I just started reading a book by Henri Nouwen called The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey from Anguish to Freedom. It was written during the darkest and most difficult days of his life battling depression and loss. The book is written as a series of excerpts, notes to himself, on his painful and liberating experience in learning to love and accept himself fully through God’s amazing Grace. I read this message today and I thought I would share it with you, I hope it touches you as much as it touched me.
“Your true identity is as a child of God. This is the identity you have to accept. Once you have claimed it and settled in it, you can live in a world that gives you much joy as well as pain. You can receive the praise as well as the blame that comes to you as an opportunity for strengthening your basic identity, because the identity that makes you free is anchored beyond all human praise and blame. You belong to God, and it is as a child of God that you are sent into the world.
You need spiritual guidance; you need people who can keep you anchored in your true identity. The temptation to disconnect from that deep place in you where God dwells and to let yourself be drowned in the praise or blame of the world always remains.
Since that deep place in you where your identity as a child of God is rooted has been unknown to you for a long time, those who were able to touch you there had a sudden and often overwhelming power over you. They became a part of your identity. You could no longer live without them. But they could not fulfill that divine role, so they left you, and you felt abandoned. But it is precisely that experience of abandonment that called you back to your true identity as a child of God.
Only God can fully dwell in that deepest place in you and give you a sense of safety. But the danger remains that you will let other people run away with your sacred centre, thus throwing you into anguish.
It might take a great deal of time and discipline to fully reconnect your deep, hidden self and your public self, which is known, loved, and accepted but also criticized by the world. Gradually, though, you begin feeling more connected and become more fully who you truly are – a child of God. There lies your real freedom.”
I don’t know about you but I have let more people than I would like to admit “run away with my sacred centre” (see the article Heart to Heart on the importance of guarding your heart). Let us pray together that we can learn to accept our identity as children of God, understand the freedom that comes with that role, truly live it and put it into practice daily, and discipline ourselves so that we may be able to connect with people at the level God desires for us – without replacing Him in our hearts. May He lead us on this journey and strengthen us.
He is with you.