Monday, 1 March 2010

Masks and Love

Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word "love" here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace -- not in the infantile ... sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.
- James Baldwin, from his book The Fire Next Time
This wonderful quote came from Sojourners, and although I have blogged on this before (and here) I couldn't resist having another go!

For much of my life I have been codependent, so perhaps the church was an obvious turn to take (see blogs here and here).  However, the formation (much discussed, but when I Googled little CofE description appears to be out there) element of my training seems to have been gradually knocking it out of me, although I recognise that that is not the case for everyone.  It has required some tough choices and has been hard, but having been through it I am grateful for the changes that it wrought in me.

It can perhaps best be described as going over an abyss - there is no certainty of what lies beyond, but there is some inner compulsion to go over it anyway.  Almost an abandonment.  And you do not go over it once - there is a continual going over it - issue after issue after issue.  It did get easier - even if some of the later abysses appeared deeper than the earlier ones - easier because I learnt to trust that God knew what he was doing, even if I didn't.

I remember at one point wondering with a friend what I would do now that I had been down all the abysses - only to discover that the ones that were to come were even nastier.  It was almost as though I could not even recognise the really bad ones until I had developed sufficient trust in the process that they would not terrify me.  Perhaps an example of God will not test you more than you can bear (though I generally don't like that argument as I believe I see people who have more than they can bear, and I don't like the idea of God testing us - see the book of Job).

If you find yourself on the edge of such an abyss, all I can do is to say that I have found it life giving to go down, and back up again - but to come back out I have had to give up all pretence at being in control and needing to know what the outcome will be.

All this reminds me of the politician, and I can't remember who, and I doubt it was original, who said "the last government have brought us to the edge of an abyss.  Under our government we will take a giant step forwards".  I tried Googling and found modern references, but I heard it before the 1979 change of government.

1 comment:

  1. Called in via Lesley on twitter. Thanks for this important pointer to co-dependency in ministry, which I'd not seen quite that way before. (Putting it more in the context of personal boundary setting). I once heard someone describe it as being sucked into a person(s) who are 'storm centres'- constantly demanding attention. Currently blogging at, but logging in with old blogger account as its easier!



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