While I’m at it, dusting off another old post on the same theme as yesterday. It helps me to reuse these now and again!
I came across a rich quote the other day from a lovely book, Letters to Spiritual Children by Abbot Nikon:
Recognize your sinfulness, your indebtedness before God . . . submit yourself totally to God’s good will . . . endure sorrows without murmuring . . . place all your hope for salvation on God’s mercy and not on the ‘correctness’ of your deeds . . . fear a high opinion of yourself . . . only through humility does a person become as one spirit with the Lord. — Abbot Nikon
My spiritual director once said to me something similar,
Tom, if you simply choose every day to refrain from complaining about anyone or anything (at least what’s not required by justice or charity top say), you could progress very quickly in the spiritual life. It’s the royal road to growth in humility, charity and, above all, trust in God. The Church needs some uncomplaining martyrs.
Let me add at once that having a “safe place” to bare all of your troubled thoughts — a friend, a spouse, a mentor — is such a great gift because it offers you the chance to process what troubles your soul in a constructive and healthy manner. It’s what the desert Fathers called, “baring of thoughts,” the revealing of all of one’s inner struggles to a wise and trusted mentor. The problem comes when we vent pent up woes outside of appropriate contexts, spreading our toxic negativity, murmuring and venting all our bile indiscriminately to others. In that we wreak our damage, offending justice and charity.
In addition, for a person of faith there is yet another crucial dimension to cultivating an uncomplaining disposition: laying bare all of our deepest troubled thoughts to God in prayer. Psalms of gut-wrenching lament and soulful complaint to God litter the Holy Scriptures, and what distinguishes righteous lament from rebellious murmuring is this: in the end, do we want what God wants? Do we trust that God cares about our woes? Do we believe He will bring from our tears good for us and our salvation?
With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord. I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him. — Psalm 142:1-2
At heart, raising our prayerful laments and complaints to God have one goal: healing into holiness, i.e. praying, “God heal me so that I might bear my cross in hardship well and love like you, to the very end.”
I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you. — 2 Kings 20:5?
Let’s give it a try…