Abide: A Pathway to Transformative Healing and Intimacy with Jesus
Ave Maria Press
It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.John Paul II, “15th World Youth Day: Vigil of Prayer (Tor Vergata),” August 19, 2000
Invitation to Intimacy
I pause here to touch on Sr. Miriam James Heidland’s book Restore as it is relevant to reviewing Abide. This might also be an invitation to vulnerability. Please bear with me in this review while I step back and reflect for a moment on the goings on in my heart and mind the last couple of years. With some posts here on A Quilters Heart people have remarked noting my vulnerability, and like most things what I share is the tip of a particular iceberg. Being vulnerable is risky in so many ways and often I hesitate as there are other people involved, while speaking truth in and of itself is a good thing, there are times when this speaking misses the mark effectively throwing people under the bus without the opportunity to share their side of the experience. This often misses out on forgiveness, healing and God’s movement in my (our) lives and hearts.
Through Lent I worked through Restore with a friend. While our intent was to share with one another in writing for both of us it was challenging as Jesus was working on us in some very difficult places. I also know that when I’m finding it difficult to write I’m touching something painful or I’m writing the wrong thing. Both happen, in this moment it was more the painful life experiences that are in need of experiencing God’ Restorative touch.
Pardon me while I sip coffee.
While working through Restore some big life memories surfaced that needed dealing with, and so God and I with going to Spiritual Direction and Confession dealt with these big memories. One I’ll share a little later.
In Abide: A Pathway to Transformative Healing and Intimacy with Jesus Heather Khym continues the discussion from Restore not so much going deeper as offering the reader the opportunity to look at our relationship with Jesus in a more intimate way, asking us to look at our own story, to invite Jesus in for relationship and healing. Heather encourages therapy when necessary as sometimes we need someone to accompany us on this healing journey in ways that friends, confessors and spiritual directors aren’t equipped to handle. In some ways we need each: a therapist, confessor, spiritual director and oh yes, we need friends. I would recommend reading Abide with any or all of the previously listed people as we all need help process the memories and areas of our relationship with God and with one another. On a personal note I also recommend a journal, a favored pen (mine is a fountain pen), and some extra time to contemplate where and how the Holy Spirit is leading you through the writing exercises. Writing by hand always helps me dig a little deeper.
I will share wherein I made an incredibly disordered agreement, what prompted the change, and how God moved in healing me in some dynamic and unexpected ways. From chapter 9:
“The third essential in the healing journey is that we have to let go of self-reliance. We see this in the story when Eustace accepted the fact that he could not heal himself. He needed the community to prepare him and for Aslan to do the healing for him. This is so hard for us to come to grips with, especially those of us who pride ourselves on being strong, capable people who can “handle it.” We were not meant to do it all, and truthfully, we can’t do it all. Jesus says, “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:4–5).Abide – Chapter 9
We are so good at fighting to do things ourselves and rejecting help. I remember when my daughter Eva was just two years old and we took her swimming. We would try to put on her life jacket before taking her to the pool, and she would scream and cry because she didn’t want to put it on. Eventually, we gave up and I told her that instead of having to wear her life jacket, I would hold her in the pool. She started to cry again and yelled, “No, I do it!” She thought she could swim on her own like an Olympic champion, but I knew that if I didn’t help her, she would immediately drown.
We can so often act like this when God or others try to help us. We are so convinced that doing it our way and doing it ourselves is best, but Jesus is the only one who has defeated death and risen from the grave, and he is the only one who can resurrect the dead and the broken places in us. There are also people God has commissioned to assist us in becoming open to the grace of God and working through the many blocks we have so that as we approach Jesus, we are receptive to his movements. We need good counselors, holy priests, spiritual directors, and friends of Jesus to accompany us to the healing. We see a great example of this in the Gospel of Luke 5:17–20 when a group of men made a hole in the roof of the house where Jesus was so they could lower their friend in and place him at the feet of Jesus to be healed.
This is the role of those who accompany us: to help us remove the blocks so we can come to the feet of Jesus and be healed. “
In this Heather affirms our need for community around us supporting us, it is why we need to both read and listen to the healing experiences in the Gospels, and in the lives of people through the ages, and the stories of our contemporaries and our own stories. Yes we need to listen to our own stories for the good and benefit of our own spiritual growth and for others.. We are meant for community and intimacy. And this takes hard work and willingness to go there. It takes intimacy and vulnerability. It takes not shaming others for sharing their stories. And in saying all of this Abide is a book worth working through in the way that makes the most sense for your.
So saying all of this, if you’ve read this far I’m diving into the deep end of the disordered agreement I made and how God has dealt with it in my own life. One of the things I tell my students when teaching quilting is to not talk shit about their self or their work. They are beginning to learn something new and learning new skills is hard work. As I write I’m understanding that I’m honing this skill of writing and vulnerability and telling my own story and not diminishing it. Sometime after my older brother died as I prayed before the Blessed Sacrament one afternoon I asked God to let me be responsible for his sins. Yes, you read that correctly.
My relationship with my older brother was complicated in so many ways that I don’t even understand and in this part of life I never will. There were times he was both physically and psychologically abusive. He was five years older than me and much stronger physically. My dad and my parents divorced when I was 11/12. One evening when my mom wasn’t home, I do not know what triggered this, my brother tried to kill me with my jumprope. He whipped my legs so hard I had rope marks on my thighs under my jeans, and I tried holding the rope away from my neck as he tried choking me. This is one of the memories of life that I could see so clearly and during Lent between reading Restore and Abide I knew God needed me to deal with, I needed to let Him in. In reading through Abide this affirmed that entering into this memory, that examining components is necessary. I needed to understand that:
1) my brother actually tried to kill me in that moment;
2) that I had indeed forgiven him for this;
3) that I’d tried taking on something that didn’t belong to me – namely the responsibility for his sins;
4) healing takes time; and
5) forgiving myself for taking this responsibility is a necessary part of the healing process.
I’d like to say I’m a little slow on the uptake however through Abide I’m reminded (we need reminders not new teaching) that healing takes time, God waits patiently for me to let him in, and this one was well more than a two-fer. In my mid-twenties I attended a parish mission in which anyone who sought God’s healing were Anointed with the Oil of the Sick. I walked out of that experience knowing I’d been healed, however didn’t realize it would take all this time to experience the fruit of that healing. This moment of healing needed time to develop a healthy root system and for me to properly care for it. And clearly I needed Heather and Sr. Miriam James to write their books to get there.
Part of the fruit of this is a profound change in my relationship with food, one which I thought wasn’t terrible. At the beginning of Lent my Sweetie and I made some needed changes in our diet. It’s been challenging as there are well developed food preferences. After bringing a specific part, the asking God to take responsibility for my brothers sins, to Spiritual Direction, and then what I learned to Confession, the relationship with food changed. This has led to losing nearly twenty pounds since February. Some days I drink enough water, some days not so much. The women in our family were blessed with small bladders so…it’s taking some time to adjust.
Now I just need to start walking. Hey! Yay. That’s a story for another day. I’m just going to say that treating my body as a temple of the Holy Spirit isn’t easy and takes time to make necessary adjustments. I can only thank and praise God for all of this. Healing often takes a community and to use a friends example, I’m calling on Team Teri (she uses her own name) for your continued prayers for me through this.