Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life…
“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 J.M. Nouwen
The highlighted portion above, in this amazing passage, almost made it into my sermon this morning at St. James. It’s so awesome I couldn’t NOT proclaim it. So, Facebook friends, I would welcome your thoughts about it.
It’s true, I believe, of individuals AND communities, and a vital piece to recognize for achieving the graced health which is our birthright and out of which we can truly do bold things for Jesus’ cause of justice. I am pondering further today and tomorrow – in honor of Dr. King – the energy connections between the kind of self-rejection Nouwen describes and the weakness and timidity of the white moderates he so righteously critiques in Letter from a Birmingham Jail. (We read portions of that today in worship. Wow. It never ceases to feel like Jesus’ Gospel of Repentance in full force…)
In my coaching, I serve folks who are beginning to wrestle with this great enemy of self-rejection. I also support many who have already achieved much liberation, but whose energy is blocked in current areas of life and service. They’re LGBT and straight, single and in relationships, old and young, lay and clergy. Individuals and churches. Together, we are embracing a path that is very very distinct from the religious paths on which many of us began. Many of our earlier paths have shaped our habits of self-rejection, and can sadly thus be seen as creating obstacles to the REAL spiritual life.
In a lovely reminder from Romans 8… Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus. No matter your faith background or desire for formal labels or affiliations today, drinking this in (from the Living Well!) will empower you to do great things for yourself and for this world so in need of your creative power. Let’s explore, together, what that looks like for you.
Are you ready? I will be thrilled to support you in any way I can.
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