For a very long time I have been drawn to the idea of becoming more positive in my thinking and living in the present moment. Our lives can overflow with activities and it is so easy to get preoccupied with the past or to feel anxiety about the future. We are all a work in progress but what a glorious work it is. It really is a work of love, a love for God, for the gift of life and a love for self and others. This is why we seek to improve ourselves in these ways.
For many years I have sought to be a person of peace. It is not an easy task. Peace begins with me. This involves finding peace in my own soul concerning my relationship with God, myself and others. It is complicated. Peace doesn’t always look like we think it will. Sometimes for there to be peace we have to have boundaries that restrict an unhealthy relationship. Sometimes peace is painful. We must begin the process of forgiveness where we have been deeply wounded. Sometimes peace comes from saying no to abuse. Sometimes peace comes from giving in and yielding in a situation. Peace takes courage. How can we work for peace within our world if we do not find it within our own selves? Peace is a work in progress too. We must be patient. Some things take time.
Lately, I’ve come to understand a new quest that is necessary for this peace I seek. It is the practice of listening to the voices of love. I so often am harassed by a very ugly critic inside my head. Much of it comes from voices from my past that I have internalized; some from the dark side of myself. I am very tired of this. So, I am seeking to listen to the voices that come from God, the best part of me and the voices of those that love me, and to distance myself from the harsh, unkind, and sometimes cruel voices.
One of my favorite authors is Henri Nouwen. I recently discovered a few of his quotes that address what I am talking about so beautifully. I want to share them with you. Here they are:
"Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking, "Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody." ... [My dark side says,] I am no good... I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the "Beloved." Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.
~ Henri Nouwen
…"the real "work" of prayer is to become silent and listen to the voice that says good things about me.
To gently push aside and silence the many voices that question my goodness and to trust that I will hear the voice of blessing-- that demands real effort. "
~ Henri Nouwen
May we all seek to be peace makers. May we be directed and healed and nurtured by the voices of LOVE in our lives. I think Henri is truly on to something here. With Love, Jeanne