Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Chrysalis: Nancy

Conversion and conversions will be themes of this blog for the next couple of weeks. This series on Chrysalis is about Alan Jamieson’s book Chrysalis: The Hidden Transformation in the Journey of Faith. Today’s comes from Nancy.
?Chrysalis? was a very affirming read for me. I entered the text as a chrysalis myself, one tucked into a cocoon, waiting in the dark, undergoing some secret spiritual transformation. ?Chrysalis? gave me hope and increased peace about this process. I had suspected I was undergoing some developmental transition but also wondered about other potential explanations. The use of the process of metamorphosis as an analogy for spiritual development initially seemed a bit trite and yet it really does provide a beautiful and relevant concept for the process. As with any ?stage theory?, I have some trouble with the idea that the journey is a linear one and like Jamieson, I suspect that some of us will find ourselves in cocoon times more than once. For many, the path will be more spiral where we circle around and around but never quite land on the same spot.
I very much related to Jamieson?s description of the process, specifically, the need to detach from my old faith community and to honor my sense of mistrust in and near-aversion to all the old activities I used to put so much energy into. I was recently asked what I have learned from this cocoon phase and I think Jamieson described it best: ?to sense, listen to, and strengthen (my) own inner identity, truth, wisdom and contribution?. I have also learned humility. I unwisely and arrogantly imagined that my spiritual practices and the fruit they had born would provide some immunity from the uncertainty and near total destruction of a dark night of the soul. While it has been deeply unsettling, I love Jamieson?s description of this process as an ?invitation? to go deeper. It is painful, a time of sorrow, fear and anger. Yet it is also a time of hope, creativity and new freedom.
Jamieson normalized and supported the same drive I intuitively experienced to locate and attach to a group engaged in honest questioning and who would provide respectful support, not criticism or judgment. Blogs like JC offer easy access to such safety and support. I found Jamieson?s discussion of spiritual direction spot on as well. I understood this was a need and did locate a spiritual director who seemed to grasp what was happening to me but not how to assist me through it. It was very frustrating. In retrospect, it was her repeated directives to engage in the contemplative practices that I had been doing for years but suddenly felt totally unable to perform that caused me distress and a sense of failure. As Jamieson suggests, it is imperative to find a spiritual director who understands the process and recognizes the unique needs of the individual who is in this ?cocoon phase?. For me, I needed to stop struggling against the dark night, trying to push myself through and just surrender to whatever God was doing in me.
?Chrysalis? seems a useful guide for people who are apparently transitioning from one ?stage? of spiritual development to another and to those who hope to guide them in the process.

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posted August 27, 2008 at 3:52 am

Nancy, Below His/our banner over us is a statement that crystilizes through the validity of salvation which only
the conerstone Himself produces by His chosen ongoing relationship with us. That statement Hudson Taylor expresses along with us in “He faileth not.”
Flesh and heart
often fail.
Let them fail.
He faileth not!
Thank you for being the person Christ died for Nancy.

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John Frye

posted August 27, 2008 at 8:11 am

These comments will rattle many: “I have also learned humility. I unwisely and arrogantly imagined that my spiritual practices and the fruit they had born would provide some immunity from the uncertainty and near total destruction of a dark night of the soul.”
Too many USAmerican Christians use the faith as a pain-reliever rather than a pain-engager. When their tidy spiritual disciplines land them in a world of hurt, they feel ripped-off. Thus, wwe can conclude that they are using the disciplines “to stay in control” (ha!) of their own lives. It just won’t work.
Thanks much for your story.

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posted August 27, 2008 at 9:23 am

John, I can add to that since I have been a Christian for 35 years and just over the last few years I have been able to accept Love for myself . likewise, just over the last few years I was able to rejoice over the prosperity of another.
I have to admit that God knew how to have His way with me and therefore I wouldn’t change a thing.

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posted August 27, 2008 at 11:16 am

Thanks, Nancy for sharing your experience.
Your remarks about stages and non-linear growth make me wonder why our conceptual models of spiritual growth seem to be focused on “linear” thinking. Perhaps they need to be pictured more on a model of concentric spheres, much like the quantum model of atomic development. Deep in the center is the self and there is a wide range of possible experiences that one may go through in order to get closer to God who might be pictured as being as the all encompassing outer sphere. There are points of disturbance/anguish/ darkness corresponding to the “energy jump” needed to move to an understanding further from self and more in towards God–or non-critical to a more critical stage of faith. Our perspective on these dark times differs according to the wide range of possible experiences, background and temperament that we have–to be found anywhere in the concentric sphere of that level of experience. But there still is a significant change needed, the “outside” energy of the Spirit that can move us to the next level and perhaps closer to the reality and further into the relationship with God..the eternal life of John 17. For any spiritual director to have the wide range of experience necessary to perceive and understand differences in these experiences should be expected. It is still in the community of experience that we can obtain the various perspectives that enable us to piece together understandings of the whole. Those dark nights, goo, chrysalis, tipping points, or whatever, are those places God uses to take apart the worlds of understanding we have created in order to work toward His view of things.
at least that’s my perspective

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posted August 27, 2008 at 11:17 am

I meant to say, in regard to spiritual directors..that misunderstanding should be expected.

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posted August 28, 2008 at 4:58 am

#4 Randy, I think that I will be saying the same thing in the following if you don’t mind.
Could the so called center of the sphere of self, that deep center of infinite being, enernal life, be the the very same center as that of the outer sphere? Do we see our conforming/development as a singular “happening”?
In Him we live and move and have our being reaches the summit of depht in ” If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”, (as in, He that is joined to the Spirit of the Lord is one Spirit.) Therefore we see that if you have seen the Father then you have seen the cross, for that reality has existed in the Heart of the Father/God before the foundations of the world.
It almost seems to me at times that our Heavenly Father God is “betting” on us (the Life given us by Christ Jesus.) as much as we are on Him.” (Not to mistake “betting” for Faith at work, in and by Love.)
The unpleasant (to say the least) strething of Faith we experience (eternal Life, overcoming temporal in that sphere of self as a fact of salvation) comes to us as a increase 40%, 60% 100%, by God, to us as the individual that makes up the community and therefore profits us in the same degree as the community since God makes the sun to shine on the just and unjust in relationship.
That is why the Cross is so precious to us, rather, that obedience to the cross. That very and only center that can be for self for self, (sphere of eternal “Give me give me”) or the Self for others (sphere of “Take and eat.) which is the Good shepherd and the True Self, communion with God, the Life giving Spirit,

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posted August 28, 2008 at 5:53 am

Richard – Your first comment was moving, thank you. I guess I wish I was not the kind of person Christ would have to die for but without that gift, we just can’t know the depths of Love that is sent out to us.
John – You are probably right about how many folks might approach the spiritual disciplines. To be honest, pain relief, control or earning God’s favor were not my motivations for involving myself so deeply in them. I was moved by longing for closeness with God and out of curiousity…would it work? It was having had the opportunity to experience such richness and excitemnt that came when I made rom for God to meet with me in such a way, that left me with the false sense of security. I could not at all imagine ever being in a place where I simply could not engage in those disciplines even in spite of the ongoing longing for that deep connection. It is still shocking to me but at least now I have some affirmation of it being a sign of a “second invitation” (to use Brennan Manning’s phrase) or a switch in how my mind approaches my faith. Which leads me to Randy…
Randy – I really am intrigued by your conceptual model. Its dynamic and begs some meditation.And your final comment about God “taking apart our world of understanding” really speaks to me. That has what it has been and I very much hope that where I am going is clearly more akin to God’s view of things. Intuitively, it has felt “right” but when you get people reacting so negatively, it causes doubt.
Thanks to each of you for sharing your thoughts and providing understanding and encouragement.

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