Awakening :: Week 12
“The spiritual journey is a journey of self-discovery since the encounter with God is also an encounter with one’s deepest self,” says Keating.19 Thomas Merton spoke of “finding [oneself] in God” and wrote, “In order to find God, Whom we can only find in and through the depths of our own soul, we must therefore first find ourselves.”20 Self-awareness is central to becoming whole and connected to God and others. If God dwells in our soul, then being connected to God within us will allow us to be connected to God who is also all around us.
Experiencing a certain deficit of our particular “program for happiness” causes us to develop an alternative way of living in relationship. This is where the toxicity develops. In essence we develop a mask or a costume to hide behind to try to gratify our need for power and control, affection and esteem or security and survival. Maybe if I create a mask I will feel safe and get the attention and acceptance that I want. Maybe the mask will be more interesting than the real thing. Maybe the mask is more lovable than I am.
Interestingly, the terms masks and costumes are also used in the field of psychology. Shirley Jean Schmidt, M.A., LPC, creator of Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy (DNMS), helps patients heal from unmet childhood developmental needs using the imagery of a costume. As the patient heals and grows, the child-state of mind is able to discard the costume as a sign of wholeness and healing—parallel to shedding the false self.21
The human condition is so complex that being cut off from the Maker and Lover of our soul affects our psyche, emotions, spirit, body and relationships. Our relationship to God, self and others, including the earth and all its creatures, is distorted. The spiritual journey is about being restored, returning to “the Garden,” returning to the Love of God. Restoration to wholeness of self and relationship with God and others is offered on “the narrow way.” The journey begins by waking up.
- Which mask or costume do you predominantly wear? Do you hide in the one that makes you feel in control, or safe, or esteemed? Consider taking time to draw your mask(s) or costume(s).
- Think of the last time you were inauthentic, hiding behind your mask. Can you recall what happened within you and within your circumstances that prevented you from disclosing your true self? What was it that made the mask or costume your choice, instead of your true self?
- Can you recall a time when you were tempted to hide behind your mask or in your costume but opted to be authentic instead? What happened? What was the experience like for you?
- During the past 12 weeks of this “Journey of a Soul” blog series, in what ways have you been invited or encouraged to deeper awakening?
photo credit :: greyerbaby at morgueFile.com, GraphicArtServices.com
Journey of a Soul blog series will resume Friday January 2, 2015 when we will begin to explore “Longing” as a movement of the soul in the process of growth and transformation. In the meantime, may your days be graced with the gift of awakening.