Now if we think carefully over this, sisters, the soul of a righteous man is nothing but a paradise, in which, as God tells us, He takes great delight. For what do you think a room will be like that is the delight of a King so mighty, so wise, so pure and so full of all that is good? I can find nothing with which to compare the great beauty of a soul and its great capacity. (Teresa of Avila: First Mansion – Chapter One)
A few years ago I taught a group about the beauty and dignity of their souls. I was excited about this idea, yet realized quickly how difficult this was for people to embrace. The implications of being created in God’s image along with Christ indwelling us, empowering us, loving us, liking us, and delighting in us were never “played out” for them in understandable ways. These concepts were, at best, distant doctrines. What I was telling them was also difficult to reconcile with prior messages about their sinfulness, unworthiness, and insignificance — teaching that ultimately sabotages our opportunity and obligation to lead dynamic lives.
I’m not suggesting we never have sin problems — but our sin does not diminish the value, dignity, and beauty of our core identity. Several decades ago I had a powerful “conversion experience”. While this experience had many outcomes, God touching my soul with the belief that he loved me, liked me, and delighted in me was transforming. I moved beyond many of the struggles I faced as shame was replaced by recognition of my intrinsic value. This experience did not make me less aware of my sin. I actually became more aware of how sin dehumanized others and myself and also how unhealthy behaviors distanced and distracted me from important relationships. I changed as the King illumined the castle.
So, asks Teresa, . . . what do you think a room will be like that is the delight of a King so mighty, so wise, so pure and so full of all that is good?