Terror Experienced in Youth
I have come to realize that a sense of terror has been a hidden part of my interior life for many years.
My earliest memories as an infant, perhaps even while in the womb of my mother, include terror. I suspect that my mother was terrified about disappointments in her marriage and being pregnant with me, her first born.
She consistently looked down on my father, who had not completed his high school degree, and who worked in a car factory. I deeply identified with my father as a child. He was big and athletic and commanding.
I worried about my parents. I was terrified that they would get a divorce. (They are each now 92-years-old and still married.) They always seemed to be putting each other down.
I later experienced inferiority in my interactions with others. I was uncomfortable with school, even though I was a good student.
I tried to mask my inferiority and terror with a self-imposed numbness, as described in Psalm 88:16:
I have been mortally afflicted since youth; I have borne your terrors and I am made numb.
Addressing Terror Beyond My Youth
While most of my confessional sins as an adult concerned anger with others, I thought this stemmed basically from concupiscence, which is “an inclination to evil” that we all possess (CCC 405).
A confessor finally called me on this.
He simply asked: “Jim, what comes before anger for you in your relationship with God and others?”
It took me several months to see the prevalence of inferiority throughout my life which had somehow alienated me from God.
I confessed and tried to renounce my addiction to inferiority and for using it as an excuse for my many other sins. However, I was unable to let go entirely of inferiority.
God’s Grace in Facing Terror
Amazingly, God gave me at this time a pronounced spiritual gift as if to compensate for my inferiority. The deepening of this gift helped spur me to an improved self-esteem and less inferiority in my relationships with God and with others.
I was still depressed over the loss of an adult child that I experienced in 2002 in a tragic encounter with policemen. I was also numb. I changed medication and my depression improved but not the numbness. I changed to another medication and, suddenly, the terror returned.
Interestingly, God gave me other pronounced spiritual gifts in this latest phase of my interior life. These gifts were things I had prayed for over many years. I expected that they would never be answered in the way in which they were. These gifts have helped me to counteract the terror and depression.
The Future with the Grace of God
I continue to renounce inferiority and now terror. I believe God is healing me and that I have the grace and the gifts to move more deeply into His beneficence and providence. He is amazing!
As God guides me deeper into a spiritual life with the Trinity, I have come to see that I must renounce the negative feelings that have tied me into knots for years and to forgive my parents and others. I have learned that God does not heal me in the ways I usually expect, and that he can use gifts and bring me intimately into His presence if I surrender to His will.
I need to heed Proverbs 3:25-26:
Do not be afraid of sudden terror,
of the ruin of the wicked when it comes;
For the LORD will be your confidence,
and will keep your foot from the snare.
I am becoming more confident in God’s supremacy in all things, and the giftedness of my inestimable favor in His sight!