The simplest spiritual discipline is some degree of solitude and silence. But it’s the hardest, because none of us want to be with someone we don’t love. Besides that, we invariably feel bored with ourselves, and all of our loneliness comes to the surface. We won’t have the courage to go into that terrifying place without Love to protect us and lead us, without the light and love of God overriding our own self-doubt. Such silence is the most spacious and empowering technique in the world, yet it’s not a technique at all. It’s precisely the refusal of all technique.
Silence is the place our souls long for and the place we resist the most. In the last post we explored the idea of our truest self being revealed and healed in God’s presence. What does this healing accomplish?
As the veil draws back, revealing my truest, tired, and broken self, I am left vulnerable and exposed. Is Love enough for even the darkest places in my being? Love like this is threatening and attractive. Love like this has the potential to leave me different and it takes courage to embrace that kind of revolution. Accepting this Love means that I give up ruling my own life and trust that another’s rule is best. Who wouldn’t be threatened by that invitation?
Yet, this is healing at its deepest place in the human soul. We are powerless to create it, control it, cause it, or even manage it. And this is where modern religion has failed. Religion has become a behavior modification plan. “Don’t do bad things; instead come to church,” has become religion’s mantra. And while I hope God’s people aren’t out doing harm in the world, I truly wonder if we realize that we have missed the gift God wants to give. God isn’t about managing our behavior in order to transform us; God is about healing our souls so that the behavior we name as good flows from transformation. We can’t reverse the stream!
When we sit in silence with God, attempting to hold our hearts and minds open, we are Loved in deeper, truer places than we have ever known. And this Love doesn’t just change our actions or words, this Love creates a new heart from God materials! We are remade, rebuilt, reconstructed from the inside out to resemble God.
Our transformation isn’t a change like we use the word change. It is not a new diet or a new productivity app. This isn’t anything we add on ourselves. “In the beginning, God…” kind of material floods and alters the substance of our being. Silence is not a way to control God’s work in us; it is just the opposite. Silence is where we surrender to rebirth so that we more closely resemble our brother Jesus in the actual DNA of our souls.
If you have hung on so far, this may the point where you want to walk away. I would understand because the following truth hurts me, too. It isn’t until we have been transformed by this Love that we have good to give the world. Before that, the love we try to give is a feeble shadow of God’s Love, and a bargain brand of the original does more harm than good. Our love runs out of energy and stops where people need us most. Our love is like watery gravy that slips off spoons and never nourishes. Our love looks like an oasis but is just a mirage. If we depend on our own love, we invite others to drink sand and pretend it quenches their thirst. It stings to consider that my attempts at being loving in the world may have done more harm than good, but truth requires confession. When I resist God’s invitation to silence, I lose my ability to love others.
But God’s Love has a multiplying effect! Once it has cocooned around our heart in silence and done its transformative work, we are reborn as butterflies that carry that Love beyond ourselves. This is the Love that changes the world! And unlike all the metaphors that I can use, God’s Love will do this work in me every single day.
I can experience vulnerability protected by Love. Every. Single. Day.
I can be Loved in the depths of my being. Every. Single. Day.
I can surrender to transformation. Every. Single. Day.
I can carry true Love into the world. Every. Single. Day.
And so can you.
The only thing you can do wrong is not show up. God is calling, inviting, hoping, longing for you. Will you rest in God’s Love today?
Rhesa Higgins is a spiritual director and experienced retreat leader. She holds a B.S. from ACU in youth and family ministry and is a graduate of HeartPaths, a three-year program in spiritual formation and direction. Rhesa serves as the founding Director for eleven:28 ministries (www.eleven28ministries.org) in Dallas, Texas, a non-profit dedicated to supporting the spiritual vitality of ministers. Rhesa is also a partner with Hope Network. She is married to Chad and together they are raising their three kids. Rhesa loves good coffee, dark chocolate, baseball, theatre, and most any good book.