What is your state of being? Are you anxious? Worried? Angry? Upset? With what are you preoccupied? What haven’t you got that you think you need? Or are you living in peace? Finding joy in your life? Fulfilled? Trusting?
Asking about the state of being of someone, their own interior experience, is like giving them a litmus test: it shows whether one’s being is acidic or basic, that is, more neutralizing. I would go further and say that our state of being can be toxic or it can be benign to ourselves and to others. I have an image in my mind of Pigpen from the Peanuts comic strip surrounded by a cloud of dirt which contaminates everything he comes in contact with. Our “dirt” communicates and affects everyone we meet whether we want it to or not or whether we are aware of it.
Are you preoccupied with past events or worried about the future? Can you live in the present, be present to what is happening right now without polluting it with the problems of the past or the worries about the future? Are you free of the emotional associations that your memories evoke? Have you let Christ into your deeper, more difficult memories to heal them, to heal you?
What challenges us in life evokes these more difficult memories and their accompanying emotions. I had an experience of this recently three days after I had moved to Charlotte from Baltimore. Every Sunday after church I go to my daughter’s house to let their puppy out of its crate and take it for a walk. Then after their church is over, we have lunch together, all seven of us. It’s a great tradition.
I had texted her the night before about where we’d meet and she hadn’t answered me, but I figured she’d let me know. I had felt a little rocky earlier in the morning, just noting that I wasn’t in great shape emotionally. So when an hour goes by and I haven’t heard from them I was feeling rejected and realizing at the same time that she never would just ignore my text, so I thought that something was wrong, but didn’t know what. I was just heading home to get something to eat when she called. Her phone had failed to send her text last night . There was a meeting after church which delayed them. That’s all it was.
But there was my rockier state of being evoked maybe by having just moved, definitely by feeling left out. I had been in dialogue with the Lord about this while it was happening, realizing that it was coming up for a reason—to be offered up for healing. It wasn’t exactly fun to re-experience those old feelings, but I hadn’t known they were still operating under the surface until this whole scenario evoked them.
Peace, joy, love, faithfulness, goodness, kindness, gentleness, forbearance and self-control—these fruit of the Spirit named in Galatians 5 are the state of being for which we yearn, that we wish so much we could rest in. Like in my example above our emotional memories are the main reason we can’t live in these states of blessing and grace. We have to invite Christ to enter into the depths of these memories, the worse they are, the more we need his healing presence. But until we let him into these depths where shame and guilt lie, we are unable to enjoy these grace-filled states named in the fruit of the Spirit. Until we fully mourn our losses and acknowledge how difficult some things have been for us, we will cling to the past and it’s horrors. We cannot heal ourselves, we can only put ourselves in the hands of the One who heals. And until we are in the process of being healed, we will not be gifted with peace, love, joy and the rest.
It may seem to be a leap from what I am writing here to Jesus’ saying that “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness.”[Matthew 6:22-23 NIV, also Luke 11:33-34] Our emotional memories of shame and guilt tend to cloud our experience of life and entice us to judge it from the point of view of the original trauma and its effect on us. So, to restate the passage, if your vision of the world and what happens to you and others in it is healthy, free of any traumatic, unhealed memories or of any attempts to put yourself down, if you are able to see with more of God’s vision of the world, then your being will reflect this view of life, full of the fruit of the Spirit which reflect absolute trust in the ways of God and in his love for you.
On the other hand if your eyes are unhealthy—clouded with distant memories and preoccupations, if you can’t see reality clearly as it unfolds before you today, then your state of being is darker.
If we are in a deep relationship to God then anytime these emotion-laden memories arise, they are seen by us as signals of “stuff” in us needing to be healed; we lift them up to the Healer of us all, to finally be free of the heavy yoke we carry as long as we hold onto them. When we see them as signals when they arise rather than as a reason to identify with them emotionally,—we register the signal: “oh, I didn’t know that was still in me. I lift these feelings/memories up to Christ for healing.” And we find over time that the healing happens.
The darkness in our vision comes from us not letting Christ in to do the healing. We cling to these memories and what they have done to our self-esteem. They have made us who we are, they formed us (usually in our childhood) and we so identify with them that we are very reluctant to let them go. We nurse the grievances. We misunderstand their impact on us and don’t see how they keep us in the same old place, regurgitating the same emotional response, putting up the same walls between us and God. This is the real damage they do, because until we can be healed, we can only have a very limited, diminished relationship with God. They are the walls we have erected to protect us from the outside world. And they also keep us from God.
Because of our free will Christ will not just barge through the walls and tear them down and heal us. He needs an invitation from us, a door opened to our deeper hurts, before he will do the healing. Jesus always asked, “What do you want?” before he healed someone. Christ is asking that of us: “What do you want? Do you want to be healed? Will you go where I want to take you? To live more abundantly? More purposefully? Will you let me in? Will you let me bring you to where the fruit of the Spirit describes the way that you are?
Questions to ponder over the week: Do I want to be healed? Do I want to be free of the trauma in me? Do I want to live a limited life or an unlimited one? Will I trust the Lord and his invitation?
Check these out on You Tube
Videos; “Be Peace Now” and “Jesus’ Message in a Nutshell”
Audios: “Why we can’t feel God’s love” and “Let’s not start with the rules.”