Sunday, November 6, 2011

Listening to Jesus (Hint: Get Over Yourself)

So I was with my spiritual director the other day.  And we were talking about -- well, in some ways direction is lot like therapy.  You keep circling back to the same old issues.  Which maybe sounds depressing, or sitcom depressing if you're looking for a more upbeat spin -- the humor being predicated on the very fact that these people, despite all their effort, never really change (or not until the series finale, anyway).  (As funny as they are, if you ever really stop to think about sitcoms, you discover most might as well have been written by a French existentialist. They've got a pretty grim take on people's capacity to change.)

But another way to think about it is like you're drilling down -- so yes, it's circular, because that's what a drill does.  But you are getting somewhere.

Or so I hope.

Anyway, a frequent suggestion that I get, which is by far the most basic thing, and therefore I rarely do it (of course) is this: have you brought this issue/subject/event/thing-that's-bugging-you-and-you-won't-stop talking-about-it to prayer? That is, have you taken the time to ask the question, Jesus, what do you think of this? Where are you in this?

Like I said, it's really a no brainer.  Of course you should bring your struggles to the Lord. And yet...we forget to do that. In my case, I tend to sit before the Lord fretting/talking to myself about what I should do.  And I never turn my eyes (or ears) up to get his perspective. As though I'm really supposed to have this figured out before I actually bring it to God. Which is like saying I'm supposed to already have worked out my problems before I go see a therapist, or I'm supposed to have pretty much written my dissertation before I start grad school.  (Ever studied with someone who feels confident they already know everything about the topic they're studying? Lecturing teachers, dropping citations -- these are not the people you invite to your Halloween party.)

So anyway, this suggestion to turn to God is not new to me, and it always makes me laugh at myself.  But last week, my director put it in a different way:

What is Jesus' prayer for you?

It's nice, right? It's still all about listening, all about giving God a chance to talk.  But it makes the relationship piece really clear, too. Jesus is your friend, and he's hoping and wishing some things for you, just like our friends do. We ask him what do you hope for me right now to help us get ourselves out of  our selves and yet still connect to the life of the heart and all the important stuff stirring there.

Might be a nice question to take into the week.  Jesus, I've got a lot going on.  What is your prayer for me?  

Cool Native take on Jesus and the beloved disciple. 
Note how John has his head against Jesus' chest. 
He's listening to Jesus' heart.  


Anonymous said...

In a conversation with my director a couple of months back, I had a similar smack your forehead revelation.

I love the image of the drill!

Jim McDermott, S.J. said...