Continuing in "The Seeking Heart" by Charles Ringma
A Renewed Listening
Transforming those inner voices
It is both interesting and necessary for us to reflect on our own inner talking. Most of us talk a lot to ourselves. And much of what we have to say is not necessarily good or helpful. Much of our self-talk is negative. For some, their inner world is the ever-running broken record of insecurity, woundedness, and fear.
I know something of this inner world. The formative years of my life without the presence of my father because of war and immigration, left me insecure, reactive, and aggressive. Mine was a confused inner world.
Those who have read many of the writings of my conversation partner in these reflections will know that Nouwen long suffered from insecurities, a sense of rejection, and from an uncomfortability regarding his own personhood. This led either to a crowded clinging to or a sense of rage toward others.
What we need to recognize is that our self-talk is never simply our own talk, for these inner voices are also the voices of others and the wounding we have received at their hands. It is also possible that our inner voice picks up the vibrations of generational dysfunctionalities. In extreme cases our inner voices may become the voice of a split personality or the voice of demonic forces.
We can't ignore these inner voices. While the extreme cases need careful pastoral and professional attention, the transformation of our inner voices is essential to our inner healing and general well-being. The journey of faith can't ignore being attentive to the confusion and sometimes chaos within.
The starting point in what may be a long process of inner renewal is the gift and ability to hear another voice. A contrary voice. A voice of a very different melody.
It is usually not the case that this voice is so loud that it drowns out our own inner voices. Rather, it is that this voice is so winsome that it begins to subvert and destabilize our inner voices. Nouween speaks of the necessity "to be empty, free, and open, conscious of God-with-us, sensing God present, listening with our hearts to the voice of love." This voice is none other than the whispers of the Spirit, the very breath of the God of love.
To hear in the very depth of my being that God has known me from the very beginning, even while I was being formed in my mother's womb; to hear that in Christ God's love is for me and toward me; to hear that God sees me and loves me with unbounded grace; to hear that I may shelter in his presence and be fed at he banqueting table - to hear these voices brings hope to the most insecure, fearful, angry, and broken parts of our lives.
This voice of love echoes in the heart chambers of the whole of humanity. Its whispers are also in our own hearts. We need a new attentiveness to hear it, for sadly we seem to prefer the familiar voices of chaos than the Voice that can set us free.
While we may wish that God would shout, the Voice of love can already be heard. It echoes from a rugged cross. Its richly textured melodies lie secure within the Gospel stories. And the pervasive voice of the brooding Spirit seeks to awaken us to the Voice that can dynamite or erode our inner voices of fear, distrust, and anxiety.
What is your inner talking like these days?? Mine has not been very positive. I have a feeling I'm not the only one. May we take those thoughts first to God and ask if there is any truth to them, and if so ask for change, and if not may we ask him to replace them with truth.