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Abundance

Anyperson had previously realised that just because they didn’t like themselves, it didn’t mean they weren’t likeable. They realised further how much energy they put in to convincing other people that they were likeable, that they were nice and intelligent. Not because others needed convincing, but because they themselves needed convincing; not because others necessarily thought that they were stupid, but because they themselves did, and needed others to show that they weren’t. It was such an effort! It needed doing continually because, of course, what others thought had no effect on what Anyperson thought about themselves deep down. Although Anyperson knew that what they thought about themselves wasn’t necessarily the truth, they still hid from themselves what it was that they thought, and hid it from God also. It was a strain keeping that hidden, and an effort to keep going. But in time they came to see that keeping all that hidden from God was a complete and total waste of effort. God already knew exactly what they thought, and also how true it was or wasn’t. Trying to keep it hidden was a nonsense. Trying to hide from it themselves also didn’t really work; it might seem to take the nasty feelings away, but, in actual fact, it just sent them underneath and gave them more power. So, they tried to start doing it differently. Rather than hiding these feelings from God, they would start sitting in prayer, allowing the feelings just to sit there, in the presence of God, neither condemning them nor desiring them. They weren’t sure what this would lead to, but they thought it might change the power those feelings had over them. Accepting them without the condemnation might make them less painful, but would also acknowledge their presence, and the fact of them at this point in time. It also helped Anyperson to acknowledge that these feelings might not be a complete lie; that, in actual fact, there might be a smidgeon of truth in them. It wasn’t the complete and total truth: Anyperson acknowledged that they weren’t a complete, total and utter horrible, stupid person; but neither were they perfectly sweet and nice all the time. Even the Saints, they had been told, were aware of their own sinfulness, more aware, in fact, than others. Anyperson began to see that there might be times when they could be horrible or do something stupid, but that also this wasn’t the end of the world; it wasn’t the whole truth. There were also times when they could be nice, and do something intelligent. They began to accept that they were human, imperfect, and that this was okay. No-one would expect anything more of them, and only God could change that; had, in fact, done exactly that, which would come to completion in God’s good time. Anyperson began to see the total love and compassion God had for them was far greater, and far truer, than any of what they might feel about themselves. Anyperson knew, also, that this might not be something everyone could accept; that some people may have been more hurt or damaged, and that for some people just sitting with those horrible feelings might not be a good idea; they might need more professional help. The conclusion Anyperson came to was true for everyone; that we are all imperfect. But they knew the journey to that acceptance might be longer and more complicated for some people than for others.

 

God has sent his light into the world; to live and dwell in that light will, inevitably, light up our darker areas, those parts of ourselves that we might rather avoid; and we can be very good at avoiding them. The problem is that in avoiding them, we have to avoid God also; or, at least, we have to hide from God. God will not hide from us. Just as Adam and Eve in the garden needed to cover themselves, so we try to cover ourselves up with – what? good deeds? Nice thoughts? Whatever it takes to convince ourselves that God is convinced that we are acceptable. But, just as Anyperson found, it is a waste of time. God already knows us; the light of God shines in our darkness, and may illuminate something we would rather remains hidden, or that we would rather not face, but it comes as no surprise to God. Just think: God knows our deepest secrets, our darkest thoughts, our most horrible, stupid moments, our most shameful acts: God knows all of this, and loves us anyway – despite? Because? God knows all that, but God also knows our better moments, the times when we succeed, when we are truly loving, or do something particularly caring. Possibly sometimes moments that we don’t even notice, because it is simply part of ourselves. That smile you gave someone that lifted their day; that conversation you had over coffee that made someone feel wanted; that enquiry you made, that said to someone that they were remembered and cared about (even if you were just satisfying your own curiosity ..).

 

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it; whatever the darkness is, however much it seems overwhelming; the light shines in the darkness, and always will until the darkness is no more, whether in this life or the next. What is that light? The beginning of John’s gospel tells us: the Word was with God, and the Word was God; in the Word was life, and that life is the light of all people. Jesus is the light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it. Reading through the prophecy of Isaiah, as we do in Advent, I have been struck by some of the passages that proclaim the life-giving nature of God; read Isaiah 35, for example. That life is our light, that energy, that abundance that Isaiah proclaims is our life also; and the darkness will not overcome it. Jesus came that we might have life, and have it abundantly (see John 10:10). It may not always seem that way; life involves times in darkness and the wilderness. Yet, beneath and beyond all that, the life of God is still there. The life that is our light, which will not be overcome.


 

This will be my last blog of 2023, so I wish you many blessings over Christmas, and see you in the new year!

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