Embracing Paradox

“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them, every day begin the task anew.”

— St. Francis de Sales

It is hard to be a disciple of Jesus. This is why so many fail miserably in seeking to follow our Lord. It is a struggle we fight against our own natural nature, the powers and principalities that seek our failure, and all the temptations this world brings our way. This is even more true for one who seeks to go the disciple’s way to find the mystic way.

Not an excuse. We live by grace.

Outside of our Imago Dei, our basic emotional states are variations of fear and anger. We fear being vulnerable, powerless, unacceptable, not good enough, useless, nothing, unlovable, or a failure. Unredeemed anger may manifest as resentment, frustration, criticism, or rage, yet it is a secondary emotion that arises from our fears and shame. Lost in our spiritual crap, we wallow in states of fear, shame, and anger.[1]

Those of us who have had do wallow due to our own ignorance and arrogance psychically toxic shame, fear, and anger are well aware of the suffering one experiences in such a state. The despair and pain can be overwhelming. The blackness of blindness to any hope take one down a very dark path indeed.

In spiritual direction I always ask the pilgrims I am helping to be aware of the FLAG they own. What FLAG is that? Fears, Longings, aching wounds, and gifts unappreciated make up the FLAG we need to be concerned about. Any one of these four areas of our lives can have a radical negative effect on our spiritual lives. (FLAG is not a creation of my own but one I have adapted to my life from the book, Practicing Compassion -Upper Room).

Fears may be real or imagined. Fears are those things that seem to be out of our control. Fears are things we perceive can hurt us. Fears reveal our weakness, our frailty, our finiteness, and fears can reveal our limitations. Because of this we need to be aware of our fears and strive to limit the damage they can do in our lives.

There are some rather passages like the one listed next that deserve deep meditation and even deeper contemplation.

“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.: (Matt. 10:28 NRS) This verse may give strength and courage for the physical threats to our wellbeing but does very little for the fears we face in our spiritual lives. God could destroy us at any time. God will not do this.

Did you ever wonder who is the one who would like to destroy our body and soul in hell?

Fear is not a bad thing if it is managed by love. Perfect love, perfect trust, perfect faith has no need to fear or to ever be feared. Here is a powerful paradox. As we grow in our love of God we will grow in our fear of God. As we grow in our fear of God we will also grow in our love for God.

So, if there is a way to move beyond our own FLAG, our shame, our guilt to be more at home and more intimate with the love God offers we should seek out this way and make it a practical part of our lives.

I have found several aids. I would love to here what may have helped you.

[1] Skurja, Catherine. Paradox Lost . Whitaker House. Kindle Edition.