Friday, October 4, 2019

Softening our rigid hearts and opening up to grace.


“I can’t talk to him. He has such a wall around him, it is impossible to get through.”

“I always have my guard up. I can’t relax with people. It seems I am always anxious, tense, and self-conscious. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I guess I am just anti-social. I feel like a real looser.”

Scars on our soul are the result of what was inflicted on us by violence, abuse, neglect, rape, warfare, economic conditions, religion, bad education, and some scars are inflicted on us by our own actions and decisions. It is harder to deal with the self-inflicted injuries and mistakes than it is by the abuse and harm caused by external circumstances and by others. With external abuse we know who to blame, but with self-inflected harm it is more difficult to be aware of and take responsibility for the harm we have done to our own souls.

Abuse and difficult events and circumstances can make us hard, calloused, and close hearted. We become defensive and self-protective expecting the negative, the hurtful, the injustice from others and from life. People often feel, even when things are going well, that this is not a normal state of affairs and it is only a matter of time before something bad happens again. This expectation is, of course, a self-fulfilling prophecy which always turns out to be self reinforcing because bad things are a normal part of life. This fearful and negative world view prolongs the pain and suffering.

Life does not have to be lived this way. Negativity begets the negative, but the opposite is also true that being positive begets the positive. Our goal should be to become resilient, open hearted. This requires a softening within, an opening of our heart and soul to grace. This is very risky because we have become defensive and self protective not wanting to be hurt again. Softening is a choice we must make to let our guard down, to allow others and life to penetrate the walls we have built up. This takes faith and courage and an over all understanding and acceptance that life has a way of having things all come out in the end as they should. To cultivate an attitude of curiosity, to become more open to positive possibilities, to be less defensive by developing more flexibility and a willingness to accommodate the negative without shutting down or retreating behind our wall takes courage, awareness, and faith in the overall abiding goodness in life in spite of its evil and injustice.

The mature soul is wise in the sense that the mature soul knows what matters and is open and flexible in dealing with the threatening aspects of life. The mature soul knows that it is in softening our hearts that our physical, psychological, social, and spiritual functioning improves. Markings in the dry clay only disappear when the clay becomes soft again.

Perhaps it is in giving up our defensiveness, in letting our guard down, in softening our rigid heart that we come to understand what Jesus of Nazareth meant when he said that we cannot enter the kingdom of god unless we become like little children once again.

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