People can endure much. People can endure some pretty terrible work environments; we’ve all seen people walk though devastating diagnoses without giving up. But one thing that we cannot tolerate is our vocation – our calling – being tampered with. This is our sexuality; it’s that burning fire inside of us that keeps us alive. If this fire inside of us dies, our whole being dies. We can’t survive without it.
Many of us walk around with only coals still flickering in the darkest of nights, so it has to be understandable when we have big reactions to people when we perceive that they are about to tamp out our fire – whether they are doing on purpose or not. This must bring us to a place of grace for ourselves and for others when we see these reactions come out of us or them.
The word abuse can cause a reaction inside of us similar to that of finding a snake under something that we have just lifted up. We might recoil at the sound of it. We might jump back and get the shovel called victim mentality to smash it’s brain in with. Maybe sometimes that’s appropriate – if it’s a cottonmouth. Many of us certainly have the capacity to project blame on others who haven’t wronged us – or haven’t wronged us to the extent that we designate. But the longer I live; the more encounters I have with Jesus and people, the more I realize: usually it’s only a garter snake.
So why does it cause such a reaction? Well, have you ever encountered any kind of pit viper (cottonmouth, rattler, copperhead, moccasin, etc)? If not, you may not react in the same way. But it you have, you are probably much more wary. The thing that gives a pit viper it’s classification is an organ – a pit organ – between each eye and nostril, which is heat-sensitive and allows for them to more accurately strike any warm-blooded prey that they may encounter. That’s what a false accusation does; it’s pointed, purposeful; and it seeks the heat – it seeks that fire inside of you. There isn’t anything much worse than being falsely accused of doing something that you didn’t do; that’s a bite that you remember. You tend to be wary of snakes after something like that. So when someone mentions abuse, many of us have fight or flight reactions.
But here’s the thing: accusation takes place way more often internally than externally. We can probably all think of those people who’s social media posts are occupied with PSA “reactions” to their apparent plethora of haters that they have. I find it easy to judge these people, but if I’m honest, they’re just outwardly stating what I am internally dealing with. So much of our decision making happens at a subconscious, or even unconscious level. Our families of origin and our influences have so much more bearing on our thoughts, and in turn our decisions (which are just reactions), than we give credit for. If that makes you cringe a bit, good. That means you’re at least acknowledging it at some level. Many people roll their eyes at that idea and keep making those unconscious choices. It’s better to acknowledge and have no idea how to change it then to discredit it and keep on in the same patterns.
We’re all looking for a snake to blame. There is a snake, it’s just not one we can smack with a shovel. The truth is, we’ve already been bit. In my circle of Christianity we place much emphasis on the serpent’s head being crushed by the man in the famous passage in Genesis. We also quickly and appropriately point to how this points to Christ, the ultimate human, as the one who accomplishes this. What we rarely do is recognize, mourn, and accept that we, as humans, though we have victory through Christ, have also been wounded; that the snake is still around, and we still have to be wary because his head hasn’t been crushed yet. What we need right now is to be healed. But again, we become wary. We become scared of all snakes; and since snakes live outside, we become scared of the outside. We close in, and as we do, we start choking out the oxygen that our sexuality needs; that inner fire that drives us. this is the common abuser of our vocation.
In order to fan this flame, we have to open ourselves up to faith. Faith that, though we have been bitten, we will heal. But we can only heal with an anti-venom; something that we can’t produce ourselves – we have to trust someone else for that. This is the beauty of faith in Jesus. Jesus, like no other god, was embodied. He lived, breathed; had a sexuality of his own. He also is still lives and can be accessed when we can reach down inside of our own hearts, where he lives. He can also be accessed a plethora of other ways, but the wonderful part about this specific way is that we don’t have to go anywhere or do anything. In fact, to the contrary, what we need is to stay and stop. This may be a bit more of a challenge than we would like it to be, but it’s very achievable, and it’s been a life-changing practice for me. Because if I’m being honest, even if I have the means of transportation and time, I don’t always have the energy to go…anywhere. Sometimes my fire is only a flicker.
I’m glad to say that as I have practiced this silence and solitude; this time with Jesus, my imagination has been filled with vocational passions. I’m finding healing and energy as I let the other influences go and sit with him. As this sexual fire grows, I’m able to look out into the darkness of the world and see the serpents that need to be hunted.
P.S. If you are interested in this practice, I highly recommend the App called Pause. I wouldn’t have seen the breakthrough in my life if it wasn’t for this great help. Also, If you have the means and availability, you can also search out a spiritual director. This may be a relationship that you already have (the Spirit will reveal this), or there are professionals in many areas who can be found through a Google search.