A spiritual director once told me that there are many rooms our hearts, and Jesus wants to enter into all of them. This includes the good and the bad, the happy and the sad. It kind of sounds like wedding vows when we phrase it that way. It kind of is like a marriage, this joining with Jesus.
One room we were working on concerns my childhood and feelings of loss. I’m angry about the bad choices my parents made. I’m angry that they smoked themselves to death. I’m angry that they died young, leaving me to defend myself against family members who were predatory and insensitive. I’m angry that my parents weren’t there for my graduation and my wedding because of their bad choices and their lack of self-control. I’m angry that they left me alone a lot, even when they were alive.
The director pointed out that anger is a symptom. There is always something that comes before anger. Trace it back to the root. Dig down to the source. The feeling before anger in all of this is sadness. It is grief. It is loss.
Instead of dealing with my sadness, my grief, my loss, I went straight to anger. This is common for many of us. Anger is useful but we can get stuck there. If you don’t dig out the root cause of anger, and dig down to the grief, you’ll be treating the symptom and not the cause.
She asked me to name this room. I decided to call it “The Room of Abandonment”. I spent a lot of time alone as a child. There were a lot of things that my parents never taught me. These were basic things like taking care of a house inside and outside, like how to cook and garden. I’m now learning these things backwards.
I felt abandoned before they died. I felt abandoned after they died, too. I was just 25, so I was old enough to take care of myself. But being the youngest in a family where the older brother is abusive is hard. It was hard to claw myself out from underneath his mountain of lies. I didn’t have any perspective on what “normal” was.
She asked me to visualize what this room would look like. I saw a light-blue room, empty, save for a chair. The walls are blue like a robin’s egg. The walls are windowless, but there is light. I’m not sure where the light is coming from, but the room feels clean and bright. The chair is an old wooden chair, like the one I salvaged from my grandmother’s house when the time came for her to be put into a nursing home.
My director told me to invite Jesus into the room, and to invite Him into any difficult feelings I have. He wants to be there to help me with them. This is some pretty foreign stuff. No priest ever even hinted at this. Jesus as a friend? Jesus wants to heal me? Jesus wants to hang out with me, in the boring times as well as the beautiful times? She says that Jesus wants to be with me all the time, in all the rooms of my heart. He wants to be with all of us like this.
It is like getting a notice that the Pope is coming over to my house and wants to hang out in my basement. I want to say no – come sit over here in my living room. It doesn’t have a lot of clutter. There are comfy chairs. There is natural light. Surely you don’t want to hang out in the basement with the spiders and the one overhead fluorescent light and all that clutter? It is really embarrassing. Nope – that is where Jesus wants to go. Not only does he want to hang out there, he wants to help me with it. He wants to help me clean it out, or be OK with it as it is. He wants to do the same with you, too. All we have to do is say yes, and let him in.