A time to heal, and love
February 28, 2011
by Father Tom Balluff, St. Mary of Czestochowa Church, Delano

Our church will always be in need of reform, but Jesus promises us that the gates of hell shall never prevail against it.

We must remember that even though it is divinely inspired, it will always be made up of sinful, broken humanity in its leaders and members. As mature Christians, we are called to be able to see through the sinful humanity, to its center, its core, which is love itself.

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” This is perhaps one of the most difficult things Jesus asks of us, His disciples. It is certainly radical.

Remember that the apostles and disciples, the people of Jesus’ day, all heard over and over again the Jewish law that stated “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” If someone hurts you, hurt them back. But for us Christians, it cannot be this way. We are called to love with that very same love that comes from our God.

When one of our so-called buttons gets pushed, our immediate temptation is to focus outwardly and blame those around us for an injustice done to us. In reality, any button that gets pushed in us is actually a hurt or wound from our past that needs healing.

True inner freedom and healing comes with a deeper personal awareness that creates a habit in us that, rather than blaming others, we focus on what is happening in our emotional selves and we try to understand what we need to do to heal. When we can understand that good healthy communication skills actually can bring about deep inner healing, then we are well on our way to living a whole and integrated life. This is what I would call living inside out . . as opposed to living outside in.

When we live outside in, our external surroundings, those people around us, are actually defining who we are and how we act. This is very unhealthy for many reasons – it makes us vulnerable to the whims and attacks of others.

I like to talk about the reality that we can get to the place in our lives where we bring a good day with us wherever we go. This is a great, healthy reality because it moves control over our day to our interior life.

Others should have no control over whether we get angry, sad, outraged, or irritated. If we live inside out, we can choose to let that petty little stuff go quickly and easily, and not let it bother us.

And, of course, prayer is huge in our ability to do that. I have a friend who came into my office a while back. He was getting out of a deeply sinful life. His battle was raging pretty intensely at the time, and he said to me, “It seems like when I get my prayer in, like God wants me to, then the negative stuff just seems to bounce off me quickly; and when I don’t seem to get in my prayer like I am supposed to, then all this junk sticks.” I thought this was very insightful on his part.

Prayer, choosing to be around good, healthy people, and sharing oneself and one’s hurts and wounds with trustworthy and safe people all point us in the right direction.

I would estimate that 90 percent of all perceived injustice in this world is actually based on misunderstanding. If we could learn how to dialog, to respect one another when we speak, and share what’s important to us – to learn how to really understand each other – then a little piece of heaven would gain a stronger foothold here in this world.

One great communication skill that friendships, married couples, parents with their children – really, all of us – should understand well is how to simply validate each other’s emotions.

When we are dealing with an intensely emotional issue, the first thing we need to deal with is the emotions. By validating, or allowing the freedom to express the emotions involved, such as outrage, anger, or deep sadness, there can be a diffusing of the intensity, and once the emotions are gone, then we can get to the deeper underlying issue or issues.

Emotions are like the weather. They come and go. They are not the deepest part of us.

Love is a choice, a decision. It is an act of the will. And if we can come to know that there are such things as good communication skills that allow us to get to the deeper issues, then we can heal and live a more integrated and enjoyable life.