Stand Erect in Your Sorrow

from Henri Nouwen's book The Inner Voice of Love, on the web here.

Stand Erect in Your Sorrow
The question is 'Can you stand erect in your pain, your loneliness, your fears, and your experience of being rejected?' The danger is that you will be swept off your feet by these feelings. They will be here for a long time, and they will go on tempting you to be drowned in them. But you are called to acknowledge them and feel them while remaining on your feet.

Remember, Mary stood under the cross. She suffered her sorrow standing. Remember, Jesus spoke about the cosmic disasters and the glorious appearance of the Son of Man and said to his disciples, 'When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand' (Luke 2:28). Remember, Peter and John cured the crippled man who was begging at the temple entrance. Peter said to him, 'In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!' (Act 3:6). Then he took him by the right hand and helped him to stand up.

You have to dare to stand erect in your struggles. The temptation is to complain, to beg, to be overwhelmed and find your satisfaction in the pity you evoke. But you know already that this is not gaining for you what your heart most desires. As long as you remain standing, you can speak freely to others, reach out to them, and receive from them. Thus you speak and act from your center and invite others to speak and act from theirs. In this way, real friendships are possible and real community can be formed. God gives you the strength to stand in your struggles and to respond to them standing.

This passage was "for me" the other day when I first read it, as are so many chapters in The Inner Voice of Love. I must learn to stand.

There is something I have discovered in recent years, and it is a great paradox--the more I seek to know God, and the more I seek to enter into and be His hand and heart addressing the problems in the world, the more it hurts. just hurts real bad! And I wonder how we are supposed to take it. Or I wonder--at the fairness of this, yeah, know Light so much clearer, and then the Darkness looks so much more evil. Sure doesn't feel like an improvement sometimes.

But I can learn to stand. I can avoid those temptations Nouwen names so clearly. "God gives you the strength to stand in your struggles and to respond to them standing."

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

This has certainly been my experience... that as I pray, as I draw nearer and love more fully... the pain is more painful! Thank you for including this passage from Nouwen--- and for giving me something to chew on today.

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