Today, I look out into the rain, and feel the rain falling inside of myself. I struggle with the rain inside of me, knowing that I need sunshine, and I need to let myself feel beautiful, and safe, and well.
It is time to lighten my heart, to lay down some of life’s burdens, and to move ahead, with a lighter step and a joyful heart.
Henri Nouwen writes of his own struggles and journey through bleakness and angst:
“Here lies the core of my spiritual struggle: the struggle against self-rejection, self-contempt, and self-loathing. It is a very fierce battle because the world and its demons conspire to make me think about myself as worthless, useless, and negligible. Many consumerist economies stay afloat by manipulating the low self-esteem of their consumers and by creating spiritual expectations through material means. As long as I am kept ‘small’, I can easily be seduced to buy things, meet people, or go places that promise a radical change in self-concept even though they are totally incapable of bringing this about. But every time I allow myself to be thus manipulated or seduced, I will have still more reasons for putting myself down and seeing myself as the unwanted child.”
---Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son (1992)p. 107.
I can choose to wallow, to tear my hair, and to drown my spirit in the rain that falls within me, or I can take inventory, find my bootstraps, yank sharply upward, and “git ‘er done”. The sun is always shining above the clouds and the rain, anyway.
I have been moving forward most of my life, and I know that I can move forward. It is, after all, the only reasonable direction to travel.
And, the first step in that journey is forgiveness. Forgiveness is a complex house, its closets stuffed with a host of thoughts and emotions, and, in some of the boxes, some really ugly stuff that, at some point in my life, truly needs to be sorted through and tossed. There might be a few gems and treasures in those boxes, though, and thus, I will need to take inventory.
I also have my supply of trash bags close at hand, so I can toss freely and often. Trash bags are cheap and plentiful, and sit there on the shelf, begging to be filled, to be of use.
After all, the trash man comes on Wednesday, and I want to get my money’s worth for that service.
“I now see that the hands that forgive, console, heal and offer a festive meal must become my own.” Henri Nouwen, ibid, p. 119.
No one else can do this work. No one else can walk into my closet and begin the sorting and the tossing that needs to be done. This is my work, and mine alone.