Are You There Bear?
This it the title of a children’s book that I used to read my eldest son. With each turn of the page you journey through the house trying to find the bear. Of course the anticipation builds with each page you turn, but you don’t find the bear until the very last page. He is hiding. It is the readers who have done the hard work of finding him.
Do you ever feel like that with God? Are you there? Where are you? I can’t find you God!
When my husband died I thought that the intense suffering I was experiencing would somehow give me a free supernatural pass. In other words, I would have a visitation: an angel would appear before me with an explanation, some direction or a reason. I had reached the maximum required pain levels and had suffered so much, that maybe even Jesus himself would come and sit on the end of the bed and somehow this would compensate for my loss.
None of these things happened of course.
I grew up with a dualistic understanding of God. That God is separate and distant. Now I understand that because of incarnation we are able to say that God is here, God is with us. When Jesus came he was perfectly human and perfectly divine. He was both. Yet we often fail to see the humanity in Christ. We forget that he was divinity clothed in humanity. God is not ‘out there’ he within us. God is in everything, he is within us and he is within everything that he created. We carry his DNA.
I spent most of my life waiting for God to come. Never understanding that he was already with me. I didn’t know how to find him within the core of me. The spiritual journey is just this, understanding that He is within us and finding ways to draw from the centre.
In the centre we learn how:
To be still – to know that He is God.
To be quiet enough to hear his voice.
To rest from our pain and labour and trust the journey.
These are not easy things to do. The one positive experience from my deep loss was the understanding of my complete and utter reliance on God and my profound need of Him.
The spiritual journey is always about what we do with our pain. We must learn how to transform our pain. As Richard Rohr says:
“If we do not transform our pain we will transmit it”
At the time of my husband’s death I saw Jesus primarily as a problem solver. If he would just appear then he would take away this horrific pain. If he had done that then I would have missed the lesson on how pain can be used to transform us.
Suffering seems to be the only thing that gets our immediate attention. It makes us realise we are not in control. When Jesus was on the cross he cried out:
- “Why have you forsaken me”: Are you there God? Where are you?
- He then says “Father forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing.”
- Finally he says “into your hands I commit my spirit”.
These are the three transformative stages of pain.
1: The Agony: Where are you? Why is this happening?
2: Character Transformation: Anger – forgiveness. Anxiety – peace. Fear – love.
3: Letting Go: Not my will but your will be done. I give everything to you.
What was designed to kill, maim and destroy Jesus was transformed to life and victory.
If we don’t allow our wounds to be washed and cleansed by the spirit of God then the alternative is that our wounds fester and we become bitter, smelly, toxic and cynical. If you go through life letting the wounds mount up without dealing with them, you become a toxic person and you begin to poison everyone around you. You are not able to deal with all of that negativity and cynicism and it begins to seep out of your pores.
THIS is what we need to be saved from. This is why we need the power of Christ in our lives. We can become free from these wounds and become pathways of grace. We can let go of the traumas and be transformed.
If you don’t embrace your pain, if you don’t actively work toward healing and wellness then the pain actually takes on a life of its own. It begins to define you, to own you, to mould you and shape you.
Eckart Tolle defines this “accumulated pain” as “a negative energy field that occupies your body and mind.”
In your mind, it makes you judgmental and negative. In your body, it makes you fearful and angry. You can observe this energy in yourself as a kneejerk, self-protective reaction to everything around you. I emphasize the word reaction here because there’s no clear, conscious decision to think or act in this way. Tolle says, “If you look on [the pain body] as an invisible entity in its own right, you are getting quite close to the truth.”
If we engage in healing work, we identify with the pain and we are compassionate toward it. We embrace it and envisage it and then we work toward letting it go.
We are transformed how? We are transformed by renewing our minds. To rewire the way that we think. To think on what is good, and pure and noble. To put aside pain, fear, un-forgiveness and revenge. To cultivate the fruits of the spirit of God. The harvest of the spirit or the signs that the spirit of God is within us are: goodness, meekness, self control, faith, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness.
These are the fruits that we are to share with everyone around us. When we share this fruit with those in our world it is life saving and life-giving. When we serve up the fruit of the spirit to those in our world then we are offering Shalom to everyone that we meet. We are declaring that pain will not define us or shape us into something that we were never meant to be. We are saying that it is possible to overcome adversity and live with a sweet spirit.
I am not saying that this is an easy task, it is not. But it does get EASIER. In the words of Pantene, ‘It may not happen over night but it will happen’. Just as a fruit tree does not bear fruit when it is still a seedling. It takes time to grow and mature and in that process it needs to be nourished and watered and pruned. From little things big things grow.
Now I am quoting TV adds so its time to finish this blog post. lol
Shalom and love to you all. xxx Lisa
Live long and prosper… okay really going now….
Feature photo credit: Matt Lawson Photography
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