A gentlewoman named Pam, her inner discovery
One of the perks of being retreat/guest master is that I get to meet so many wonderful, diverse, people. One of these retreatants is a woman named Pam. She is a very down to earth woman, who has a mature faith and has more than enough wisdom to share with others. She is also deeply involved with helping those who are poor and on the fringe of society. She is a little younger than me, but when she smiles, or laughs, she seems very young indeed.
We met this morning for a talk. She started by telling me that when she was here for our ‘Self--Confrontation’ retreat, it made her realize that she had some deep anger issues, and it was causing her some inner struggle and upheaval. I understood about the inner struggle, and upheaval since that is an issue with me. Though as I age, it seems to be settling down, but far from being over. The waves and undertow can still be powerful.
When we are hurt at a very young age, say before the age of reason, the anger can be primordial in nature. It can be without a single target, but free-floating, and can be scary at first. However, to be able to feel, to experience intense emotions like that, is not a sign of regression, but can be one of growth. If not taken out on others, in other words, the shotgun effect wherein everyone gets blasted.
As we talked, I shared with her how important it is not to try to get rid of her anger, or to fight it, or to repress it again. For once it is felt by the conscious mind, it is impossible to push it under…you can’t go back to blissful ignorance. Repression can be needed for a period in one’s life, but once that need is gone, then other ways have to be found to deal with this reality, which is so common among men and women. Self-knowledge may be the road to a more balanced life, but it is also a journey that is not always joyful, nor peaceful.
There is a way to pray one's anger I related to her. When it comes up, breath in deep, and open up your heart, to the loving gaze of God. Too many people think that anger has to be rejected, fought, or demonized. A mistake, for it will only get worse and our lives could become more chaotic. It also leads to victimhood and making those around us the cause of our deep unrest and suffering.
As a Christian, I related to Pam, how I make all those who struggle the way I do, part of my community, and so I use my energy, to pray for them, and to ask for the Lord to heal the wounds that bind us.
I shared with Pam that I believe that those who go before us or helped by our own progress towards healing and in receiving and giving forgiveness. For often, sin, and dysfunction, or passed on from generation to generation. Pam did mention a beautiful dream where she saw her father sitting at a table with his head in his hands, looking very sad. In the dream, she was 8 years old and walked over to her dad and patted him and said: “It is going to be all right”. A friend told her that she was imparting grace to her father, showing mercy and in that healing would flow.
I have often written on how humbling it is for me to see people who truly are rooted in Christ Jesus, and how that allows them to face life head-on. Either sitting in the boat when the seas are rough, knowing that Jesus is with them. Or, actually getting out of the boat and walking towards Jesus in the midst of great inner turmoil. As long as they and I look to Jesus, we can weather any storm, if we start to sink, we call out and are lifted up. Yet, the struggle is a powerful one, and it takes patient endurance to run that race. Self-Love has to be consciously embraced, in order to do this I believe. We are commanded to love ourselves because it is very difficult.
I mentioned to her that she is a good place and that all she need do is to go one day at a time and leave the healing up to the Lord. Just listen, learn, pray, and yes, share with others. We all need support and someone to listen to us.