I have an excel file that is precious to me.
I input quotes from books I read in order that I may revisit them. This has been as beneficial as any discipline I think I've done. Revisiting these books (or as I like to put it, spending time again with these good friends -- the authors, not the books, that would be creepy) has ministered to my ailing heart, has strengthened and emboldened me, has stirred my creative juices, has set aflame my heart for our great king, and has generally been just a great helping of God's grace in my life. He has used these people and their words to great avail in my life.
I needed to visit this document today. Here is what I read:
Anthony DeMello says: "Look at your life and see how you have filled its emptiness with people. As a result they have a stranglehold on you. See how they control your behavior by their approval and disapproval. They hold the power to ease your loneliness with their company, to send your spirits soaring with their praise, to bring you down to the depths with their criticism and rejection. Take a look at yourself spending almost every waking moment of your day placating and pleasing people, whether they are living or dead. You live by their norms, conform to their standards, seek their company, desire their love, dread their ridicule, long for their applause, meekly submit to the guilt they lay upon you; you are terrified to go against the fashion in the way you dress or speak or act or even think. And observe how even when you control them you depend on them and are enslaved by them. People have become so much a part of your being that you cannot even imagine living a life that is unaffected or uncontrolled by them." – 133, in Brennan Manning’s Abba’s Child
This was oddly comforting. I often tend to shame myself and my codependence on others. "Why are you being so sensitive? Who cares what others think? Why let this stuff bother you?" Yet DeMello's word here offered a reassuring alternative.
A rarely discussed reality is that everyone is codependent. It is hard-wired into our very core. We are controlled by other people, to some level. This reality gives me freedom from shame. I can't be shameful for something that is true of everybody, can I? This allows me to embrace my brokenness and hurt.
I am dependent on other people. I am weak and needy.
And at the same time, his word stirred in me a desire for my dependence to be upon something, or someone, trustworthy -- I want to be free of my codependency. I want to have my weakness and neediness filled. I have unmet desires.
Here Nouwen's words melted my heart:
“For most of my life I have struggled to find God, to know God, to love God. I have tried hard to follow the guidelines of the spiritual life--pray always, work for others, read the Scriptures--and to avoid the many temptations to dissipate myself. I have failed many times but always tried again, even when I was close to despair.
Now I wonder whether I have sufficiently realized that during all this time God has been trying to find me, to know me, to love me. The question is not ‘How am I to find God?’ but ‘How am I to let myself be found by him?’ The question is not ‘How am I to know God?’ but ‘How am I to let myself by known by God.’ And finally the question is not ‘How am I to love God?’ but ‘How am I to let myself be loved by God?’” - 106, Return of the Prodigal Son
And, as his words are prone to do, Nouwen has stilled my heart, and brought me before the God that pursues.
I need do nothing to find God, only stop hiding.
I am loved and known by God. His delight is upon me. This is such great news!
He loves my quirkiness and my humor. He delights in my feeble attempts to prove myself worthy, or intelligent, or (gulp) an adequate writer. He finds immense pleasure in my laugh, and in my struggle.
My Abba is very fond of me indeed.
And He is fond of you as well.