As we prepare to enter the Season of Advent, leading us forward to the Feast of the Incarnation, God among us, I invite you to consider engaging with this reflection of James Finley. Jim is a teacher and therapist at the Center for Action and Contemplation. https://cac.org/ He shares here his belief that we can only be truly free by healing our original wound—a loss of connection with divine love. Jim speaks here about the healing nature of seeing ourselves as God sees us. I have put in bold below what I believe is just a wonderful way for us to come before God and truly know God’s transformative love for us.
We can say that the deepest question of my life, really, is not what my father . . . or my mother thought of me, or what my husband or wife thinks of me, or what my pastor or my boss thinks of me. Really, the deepest issue isn’t what I think of me, but can I join God in knowing who God knows me to be? Can I join God in seeing who God sees me to be when God sees me? This is salvation.
In order to do this, I have to let go of my own present way of seeing things, and I discover I can’t. We’re afraid to lose the control that we think that we have over the life that we think that we’re living, and we’re addicted to what blinds us. . . . The mystery of the cross, then, is this mystery of just being liberated from this deep addiction to the illusion of an ultimately isolated self that has to make it on its own. To realize I’m in the presence of the love that loves us and takes us to itself. . . .
Jim envisions God saying to each of us, in the midst of our struggles:
You know what? . . . I’m in love with you. I’m so in love with you that I’m utterly giving myself away [to you] as invincibly precious in my eyes, in the midst of the unresolved matters of your heart. I find in these unresolved matters no obstacle to how infinitely precious you are to me as I pour out and give myself to you as life of my life. . . .
That’s faith in the higher power. But what if the brokenness has no authority at all over us? What if only love has the authority over us? That’s the essence of the gospel. The essence of the gospel is there. That’s why I say the miracle stories of Jesus, when you really look at the healing stories, they’re all the same, basically. A person brings suffering; Jesus listens to the suffering, responds to the suffering. But Jesus sees the essence of their suffering isn’t that their daughter died or they can’t see or they can’t walk, or they’re a prostitute or a tax collector. The issue of their suffering is they think they are what’s wrong with them. It’s the idolatry of their shame. Reflected in [Jesus’] eyes, they see their true face before they were born, hidden with Christ in God forever. That’s experiential salvation.
Fr. GeorgeTags: From the Clergy, Hope for the Journey