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3. Holding Back


The shadow of resistance


Resistance casts its shadow over almost every companioning encounter. This is especially so when the guiding movement is towards growth, towards wholeness and towards holiness. This should not surprise us. In the Judeo-Christian tradition “resistance” made its entry very early with the two hiding from God in the Garden of Eden after having made that fatal and costly choice of partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.[i] Their benevolent and unified world suddenly divided and the great freedom that they had experienced in their thinking, in their willingness, in their choices and in their actions was squandered. And with the awakening of “resistance” their response was to hide. It was to hide from their God-Creator and to hide from themselves – from their own nakedness, shame, vulnerability and guilt.

If this was the birth of “resistance,” the story of resistance becomes a core theme that stretches from the beginning of scripture right to its very end and beyond into the present day. And so much of it represents the individual and collective human pull against the Creator’s offer of freedom; freedom in thought, in will, in choice and in action.  And in this pulling away we become captive in our thinking, wilful in our purposes, and self-serving in our choices and actions.

What holds me back?


You may be still pondering over some of your own resistances.

Here are springs of living water available to you, and yet, there can be a tendency to draw back. Continue to attend to the points of resistance you may have noticed in your resonance. Then, to tease out your resistances a little further, try out and complete about three or four of the following sentences (just as if you were giving permission to your pen to fill in the blank spaces) and just notice what emerges. 


Invitation – Embrace – Gift of God – Living water

Drawing – attracting – inviting into greater freedom  

Estrangement – Exile – Running

   from God

   Points of resistance – pulling

   away – into unfreedom                                              


o   The first impressions I have of people is that they tend to be either . . . . . or. . . . .        

o   Facing a new situation or relationship, I notice my pattern tends to be…

o   I can see in myself a tendency to avoid…

o   When I come to scripture I notice how I am drawn to . . . and yet, may be a little blind to . . .

o   I notice anxiety arising when something runs counter to my expectations . .

o   I notice discouragement, boredom, even a little depression when . . .

o   I tend to fall asleep when confronted with . . .

o   My heart tends to become a little closed to others when . . .

o   I notice I feel rather ambivalent when . . .

o   I need to have a firmer picture of God if I am to trust God more fully . . .

o   I would really life to follow Jesus more closely, and yet . . .

Transforming Movements

Little-by-little we have been gaining glimpses into the change and transformation that can occur within the relational and redeeming embrace of Jesus. Each of the gospel encounters we have witnessed has offered a glimpse into how we as pilgrims come into the fullness of our true identity in the embrace of God; the One who loved us into existence, loved us redemptively throughout our lives, and loves us towards God’s full and final purpose.2] Words and phrases that have been used about this love include:

             Self-giving

         Other receiving

         Sacrificial

         Redemptive

         Reciprocity

         Surrender

         Relinquishment                


         Gentle and humble heart

         Forgiving

         Longing for our healing and wholeness

         A love that flows from the heart of God, the Trinity
           revealed in life, death and resurrection of 
           and carried to and fro on the wings the Holy Spirit.




Your words Your words

And yet, deep within our soul there is a response—a yearning—a longing—even a fainting—an ember fanned into flame by the breath of the Holy Spirit—for this embrace; for God who is our “beloved homeland.”[3] And yet the cry is muffled; buried beneath our clutter, our inner chaos, and our self-protective reactions to our woundedness.

Could you work reflectively in your journal with this paragraph by bringing your “muffled cry” into a drawing or a poem? 

A simple exercise – experiencing the dance of resistance!


  • If you now go back to the transcript of the dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman (and also to your own resonance).

  • Bring your hands together (as in the picture). Your left hand represents the woman (and you). Your right represents Jesus.

  • As the resistance in the dialogue is strong push harder with your left hand. As the movement of the woman is towards Jesus (attraction), relax your left hand and allow space for your right hand to gently move.

  • Follow this through in a lighter, more playful way.


What have you noticed? See if you can bring your noticing into a simple poetic response.


[i] Genesis 3. 
[2] Michael Jinkins. Invitation to Theology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001, 90. 
[3 St. Augustine, cited by Martin Laird. Into the Silent Land: The Practice of Contemplation. London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2006,  2. 

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