Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Dying to Self
Barbara wrote "I sometimes wonder what the purpose of life is. Does anyone know? If so please tell me. I never used to feel this way. I used to see the future as full of hope and possibilities, now I just wonder WHY life has to be so damn difficult so much of the time."
It's simple. Just die to yourself, as the church vernacular has it. We've all heard it said. Nobody ever explains what it means in the real world. I can understand that; it's a difficult concept to explain in words. I wonder if God feels frustration with the limited means of communication that most people allow. We're never taught to go any deeper, so people spin off onto their own mystic paths, trying desperately to put some living flesh on the dead bones of logical words.
How do you tell a modern person to listen to God? I have no idea, so I don't talk about it. But for the last couple of nights I've been intensively discussing-feeling-thinking-listening with God these concepts of life, trying to find a way through the intellectual tyranny of words. Still, words are an anchor; we've all seen what happens when people become too detached.
So, it seems to be that denying the self, or soul (the Greek word can be translated as either), means allowing all of my different voices to be heard. I can't speak for others but perhaps it's a route worth exploring.
No one likes tyranny. It's simple, though, and easy to enforce, so we end up with a lot of it. Intellect has always been the iron boot on top of me, but it has also been the steel frame that has allowed me to stand against hostile hot winds. What goes on for years becomes truth to the exclusion of anything else. Now it seems I need to deny that operational truth and become open to a more flexible way of building. Who holds those soft joints together? Who makes sense of all the different voices? The same One who quieted the clamor one night five years ago and let me out of the confusion.
It wasn't what I'd consider self-denial. It was a denial of my hard-edged management, but other parts of me were allowed to speak. For a time they gained confidence and were able to speak up, and life was more balanced, but then I got scared and tried to reimpose logic. Who could trust God? Didn't he always play tricks on people, and leave them stranded at critical moments? Aren't we all supposed to be independent? Where is the truth? I tried, much as I had in the late 1970s, to find the truth on my own terms. It's hard to trust anyone when they usually perpetuate, if not lies, at least the same old tired answers that even I know don't work.
God is different. Some of the most deeply buried voices in me turned to God as a sunflower does to the sun, and enjoyed his light and life. This was incomprehensible. What did it mean? Logic! We must understand!
Well, understanding comes, but it's not just words. That still small voice speaks in many ways, and my own quiet parts, once I deny logic complete control, resonate. Rain the desert, quietly penetrating the dust.
Larry, this was good. As usual I need to let it sink in and process it. Thanks for sharing your heart with your words.