Two of the most important ways of leaving father, mother, brother, and sister are forgiveness and gratitude. Can we forgive our family for not having loved us as well as we wanted to be loved?

Nouwen, Henri J. M.. Here and Now: Living in the Spirit (p. 137). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.

Last week one member in our group reflected on two of the most basic characteristics of humanity… “need for affirmation, fear of rejection…”. Both characteristics present themselves at a young age in a familial setting. Not only is love often abused with this vulnerability, but also many coping mechanisms are taught and learned. Many of our personality “quirks” are woven into our persona (or mask) to protect ourselves from the pain of rejection. Many of these protections also harden our hearts to the unconditional love of God. If we can lower our guard, experience the sweet love of God, we can then re-extend this love to others. In short, we break destructive cycles so we can complete the will of God: LOVE!

Let’s pray:

Loving Father, Help us to know we can safely expose our deepest confusion and pain under Your loving touch. Help us to know that Jesus is willing to “yoke”, shouldering and teaching the ways through this world. Help us to experience Your love and “send it” as well. Amen.

Please ponder these questions in reflection of this chapter:

Is there any one idea that really reached me?

What is God revealing about Himself in this reading?

What is God revealing about me in this reading?

Where was the “bottle neck” in my past that kept me from realizing God to His fullest?

Was it a person, or maybe an event? Could it have even been me?

Upon realization, ask God for healing and an example of His perfect love.

What can I recognize, or handle differently to increase “flow” in my Spiritual life?

Where am I “bottle necked” now in my relationship with God?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Once again, Henri Nouwen is peeling back the layers to the core of pain and the key of growth. Please consider these questions:

God’s Word is the story of God’s family and relationships. Does it seem counter-intuitive when Jesus informs us we must leave our family or that He came to divide families?

What would it feel like to bypass our fear of rejection and be fulfilled with true love and acceptance?

If you picture the innocence and laughter of a child and compare this to the bitterness of a crotchety old person… what can you imagine causing this transformation during this lifetime?

A bit more personal, who or what events, have built scar tissue to harden our hearts?

How would you describe God’s perfect love in comparison to our love (both good and corrupted characteristics)?

Please be kind to yourself in approaching these tender areas of life… God is!

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