Friday, May 25, 2012

A Thousand Little Deaths

Hell can be described as  a perpetual alienation from our true being, our true self, which is in God."
                                                                                                           Thomas Merton

In my posts, Utterly encompassed and The Kingdom of Light, I spoke of how we create "false kingdoms" for ourselves and rule over them like little gods. I'd like to continue on this subject because of how critical it is that we allow God to tear down these kingdoms that have little to no basis in God's reality. How are these   "kingdoms" taken down? By allowing God to destroy the false self we have created and set up as gods in these kingdoms of "me, myself and I".

What? You think we are better than our first parents, Adam and Eve? That we didn't inherit their fallen nature?

We, too, have bitten the apple that contained the worm of "You shall be as gods." And ever since the fall, we have set ourselves on the throne where only the living God can truly be. There is no life without God and if we do not renounce our thrones, we live in a world of our own making. Fallen human hearts are wily by nature. By simply paying attention to the ways we try to justify our sins, this can be proven. For a woman of average intelligence, I can be quite a genius when it comes to evil. I've even caught myself enumerating to God why I sin the way I do some days. "This insomnia crushes me and makes me cranky. If you could lift the insomnia I don't think I would have committed this sin." Yeah, right."This migraine was too much to take so I couldn't help yelling at my daughter." Say what? "If that man on the road hadn't yelled at me I wouldn't have been grumpy with my husband."  If my back didn't ache, if I didn't have the flu, if I wasn't depressed, if I didn't have Myasthenia Gravis. (Yes, I was healed of this but I used to use it as an excuse for why my behavior was not so good.) I think you get my drift, I used outward circumstances to absolve myself to some degree of my sin. Not in the Confessional, of course, just in my head. Now, there is no need for me to justify my actions before God...He knows me better than I know myself. I'm pretty sure this justification is for my own benefit. So I can sit on my throne a bit longer, perhaps? After all, if I am booted off my throne I have to eat dust and dust just isn't my favorite snack. Neither is humble pie, come to think of it.

I just don't trust myself. I have long since realized that I am my own biggest cross and it will stay this way until I renounce my ego and allow God to bring forth the real me. The one who has no need of masks, no need to please others, no need to emotionally manipulate others to have my needs met. The "real" person that God created has all his or her needs met by God; it is the false self that has needs and expectations that can never be met. This false self is a figment of our sinful imaginations. A wisp of smoke; a caricature of the true self which lives in God.

I have often thought that God allows many humiliations and failures in our lives because they are aimed at this falseness in our nature. The saints took humiliating experiences with equanimity because these experiences do not harm the true self that is caught up in the love of God. They destroy the false self and help us to see ourselves for who we truly are, not for who we imagine ourselves to be.

We want to be as gods and the Lord gives us what we want...and then we realize that we make lousy gods and the dethroning begins.

These thousands of "little deaths" make us humble. They crucify our ill will so that God's will may reign supreme in our hearts.

Dust and humble pie will probably stay on the menu for quite some time, no doubt. At least John the Baptist got to eat locusts and wild honey.


  1. Your article makes me wonder. When we get to meet God face to face, and He considers our sins, will we get the oportunity to explain ourselves? Will there be a Court hearing, I wonder?

    Yes ... most of us are grumpy, ill-tempered, lazy or whatever else from time to time. But often there is a reason for it. Ill-health, pain, suffering or various other factors affect our moods, behaviours, and even the strength of our Faith.

    Even Christ Himself was affected by personal circumstances. He asked for the cup to pass away, He believed His Father had abandonned Him.

    One may well ask: Did God forgive Him for those temporary lapses? I believe He did.

    And I believe and hope that He'll also remember why, more often than not, I am not perfect.

    God bless.

  2. Dust and humble pie~I think we all need a steady diet of it this side of heaven. And if we pray the Our Father with the right disposition, we will remember that it is Thy Kingdom come~not my kingdom come.
    Lord, please dethrone me forever for I am you unprofitable servant.
    Excellent post, Mary.

  3. Victor,
    I don't think we need to explain ourselves, God knows everything. When the light of perfect Truth shines on us all that is hidden is revealed.

    Feeling ill and stuff definitely affects our moods and behavior but it doesn't give us permission to be uncharitable, right? God forgives our lapses because He is Love and Mercy not because I try to justify myself a bit (errrrr...a lot :)

    Jesus never sinned. I DO sin. After my healing from MG I went through a bit of a rough time because I had to face the fact that I tried to justify myself quite a lot. And it's a waste of time because God is far more merciful than I am. I am learning that it is far better to simply ask God's forgiveness plainly and in a straightforward fashion than to attempt to explain away my actions. It gives me more peace when I can simply drop the whole matter into His hands and gracefully accept His mercy.

    For me, I have learned that there is never a "perfect" day and if I wanted to I could come up with a multitude of reasons for why I committed this sin or that. But, what good is this? God already knows everything so I am probably just doing this for my own sake, wouldn't you say? So that I can feel good about myself. But "feeling good" about ourselves isn't necessarily what God wants from us. He wants to see us grow in charity.

    God bless!

  4. Karin,
    I think so too! The Our Father really is the perfect prayer, isn't it? It covers everything!

    St. Therese is a wonderful example of charity despite the circumstances around us. Our Lady even more so. Her Son was crucified before her eyes and she still loved with a perfect love.

  5. Mary,

    I often tell God that if there was no such thing as tiredness I would be a saint. Perhaps it's more true to say that such things as tiredness give us the opportunity to practise virtue, and therefore they help us become saints... if we don't let ourselves be overcome by them and start making excuses for ourselves... Sometimes I forget to ask for extra graces to help me through the tough times. I just sink and give in.

    God bless!

  6. Sue,
    Lol! Yes, I've done this!

    I agree things like tiredness and illness help us practice virtue and become saints. I liked your comment about praying for extra graces too. These things help us to rely on God's strength rather than our own.

    I can relate to the "sink and give in" as well :)

    God bless you too, Sue!

  7. Mary, I like what you say about St. Therese. To love like her, to accept every little irritating thing about others in your life, and continue to love them without complaining, that is a huge challenge. I pray to be like her.

  8. Hi Anne,
    It is a huge challenge, isn't it? St. Therese is one of my favorite saints but her "little way" is not so easy. She is a good model for those of us who can only do small things but would like to do them with love and for God alone.

    Enjoy your weekend, Anne!

  9. Great post Mary!
    Amazing how God loves us just the way we are. Does he call us to more? Yes! But even if we ignore him, even if we do not try to change, He loves us. He never turns away. We do. God is good.

  10. Yes, He loves us perfectly. We are the ones who turn away. He loves us so much and He calls us to share in this great love of His.

    God bless!

  11. Your post made me think of a letter I just read in the awesome book you recommended, *Let Go* (loving it...see the Holy Spirit was speaking thru you). He said that God allows the crosses that will bear upon most where we need them interiorly in our soul...our weakest areas...the ones that need to die! Which got me thinking of the whole insomnia thing LOL! I know I am a control freak and like things a certain way and I am very what better way to put to death that pride than sleep deprivation. I realize, in retrospect, that when I am exhausted, I need to truly physically lean on Jesus to get thru *the next moment* if you know what I mean. Only by His Grace can I accomplish His Will when I feel like that.

    Sorry for rambling. I also responded to your comment at my blog. I have a great quote from Thomas Merton I want to share eventually on will love it.

  12. Theresa,
    I love that book! Thanks for the author you recommended too! I started with "Interior Freedom" and I am going to order another one of his books after this one.

    Thanks for your words on the insomnia here. I am having a witness in the spirit that this is true for me too so you have no idea how grateful I am for the words you posted here :)

    Please, ramble more often :) I got a lot out of your comment and there is no doubt God just spoke to me through the words you. Thank you.

  13. I jumbled that. Through the words you wrote, I meant! God bless!

  14. I especially related to this post, Mary. I think it may be the not trusting myself part. I find it hard to self-analyze because of that.

    And also, so many seemingly good things taste bitter, afterwards, but being humbled seems to just lead to Divine consolation. Then, it's almost a welcome thing.

    You challenge me to thinking, Mary! Sometimes, it feels too hard to think about and sometimes I think I just about understand:-)

    God bless, Mary:-)

  15. Hi Vicky,
    It's better to trust God than ourselves anyway :) Humans are fickle to a degree but God is trustworthy and solid as a rock.

    God bless you too, Vicky!