Some questions are so direct it's as though they "fillet" our soul. They cut to the chase; they zero in; they expose to the bone. I don't particularly like questions like that because they feel invasive and put people on the spot. And yet, like no other question, this kind of question can really do the heavy lifting of *"raising us toward God."
This is the kind of question one of my spiritual direction clients presented to me just the other day. She was sharing her take on the gospel story of the rich, young ruler. This is the guy that Jesus told to go and sell all he had and then come and follow him. The rich, young ruler walked away, head hanging, heart exposed, soul filleted. (Matthew 19: 16-22)
My directee said, through tender tears, that she could relate to this guy. She saw herself in him--someone who has tried everything; done it all; attempted to be really good. But like him, there was one thing she avoided. It didn't have to do with possessions or wealth. It had to do with pain. Feeling pain.
Feeling uncomfortable, difficult, painful emotions is something my friend finds especially difficult. There are lots of reasons why. And so her natural inclination is to avoid them or numb them. This is the "one thing" that Jesus has been putting his finger on lately. He's asked her, "What are you avoiding?"
It's a question that turns us in a different direction. It's not about what we are doing but what we are not doing. It's not about what's present in our lives but what's absent. It's about the negative space in our heart because of what we turn away from.
I sat with this question myself and found Jesus' finger filleting my soul and zeroing in on something I have avoided. It had to do with a hatchet that I needed to bury. The question, "What am I avoiding?" helped me see what has kept me from keeping pace with Jesus in my own followership.
So--sorry to do this, but not really. Here's the question for you: What are you avoiding? Will you sit with it for a time and allow the Spirit's finger to do some poking and niggling? And if something comes to you, don't forget that you don't have to walk away with your head down. Tell Jesus how you feel and ask him to help you face it.... and then see what happens.
*This series of blog posts on good questions is generated from the quote, "People raise themselves
toward God by the questions they ask." It's a quote from Rabbi Moshe,
Elie Wiesel's mentor.