Reflections by Jerry Webber

Friday, June 14, 2013

Getting beneath the Resistance

I've spent a lot of time the last few days noticing my own interior reaction to a couple of situations "out there."

In one situation, I've been directly in the line of fire. I've been caught in the crossfire of someone else's issues.

The other situation doesn't directly impact me, yet, I have taken on its weight and felt personally attacked . . . even though the persons actually involved have no idea who I am. Strange, huh?

Both issues, and others of a more mundane, day-by-day nature, have invited me to pay attention to my own interior landscape. Specifically, I'm trying to ask hard questions of myself about my own resistance in these situations. What has stirred up within me? Why have I resisted so vigorously in these very different settings?

Frankly, this is interior work I don't like to do. And I don't always come to it quickly. Often, I'll swim around in angry thoughts for several days before I begin to track my own emotional and spiritual state back to my own inner framework.

That's not to say that what goes on in the outer world is "fair" or "right" . . . but then again, I'm not responsible for someone else's life, for the way they treat people, for the fences they build to exclude and alienate others. I am responsible for my own interior state.

In Matthew 5:20 - 26, Jesus invites persons to trace their behaviors and outer reactions back to the source within a person. In other words, what you are doing or feeling outwardly has some kind of interior component. An explosion of anger bursts out of some internal source. The feeling of resentment comes from some place within us. Our confrontation with the assertive co-worker or family member may arise from our own need to be right or to be perceived as knowledgeable.

Often in a class or workshop, I'll present a difficult idea or offer an image for the spiritual life that is unfamiliar or outside their normal "box" . . . something that challenges the life-framework of the class . . . then I'll invite the group to notice what they are resisting in this new idea.

Sometimes there are folks present who simply shut down. They say, in one way or another, "I'm not going to go there. I won't even consider that."

Some may stay with it, but start enumerating a "belief-system" on which they fall back, and which prevents them from seriously considering any new images or ideas.

There are others who get defensive, even combative. What I've said touches a little too closely to something within them, so they begin to discredit or demean what they have heard.

You'll find it to be a great gift in your own growth -- what I would call, your "becoming" -- to notice intentionally what you resist, what you object to. Try to get behind the accusations or blaming that you are tempted to throw at someone who seems to be causing your discomfort.

What is the "tender" spot within you that has been touched?

What is the "trigger" that this person or group has set off?

What is the "open wound" into which someone has just poured salt?

Track your resistance, if you can. Ask God to help you find its source.

I haven't finished with my interior work related to these issues in my own life. They are ongoing. But I want to notice, to see what is really there.

This "me," the "flawed, angry me" is the real me . . . and this is the "me" God loves.

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