Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Dark Corners of Our Hearts

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account."   Heb. 4:12,13

Purification. A word that sets me trembling if I'm being honest. I like it... but hate it. I'm glad God cares enough about us to do this for us... though I have to admit that it is painful at times. Especially when He is dredging up muck from the past, the "stuff" that you are unaware is deeply hindering you and keeping you from progressing spiritually.

It goes something like this:

God will pour light on certain unconscious behavior patterns, you begin to realize WHY you have been acting in certain ways for most of your life and you wonder "why wasn't this obvious to me" before now.

Everything becomes clear as a bell. It was hidden from you until now.

And it's a long, slow process. Most of the time, at least.

Years ago, when God first began to do this work in me, I was very resistant to it because I didn't understand what was going on. Was I really relating to others through the lens of the past? Through the scars of my upbringing?

Yes, I was. Still am no doubt. Everyone does this to some degree or another. There are no perfect families and everyone has wounds that they hide and behaviors they use to cover them or to protect themselves.  We just aren't aware of them.

Until the Holy Spirit makes us aware of them.

Even though some of these behaviors began as coping devices and may have been crucial to our survival growing up, not only are they no longer needed but they are detrimental to our spiritual health. If we refuse to let them go, our spiritual growth seems to come to a grinding halt. I've been "stuck" more than once due to my refusal to see. It's hard at times because these are unconscious habits so when they are brought to your attention by the Holy Spirit your first response is often: "Say what?? What do you mean I'm defensive? I'm not defensive!" (Lol. This is just an example...uhm...I think.)

Many of these less than lovely traits have to do with the way we relate to others and they need to be healed so we can love well.

Whenever I am going through a time of purification and I sense a lot of resistance on my part I turn to Mother Mary in prayer. I've found that Our Lady is a great, great help during these times. She sweetens even the most painful processes.

Her "ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace".


  1. It's so interesting what you say about things being hidden, Mary. My own self-analysis is quite shallow because my memory of the past is so fuzzy. I hope it doesn't all come back to me after dementia has befuddled my senses. I was hoping that old age would be a time I could act like a total grot and blame it on senility;-)

    Thanks for another thought-provoking post, Mary. It's good to be challenged like this.

    God bless:-)

  2. When we can't escape our memories and our past it is because we are human - we are made that way. Some have the capability, with God's help, to forgive great hurts done to them; but the memories of the past still haunt them and may continue to do so. And true, those memories may affect the way we live and behave in the present.

    A possible remedy, difficult as it may be at times, is that whenever the bad memories return to haunt us we pray for the person who caused us such great hurt.

    Thank you for a thought-provoking post.

    God bless.

  3. Hi Vicky,
    These are the things we are unaware of until God brings them to the surface for healing. We don't have to necessarily "remember" them for the Lord to bring healing to these areas. What may bubble up is raw emotion (for example)as God is working on these hidden areas. We may or may not be able to connect what He is doing to particular instances of our lives.

    Thanks for commenting :)

  4. Hi Victor,
    I think I may not be expressing myself well in this post ;) Sorry about that. It's not memories I am speaking about in this post but rather certain patterns of relating that are beyond our surface level of awareness. These cause all sorts of difficulties in our lives because we do not see truth for what it is but for what we think it is (and we are often wrong). An example might be when someone's reaction to a small slight seems excessive - it's because that is a "hot button" for that person. God clears these "buttons" I guess you could say, so that we are free to love well and to accept His love more fully. We push God away sometimes unknowingly - there are spiritual blockages that God needs to remove.

    God bless! Sorry that my post was not clear - I was having a bit of trouble trying to put it into words.

    A lot of wisdom in your comment - it's a very good idea to pray for those we connect with bad memories. It's crucial really.

  5. I loved this post. Being older than you (o yes I am), I've dealt with patterns of relating as they've popped up in many phases of my life, and in a wide variety of circumstances. I have seen God healing (as I finally began cooperating) even the automatic responses. It has been tough, and slow as WE measure slow, but mostly (if I look back) it has been amazing. And now I'm like Vicky in her comment - hoping the bad patterns don't come back in The Beffudlement.

    Oh. I should cross out "hoping" and make that "praying"....

  6. Hi Nancy,
    Oh funny, I just sent you an e-mail and here you are :)

    It wouldn't count if we were "befuddled" right? Lol. You and Vicky made me laugh with your comments.

    I wasn't even aware I was doing this for the first half of my life. Ahhh, my poor friends and family :) (That grin doesn't look very repentant does it?) Yes, I have seen healing in the automatic responses too (thankfully). I am still inclined to feel anxious when I am in certain situations but at least now I know WHY and I can detach myself a bit more from it. This helps!

  7. Thank you Mary for the clarification.

    What I often ask myself is: what causes our subconscious behaviour patterns? The dredged up muck from our unconscious mind?

    It is more often than not past experiences, since we're all the products of our environment, past and present, and our up-bringing, education, love given and hurts endured.

    These were the memories I referred to. And yes ... often it is muck and stuff below the level of our awareness. This stuff molds our very behaviour, whether we notice it or not.

    I pray that God takes pity of such weaknesses in our behaviour and that in His time we benefit from His healing powers.

    This is really a deep and meaningful post, Mary; and I thank you for it.

    God bless.

  8. Hi Victor,
    Great comment! Yes, it does mold our behavior though many of us don't realize it until God sends us the light to see it. If someone had suggested such a thing to me when I was young I would have rolled my eyes at them :) Live and learn I guess.

    God bless!

  9. Thank you Mary for setting me thinking about this.

    I've replied about the flock of birds.

    God bless you.

  10. Ha!Ha! Yeah, I saw it! Good one!!

  11. Hi Mary,
    My name's Bonnie but wasn't able to comment that way so anonymous. First time blogger, no idea what I'm doing and I think befuddlement has set in. I liked today's article, I hope I'm getting quicker at recognizing my unconscious behaviors, maybe as they are happening instead of days later.

  12. Hi Bonnie,
    Oh I'm often befuddled about blogging myself :) Do you have a blog? If you do can you direct me to it?

    Thanks for visiting!

  13. YES! Thank you ~ I've been dealing with some of this lately, and your post puts elegantly what's going on.

  14. Mary,

    "There are no perfect families and everyone has wounds that they hide and behaviors they use to cover them or to protect themselves. We just aren't aware of them." I can see this with myself. What I find sad is knowing my children will probably not be immune either. I don't like to think they are going to have wounds they need to deal with. But no upbringing is perfect, as you say.

    Mary, thank you so much for all your recent supportive comments on my blog. I appreciate them enormously. You are a kind friend!

    God bless!

  15. Mary, great post. I certainly have those automatic ways of responding. Defense mechanisms too. Support group helped me a lot.
    I got your comment on my blog yesterday and now I cannot find it!!! Weird. So just want to say - Thanks for commenting!

  16. Hi Mary, I too have automatic responses, action reaction I thin they called it in College. It's always related to a past hurt. For me, I pray daily for the gift of self awareness so I see what I am doing and why I do it. Slowly God reveals bits and piece to me. I guess he knows I can only take myself in small doses.

    Life is a blessing that is filled with struggles. Without the daily graces God gives us through prayer, friends, family and unexpected heavenly hugs our struggles might seem unbearable.

    Well, I guess I'm starting to ramble so I will stop. I loved your post!

  17. Mary, you inspire me with your constant goal of overcoming yourself. I just read a book that St. Gertrude became a saint because her nature was rebellious and she worked hard to overcome it. And in that same book St. Andrew says heaven likes it when we defend our Church so you go ahead and be defensive, God can use that, too.

  18. Hi Sarah,
    I'm glad you liked the post. I think all of us need interior cleansing - this helps both ourselves and others because we unintentionally harm ourselves and others through our lack of awareness.

    Thanks for visiting!

  19. Hi Sue,
    The fact that we do see it in ourselves is probably good for our children because we are less likely to pass it on to them than if we were completely unaware of it. At least I hope so!

    You're welcome - I was very upset by the comment that was left for you. I thought you handled it wonderfully though. I like how you meet things head-on, Sue - it's a very good trait to have.

    God bless!

  20. Hi Colleen,
    WHAT? You lost my comment?! How could you! LOL. Yeah, I have a habit of losing them too :)

    I hope you are feeling better!

  21. Hi DG,
    Thanks for the great comment! I believe we all have these to some extent. Those who don't believe they do are just not aware of them yet :)

  22. Hi Anabelle,
    Thank for the permission to be defensive...lol! I think I just heard God snicker!

    St. Gertrude was rebellious? Interesting. I love when saints admit their faults - gives us hope!

  23. Bad patterns of relating always seem obvious in others and hidden from ourselves! I find that by concentrating on listening and being kind, working to catch and cancel moments of rash judgment, life is easier, although doing those things isn't easy at all. Even so, I have to consciously avoid certain people because they are very manipulative, have agendas, and invite me to feel almost overwhelmingly like smacking them across the chops. Thank God we won't have these problems in heaven.