I recently wrestled a few restless nights, my ego and fear not letting me sleep. I picked up an old book, one of my favorites, The Inner Voice of Love by Henri J.M. Nouwen. I read the following and it spoke deeply to my current space in those restless nights…
“As long as your vulnerable self does not feel welcomed by you, it keeps so distant that it cannot show you its true beauty and wisdom. Thus, you survive without really living. Try to keep your small, fearful self close to you. This is going to be a struggle, because you have to live for a while with the ‘not yet.’ Your deepest, truest self is not yet home.It quickly gets scared. Since your intimate self does not feel safe with you, it continues to look for others, especially those who offer it some real, though temporary, consolation. But when you become more childlike, it will no longer feel the need to dwell elsewhere. It will begin to look to you as home. Be patient. When you feel lonely, stay with your loneliness. Avoid the temptation to let your fearful self run off. Let it teach you its wisdom; let it tell you that you can live instead of just surviving. Gradually you will become one, and you will find that Jesus is living in your heart and offering you all you need.”
Letting my fearful self stay close, to invite it in…easily said, but how to do this? I’m combining aspects of this text with the encouraging words from Amy Cuddy’s book, Presence, where she encourages you to nudge yourself further along your edge, gently, patiently increasing the boundaries of your edge. If I can invite my fearful self, those parts that cause me to be anxious, to hide away and keep safe, then I can keep it close and slowly, in time become more at home within.
These are the parts of myself, mainly the voices that do not feel good enough, that keep me awake at night. Am I truly capable? Do I trust myself? Do I know what I’m doing? These are the vulnerable, fearful parts that I need to embrace and let my whole being be received. Only in doing this will I ever be free, to be my fullest self, my true self. And truly only then can I be the receptive presence for others rather than being so caught up with the fearful voices within my own head. How wonderful to be able to shut out those fearful voices of what others think about me, or what I’m going to say next, and simply be able to enjoy the presence of others and myself in their presence??
It’s getting much much better, but it takes time. I think that’s also a very difficult aspect to all of this growing stuff is letting yourself be patient with time. Time is a gift, to be used wisely…and to allow it to unfold as it will, but being a full participant with time. Being wise how we participate with time, how we grow with it, who we share our time with and what we spend our time doing. All of these things determine the evolution of our true self from ever seeing the light of day.