilient enough to cope with things that go against us without feeling rejected. And it’s important to do this, for feeling rejected is impetus toward self-rejection. When we note the damage this causes us, spiritually, we repel such feelings by noting what God has said.
Due Jesus’ obedience on the cross we no longer condemned. Knowing this, even in the midst of many failures, helps us to not take rejections too harshly, or even harshly at all.
Rejecting the self, because we’ve been rejected, is a spiritual travesty. God deems us Beloved. The Father gave up the Son so that we, the forgiven, could live free of the strains of rejection. Whoever God has accepted should never be condemned.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

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