It seems there are only two things we can give God: trust and acceptance of poverty.
Confidence, not love, is basic. Love is the summit, and confidence leads to love. I am sure it is confidence we need to develop and pay most attention to; all the rest will flow from it. We have to take God at his word, "Ask and you will receive, seek and you shall find."
We really have to believe that God wants to give us nothing less than himself, is only waiting to pour himself into us. We have to take him at his word as he reveals himself in the Gospels — the friend of sinners, one who throws his arms around the wayward, ungrateful son and kisses him in all his filthy rags. This is God.
Does our disposition of soul respond to this God or have we formed our own image of him projected from human experience? The biggest obstacle to trust seems to be a wrong idea of God, a projection of our self-image. We feel unlovable therefore God cannot love us, or so we think. By faith we know this is nonsense, but the feeling obstinately persists and can stifle and overwhelm us.
How can we tackle this feeling of worthlessness, for it is not on the rational but on the emotional level? I think we have to recognize that we cannot get rid of it by sheer willing. All the meditations in the world won't shake it off. Therefore it must be accepted. I have to accept its falsity and pain and then act against it — talk to God about it. When downcast at some revelation of misery, when I feel I haven't even begun in the spiritual life, when I see myself the prey to evil inclinations, tempted to anger, bitterness, resentment, jealousy...when I am helpless, distracted at prayer, feeling completely unlovable...then is the moment for glorious confidence.
We must trust God enough to know that he would never leave as in a state of weakness without a purpose. He wants us to glorify him in it. It is at moments like these, when we feel utterly disgusted with ourselves, that we must turn to God with all our heart.
Ruth Burrows. "Ask and You Will Receive." from Through Him, With Him, in Him: Meditations on the Liturgical Seasons (London, UK: Sheed & Ward Ltd., 1987).
Reprinted by permission of Bloomsbury Publishing.
Ruth Burrows is the pen name of Sister Rachel, O.C.D., a nun of the Carmelite monastery at Quidenham in Norwich, England. Among her books are Guidelines for Mystical Prayer, Essence of Prayer, and To Believe in Jesus.Copyright © 1987 Bloomsbury Publishing Pic
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