I have been ashamed of some of my thoughts this week. I got mad at my kids for not focusing more during distance learning. I may have looked down on a teacher for imperfect grammar (like a really esoteric word choice issue). My initial thoughts about the President’s COVID-19 diagnosis were not generous.
When my daughter asked me if I was happy the President was sick, I said, “Of course not, I would never be happy about someone being ill.” And that’s true, but it’s also true that for just a moment, my anger at him transformed into a “serves-you-right” moment that I had to work my way out of.
The fact that I can admit my initial judgmental reaction is a sign of my growth. In the past, I would have been so ashamed of this unloving, cruel reaction that I would have denied it. Thanks to Father Clay, Brene Brown, Marianne Williamson and lots of other spiritual guides and mental health support I’m getting better at taking care of my human feelings so that I can move into a more loving place. Rather than skipping over them, pretending they aren’t there, and seeing them blow up someplace else. I’m trying to recognize them, learn what they have to teach me and move forward. I’m constantly feeling the tension between toxic positivity and an actual state of well being, and feeling my icky feelings help me get to the good stuff. This letter from Father Clay really sums it up!
It’s Okay to Be Human
From my own journey and listening to the journey of many people, I have found that one of the biggest obstacles to spiritual growth is not accepting that it is okay to be human.
To put it another way, it is only by living our humanity that spirituality takes place in us. Spirituality and growing in our humanity are the same thing.
God dwells in the human being, Jesus. god dwells in each on of us. We call that dwelling in us the Holy Spirit. That dwelling in us is just as real as the dwelling in Jesus, though not in the same way.
That dwelling in us is LOVE (God). I see the spiritual journey as our becoming more and more divine. We become more divine by becoming the human that we are all called to be. I see the transforming of our humanness as really becoming more and more fully human.
When I think of the Holy Spirit living within us, I see mysterious awareness of divinity and humanness, not in the sense that we become God but that we become more God-like. To put it another way, we don’t become LOVE, but we do become love. I don’t think that becoming love fully happens in this world. I believe that when this happens we call it resurrection. Another word for this state is heaven.
Heaven is not a place we go to as a reward for doing good deeds. Heaven is a state of being as fully divinized as it is possible in our humanity.
Being human includes pride, anger, lust, greed, gluttony, envy, sloth, power, self-preservation and self-deception, to name some. These are not bad, they are human. We humans are creatures. These qualities within us have an energy that can pull us in a direction that leads us to do unloving things. And to the degree that we are unloving, we are not divinized.
These energies are not to be denied. They are not to be squelched, which is impossible, but they must be owned. At the same time, we need to be aware and to acknowledge when we have moved into unloving behavior.
Because we are so prone to rationalize, it is easy for us not to see clearly what we are doing. Denial takes many forms in us humans.
We might think of these energies not as enemies of spiritual growth. They are not. The enemy is not the energies. Instead it is our denial of what is goin on, and our unwillingness to change. The blessing is that it is precisely our struggle with these energies that is a part of the path of spiritual growth. We will not always use them lovingly; we will sin. We should not be surprised at this nor should we expect that the struggles will end quickly.
It is usually good that the struggle isn’t easy and quick. If it were easy and quick we would think that we did it by ourselves and inflate our pride and ego needs. We wouldn’t recognize that it is LOVE working in us and healing us. Rather than honoring the transformation that comes from spiritual growth as a gift of spirit, it is easy to allow our ego to take credit for the progress. And this can prevent a maturing into the transformed state. Sometimes it just means being caught in a spiritual sin in place of a fleshly sin.
LOVE works in and through our sins, mistakes and flaws. It seems to me this is when LOVE works the best. That LOVE works through sins is amazing and comforting, for we all sin.
That is why sin, though bad in the small picture, may be seen in the big picture as a blessing.
Smile, God Loves You.
From the letter “It’s Okay to Be Human,” in Mysterious Love, by Father John Clay, (c) 2015