Soul care or care of our inner
spiritual life is a lifelong process. It is worthwhile during this Lenten
season to reexamine it. Procrastination is one of our favorite habits, made
worse by social media such as Facebook. Procrastination is what we do to avoid
doing what we should be doing. Playing games in soul care is a form of procrastination.
Soul care is hard and painful work as we peel away layers of resentment, unforgiveness
and bitterness. It also needs us to distinguish and identify who we really are
(real self), who we think we should be (duty self), and who we think others
think we should be (perceived self). We play games to distract us from the real
work of reconciliation of our fragmented selves.
Many of us do not really like our
real self. It is sometimes questionable if we really know who our real selves
are. Our real self is who God has created us to be. Some of us wonder if people
will still like and love us if they know who we really are. This sense of
unworthiness poisons our relationships. We sense the darkness inside us, a beast
that struggles to be free. We are so afraid and ashamed of our humanity.
We listen to inner voices that compare ourselves with other people and tell us
that we are not good, beautiful, smart or talented enough to be of any value.
Lent reminds us that in spite of all our faults, imperfections and
self-delusions, God loves us enough to send his Son to die for us. God knows we
are works in progress. We need to stop playing games and start reconciling with
his Son, Jesus Christ.
Some of us live life out of a
sense of duty. We impose rules and regulations upon ourselves so that we live a
life worthy of God. This is especially common in those who seek to grow a
deeper relationship in God. These people live out of a duty self. They live
austere and sacrificial lives, thinking that is what God wants them to be. This
may not be true. Their sacrifices may not be what God wants them to but what they
think God wants them to. Jesus enjoys food and festivals as much as other
people. Often such lives based on the duty self are deeply steeped in legalism,
empty of joy and judgmental of others who do not do as they do. Lenten period
is a time to reexamine our lives and stop playing games with our duty self.
That is work righteousness. We need to repent and reconcile with our real self
What others think of us is very
important to many of us. It may not be apparent to us in our perceived self
that we are giving others power to control who we are. The truth is that most
people are not thinking of us. They are too busy thinking of themselves. The
lie of the perceived self comes from our hearts. We are desperate for
affirmation, love and company. So we try to be the someone who we think other
people want us to be. This is a house of cards which may collapse anytime.
Again, there is a need to reconcile our perceived self with our real self and
find our affirmation, love and companionship in God.
Lent is a time to meditate and
pray about reconciliation. God started this by becoming man and reconciled us
to himself through his Son, Jesus Christ. We need reconciliation. Not only reconciliation
with God but also reconciliation within ourselves. We need to reconcile our
real selves with our duty and perceived selves. Let us stop playing games and
get on with the real work of soul care.
Photo by Alex Tang
Labels: Lent, Spiritual Direction, Spiritual Formation