What loneliness is more lonely than distrust? – George Eliot
To forgive another person from the heart is an act of liberation. We set that person free from the negative bonds that exist between us. We say, “I no longer hold your offense against you” But there is more. We also free ourselves from the burden of being the “offended one.” As long as we do not forgive those who have wounded us, we carry them with us or, worse, pull them as a heavy load. The great temptation is to cling in anger to our enemies and then define ourselves as being offended and wounded by them. Forgiveness, therefore, liberates not only the other but also ourselves. It is the way to the freedom of the children of God.
I urge you earnestly not to spend time thinking about the past. If your time was well-used, then let us give God glory. If it was wasted, let us despise it and trust in the goodness of the heavenly Father. Therefore I exhort you to set your mind at rest with a consoling thought that any part of your life that was not well spent has already been forgiven by our most tender God. – Padre Pio
Many voices ask for our attention. There is a voice that says, “Prove that you are a good person.” Another voice says, “You’d better be ashamed of yourself.” There also is a voice that says, “Nobody really cares about you,” and one that says, “Be sure to become successful, popular, and powerful.” But underneath all these often very noisy voices is a still, small voice that says, “You are my Beloved, my favor rests on you.” That’s the voice we need most of all to hear. To hear that voice, however, requires special effort; it requires solitude, silence, and a strong determination to listen.
That’s what prayer is. It is listening to the voice that calls us “my Beloved.”
– Henri Nouwen
photo: Abiquiu, NM – September 2018
Still my unforgiving thoughts, the grudges I nurse from my past, from the betrayals I’ve suffered, from the negativity and abuses I’ve been subject to. Quiet in me the guilt I carry from my own betrayals. Still in me all that’s wounded, unresolved, bitter, and unforgiving. Give the quiet that comes from forgiveness. – Ronald Rolheiser
Fear is an addiction for a lot of people. They don’t know how to motivate themselves without being afraid of something. They don’t know how not to worry. When you’re living an inauthentic life, you’re going to worry because your subconscious, your spirit, knows your life has no truth. That is why we are creating so many fearful people.
The more illusory stuff we have to protect, the more fearful we will be. There’s almost a correlation between fears that people have and the false lives they live. Beneath all the layers of behavior, it is fear that brings more people into counseling than any other emotion. The counselor’s role is to help people identify what is behind their fear. Real lives start then. – Richard Rohr
I posted the above on Facebook a number of years ago. I knew the truth of this then – that it described my inner life, my false self – but was unable to admit to myself that fear and shame were mixed in with my other addictions – and pride, misguided pride, kept me from admitting it to myself, to another human being, or to God.
As Rumi wrote:
Sometimes the cold and dark of a cave
give the opening we most want
photo: Grindstone, ME – September 2019
Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self.
This is the man that I want to be but who cannot exist, because God does not know anything about him. And to be unknown of God is altogether too much privacy.
– Thomas Merton
Three years ago – a little more than 1 month sober – I was in a mental hospital after a suicide attempt. I was pretty sure I could fool the people there into thinking I was ok, get out, and do the job right the next time.
This morning at one of my favorite AA meetings, I saw a woman I met at that hospital. She caught my eye and we smiled at each other across the room. We spoke for a few moments after the meeting and hugged.
She looked healthy, happy and I could see that she thought the same about me.
I have not forgotten all that I did in the past. I did all that, yes. Today, my addictions do not define me.
Thank you, Alcoholics Anonymous. Thank God.