This weekend, while attending a contemplative retreat here in town, I had a pretty powerful prayer experience I’d like to share with you.
During one of the retreat sessions, we were invited to call to mind a situation or a memory for which we’re in need of healing, with the intent to feel the reality of our pain in that particular place and then to invite Jesus into it with us.
I chose to sit with the pain and brokenness I’m experiencing in a particular relationship in my life. And as I sat with the truth of that pain and brokenness, I felt incredibly sad. Tears poured down my face in silence as I allowed myself to feel, to pretty deep depths, some of the things that have happened there.
It hurt a lot.
Then the retreat leader invited us to imagine Jesus with us in that very place. And here’s where a powerful yet strange scene began.
When I imagined Jesus with there with me, I could suddenly see a metaphorical image of myself in the pain I was feeling. As strange and grotesque as it sounds, I saw myself curled up in a corner, cowering like an abused animal, and I had the body of an actual animal — actually, a rodent that looked like a cross between a lizard and a rat, with hair all over its body. (Strange, I know!)
But through that projected image of my pain, I could see how deep the wound really was. In the pain of this situation, I’m actually feeling like a cowering, abused animal all curled up in a corner. No wonder I’ve felt so stuck, unable to move forward in this situation! There was such an opportunity for greater self-compassion in that moment.
What’s even more amazing is what happened next.
I saw Jesus in the room, walking quietly toward me in the corner — except he stopped a good two paces away from me. He stopped, and then he knelt down. Just being there. With me. Present but not too close. Not reaching out to touch me in any way.
He sat there on his knees with me in silence. Just being there. Content to just be present.
Do you know what? The part of me that’s in pain and manifested itself like a cowering animal in a corner really noticed Jesus’ posture toward me. That he didn’t come too close or try to touch me? It felt like respect — that he deeply respected the reality of my pain and wouldn’t come too close to be invasive.
And do you know what happened next?
I found him contagious and irresistible. I actually chose to move toward him. I could hardly help myself! I wanted to be near him, and it had everything to do with the respect and safety he showed me.
It set me free to move toward him.
I’ve revisited that scene a couple more times since that prayer experience happened, and each time I can’t help but laugh as I continue to see that image of myself as an animal, crawling all over Jesus, unable to get enough of him, just wanting to be with him all the time.
Even the most disturbed, messed-up parts of me fall in love with Jesus.
I wonder what your experience would be like?