Thursday, October 11, 2012

When Self Meets God

Solitude with God, getting alone with God, is, for many people, threatening. Solitude-fearers avoid facing their own selves and live inauthentic lives that cover the self up, keeping themselves busy with things like money, sex, power, and multitasking. God is viewed as Someone who will discover them, and then punish them for what He finds.

Maumee Bay State Park, Ohio
It's true that God is the Great Discoverer, the Great Uncoverer. In my times of conversing with God alone I have been brought to face my own self. This is very, very good. This is required if one is to mature and live an authentic, meaning-filled life.

"Knowing thyself," argued Socrates, is a virtue, a good thing. Kierkegaard screamed against the many people, to include the "Christians" of his time, who melted into a face-hiding metaphysical unity with "the herd." And Jesus often went to "a lonely place" to be alone with God and pray. We are told this was his "custom," his habit. It is good for every Jesus-follower to do the same.

Henri Nouwen is one who discovered the self within, in all its imago dei-ness, in all its corruption. Will Hernandez explains Nouwen's experience when self meets God. Hernandez writes:

"Just what do we contend with when we delve into our interiority, into our so-called inner sanctuary? What can we realistically expect to face if we dare to enter into solitude with ourselves and God? Nouwen speaks plainly in revealing what awaits us there. He says, “In solitude we meet our demons, our addictions, our feelings of lust and anger, and our immense need for recognition and approval” Yet he hastens to add, “But if we do not run away, we will meet there also the One who says, ‘Do not be afraid. I am with you, and I will guide you through the valley of darkness’” (BJ:Ibid.). No wonder Nouwen identifies solitude elsewhere as “the place of the great struggle and the great encounter— the struggle against the compulsion of the false self, and the encounter with the loving God who offers himself as the substance of the new self.”" (Hernandez, Will, Henri Nouwen and Spiritual Polarities: A Life of Tension, Kindle Locations 560-567.