Posted by: agapeflower | June 10, 2009

For Those Pesky Internal Struggles

In terms of the spiritual life, people usually identify with the struggle with “outward” influences: chastity, for example, or the temptations having to do with power or money.  But if you’re like me, and struggle mainly with “self” and who you are and who you’re supposed to be, I have two good reading recommendations for you.

The first, “A Glimpse of Jesus,” by Brennan Manning, is a fantastic book. (His best-known titles are Ruthless Trust and The Ragamuffin’s Gospel, I think.)  In it, he describes the characteristics of self-hatred and how to work through it (mainly through one’s growing relationship with Jesus and how He understood people):

“Jesus, a man like us in all things but ungratefulness, our brother who never knew sin, estranges us from self-hatred through a love that keeps no score of wrongs and a mercy that surpasses human understanding. In the eyes of the Master whom we have failed, we detect the infinite compassion of the Father and see revealed, in Jesus, the human face of God…’The savior knows that we have failures, even when we have committed ourselves to him. The savior redeems us from all personal failure by telling his followers that in spite of our sin we have value in the eyes of God the Father…we are still precious in the eyes of God, of Jesus, and of his holy community.'”

In Rev. James Martin, SJ’s book “Becoming Who You Are,” he talks about sanctity being attainable by becoming the person who we are, not the person we want to be. By focusing only on the desire for the traits we see in others, we deny those that God made in us.  It’s a neat little read, focusing mainly on two holy men and their own journeys through their battles with self to attain holiness, Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen.  

“I thought that being holy meant changing an essential part of who I was, suppressing my personality, not building on it.  I was eradicating my natural desires and inclinations, rather than asking God to sanctify and even perfect them.  Here’s the way I thought about it: I knew that I certainly wasn’t a holy person, so therefore must mean being a different person.”

Happy reading!

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