Lately I’ve been reading lots of Brennan Manning. When you’re tired he can put you straight. Like when you’re feeling disappointed because you’re not some super-holy spiritual hero, you gotta read something of Brennan. When you’re feeling a little a little self-condemnatory because you didn’t finish the race like you thought you would, or you don’t know the reason why you just jumped into something that felt like it would be the change of your life, he shoots you in the arm with words like “ruthless trust,” which seem odd together. Like putting a pacifier and a sword together. It works, because there are days I get up and I just need to sit on dad’s lap and be told how great I am. He tells me wisely in this new book I’ve been reading that I need to bring my Poser (my religious, invented self that covers up my real feelings) out into the light with Jesus, and in order to do this I need to make friends with her, even though she is my arch-enemy.
“…Because whatever is denied can’t be healed. The Poser is part of us. Admitting how often we escape to our own little kingdoms, how we trivialize our relationship with God, how ambition drives us–admitting all this is a blow against the empire. But one blow won’t do the trick for most of us. We have to haul the Poser into the light of Christ’s presence day after day until the false king is deposed and the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.”
For some people this may be more difficult than others. Me, I can’t go for more than a month or two without some reality check on the state of my soul–not my spirit, my spirituality, but the soul-life, the life of hot chocolate and Bob Dylan, good conversation and too much sleep, the life of remembering old friends and reading philosophical books that go way over my head. Some people can stretch further. I think parenting stretches people out, and I’m not there yet, but when you completely become the sacrifice and no longer remember why you are sacrificing, it’s time to ask your God for a retreat. You may be in danger of living from expectations of others, and no longer from Him. I think Christians suck at recreational life. There are lots of books by wonderful mystics out there on sabbathing, but we have a hard time listening to our teachers. For Jews the sabbath is a LAW. Resting is required. God knew how hard it would be for us to stop trying to do, to create, to let our souls seep back to us, to listen.