Bernard putting the emphasis on the nearness of God, in Lesson 4, brings me to wondering. What do we do that makes it seem that God is far away?
For many the feeling of God being far away has to do with a feeling of unworthiness. This lingering sense of “not being good enough”, being “sinful”, being a “miserable sinner”, or similar, may still be lurking in the background. When then is the case we don’t want God to be around as we don’t want anyone to see (we especially don’t want God to see) what we are “really like”.
Yet, that is not what you are “really like”. Some assume that what they are really like is the unexpressed negativity inside them which they have to keep at bay. The hide it as they feel that if other’s saw it they would run a mile. They think that if anyone knew what they were “really like” no one would want to know them. This is false thinking.
They then go on to assume that they have to keep God well out of their lives as He could not possibly love them as He knows all about the things they keep hidden from everyone else. They think, “Oh no, He knows I did that. He knows I had that thought. He knows how I really feel about so-and-so”, etc.. This is all false thinking too.
These examples are false thinking because as you become closer to God such things fall away. As you become closer to God, the negativity, anger, bitterness or depression, which once haunted you starts to leave. Besides God love you completely anyway exactly as you are. He knows what you are truly like, not what you fear you might be like. What you are truly like is an expression of His spirit and are therefore God’s Divine Child. You are not the negative self you fear you might be.
Many people are like a child which has fallen in the mud and who, out of shame, runs away from the parent who wants to help clean them up. But the child, in this case, is too young to clean themselves properly. The parent can do it easily. Such a child may run away out of fear of getting into trouble because of the mess it got itself in. However, our “parent” is a kindly God who is really just interested in helping us get clean and stay out of the mud. The “mud” in this case are the low level thoughts and feelings which arise when we do not feel closeness to God. As we step closer to God we get “cleaned up” and lose our sense of unworthiness which made us want to keep our distance in the first place. We also start to get an aversion for “mud” and lose our aversion for God.
A false sense of humility can cause us to minimise our awareness of what is good about ourselves and maximise our awareness of what is not so good about us. If you do this to yourself, do you realise how unfair this is? If another person did that to you, you would object or feel put upon. A high moral tone can never be based on unfairness, so there is nothing right or good about being unfair to yourself and denying your own goodness. Especially if this is getting in the way of you developing a sense of closeness to God. And a sense of your own goodness is of great assistance in letting yourself feel close to God.
True humility lets you celebrate your goodness, because you know it comes from God. And because you know that goodness is in everyone.
Celebrate your Goodness!
Please get out your notebook and make a list of the good things anyone has ever said about you, or list some of the good things you have done. Such things don’t have to be big or grand. It can be simple small things, like taking time to listen to someone who really needed it, phoning or mailing a friend to see how they are, smiling at the person at the checkout counter and giving them a warm “thank you” and so on. Or it might be that you are good at remembering people’s birthdays, or you like to give money or things to charity and so on.
Try building your list over a few days or a few weeks and see how it grows. You will notice something very interesting, not only does your list grow but your habit of doing such things will grow also. You will like yourself better and be a better friend to yourself (as well as to those around you) as you enjoy the various ways you express your natural goodness and watch it grow.
If you hesitate to do this exercise remember that many people believe that we get more of what we give our attention to. If you believe this then surely it is right and proper to give more attention to your own goodness!
Do you have some things can let go of, which will let you feel closer to God? God does not impinge Himself on you, as you may have noticed. If God were to approach you, and you held unworthy feelings, then those feelings would become more intense at His approach. The being you most fear is the is the very one who most goes out of His way to not hurt you. Why not let go of feelings of unworthiness or not feeling good enough? Whatever the cause of such feelings, now is as good a time as any to release them and choose to feel closer to your Heavenly Father instead.
Golden Gate Affirmation Exercise 3
In the Golden Gate affirmation we use the phrase “good fortune”. What does “good fortune” mean to you? I tend to think it refers to outward success rather than inner success (which would be “fulfillment” – we will focus on that in another follow-up).
Good fortune can obviously mean money or financial benefits of some kind. Yet, it can also refer to the good fortune of having a wonderful life partner. It can also take the form of bumping into a dear friend you have not seen for years. It can take the form of having a reliable car, having good weather on while on holiday, a lovely home, etc. Indeed anything which benefits you or which you enjoy is “good fortune” even if it is just a glass of good clean water, or a nice cup of tea or coffee.
For this exercise, write in your notebook a list of the good fortune which you have, and the good fortune which you would like to have. Put each good fortune at the start of a new line. Just write a nice long list, mixing up the ones you have with the ones you would like to have. Do this for ten or twenty minutes, or so.
Then go through the list with happy deliberation and as you come to each one do as follows:
a) if it is one of those you already have put a tick beside it and say to yourself “I enjoy this good fortune”.
b) if it is not one of those you already have imagine how you will feel when you have this particular good fortune and how you will feel about putting a tick beside that one too. Mimic making a tick beside it, if this helps, and silently say to yourself “soon I will enjoy this good fortune”.