Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Way of the Heart

I stayed back from church this morning, and after a tussle with restarting our electricity (that's a story in itself) I sat down with my journal, a little Rich Mullins music, a Coke Zero (because as I've said before it's never too early in the morning) and The Way of the Heart, by Henri Nouwen.

I'm a fan of Nouwen because he speaks about being authentic and broken and completely loved as children of God. In what I read today he talked about solitude and what it does for us. I admit I like being alone, but the solitude he's talking about is a place where we can get away from the voices that try to tell us we are anything but who we are in Christ. We enter solitude intentionally to meet with Christ, and in so doing, we see ourselves for who we really are. We must see our sin, our brokenness, and see how his grace covers it. He says, "As we come to realize it is not we who live, but Christ who lives in us, that he is our true self, we can slowly let our compulsions melt away and begin to experience the freedom of the children of God."

The next chapter tells the outcome of this solitude - compassion. "Solitude molds self-righteous people into gentle, caring, forgiving persons who are so deeply convinced of their own great sinfulness and so fully aware of God's even greater mercy that their life itself becomes ministry . . . the compassionate person is so aware of the suffering of others that it is not even possible for him or her to dwell on their sins . . . in solitude we realize that nothing human is alien to us, that the roots of all conflict, war, injustice, cruelty, hatred, jealousy, and envy are deeply anchored in our own hearts."

In other words, when I lay myself open before God in solitude, I come to see myself - my sin in its entirety, and God's amazing love poured out over it. And in light of how He has shown mercy to me, how can I begin to judge my neighbor? Instead, the mercy I have received will overflow in compassion toward those around me.

I confess I needed to hear this today because there are people I know who behave badly - both in my personal life and in the world in general. It is so tempting to judge them, to be angry and vengeful, and want to right injustices. After reading this today, I spent time praying for them, asking God to help me see their brokenness, to see my OWN brokenness more clearly so that I might show compassion.

1 comment:

Nonna said...

Thank you, Gina. This was a wonderful reminder of how we should handle our difficult situations.