In Gerald May’s book The Dark Night Of The Soul, he shares the theology of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross – two prominent 16th century Christian writers. Teresa and John maintain that God loves us far too much to manipulate us like puppets and therefore will not invade where our hearts have closed the door. John gives powerful examples of how our initiative and free will are critical to the process of personal transformation. He says that active listening and openly receiving God and God’s truths are essential to the transformation that comes through the experience that he calls The Dark Night of the Soul. He describes the openess and receiving in this way, “as one would receive a guest into your home.” This attitude is further clarified as “a welcoming feeling, even a welcoming with open arms.”
Transformation then is a mystical co-operation between God and person, where Jesus surrenders himself to us, respecting each individual soul, and we in turn choose to open the door and welcome him into our souls to help us with our needs.
Rev.3:20, “Here I am! I Stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in.”
I see this dynamic all the time with my clients when the person uses his/her “free will” to invite Jesus into the place of personal pain or confusion. When invited, Jesus comes and brings his loving truth which provides a new perspective that is needed to heal the soul. How we receive His truth is the key to transformation.
John 17:8, “For I [Jesus] gave them the words you [Father God] gave me and they accepted them.”
If we are not open to God, and if we keep the door of our minds closed, then He cannot help us. When we welcome Him inside our soul, our God of love comes with grace to provide us with what we need.
There is a parallel here:
For salvation – the important step is realizing one’s own spiritual poverty and choosing to invite Jesus into your life to save your soul;
For transformation – the important step is realizing one’s mental and emotional brokenness and choosing to invite Jesus into those thoughts and feelings to free your soul.
Teresa and John see authentic transformation as leading not to freedom from desire, but rather freedom for desire. What desire are they talking about? They mean the desire for love and the freedom to love, which includes: love of God, love of self and love of others.
Let me encourage you to welcome Jesus into your thoughts and feelings with welcoming, open arms and listen to what He has to say to you. It just may be transformative!