Nathenial Hawthrone is quoted as say, “Everyman has his secret sorrow which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” Recently I have been experiencing a well of sadness that has unexpectedly surfaced. The combination of a new living environment and my desire to allow God’s love to penetrate deeper into my heart, seems to have triggered this sadness. I am learning not to be “cold,” that is, indifferent to inner pain, but rather process the pain.
The inflow of God’s love into my heart confronts my egocentricity, exposing my focus on self rather than the Lord. My sadness is that of the wounded ego. My frail ego, turned inward feeling sorry for myself. “This is real affliction,” writes Ruth Burrows. She maintains, “what we do almost always inflates the ego. True affliction deprives us of every vestige of self-complacency. It is often low-keyed, miserable, something we are ashamed to call suffering.” Those last words, “ashamed to call suffering.” When I see people around me who suffering much more than myself, I have to confess that I am ashamed to be aware of my pain.
I am learning to identify my shame, as part of my fragile ego not making “the grade” spiritually. I am hurting because the spirit of God has exposed vestiges of my false religious self. Pain from being self absorbed in my walk with God is hard to accept. ” God will not protect them [men] from their lives” observes Donald Bisson. He goes on to say, “Men must learn that God desires to enter into their experiences, even when they are filled with ambiguity, pain and struggle.”
The Psalmist is a good model for finding help in expressing our pain. He tells of his experience. “”The pressure never lets up; all the juices of my life dried up. Then I let it all out; I said, ‘I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.’ Suddenly the pressure was gone – my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared.” (Ps 32:4-5 – Message). Men, there is no need to go digging around in your inner life to identify your failures. Instead listen to what the Spirit of God wants you to become aware of in your heart.
Listen again to Donald Bisson. “Men feel deeply. They feel so deeply that they fear to let any of these feelings out; they fear they will be engulfed by them. The most profound feelings are associated with grief.” Boy, can I identify with this insight. I sometimes get overwhelmed at what the Spirit of God is exposing in my soul. It goes back a ways in my story, exposing my well of sadness.
My testimony to any man reading this blog who is in a battle of not wanting to identify and be exposed to his sadness, is to trust in faith that God loves you in all of your stink. God loves you unconditionally. What you are experiencing is the inflow of his love. In order to know this love on an ever deepening level, we are called to expose the dark caverns of our heart to the Lord.
Remember again the wonderful promise in I John 4:18: “Such love has no fear because prefect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of judgment, and this shows that his love has not been perfected in us. Men, focus on the love God has for you, not on the pain of exposure.