The images and metaphors we choose to describe our spiritual struggles to ourselves are not just idle place-holders; they can make a big difference for our sense of freedom and possibility. Here's an example:
I received a letter yesterday from a woman I met on retreat. She's in the midst of a turbulent and complex vocation discernment, and here's how she described her spiritual struggle:
I need to either swim beneath the waves or learn to walk on water.
Notice what she has done with this image! First of all, she has used the image of the waters as a metaphor for the dangerous forces of chaos and un-meaning. This has the advantage of being a good, demonstrable Biblical image, and puts her into the thought-world of the Scriptures.
But even with that, she could have said, "I'm just trying to keep my head above water."
But she didn't. Instead she imagined her options positively, and not only that, she imagined two constructive paths through the waters of chaos. She can swim beneath the waves, seeking a deeper place in prayer, below the chaos and turbulence of emotions and daily hassles. Or she can learn to walk on water, as the Lord himself did when inviting Peter to a greater faith.
I thought it was a brilliant thought.