Monday, April 27, 2015

The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom

One Saturday morning in March, I began reading The Inner Voice of Love: Journey Through Anguish to Freedom by Henri Nouwen.  It is a collection of the directives one of my all-time favorite authors wrote for himself in a diary when he was going through one of the most difficult periods of his life 1987-88.    

Knowing that I devour books and read extensively, particularly on topics of faith and spirituality, a dear friend asked if I’d read this particular work.  I hadn’t, so I immediately put it on hold at the local library, so I’d get to peruse it the next time it became available for check-out.  

As good fortune would have it, I had it in my hands sooner than later. They recommend taking this one slowly, but I couldn’t resist reading it straight through.  I highly recommend The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey through Anguish to Freedom to read as a book and to learn as part of healthy self-talk!

It never ceases to amaze and even astound me how perfectly Nouwen speaks to my heart, mind, and soul through his very honest, beautiful, and vulnerable writing.  I’m encouraged by his writing and willingness to share so openly the struggles he’s had with faith, self-worth, seeking attention and affection from others, discerning how to live out his vocation, and hesitancy to share about his most intimate suffering. 

The Return of the Prodigal Son is one of my favorite works of Nouwen and one of the most beautifully written reflections and meditations on the love of God for each one of us that I’ve ever read.  Nouwen wrote and published this classic work soon after this period of struggle.  The diary entries and directives he’d written for himself seemed too personal and too raw to share at that time; it wasn’t until eight years later that he was ready and willing to share with the world what became the book The Inner Voice of Love.

I get very sorrowful when I think that all I’ve suffered has been solely for my own purification and sanctification and isn’t of use, consequence, or interest to anyone else.  It gives me hope that some of what I have lived through, experienced, prayed, struggled with, journaled and written about might be of help to others. 

I have already seen how sharing what God nudges me to about my journey has helped people in the past.  There have certainly been times when I’m nervous and rather uncomfortable talking about what feel like such private, embarrassing, or weak areas of my life, yet, somehow,  when I feel called to let others know what has happened in my life with the intention of giving them hope, offering them practical suggestions, and/or encouragement along with prayer, then I’ve been able to talk with others about even the ugliest aspects of my life and myself. 

There is still a pull within me to be a writer who inspires and helps to heal others, like Henri Nouwen, Joyce Rupp, Kathryn Hermes, and others have been for me.  If it is only through personal letters and one-on-one relationships with people that God wants to work in and through me, then I am willing.  If I’m called to work towards publishing articles, essays, and books that are more widely read or accept invitations for larger speaking engagements, I am open to that as well.    

Lord, guide me as I discern how, when, where you want me to use the charisms you have given me, including that of writing and sharing with others.  It is far too easy to fall into thinking that what I have to say, what I’ve been through, what I’ve learned, and come to in prayer are of no interest or use to others.  Please help me remain true to a spirit of prayer and honest discernment, so my motivation for what I write and what I share comes more from you than from a selfish desire for approval or acceptance.  Amen.    
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