Day 18: Whole-Hearted Woman
Editor’s Note: TOB is the abbreviation for Pope St. John Paul II’s book “Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body” Pauline Press I experienced a major emotional shift in my mid 20’s. Until then, I woke up most mornings with a sense of heaviness and dread. Psychologically, I was depressed but also bound by a bad habit. Years of nursing dark thoughts and feelings contributed to a familiar melancholic downdraft. I was ‘subject to’ rather than ‘activated in’ my emotions.
One morning, I realized that I had been waking up for a few weeks without the foreboding feelings. Life wasn’t perfect and neither was I, but I recognized a marked difference in my emotions. Why?
I was becoming centered on Jesus in a way that oriented me consistently and purposefully towards truth. I majored on ‘living in’ the Spirit and so battled my ‘flesh’ that warred against this Spirit (Galatians 5:16). I was passionately pursuing His Kingdom with other people, exercising spiritual gifts, worshipping Jesus, and manifesting faith and love in new ways.
His Spirit in me was beginning to dictate my well-being. Having felt an increase of life, I also started to notice when my moods were going south. It became evident that I had some ‘say’ in where my emotions were taking me—strange thinking for me as a sensitive, deep-feeling woman.
I love Pope St. John Paul II’s take. He explains that as we begin to understand the ‘theology of the body,’ we have a ‘pedagogy’ as well—that is, instruction in the task of becoming more integrated in our male/ female offerings. For me that meant that I can establish emotions in His truth, with new objectivity, rather than allow my sensitive responses to toss me about.
Modern science, TOB points out, can divide us from our bodies and make them ‘objects of manipulation’; our wholeness requires a multi-faceted perspective (TOB 59:3) that includes our spirituality.
An integrated path instructs us differently. It does not dismiss good contributions from the fields of psychology or medicine. But it calls me to open myself to the ‘spirituality of the body’—the understanding that my body is a gift that includes my spirit and emotions and that I, in mind and will, choose to stay united with Jesus and others in this process of integration.
A life centered in the Spirit impacts my emotional well-being. Without grounding in Christ, I veer off into familiar emotional ditches. But my commitment to becoming an integrated ‘spiritual woman’ is hopeful! My whole-heartedness bears fruit in me, for others.
‘Jesus, rouse the gift we are. Help us to attend to the treasure you summon from the trash. Free us from our constant faultfinding and free us for vestiges of paradise in our memories and in our lives today. We refuse the liar who tries to rewrite Eden out of our histories. Unite us to the home of our original dignity.’
‘Jesus, have mercy on us as Your Church. We have abused weaker members, including children, and protected ourselves. We have violated the most vulnerable. In Your mercy, free us to superabound with justice. Grant us Kingdom discernment and courage to reform ourselves. May our repentance grant us Kingdom authority to strengthen the weak, discipline violators, and restore the violated.’