Grudgual: slow, incremental spiritual growth, initially resisted.

This morning a friend characterized his spiritual experience as being of the “grudgual” variety.  It took a very long time – and some pretty desperate circumstances – for him to get comfortable with the possibility of a loving, all-powerful, creative Being behind this universe we inhabit.

This process of entering into a living relationship with God involves time and patience – and a sense of humor can’t hurt.  Sometimes, I will flippantly remark that the way I can tell God’s will for me is to identify whatever I am most resisting. Yep, that’s usually my next step.  It can be as simple as needing to take the time in meditation to release my resistance to something or someone who reminds me of something about myself or within myself that I am resisting, often to the point of denying or burying it.  At other times, the thing I am resisting ends up being as involved as learning another language or exploring a dramatically different way of life; initially, I fear the commitment that will be involved.

12-Step literature says something along these lines: “whenever I am disturbed, there is something the matter with me.” This doesn’t mean that the situation or person that is aggravating or otherwise troubling me is without its own issues.  But, my concern (my business) is to discover what is happening to me emotionally and spiritually.  That thing that is eating my lunch is actually my teacher du jour.

We are pretty strong and often stubborn, we human beings, and our ability to resist can at times take on almost Biblical proportions.  We can dig into the resistance big-time, making it a consuming occupation to build bunkers and walls that separate us from those parts of our souls that we fear the most.  When it comes to fencing off the strange and scary stuff, Texas, you ain’t seen nothing!

The past few days, I find myself in constant motion, taking care of someone else, reading and studying and working.  It has been hard to sit still in the quiet, so I force myself to do the minimum, as I open one eye to check the clock every minute or two.  I am tired and revved up at the same time.  This morning I thought to myself, you are not so comfortable in your own skin.  Despite my resistance, the process is taking over and I catch my breath at the possibility of shedding yet another skin.  The thing to do when you find all of this resistance in yourself is to loosen your grip.  Loosen your grip and lean into it.

There is something to learn here.  It may come with an explosion of thunder and a flash of light, but more than likely it will be a revelation of the “grudgual variety.”  At times like this, when we are entering the road to letting go, we can remind ourselves:  You do not want to miss this.  You do not want to miss this magnificent thing that is not what you planned.  In time you will find that it is more than you could ask or imagine.

(photo taken in Colca Canyon, Peru)

About Mother Beth Tjoflat

Episcopal priest, urban contemplative, playwright, lover of hounds, American of Chilean-Norwegian-Moravian descent. Interests include transformational ministry with the forgotten and marginalized; church planting and congregational development; 12-step spirituality; Hispanic ministry; radical hospitality, and spending time with dear friends.
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