We can all picture the scene. We enter into the Chapel, the smell of incense lingering in the air. The Eucharist is proudly displayed in a beautiful monstrance. There is beautiful artwork that invokes imagery of heaven and the saints. All of our surroundings have prepared us for a beautiful time of prayer and devotion, but then something terrible happens. Instead of holy thoughts, soon our minds turn to the darker sides of life. Maybe its sins from the past or mistakes we have made that keep plaguing us. Sometimes a whole host of filth seems to emerge at the moment we wish it did not.

One problem in the spiritual life is that we try to hide our baggage from God. We all have struggles and things from the past that tend to surface in such moments, and we can fall into a trap of trying to push them away. We want to appear God as holy and good. However, what we need is not a beautiful exterior, but the ability to have an honest heart to heart with Jesus.

If you read the Book of Job, what is most striking is how honest Job is with God. He really does not hide his emotions and seems to speak with a directness that his friends call blasphemous. He does not try to hide his imperfections and the doubts which trouble his heart. In the end, Job is the one who is right. For all their pious talk and their well-reasoned theology, the friends had missed the point.  Job was not right because his theology was the most accurate, but because he approached God with sincerity and openness.

So next time you come before the Lord, practice honesty. Do not try to dress up your emotions, your experiences, your judgments. Let everything come out and then invite the Lord to give you a word of consolation. You know from scripture what the Lord wants to say to you. You know what he wants to give you. However, to receive the consolation of the Spirit we have to learn to present our burdened heart to the Lord. This is the path to freedom and healing.