“Like any true mirror, the gaze of God receives us exactly as we are, without judgement or distortion, subtraction or addition. Such perfect receiving is what transforms us. Being totally received as we truly are is what we wait for and long for all our lives. Soon we who are gazed upon so perfectly can pass on the same accepting gaze to all others who need it.” Richard Rohr
Do you feel Jesus enjoying you on a regular basis? His desire is “that you would receive the perfect knowledge of God’s pleasure over your lives.” (Col 1:9 TPT) These are Paul’s words, but he didn’t always feel God’s pleasure.
Imagine Saul’s encounter with Jesus on the on the road to Damascus. Saul was an angry man, bound up in a works based religious system, which blinded him to the reality of a loving God, fueling his anger even more. How could these Christians be so happy when they abandoned the religious system Saul held so dear?
Yet Saul was transformed by Jesus’ accepting, welcoming, forgiving care during the next 3 days in the house of Judas of Damascus, probably never feeling these emotions before. God asked a fellow spiritual friend, Ananias, to pray for Paul and as he did,” the crusty substance over Paul’s eyes disappeared and he could see perfectly.” (Acts 9:18)
I would have loved to have been in that house and witness first-hand the softening of Saul’s heart. I can imagine the tears, the joy, the relief of releasing an anger of never feeling quite good enough, in which his misplaced narrative of God entrapped him. According to Dr. Dan Siegel, the 4 S’s of secure attachment needed for every human being are to be seen, safe, secure and soothed. It seems that Paul finally felt safe with God, letting Jesus and others soothe and soften the hard, crusty layers that religious duty and false self living had built up.
Jesus was inviting Paul to see what he actually came to earth to offer: Salvation based on a new, secure attachment to the heart of a God that is easy to please. God also opened Paul’s eyes to his true identity: A totally received, accepted human being, seen and secure in the safe place of vulnerability. “This is at the very heart of the spiritual journey, but it takes time to feel safe enough with ourselves and with God to risk exposing the tender, unfinished places of the soul. We are so accustomed to be shamed or condemned in the unfinished parts of ourselves that it is hard to believe there is a place where all of who we are –the good, the bad and the ugly—will be handled with love and gentleness.” Ruth Haley Barton
And then there was Ananias who connected with Paul without judgement. I love how the narrative lets us in on the tension that Ananias experiences, “Lord, I have heard many reports about this man,” yet he lets go of his preconceived view of someone totally on the other side. Aren’t we glad that Ananias didn’t let hatred and fear rule? Let his words be ours, too---“Jesus has sent me so that you may see again.”
The world, especially now, needs us to be people who welcome others and are happy to be with them….no matter what. Who knows what blindness will be healed in the coming days as we open ourselves to new connections with God and others?
After meditating on Paul’s conversion, my prayer has been: Lord, please remove any harshness in me that would push people away. Help me see more clearly your smile over my life so I can smile over others.
· What crusty substances (misguided narratives of who God is) are over my spiritual eyes?
· What in me needs a soothing, non-judgement touch from God or a listening, spiritual friend?
· Who am I being invited to see more fully and welcome?
Hear Beth as she shares more on attachment in her conversation this week with Be Still Ministries: