You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my
secret heart. (Psalm 51)
We’ve eliminated overt sin from our life. We’re unaware of any significant internal sin. But our sins have still become an obstacle to our relationship with Christ, with others, and a thriving spiritual life. We look deeper. We begin to find hidden layers of pride, resentment, impurity, and neglect. We also realize we’ve done little lately to cultivate our relationship with God. Our soul “is astonished at how bold it was; it weeps over its lack of respect; it thinks that its foolishness was so excessive that it never finishes grieving over that foolishness when it recalls that for such base things it abandoned so great a Majesty.” Now we begin to heal.
We can move toward spiritual health by applying several principles:
- We shouldn’t assume our addictions or our relational, emotional, family, and physical struggles are caused by our sin. In some cases, we may need outside help sorting this out.
- When we talk about sin it should be diagnostic verses judgmental. Diagnostic: Does my behavior injure/dehumanize others or self? Judgmental: Do we shame and condemn the person? (Example: If my doctor tells me I have high cholesterol, that’s a diagnosis not a shame-based judgment on my eating habits. If she recommends changes in eating habits and/or medication — that’s a move toward health not a condemnation.)
- Our sins can complicate the relational, physical, and emotional areas of our life and drive us further into addiction. Therefore we should address sin because of the damage it can do.
- Spiritual health requires a holistic approach that considers all aspects of life.
Sin exiles us from our true selves. This displacement and isolation will not be resolved by a new behavioral program. Instead, we accept forgiveness and transplant ourselves by the “living waters of life“. The spiritually healthy person lives in the state of forgiveness and recognizes the beauty and dignity of their soul. They don’t wallow in their sin, but seek self-knowledge and humility regarding their sin in order to make changes. Their inner healing begins to express itself outward as they become non-judgmental and “non-violent” in their communication because they better understand themselves and others. They realize censorious judgment and violence destroy the community life that supports spiritual health.
For this post I used a translation of The Interior Castle by Kieran Kavanaugh O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez O.C.D., ICS Publications, Institute of Carmelite Studies: Washington D.C.