Dr Cheryl Meier's Blog

Walk in Love

Month: June, 2015

Somebody Loves You: Releasing Old Wounds to Let Love In

I was reading the mystic, Julian of Norwich this week and I happened across her words:

The greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love.

Yes, of course we would and could live gladly when we are in our right mind and heart and have an experiential knowledge of His love.  If we knew that the Creator of the universe loved us, why would anything in this world really even bother us?

I could spout out theology until I am blue in the face but that does not give us the experience of this deep love that Julian of Norwich is describing!

She writes:

In his love he clothes us, enfolds us and embraces us;

that tender love completely surrounds us, never to leave us…

So what do we do with the part of ourselves that feels like Elliott’s song:

“God don’t make no junk but it’s plain to see, he still made me…” ~Elliott Smith

Surely our actions and choices in our lives cannot be based solely on how we feel in a moment.  There hast to be a way “out” of this pattern!

I just gotta get out of this prison cell
Someday I’m gonna be free, Lord!
Find me somebody to love…

~ Freddie Mercury / Queen

We pray to God for relief…”Please God, this pain is too much — what can I do to be free of it?  What can I do to genuinely be free of it, not run to something that will just mask my shame and make me feel good in the moment — I want a real solution that will last.”

You need a love that’s gonna last 

~ Prince

As a side note,  if you wonder why all of these artists, philosophers, musicians and poets of old have access to these kinds of deep truths and understandings of the complexities of our inner  psyche — here’s one writer (a priest) that I found a few weeks ago who described exactly why!

In creating a work of art, the psyche or soul of the artist ascends from the earthly realm into the heavenly; there, free of all images, the soul is fed in contemplation by the essences of the highest realm, knowing the permanent noumena of things; then, satiated with this knowing, it descends again to the earthly realm. And precisely at the boundary between the two worlds, the soul’s spiritual knowledge assumes the shape of symbolic imagery: and it is these images that make permanent the work of art. Art is thus materialized dream, separated from the ordinary consciousness of waking life.

~ Pavel Florensky 1882-1937

arthur rackham pic

The problem, however, that we run into (Florensky writes much on this) is that we can get “lost” in a certain place within our spiritual imagination and we think we are growing closer to God and doing all sorts of “spiritual things” to please God, when really– we are in a place that is akin to the dreaded sleep in Tolkien’s Mirkwood Forest, or listening to the Siren’s songs of old, or C.S. Lewis’s Dark Island — where our “dreams” are being played out — but truly, we have put ourselves in a kind of sleep.

It is too much to describe in one blog post, but I know myself well enough to know that I will not stop in my pursuit of giving people this warning and as much understanding of it as I can…The spiritual Fathers from long ago (400A.D.) call it “prelest” (Here is the wiki, but that often is edited. Here is an Orthodox site that describes it as well.)

It is actually a really painful subject for me to talk about — but I remember reading a certain Madeleine L’Engle book (Two Part Invention) where she said something about how her most painful books often turn out the “best”…not necessarily commercially, but because they cut to the quick…

My part here, in this blog, besides to assemble all of these thoughts that have helped me on this path we are contemplating together in this “weekly session” — is to say, that sometimes we have deep trauma or rejection from early experiences in life. We have the capacity to seal them off and bury them with tons of “numbing glue” and not even realize it.  As much as we try to just take a big stamp and stamp it over our face “God Loves you” “Jesus Loves you” etc.  It doesn’t work that way.  True healing does not work that way.

God did not create a static ocean that just stands still, in one place…the streams feed it, the rivers feed it, it is in motion.  Like the word “e-motion” it is in motion.  When our past is extricated away from us and our feelings are frozen solid and there are deep painful places we dare not go — we can’t just think a “Jesus Stamp” will make it all go away.  Jesus did not put a “Jesus Stamp” up upon the cross.  He lived a reality where he experienced the abuse –as an innocent man–, scorning its shame — he could have escaped at any moment, he didn’t. He didn’t face it to be a doormat or a pleaser either.  It is a mystery — like the quote I put on Facebook last week:

We see…it is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers to every question but to make us progressively aware of a mystery.
~Kallistos Ware

We must do the best work that we can, always,  to stay watchful and meaningful, and vigilant, to pursue truth in our innermost parts and to invite God to truly Love us, to clarify these great mysteries — and help us to heal these old, old glued over wounds.  We must begin to be honest…to not force ourself, but do not accept our old excuses either, because they are lies.

“If we don’t pray according to the needs of the heart, we repress our deepest longings. Our prayers may not be rational, and we may be quite aware of that, but if we repress our needs, then those unsaid prayers will fester.”

~ Madeleine L’Engle

and then Julian of Norwich writes:

…the goodness of God is the highest object of prayer and it reaches down to our lowest need.

and she writes this:

Grace transforms our failings full of dread into abundant, endless comfort…our failings full of shame into a noble, glorious rising…our dying full of sorrow into holy, blissful life. …. Just as our contrariness here on earth brings us pain, shame and sorrow, so grace brings us surpassing comfort, glory, and bliss in heaven…And that shall be a property of blessed love, that we shall know in God, which we might never have known without first experiencing woe…

It is so important that we do not use “spirituality” as a way to escape from the problems that we have.  We were given a human body and psyche — Soul, Spirit, Mind, Heart — I won’t differentiate all of those now, because I have run out of the time I allotted for this “session” — but when we turn to an “all mystic” approach and insist on “staying up in some kind of spiritual high” — we are not respecting the fact that we are living within a body.  We can get lost in our own imaginings…

When people do not know what to do with the pain of their past, we find ways to try to “get over it”… Sometimes the best way over — is through.

“The growth of love is not a straight line, but a series of hills and valleys.” ~ Madeleine L’Engle

Here’s a 1 minute video…

a Blessing Poem of John O’Donohue’s before he passed from this world:

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Panic Attacks, Part 2

I am sitting here, quieting my mind, open to what surfaces regarding how to teach and inspire you even more, in this one hour I have to write this, on the subject of Panic Attacks.

I trust what comes to surface, I am thinking of the amazing singer and lyricist, Freddie Mercury.  His song, “Play the Game” is what I “hear”:

Open up your mind and let me step inside
Rest your weary head and let your heart decide
It’s so easy, when you know the rules
It’s so easy, all you have to do
Is fall in love
Play the game,
Everybody play the game of love…

The idea of letting someone into our intimate space can provoke anxiety for some.  We were created with this longing to love, to be loved, to know, and to be known…to have a purpose, a destiny and fulfill it.  I like how Freddie Mercury brings up this idea of a game– because there is a risk in a game, of losing.  One of the elements of love is that it involves free-will.  A person can always invest and then step out, move away, hurt us, etc.  We can choose “not to play” and then miss out all together and freeze our hearts, or cover them with plastic fakeness, or bitterness and sarcasm, or harden them with a wall of stone.

We are often so used to our heart in one of those hardened conditions that we don’t even realize it!  We can have sadness, broken beliefs, bad experiences from early childhood and we stuffed down our confusion, anger, rage, grief, guilt, etc– and it is like you put dry-wall plaster over it all and hope that it just goes away.  It is a way of disassociating with it or dis-identifying with it.  We do not like all of that… so we “bury it,”

like Elliott’s song so aptly describes:

his body’d been buried below
Way back in the day
Oh my, nothing else could have been done
He made his life a lie so
He might never have to know anyone
Made his life a lie you know…

~ Elliott Smith

Why wouldn’t we want to act like everything is perfect and fine now?  We really really do not wish to repeat the trauma or chaos or rejection and pain we felt from the past, so we think if we just bury it below then we can move on and build a happy life and learn to love again.  Unfortunately, that is like building a house on sinking sand.  It’s not as if we even “think” this out, as a child.  If we experience pain and no one is there to teach us what to do with it or how to walk through it and release it…or if no one is there to comfort us and love us — what else are we going to do?

I need a sound bite of Henry Rollin’s song, where he screams out ….”rage…I love you and hate you both at the same time…” His solution is to crush the rage somehow and turn it into a diamond.

There is something to that… in a way.  I met with this professor a couple weeks ago, he had been a pastor in Santa Barbara for many years, Dr. Jerry Root.  He said “pain that isn’t transformed, is transferred…”

I could honestly write 1,000 pages right now on what that means, looks like, etc.  We have this limitation of time.  There’s no way I would sit and read a 1,000 page blog post! I know myself better than that, so I won’t write one for you!

So, lets understand, like the alchemists of the past– they wanted to transform lead into gold.  It is no “coincidence” or accident that Christ’s first miracle was to turn water into wine.  He was turning one liquid substance, water, used for cleansing, into another, rich, and beautifully tasting substance– wine.  The master of the ceremonies of the wedding said “you have saved the best for last…”  Of course, if you know me, you know I wish to talk about all of the amazing spiritual insights and depths we could go into with just this first miracle as recorded in the Gospels… but let’s stay, today, on this topic — of why we get these “anxiety attacks” seemingly out of nowhere.

So, imagine, if the theory that I laid out so far is correct — first, we are innocent children, we “let someone inside our mind/heart” and we play the game of love…we get hurt or crushed in some way…”we bury the ‘body'” and live a lie, so that we never have to “know” anyone.  How can we know anyone or anyone really know us when we have our child self that has been cut off and ostracized from ourselves like a pariah carrying our shame– we want nothing to do with that pain.  Yet, some part of our subconscious selves KNOWS that we have buried someone.  It feels the guilt and weight of that.

The other part of “never have to know anyone” is that we have created a wall around our heart (with the plaster, etc.) and now we have a built-in barrier between ourselves and other people.

Before we go on to see the “cure” — Look for a second at how you can “tell” your heart has been plastered over.  I know some people– that insist “I had a great childhood, nothing was ever wrong…”  and yet the father was an alcoholic, or both spouses were cheating on each other or one of them was, etc.  (The cheating is an indication that something is broken down and not working in that family.)  But, how a person like that could “test” their own hearts — is to examine:

“Am I always looking down on other people? judging them, gossiping about them, telling their “wrong doings” to others, making slighting comments and putting them down?”

This is a person who is not living in meekness and humility.  When we are that way, our actions are telling us that we have this dark, broken part of ourselves buried below, disconnected from ourselves and we have no desire to be reconciled to that part of ourselves and love, transform, heal and forgive/integrate the child we cut off, back into our own person.

I was reading the scriptures the other day (in the daily prayer readings) and the Prophet Ezekiel had written this re: God:

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
The New Living translation says:

“I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” (Eze 36:26)

For me, regardless of what any skeptics say about God– I am so amazed, still, all the time, that we have these writings in Holy Scriptures, and in the life that Christ lived out in his own body —we have access to the Father, God– Creator of all things, and that this same God, is interested in restoring us and healing us.  In one sense, all of the scriptures, if you read the whole Bible in one long sitting, you would just see this pattern of God offering His constant love, and people turning to block Him off — and make idols, and form hearts of stones, then God keeps accepting them back, providing a means of forgiveness while not excusing their wrong doing— we wreck it again, there He is offering love again….

I have to wrap this blog post up because I leave in about 5 min.

Here was the commentary at that verse about how God wants to reveal to us the path to make our hearts tender again & not leave us there, lost in the pain and trauma of our childhood.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
“36:25-38 Water is an emblem of the cleansing our polluted souls from sin. But no water can do more than take away the filth of the flesh. Water seems in general the sacramental sign of the sanctifying influences of the Holy Ghost; yet this is always connected with the atoning blood of Christ. When the latter is applied by faith to the conscience, to cleanse it from evil works, the former is always applied to the powers of the soul, to purify it from the pollution of sin. All that have an interest in the new covenant, have a new heart and a new spirit, in order to their walking in newness of life. God would give a heart of flesh, a soft and tender heart, complying with his holy will. Renewing grace works as great a change in the soul, as the turning a dead stone into living flesh. God will put his Spirit within, as a Teacher, Guide, and Sanctifier. The promise of God’s grace to fit us for our duty, should quicken our constant care and endeavor to do our duty. These are promises to be pleaded by, and will be fulfilled to, all true believers in every age.”

I honestly think this age old tradition of praying “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me” aka “kyrie eleison” can and will transform all of our deep psychological wounds… but it is a mystical and contemplative practice.  I don’t mean just substituting our anxiety and obsessive “pushing down” with reciting a prayer mindlessly — but mindful, and sincere — When we sincerely ask God, He can help us see what is disconnected in us and enlighten us and fill us with His Spirit and Truth to cleanse and re-join these cut off parts.

Much love to you always