And Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:3 NIV
Our ego defenses are incredibly strong. After all, they have been with us our whole lives to protect us from further hurt and harm. So they do not relent easily or quickly in allowing us to make contact with the tender vulnerability hiding below them. When we do make contact with this tenderness, it is not unusual for our defenses to freak out and try to shut the contact down as they have our whole life.
How our individual defenses react may look very different. Some of us will get aggressive and attack back. Or we may go to our friends and complain about how we have been done wrong. Or we may try to placate or manipulate. Or we may shut down or attack ourselves as being unworthy. In any event, what our defenses are trying to do is to keep us from feeling what they believe we can’t possible survive feeling.
Our work as spiritual beings is to learn to return again and again to the genuine tenderness that lies under our defenses. We do this with great self compassion and patience and persistence. Gradually over time we become more real, without artifice. We regain the openness and spontaneity we had as children, which is what Jesus is inviting us in this sermon to live into. It is not easy work but it is well worth it!
Blessings, Robert Cornell