Thoughts on discipleship, service and ministerial studies @ the BoL
Today, I decided to create a diary for my journey of the ministerial studies. I suppose this can be part of my assignments because these posts are accounts of my personal experiences of various study related material and encounters.
Self-doubt as self-protection
This morning during meditation I had a strong feeling of ‘enough’. I felt as if life was telling me to stop hoping and wishing. In some ways what I experienced reminded me of my no-nonsense grandmother who lost faith in the unknown a very long time ago. At a time when I wanted to be an artist, she kept on reminding me that nobody cared about what I wanted or wished for and told me to get a proper profession that would pay my bills. Once again, I found myself sitting in waiting idly for the heavens to open so I can do what I long to do, my ministerial studies.
This crazy voice appeared and started screaming at me saying: ‘Why is it that you have not noticed that life does not support you in doing this? Can you not see the closed door? It is simply not for you! You would not be good for a minister, anyway, you don’t fill the bill! Look at yourself, how ridiculous you are! You are banging on a closed door! Go and find something more worthwhile to do!
I was struggling with thoughts like, ‘I may not be ready to do my ministerial studies properly. Maybe, the reason behind my studies finding solid ground and a proper form is because of my unreadiness to serve God and others. I may not, simply, be the right person for the job.’
One of my initiate friends regularly holds Sunday morning LAF sessions during which, this morning, I realized that I am full of self-doubt and not only that but I also came to understand that I use self-doubt for my own protection. Holy weird!
As I was looking through various reading materials so to feed myself with some nurturing content, I found this reading: Seva – The way of Service by Sadhu Sundar Singh
Reading these extracts moved me the most :
“God has no need of help from us. Our very existence is entirely dependent on God’s constant help. However, if we offer ourselves in service, God blesses our efforts and adds his help.”
“Your examples are full of hope, beloved Sadhu, but I am too selfish and sinful to be of any service.”
“Some people held back form serving others because they doubt their own abilities. They are like those recovering from a long illness. They receive nourishing food and rest and are no longer sick, but he remains weak and lethargic because they have not worked or exercise their muscles. We must simply set out in trust to bring the message of hope and faith to others. … In order to help those who are struggling and sinking in the dark waters of inner need, we must enter the practical school of theology of prayer and spiritual union with God.
Why share our spiritual blessing with others, when so often people only mock and ridicule us?”
“If a blind man comes groping along the road, it is only right that we who can see should step aside and avoid bumping into him. … if we get annoyed about it, only proves that we are blinder than the blind man himself, completely lacking both common sense and human sympathy. … if we continue to experience opposition, we lose nothing, since e experience for the sake of the Master, the Truth, which is our reward.
If we serve in love, then our service will eventually bear fruit. If some people speak evil of us or hurl abuse and criticism, then we should love them all the more. They may yet taste the sweet fruits of our love. “
It made me think: ‘In what way self-doubt is related to serving God?’
When self-doubt sets in, it feels as if there is not much active Love inside of me. I have a lot of care for the world but I have no patience for and I easily get annoyed with what I call human ignorance.
I understand that I feel strongly drawn to the idea of serving, however, I am also aware how much I wish to avoid any involvement in others’ processes of development. After returning to Hungary, I spent long years supporting others on their journey of development. Eventually, I found myself burnt out and frustrated. I see that the main reason for this may be my expectations of their results. In return for my efforts I wanted them to change, preferably for the better, not mentioning the sense of gratefulness that I hoped they would feel towards me in return.
“The great gift of service is that it also helps the one who serves. Once when travelling in Tibet, I was crossing a high mountain pass with my Tibetan guide. The weather had suddenly turned bitterly cold, and my companion and I feared that we might not make it to the next village – still several miles away – before succumbing to the frost.
Suddenly, we stumbled upon a man … was still alive, though barely. … But my companion was upset and frightened for his life. … I could not bring myself to abandon the helpless traveller while life remained in him, so I lifted him on my back and threw my blanket around us both as best I could. … Near me, on the ground, I saw the frozen body of my guide. … The exertion of carrying him and the contact of our bodies had created enough heat to save us both. This is the way of service. No one can live without the help of others, and in the helping others, we receive help ourselves.”
I see how much the experience of supporting others helped me to become more of who I am today. No doubt about that!
Since I resigned saving humanity and started becoming my own saviour, I have also become aware of the fears that often withhold me. It often seems easier to save another than saving oneself. Just like the Tibetian guide above, in hope of protecting myself from human ignorance and cruelty, I have closed myself off completely from the world. In fear of being prosecuted, punished, and ridiculed, now, I keep myself safely away from others and their issues. I suspect this is my ‘unconscious’ way of attempting to protect myself from harm.
And this is when my self-doubt comes handy. Each time I step forward in good faith, I open a door inside myself that makes me available to Spirit and to my own Soul. I become vulnerable. As soon as that happens, fear of harm appears in the form of self-doubt that forces me to retrieve. I stop and I start questioning what I am doing; if I am doing the right thing; or if I am at all fit for the job ahead. I doubt my worthiness of receiving what I am hoping to moving toward.
Then I remembered reading this: “God often uses the least gifted people when some great service is needed. Why? … “
Well, how funny! I often judge people for making mistakes because of being out of their wits and trying to do something that they are not good at. Then I wonder, why make yourself suffer doing something when you could easily chose something else to do that better flows in your hands.
Now, I, however, can see how it maybe true.
The other day I saw Spotlight, the Oscar-winning feature film about the Catholic Church’s child abuse scandal of the late 1990’s. I was heartbroken to see how priests and ministers abused their power to deeply hurt formidable children. The wrong people for the job!
As it turns out, deep inside of me, I doubt that I am the right person for the job. ‘What if I misunderstand my desires to positively influence the thoughts and beliefs of those who turn to me? What if my personality traits hurt people instead of helping them? What if … ?’ then I read this: “Because people who know their own weakness are fully open to the power that God offers. “