Sunday, November 20, 2005

Christians, the Natural Idealist and Change

There is a comparable difference in the perceptions of the Christian and the natural idealist (one with no faith) towards the need for change. (p. 5ff Transformation in Christ, Dietrich von Hildebrand).

When one discovers that one has a certain defect, lets say a manner of reacting to a certain situation that is totally out of proportion with that situation, one needs to address that defect. According to von Hildebrand, one who has no faith will be limited in their ability to deal with the defect. They, "merely wants to perfect himself within the framework of his natural dispositions." (p. 6) Their addressing of the defect "remains exclusively human". (p. 6)

The natural idealist will, to some degree, manage to work out some of the roots to the behaviour. They may indeed have the courage and honesty to face the elemental roots of the defect from their past, and the decisions that they made within those elements and as a result of those elements, however the healing of the whole person will still be lacking. Their focus will be on the defect itself, and its removal from their person.

The Christian on the other hand, can come to realize that the only way that this defect can be rooted out is to turn the entire self over to Jesus Christ. The Christian is, "to let his nature as a whole be transformed from above..." (p. 6) The process of healing and change for the Christian encompasses the whole human person, that is their spiritual, mental/emotional, and physical self. There is a realization that the defect, and all of its roots will only be removed in proportion that their person is filled with the Light of Christ. Healing and change are rooted in Jesus Christ.

We can see that there is a limited view of healing and change in the natural idealist's life. Their view is founded within the Natural Order. The Christian on the other hand, understands that they must let go of the Natural Order and essentially fall off the edge of that order into the arms of Christ. (p. 7) Falling off that edge is the only way that one can truly come to the deepest root of a defect.

There is in my life, an excellent example of what it is like to be dealing with a defect from both the natural idealist and the Christian perspective.

Before my conversion, I, along with my mother and sister, saw some of the best family psychologists and psychiatrists to deal with the insanity that was a regular part of our lifestyle. There was never a mention by the three of us of the actual violence that was a part of that insanity. That subject was taboo. After many sessions spanning many hours with these professionals they essentially wrote us off. They no longer wanted to see us because none of us was willing to budge on our own perspective of who was responsible for what in the insanity. No one, especially my mother, wanted to take responsibility.

I was assigned a professional psychologist in my early teen years due to the perception that I was extremely withdrawn. Over the years, I spent many an hour with this lady talking about what was happening on the surface within me and at home. These sessions spanned over 4 years of my life during the school year. They did indeed help me to begin to get a grasp on who I was, and what I was doing. They did indeed help me to get out of my shell to some degree. They helped me keep myself away from the abyss of despair, barely.

However, in the Natural Idealist's world, there was no real way to address the deep spiritual roots that the insanity in my family flowed from. There was also no real way to deal with the generational aspect of the insanity as I watched my grandmother do to my mother what she did to my sister and me. There was no real way to present to me the purpose for change and healing. At that time, I was an atheist, as there could not be any possibility of a God allowing what was happening within my family to happen.

My sense of humanity's vices was acute, I saw in everyone around me defects in some form or other. Because of this, I could not see that purpose for healing and change as those who presented it were themselves having to deal with their own defects. I was particularly sensitive to those who lived in denial about their own defects. It was almost pure hypocrisy to me for them to ask me to heal and change!

Along comes Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit Who spoke to me through a struggling alcoholic. I could relate to how he presented God and God's Love because he did not hide his struggles from me, he did not deny them, nor did he live in denial about them. His honesty was refreshing.

After my conversion, I realized that the only way to deal with the defects in my person, the cycles of brokenness, and all of the elements of my past was to completely and totally abandon myself to Jesus. In my experience, Jesus was the only One whose claim to follow through on His promises, to not be a hypocrite, but to walk what he talked were valid.

Those of us who have had the blessings, yes my past has become a blessing despite how terribly painful it was, to abandon ourselves to Christ have an intimate knowledge of His Passion. We have a deep insight into the redemptive side of suffering and the fact that by abandoning ourselves to Christ we bring a great wealth of Passionate experience to bear on the Body of Christ. Our scars are His, and together we can bring great healing, courage, strength, and hope to those who are currently living in darkness and despair.

So, with von Hildebrand I say,

Only he who may say with St. Paul, 'I know in whom I have believed' can risk the enormous adventure of dying unto himself and of relinquishing the natural foundation." (p. 7)
Pax vobis,


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