Other People’s Writing: Dec 30th

Henri Nouwen was a Dutch Catholic priest and prolific author. In the forward to his book, The Inner Voice of Love he describes a period of mental and spiritual anguish catalyzed by the sudden interruption of a friendship. To heal from this agony, he took a six month retreat during which he wrote down spiritual imperatives that were his notes on working through his pain and healing.

He never intended for these notes to anything other than private. But eight years after he’d worked through his anguish, a friend convinced him they could be helpful to others. The last note of the book, it includes a quote that knocked me over with its power: “Your future depends on how you decide to remember your past.” Here’s the passage:

As you conclude this period of spiritual renewal, you are faced once again with a choice. You can choose to remember this time as a failed attempt to be completely reborn, or you can also choose to remember it as the precious time when God began new things in you that need to be brought to completion. Your future depends on how you decide to remember your past. Choose for the truth of what you know. Do not let your still anxious emotions distract you. As you keep choosing God, your emotions will gradually give up their rebellion and be converted to the truth in you.

You are facing a real spiritual battle. But do not be afraid. You are not alone. Those who have guided you during this period are not leaving you. Their prayers and support will be with you wherever you go. Keep them close to your heart so that they can guide you as you make your choices.

Remember, you are held safe. You are loved. You are protected. You are in communion with God and with those whom God has sent you. What is of God will last. It belongs to the eternal life. Choose it, and it will be yours.

The Inner Voice of Love by Henri Nouwen

(featured photo from Pexels)

15 thoughts on “Other People’s Writing: Dec 30th

  1. Thanks for sharing this Wynne. Henri Nouwen’s writings often find me re-reading a passage asking myself, “What is he saying here?”, followed by a “Wow! Now i get it!” I just finished his ‘The Return Prodigal Son’ deep analysis of Rembrant’s classic painting, and was blessed by his insights of this masterpiece that are so practically applicable to this ole prodigal son’s life.

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    1. Oh, I haven’t read that yet. Thank you for mentioning that book and his insights – I’ve put it on my reading list. But you are right, much of what he says is so deep it needs another take. So glad to have found another Henri Nouwen afficianado (not surprisingly, my father was also a big fan). Blessings to you, Fred!

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  2. “Remember, you are held safe. You are loved. You are protected. You are in communion with God and with those whom God has sent you. What is of God will last.”

    This was a life changing lesson for me. I hadn’t heard of Henri Neouwen but I did have wonderful teachers sent to me who gave me this message.

    Prior to learning this I was wracked with anxiety and depression because of the abuse I had internalized and also receiving messages from the two evangelical churches I had been in that I was unworthy, that God was sending me health and financial trials because he was punishing me, plus he had given my daughter severe IBS as my punishment. The messaging given to many of us broke us because we were doing our best to please God, and we were never enough, continuously judged harshly.

    Learning that isn’t who God is, that he loves each of us so deeply and completely, that he has assigned Angels to help us, completely turned my life around!

    We each need to know this. If we’re receiving messaging from people which shows a harsh unkind God, we need to know that isn’t God’s nature!

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    1. What an incredibly beautiful comment, Tamara. I too resonated with that passage and what you say here. Though my particulars were a little different, the message of being held safe, loved and protected heals so many anxieties when we relax into it. Thanks for being an angel that helps so many others!

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  3. The quote that you shared is a resonant one: “Your future depends on how you decide to remember your past.” So very true.

    And what a wise thing to have done by taking a six month retreat. What soul searching that must’ve been. Good for his friend to encourage him to share his lessons with the world.

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    1. Even as I take your comment as a very authentic and insightful one, there is a part of my brain laughingly saying, “Please God, I need a six-month retreat!” The holiday vacations must be getting to me as I infer in that humorous way that you can relate. 🙂

      And trying to be serious again – you are right that we are lucky Nouwen’s friend convinced him to share his lessons!

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  4. The Return of the Prodical is one of my favorites by Nouwen but you sparked my interest in this book. It’s on my reading list now. We all need to be aware of God’s still small voice of love within us … especially during the sad/hard times. Thank you for this, Wynne.

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    1. So true about listening to God’s still small voice of love within us! That is the second time I’ve heard The Return of the Prodigal recently. I have put that on my list to read. Thank you, Nancy!

      Happy New Year!

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