Our Greatest Desire and Deepest Fear

Today’s blog explores the greatest desire of human beings, which is at the same time our deepest fear. 

My looking ripens things and they come toward me, to meet and be met.

- Rilke

Our Greatest Desire and our Deepest Fear

The deepest desire of the human heart is TO BE KNOWN….to be seen for who we are, to be understood, honored and accepted.  This is also our greatest fear….because if we are known…..truly known…then others will not only see how amazing we are, they will also see our fears, our vulnerabilities, the parts of ourselves that we reject and shun.  But, perhaps worse than our perceived human frailties, if we are truly known, especially for our amazing giftedness, then someone (ps that someone might be ourselves) might expect us to live up to that greatness…we might have to show up to our gifts, our call and our purpose.  As Marianne Williamson once said, the thought of this terrifies us:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”

It is for this reason that deep, personal work such as Spiritual Direction, requires an enormous amount of courage.  Working with a Spiritual Director (by whatever name they call themselves) places us in the vulnerable position of being seen and of having someone hold us accountable for what is seen – both our greatness and the parts of ourselves we might prefer to sweep under the rug.

You Can Run But You Can’t Hide

I have seen this time and time again with clients, family and friends.  Because of the gifts I have been given, I can’t help but see the truth beyond the words and for some strange reason, the people around me can’t help but be awakened to the deeper truths about themselves.  Unfortunately, this revelation doesn’t always go well.  Some are not ready to face, acknowledge, accept, explore, cultivate or embrace their deepest truths.  So to those people, I sometimes become the enemy….for no particular reason except for the discomfort they feel within themselves as the truth within them struggles to find its way out…and a discomfort they are unwilling or unable to acknowledge.  They just know that when they are around me (or read something I’ve written or hear something I say that strikes an unresolved fear, hurt, disappointment in them), they feel badly, so they either lash out or run…or both.  I have come to sense these departures and to accept them as a matter of Divine timing.  One thing I do know, however, is that you can run, but you can’t hide.  Our truth will HOUND us until we acknowledge it, learn to accept it and embrace it.  However, for some, the fear of the unknown world to which their truth might lead, loses out to what is comfortable, predictable and familiar.  Having walked toward my truth through the hellfires of my own fears, I can’t fault anyone for choosing the perceived surety of familiar.

Relief in Being Known

For others, the revelation of their truth provides a sustaining moment of profound relief and empowerment.  The pressure of holding back the part of ourself that seeks to be known in the world, is like holding back a volcano.  The pressure keeps building until we feel like we are going to explode.  Sometimes this pressure is only known by our inner feelings of discontent, anxiousness, depression and despair.  When someone is able to recognize our truth and does so with honor, the pressure is relieved and we are freed to be the person God made us to be.  The revelation of this truth is exhilarating, motivating, liberating and empowering.  We are pushed forward, knowing that someone else knows our truth, loves us for it and supports us in our efforts toward living that truth.

lauriwebshot1The Purpose of Spiritual Direction

It is this unconditional love, honor and support that is the purpose of Spiritual Direction.  A good Spiritual Director will hold us in our fear, support us in moving toward our truth, challenge us to name, claim and cultivate our truth, and will hold us accountable not only to that truth, but also to the vulnerabilities that surface in the face of that truth.  Most importantly, a good Spiritual Director does all these things gently, tenderly and with great compassion.  The job of a Spiritual Director is to create a safe place in which you can be known.

Lauri Lumby is a Professional Spiritual Director in the Ignatian Tradition.  Lauri is available for Spiritual Direction in person, over the phone and via Skype.  To contact Lauri call (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com.