Live Patiently with the "Not Yet"

This is a direct quote from Henri Nouwen’s journal, The Inner Voice of Love. I am in a deep season of ‘not yet’, just as I was standing at the cusp of a new dawn. I have suffered deep heartbreak before, stunning disappointment, crushing loss. Nouwen is the brother and shepherd that guides me home to the Father. So in my moments of deep despair, I always turn to him in the hope of finding my way back.

I’ve been listening to the words of songsmiths and poets, and in the moments of my own entrapment, I’ve held on to the strength I never had before. I know who I am, even if I am not known. The timing of the Lord is an unusual thing, because when He is ready, and I am ready.. maybe it doesn’t matter if the others aren’t ready. Nothing goes to waste, so I am strengthened with the affirmation, that indeed this season will come to pass. Newness and hope is around the corner. Meanwhile.. I am living with Not Yet, and having to learn a new humility, waiting for Judas to catch up.

A part of you was left behind very early in your life: the part that never felt completely received. It is full of fears. Meanwhile, you grew up with many survival skills. But you want your self to be one. So you have to bring home the part of you that was left behind. That is not easy, because you have become quite a formidable person, and your fearful part does not know if it can safely dwell with you. Your grown-up self has to become very childlike – hospitable, gentle, and caring – so your anxious self can return and feel safe.

You complain that it is hard for you to pray, to experience the love of Jesus. But Jesus dwells in your fearful, never fully received self. When you befriend your true self and discover that it is good and beautiful, you will see Jesus mere. Where you are most human, most yourself, weakest, mere Jesus lives. Bringing your fearful self home is bringing Jesus home.

As long as your vulnerable self does not feel welcomed by you, it keeps so distant that it cannot show you its true beauty and wisdom. Thus, you survive without really living.

Try to keep your small, fearful self dose to you. This is going to be a struggle, because you have to live for a while with the ‘not yet’. Your deepest, truest self is not yet home. It quickly gets scared. Since your intimate self does not feel safe with you, it continues to look for others, especially those who offer it some real, though temporary, consolation. But when you become more childlike, it will no longer feel the need to dwell elsewhere. It will begin to look to you as home. Be patient. When you feel lonely, stay with your loneliness. Avoid the temptation to let your fearful self run off. Let it teach you its wisdom; let it tell you that you can live instead of just surviving. Gradua1ly you will become one, and you wi11 find that Jesus is living in your heart and offering you all you need.

Henri Nouwen

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