Putting one foot in front of another. Tripping and falling, going backwards. Sometimes not having the energy to move; having faint and sometimes no faith that the energy and courage to do so would return. This is what much of my spiritual journey has felt like. For the past 7 months I've been going to Father Charlie for spiritual direction and counseling. Some months have felt empty. I've left feeling like there was no movement and I was wasting his and my time. He continued to encourage me that dealing with the "same shit, different pile" was still movement. It's been hard to accept that rarely are there big 'aha' moments in the journey. That slogging through without seeing any tangible results is just as important as those light bulb moments. I wonder if in my spiritual journey I am a junkie - looking for a quick fix to struggles that have been years in the making. Searching for a fad diet for the spirit. Wanting the high that comes from feeding my flesh to cross over to the spirit and nourish it too.
It is easier to write about the highs than the lows. Sometimes both are difficult to put into words.
Last weekend I listened to someone talk about the difference between destructive and constructive guilt. As she described destructive guilt I recognized its familiarity. It has felt more comfortable to cuss myself out than not. Destructive guilt feeds self loathing. It says that I am not trying hard enough, am not okay as I am, that every shitty behaviour or choice I make makes me a bad person. It tells me that my world will not be okay until I am perfect, until I never make a mistake, until you never make a mistake either. It destroys the spirit instead of building it up. It sucks the life out of a person. If I hold myself in judgment then your judgement of me can't hurt so much. Destructive guilt has sometimes said that if I can't be perfect then you can't be either and I'll pretend I'm perfect while making sure you know you aren't. Destructive guilt distorts the mirror.
Then she talked of constructive guilt and how it started with acknowledging that I have missed the mark. That when I sin I am not who I have been created to be. And who have I been created to be? I have been created out of love for love. Love of God. Love of neighbour. Love of self. Something shifted within me as I recognized the truth in what she said. If I am created out of love for love then instead of being pissed off at myself for missing the mark I could ask for a spirit of love towards myself. Destructive guilt has served a crappy purpose in my life. I can stop telling myself I'm a fuck up for being less than perfect. It feels like a paradox to hold myself without judgement while acknowledging how often I miss the mark.
The need I have had in my life for control has been fed out of fear. Fear that who I am is not enough. That I am not worthy of love unless I am perfect. Destructive guilt has fed this lie.
A shift occurred in my spirit as I shared all these thoughts with Father Charlie yesterday. In my mind I saw a wall built of sand. I saw myself making the occasional foray out beyond it - small pockets of space when I let my need for control go. But every time I felt threatened I ran back to the safety of the wall. In the midst of telling him this I felt God's spirit asking me to let the wall be destroyed. I saw that to let it didn't mean I would be cured of my pattern of running for the safety of the wall. I would still have times of wanting control but there would be no wall of sand to go hide behind when my defenses felt threatened. Big, gulping tears came as I said goodbye to the wall and watched it crumble. When I turn towards its safety now only to find it gone, I know I will be okay. "Created out of love for love" is written in the sand in its place.
The scale says I weigh the same as I did yesterday morning but I feel like a 50 pound weight has lifted from my being.