The obvious answer to that is “well, the beginning of course!” So let it begin.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.Genesis 1:1-2
That’s how this Blog feels. Formless and Empty. Deep. Yes, and also the Spirit of God hovering.
When I first started journaling in earnest, was when I began Spiritual Direction with Henri. Henri was a wonderful, classy, deeply spiritual, insightful older woman. We met at the Cenacle in Houston, near where we lived. The Cenacle was truly Holy Ground.
Henri encouraged me to begin what was called the Nineteenth Annotation, a “retreat in daily life”. This journey is rooted in Ignatian Spirituality and commits the retreatant to an eight-month program of prayer and meetings with a spiritual director, following a pattern of meditation, contemplation, and scripture reading. Henry didn’t serve as my spiritual director through the Nineteenth Annotation, Michelle did. Michelle was a wonderful guide.
Michelle encouraged me with the first thing I had to learn was to pray and journal. She said I had to sit in prayer for an hour over single day!! AN HOUR?!?!? I’ll be honest, it felt like I was chained to the chair. How in the world was I supposed to do this?!?! Michelle believed that someday I would say that an hour wouldn’t be long enough!
The second thing I had to learn to do was to trust God and the process of Spiritual Direction through the Ignatian Exercises Nineteenth Annotation.
The third thing I had to do was to learn that God is REAL and what it means to be forgiven by God and to forgive myself.
When I began the exercises, I started having dreams. Water dreams. At first, the dreams were of me being in turbulent waters, about to drown. This described my thoughts and life at the time with a full time job, volunteering, new bride-ness, and a 2 year old Ashley. The most turbulent, I think, was the inner turmoil of my previous life of over-achieving, over drinking/drugging, over-excusing, over-self loathing, over-promiscuousness, over-doubting self.
Typing this brings back a memory of sitting in the room with Michelle at the Cenacle where I confessed the promiscuities that I had lived. I came face to face with the poor decisions with men I had made. I wanted so badly to confess, but I was so afraid to tell anyone, especially this nice spiritual director lady who must think such horrible things about me. The words had come in through my journal and were sitting in my mouth ready to explode.
When the words and tears and ache came bursting out of my mouth, I found myself falling from my chair to my knees. The shame and fear and self-hate came out like a water fall flowing. The kind of pain that is felt when someone dies, and the ache that within feels like being hit in the gut by someone’s fist.
After this time, the waters in my dreams began to get calmer until one day, I dreamed I was floating on the water. Ya’ll, that was 25 years ago, and I can feel and remember that dream like it happened last night. It’s funny, I can remember the feeling of the floating dream, but the turbulent water dreams, I can’t FEEL like I do the floating dream. Isn’t that funny?
But see, that’s how God works. When I gave my life to God, put my faith in Christ, confessed my sin, shared my soul with another human being, I became a new creation in Christ. The old me was literally washed away.
And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so.
I’ll be honest, I still deal with old memories and shame, even today. Sometimes when I think of the “old me”, I can get overwhelmed. But I confess the sin, quietly to God, and have faith that God has forgiven me, and that its ok to forgive myself.
You can to, my friend. Are there inner thoughts that bring turbulence? I want you to know that when you receive Christ as your savior, and truly give your life to Him, you are a new creation, and you can rest, “float” in Christ, knowing that you will never have to be afraid of drowning. He will rescue you, if you’ll only reach out for His hand.
Back then, I couldn’t imagine sitting in prayer for an hour, and Michelle had faith that one day, an hour wouldn’t seem like long enough. She was right. Somedays, I have to tear myself away from my Bible and my journal because that’s the only thing that makes sense. The only place I can feel complete. If you are new to daily prayer, or not doing it at all, I pray you’ll begin and stick with it.