This weekend we are having a retreat on self-confrontation. It is a strong title and when I thought of doing this retreat I thought that it would not be very well attended. I expected around 12-15 people at the most. That was in 2014. To my surprise it filled up and seems to do so every year. It is a retreat that seeks to pull in everyone’s participation, for you will only get out of it what you put in to it. Jackie R., one of our Lay Cistercians helps me with it, or perhaps I help her. I think we are a good team. I am proud of those who come for this, for it is not an easy task to do. Before we can grow in self-knowledge, we also have to have a love and respect of self that allows that to happen. A weak ego can’t do this. I guess each person in their own time will one day do what is necessary to grow, mature and deepen their relationship with God and self. Below is one of the papers I use as notes.
The healing that comes from Self-confrontation
(which is a form of humility)
How do we experience the new life that Jesus wishes us to have. I am going to say that humility is an important aspect of being able to allow the heart to become freer and open to life. Humility is often misunderstood to mean being unable to accept that one has gifts, or is intelligent, etc. Humility understands our giftedness. We all have gifts, some may seem more humble than others, but all are very important and need to be developed as much as possible. Humility also allows us to accepts aspects about ourselves that are experiences as ‘negatives’, but in reality they are part of our being simply human.
Humility is based on true reality and it is in developing this virtue that we grow in inner freedom. Humility and self love go together. If self love is missing, then what masquerades as humility can be in reality a form of self-hatred. Putting ones self down and making comparisons with others, that are harmful in the long run and leading nowhere…just another cycle we can be trapped in.
Humility is a based on authenticity, it leads to inner strength, allowing for the ability to take responsibility for ones life. By humility we understand our limits in how we can change others. We understand how difficult it is for personal growth and change to happen, and in this understanding it takes away the pressure of ‘saving others’ or of ‘taking care of them’ in ways that are counter productive. In the end they are just strategies of seeking to control those we live and work with, so that some sort of personal comfort or self satisfaction can be had.
The opposite of humility is arrogance. Now arrogance can hide behind the appearance of humility, but those who experience this understand what is going on. Even if they can’t articulate it and will respond in a defensive mode, or even in an offensive one, that only causes alienation for both parties. Leading to suffering in the lives of those involved in this destructive relationship, this can become just another vicious cycle in ones life.
Humility allows us to see ourselves unflinchingly, though it is a virtue that is always growing, for we never get to the bottom of understanding ourselves. It is a life long project. The more we ‘see’ ourselves with compassion, leads to also being able to ‘see’ others at such a level that many cycles of contention will often unravel on their own accord. When the compulsion to control others is missing, there is no need to for them to be defensive or offensive. Boundaries can be had, healthy ones without endless emotional turmoil. Though like anything worthwhile, discipline is needed. Insight does not always make life easier, it allows however for inner freedom and a lessening of conflict with others.
It is about becoming a true child, a child that has let go of childishness, of the need to be the center of the universe and the compulsion to seek the impossible, which is controlling and forcing others to be a certain way so that we can be comfortable. We say what must be said, then let it go. We have faith that God is working in others lives as he is working in ours. That the mercy and healing we have received, and continue to receive is also there for others and in fact a reality in their lives even if at the time they may not understand.
When we experience our own inner confusion and chaos and do not fear it…..then we can have compassion for the humanity of others, who though while unique, are still bound to us by certain types of human experiences.
There is no magic key to life, it is a day to day affair with many set backs, but when the self knowledge is present we do not get discouraged, we deal with ourselves with compassion, for we are commanded to love ourselves, so that we may have love and compassion for others.