Ebb and Flow of Life

Abide in Me, and I in You.
                John 15:4a

We are undercover passion on the run
Chasing love up against the sun
We are strangers by day, lovers by night
Knowing it’s so wrong, but feeling so right
Don’t want nothing to be wrong with part-time lover
Stevie Wonder

Life, with all the circumstances we face and sometimes struggle with, seems to ebb and flow. Like an unseen breeze that rushes in and then calms for the moment, we feel the air intrude on our senses and we know the touch on our skin will fade and come again in its own time.

So many of our experiences follow this same pattern.   We get excited about time with a friend or loved one, knowing we need to really feel those moments together and try to enjoy them because soon we will be alone with only memories of fun and laughter. Could be a struggle with health or even knowing we have a short time to live.   Feelings of fear get replaced with contentment as we settle into anger over our lot in life and then acceptance of a greater picture unfolding, knowing God’s hand guides and directs our every step.

Perhaps our greatest challenge in life comes from the way we get accustomed to things ushering in and subsiding. Ponder for a moment what God, who loves you with endless abandon and no limits, wants in fellowship with you. Does He want, for example, a morning, fifteen minute devotional followed by only intermittent awareness of His presence throughout the day? That’s ebb and flow. Or rather, does He hope for an abiding life within your heart and spirit where you can’t stop thinking of Him? Where you find your calm and joy and inspiration in the mere fact that He never leaves your side. Not even for a moment.

This week, try to replace ebbs and flows with a consistent awareness of His presence in your life. See Him in all the moments that fill up your day and acknowledge that He’s always there hoping to touch your soul with love and purpose. Remember, God isn’t a part-time lover. He’s a full-time lover. Truly full-time.

 

 

 

 

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The Odor of Desire

“As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;”
                Psalm 42:1-2a

“For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;”
2 Corinthians 2:15

Desire. The burning fuel of the heart and driver of all we seek. What we want most, our desires, sit in the deepest chambers of our soul, invisible to the eye yet powerful enough to shape our entire life. Indeed, to move mountains. We pursue our dreams diligently, often compelled to have more stuff, to get more love and to experience greater peace. Our hopes leak out and show themselves through our decisions and the choices we make every day.

Yet our best desires and compelling wishes have an odor. God smells them, like incense that sends swirls of flavored smoke toward the sky, filling rooms with an undeniable presence. These desires come packaged in many ways, like Christmas presents under the trees that collect them.

We sacrifice with thankfulness, where we praise Him for all His blessings.

We sacrifice when we study His word and revel in the wisdom of Scripture.

We sacrifice when we share the gospel to other.

We sacrifice any time we remember to praise Him for His majesty and grandeur.

All the ways we bring praise and glory to His name send a pleasing odor to God. Fills His room, the heavenlies, with one more example of a changed life on earth, bent on turning the attention away from self while putting Him on the throne. His throne. The only real throne.               The next time you light a candle or burn some incense, reflect on all the ways you hope to serve Him and praise His name. Peer deeply into your own heart and soul and search for your own desires. And ask, “How many of my wishes center on Him and how many are simply my wants for stuff and an easier life.”

Then offer this prayer, “Lord, shape and mold me. Create in me a heart bent on finding, loving and adoring you. Keep me always focused on the blessings You give me every moment and light my heart on fire. And when it burns, let it burn with magnificent odors that suggest I’m getting to know you more each day, that I’m learning to love you more deeply and that I see Your hand in all I do.” “Let my odors be the sweetest kind, that permeate my home, relationships and every part of my life – a testimony to a soul learning to pant for you.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Highways of the Heart

How blessed are those whose strength is in You,
In whose heart are the highways to Zion!
Psalm 84:5

  The substance of the heart consists of life giving chambers that pump blood and energy to the body. But the heart symbolically reflects our emotions, intent and what we aim for in life. Each of us gives life meaning by the goals we set, the desires we foster and the choices we make that define us.

Imagine every year you make a long pilgrimage miles away to a special place where you worship God, seek to honor His being, person and life and ask Him to forgive and love you all over again. Not in a fancy car going 70 MPH but on foot and on donkey. Certainly not your typical trip to Disney World. But a time where deep waters of the soul get examined and you have a chance to be honest with yourself about how you live and breath and how much you let God infiltrate your mind and soul with His presence.

And imagine your thoughts and feelings as you make that journey. You might wonder what God is really like and what plans He has for you. And you would likely ponder tough issues like how obedient you have been this year to His word and ways and how blessed you are to know an almighty God who forgives and loves you despite your shortcomings. Despite your struggles with a consistent faith.

As you look inside your heart and spirit, reflect on your own motivation to love and know God. Would you describe your heart as a “highway” that rushes to be in God’s presence? That longs to know Him more deeply and passionately? A heart and soul that can’t wait to get there – to worship and know your creator with vivid honesty and delight?

Maybe in 2014 we all need to look within and remember life is a pilgrimage to a very special place. That there is nothing like being in His presence. What a blessing that being with our Maker doesn’t require miles on foot. But depends on the realization that He is right there all the time – waiting for us at any moment to remember, worship and even talk with Him. We have Zion within our heart and being. Right here. Right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Men and Sex – The Real Truth

Men – all they want is sex. Right? Really? No, not really! Not all men want sex all the time. A stereotype that plagues the male species. Men often get a bum wrap, depicted as constantly sexually motivated, as if they live in a mental squirrel cage with a constant agenda to get into their spouse’s panties, nighties or “whatever-ies” she’s wearing.

At times men get labeled hound dogs, sickos and insatiable, like seeing a bobble head doll with a non-retractable erection. What a shame. Society, the male species included, needs a better, more accurate view of men and what they truly want from their mate – both when the clothes are on and when naked.

So what does sex truly mean to men and why do they seek it? How might this be different than women or at least a variation on what females experience in their desire and search for physical release and connection?

For many men, sexual contact opens up a gateway to their soul. Like turning on a spigot of running water, they suddenly get in touch with raw feelings, the virtues of tenderness and the need to depend on another human being for warmth and safety. Men become softer and more human in that they gain access to a wider variety of feelings, thoughts and emotions. Moving, consistent sex turns their world upside down. Their heart inside out. Their love for life and wife bubble up from a deep well of feelings they often wall off, becoming clearer like a camera lens bringing its target into focus.

Most men have no history of positive role models for how to treat women, what real intimacy looks like and how to translate their needs for closeness into a positive way of pursuing their lover. And this is the rub! Think about it. Women want men who open up their feminine heart and body skillfully. Like a finely wrapped gift, they don’t want the beautiful wrapping paper and ribbon hurriedly ripped off, wadded up and tossed into the garbage. They want to experience profound safety, honor and excitement in how men approach them, hold them and ask to be inside. Men, on the other hand, are quite capable of “paving the way” to intimacy – AFTER THE FACT. They surrender to their feminine, touchy-feely side during and after sex.   During and after!

What a chasm in timing. Men want sex, which helps move them into a deeper connection with all their emotional wants and needs. Women want that deeper connection before the bedroom door opens. Ultimately, they both want the same thing. Passionate, rock-the-bed-stand, earthquake sex with souls bared wide open in tenderness, connection and erotic touch. And orgasms that spell not only physical release, but the intersection of two souls who need a deep kind of love suspended in time, delivered with expertise and boat-floating sexiness.

Yet if not on the same page, working mindfully toward the same spirit-building bond, great sex becomes more like the every-so-often lunar eclipse. Brilliant planets and moon shading one another for a brief, spectacular show that disappears into the sky returning far away in time – too far away.

Some thoughts for men to consider. Kind of “how to get your wife naked and succeed” speech.

  1. See your penis as a gateway to a larger soul-moving finale. Yes, your soul, your needs for affection, love, tenderness and love. Focus on those moving parts, the inner needs for dependency and life-changing connection with your lover. Set your penis-focus aside in favor of your softer, inner self.
  2. Know before you penetrate her, you have to first penetrate her heart and soul. Yes, she wants sexy, exciting, erotic touch and all the fireworks that go with it. But many women want blood-curdling fireworks that first launch her internal emotions, make her feel like she is the most beautiful, cherished woman in the world. You heard it, cherished. All the time, hours and days before you embrace her naked. Does your woman feel that valued, apart from her body and the sex she gives to you?
  3. Set the right goal. Like a strategic business move, go for the gold. The gold? Yes. Try to create closeness and affection that surface from a well of care and compassion, like the vapor from a hot spring exuding from below. Take your mind off your sexual desire long enough to feed your mind full of goodies like, “How can we just hold each other and experience our love in the moment.” Or, “Let’s look into each other’s eyes and without words, express tenderness and the thrill that we know each other and have each other for life.”

Many men are starved for affection, for the soft embrace of a woman who gives them the tenderness and warmth they don’t know how to ask for. Sometimes don’t know even exists within. Without these kinds of components, love-components, men search for closeness and bonding with such a limited emotional experience. So they keep pursuing sex, to get these gems – thinking that the excitement of intercourse provides Nirvana. Not so. Many other moving parts.

So, guys, check in to your needs for love and connection. Let these guide, direct and sponsor your real wants and needs. Sex is a gateway to the soul. A gateway, not an end in itself. Break through and give her what she needs, what you need. True sex-success.

 

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Recovery – 5 Steps in Getting to the Next Level

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
             Oscar Wilde

 I continue to be intrigued by how men and women recover from addiction – chemical, sexual and even problems with food. I wonder how they do it – move forward, fashion a new life, get past old, destructive habits – to find new ground. Life-changing NEW GROUND.

Any human change to a better way, a new life, seems profound to me. What are the success factors that get us from point A to point B when the journey seems insurmountable, when the odds of getting their appear brutal? Especially when you have shaped your life around habits that affect the brain and become your “way of being.”

One author argues that with all the prescriptions for personal development in our world today, the one thing that’s missing is our tendency to focus on areas of life that don’t really matter. Could be the new car, career advancement, getting married, etc. All of these are ideas of how to be “happy” in life. instead, he argues, we need to focus on matters related to the soul and spirit – and the exciting agendas that flow out of some kind of focus on the divine.

I would agree and argue that true recovery from addiction, especially in the later stages of recovery, depends on aiming high, reflecting a desire to live a new life based on a vision of change and newness that’s compelling. One that honors our intrinsic spiritual nature – not just buying new cars and collecting “things.” This may come in later recovery, after destructive habits have been minimized. But the sooner the better.

I would suggest the need for a starting point in the recovery process, beyond mastering slips and relapses, where we can sink our teeth into what we need to do next – to support our growth and to abandon false paths that lead nowhere.

1. Let go of despair – the infection of the “I will never change” or “I can’t do it” virus. This means challenging negative beliefs that nothing new ever happens in my life. you created a life of addiction. You can create a life of conviction. Of new things and possibilities.

2. Think of your new life as a life of creation. Through meditation, prayer and determination, reflect on your own vision for a new life. With addiction, you haven’t wanted much more than the next use or high. So what do you want? What excites you? Do your best to think “big” and don’t limit yourself to possessions or goals that don’t support a bigger vision of joy and contentment.

Life isn’t’ about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.
George Bernard Shaw

3. Be mindful of the moment. Live in it, not outside of time where you bask in what could have been or may never be. Focus on what blessing(s) may be present NOW or direction may be possible NOW. Cultivate belief in the possible and what you thought was impossible – believe it is limitless.

4. Cultivate courage – a new emotion that rivals the negativity you probably live with around hope. Our attempts to replace discouragement and helplessness with courage go a long way. Find others who support you in this and model courage in their own recovery and life path.

5. Act now – not later. How many attempts at recovery have been undermined by fear and never quite getting started. Actions that support our vision for our new life become essential – name them, do them despite anxiety or fear and keep doing them. New habits come from new actions – not just ideas in our head.

“Only one thing registers on the subconscious mind: repetitive application — practice. What you practice is what you manifest.”
Grace Speare

So

I have the greatest respect for those who move from compulsive addictions to a new life – where the self is nurtured, happiness comes from inner change and hope is created. Because a new life is always created, guided by spiritual principles of growth and change that our maker has outlined and we consciously step into. Find your path and move along the journey with determination, persistence and always looking ahead. One that truly goes somewhere new.

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What’s Your Real Name?

I recently heard a familiar song on the radio, Mac the Knife, and thought, “That’s a guy I’d like to emulate.” “Sounds like a hip, cool dude with a lot going on.” Somehow even the nickname “Mac” seemed inviting, even with the huge association with a certain hamburger.

Then I downloaded the lyrics. Hadn’t really listened to those before. Cold blooded murderer apparently. Not really a man to emulate.

But all this got me thinking. Thinking long and hard about inspiration and what we buy in to. How we can so easily follow along with the simple tunes we find on the radio of life, whether in books, movies, media or even friends – and absorb the many messages as if written “just for me!” All the while forgetting to ask some simple questions, like “Do the lyrics really apply to my life?” “Is that at tune, philosophy or worldview I want to live by?”

I recently read an ancient story about a man named Gideon. Simple guy who lived amongst his people who were being persecuted by outsiders. God sends an angel to talk to Gideon, asking him to fight these enemies and defeat them, even though outnumbered and with no military experience to speak of. What’s interesting is that the angel, instructed by the Almighty himself, calls him by a new name – “Mighty Warrior.”

Long story short, with many details left out, Gideon buys in to this new identity and lives up to his descript name Mighty Warrior and defeats forces far greater than himself or the frightened nation he inhabits.

So I’ve thought long and hard about a man’s name. I’m more than curious about how we define ourselves and what we stand for. Something about our name has power, direction and meaning. I’m not talking about the name our parents gave us, although connected to this overall idea. What I’m referring to involves the name no one sees. What you call yourself when you’re afraid and uncertain. How you think of yourself as you look in the mirror and ponder life – the meaning of life. What you stand for and represent that no one can take away.

I love questions that provoke us to think about who we are. What we stand for. Let’s take a look at a few that get at our real name – how we see ourselves when we’re at our best. Who we truly want to be

  • As I reflect on my life’s story, what name best represents the decisions and choices I’ve made along the way? Don’t beat yourself up with supposed failures. Look at your journey, what has happened and how you’ve overcome in life. Our stories point to the name we carry, want or have the potential to inhabit.
  • Am I living out a powerful life with a succinct purpose and direction? Does my name reflect that deeper meaning I’m here for? So much starts by knowing my calling – how I’m supposed to make a real difference in this world.
  • What do I stand for in the core of my being? What values, beliefs and thoughts would I would die for, fight for and let no one take away? If we can identify the key values we live by, our inner core that gives us “masculine” definition, we live differently – we live better and more powerfully.
  • Do I live out commitment to my name – my livened, invisible, name that represents the best me, my best self? Take a sheet of paper and list 10 attributes that defines your “best self” – the self that shows up in power and strength to fight for good, to love others, to support virtues that so often get ignored this day and age.
  • What names do I need to shed? So often we live out a negative identity. We may spend our whole life wishing we were different or felt better about ourselves. Let me suggest re-naming yourself. Chart out the life you want and begin creating it – step by step. Sometimes we have to work our way into our real name. I’m sure Gideon did.

I’m pleased I didn’t let “Mac the Knife” become my new self. And there are way too many tunes out there hoping to seep into my unconscious and tell me who I am. Most of these have nothing to do with my true potential or what I stand for in the recesses of my heart and spirit. I have to find my own name. And so do you. Let that journey begin.

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Our Spiritual Nature

I have been intrigued over the years trying to understand just what constitutes “spirituality.” In my own Judeo-Christian background, I have ways of conceiving what our spirit might be and am even able to compare it to God’s Spirit Who indwells us.

But I still find myself interacting with individuals who don’t share my particular spiritual beliefs and so I find it necessary to develop a mutual language that helps us understand human nature and the “personality” we can’t see behind the face.

I believe our best model for comprehending the invisible “nature” of a person comes from an understanding of what the human “spirit” represents and how this “spirit” drives human thought and expression.

The Circle

Imagine for a minute that your being – the true essence of who you are as a person – fills up a circle. For a moment, let yourself see that circle and envision your spirit filling up that space. Be creative in how you picture this – imagine taking what defines you as a person, your values, what’s important to you and visualizing that filling up the inside of the circle.

You can give the circle a color and even change the shape to oval or other geometric objects. But still conceive of the space entirely made up of the absolute pure essence and qualities that define you as a person.

This may be challenging! Trying to picture your own self and the energy that defines you may not be easy. It can also be difficult to define those qualities and characteristics that best represent your true nature. But I believe that the journey toward personal success and happiness depends on each of us getting in touch with our truest self – our spirit – and making choices that honor our deepest values!

For now, do your best to get in touch with your inner personality – those attributes, beliefs and values that make you a distinctive human being and projecting those into a defined space like a circle. Again, I call this your spirit – what sets you apart and defines you as a human being.

In Christian terms, you can think of this as the new creation God has implanted in your heart and soul – being remade into His image. The Spirit of God indwells us and His nature and ours become blended into a powerful spiritual force and presence in the world. Our new identity spiritually becomes the true essence of who we are.

At any rate, the circle in our model and metaphor becomes a way to think about spirituality. Most would agree that if we can picture and define our deepest self, who we are at the core of our being, that there is something profoundly “spiritual” about this. Our inner person can’t be literally seen – it represents an essence, a life force that moves us, shapes our decisions and builds the world we live in.

Expanding the Circle – Inner Light

Now imagine protecting and honoring that circle and our essence – that somehow all our decisions and actions need to be a reflection of our deepest self – not a false self or mask we put on that hides our true nature. In a way, we could argue that the circle actually grows when this happens. Who we are inside expands as we identify our true self and reach out to others with our deepest personality, talents and care.

If we truly believe that life is a spiritual journey and that all our decisions mirror an inner self composed of our deepest values – what we might call our light – then we have a model of growth and development limited only by our imagination and the choices we do, and don’t initiate in life.

Expanding the Circle – Outer Light

Now let’s build on this metaphor and focus on understanding “spirituality” in a broader context. Can we define our spiritual energy as including our own personal core of positive values and beliefs but also forces coming from outside our own personal being? In other words, how do we define spirituality more broadly? Are we talking about God, some force in the universe or simply the energy we find within ourselves? How are we filled up spiritually from within and without and what does that involve?

I believe that finding true happiness and peace in life centers on grasping all the ways we limit our understanding of our own potential and what brings vibrant energy into our personal universe. In other words, we often fail to discover how we are fed spiritually, where we draw our models of living from and whether or not we have the vision to look outside ourselves for personal empowerment and definition!

If we believe that reality starts and stops with just “me,” then our perspective on life and others will center on a limited version of who I am – just me! If, on the other hand, my paradigm of what brings life and positive energy into my world comes from a universe of transcendent ideals, spiritual beings, and a higher calling than just what I make up about life, then my world ends up being constructed from a broader range of possibilities.

Let me provide an example. If, for instance, I believe that the universe calls each of us to a life of love, sharing and compassion, then my definition of meaning in life will include a focus on “breathing in” love from all around me and sharing it with others.

I could argue, and I actually would, that God Himself can be defined as “love” – which we find in a very useful and meaningful, Biblical sense.

Another example would be our perspective on what brings “light” into our lives. Light can be thought of as a spiritual energy that swallows up darkness, selfishness, narrow mindedness, war, etc and that darkness involves an energy that sucks away personal power and enlightenment.

What is your definition of “light?” What have you found brings joy and positive influence into your world and into those whom you care for? Light, like love, transforms negative energy and depression into brilliance, direction and momentum. But we must have a working model for how we see and experience light!

A Biblical look again provides meaning to this. Jesus Himself defined His own being as “light” when He referred to Himself as the “light of life.” He stood for goodness, love and prosperity and the kingdom He preached was a kingdom of light – created to defeat the forces of darkness.

My point in all this involves the question of where we draw our power for life from and our perspective on what gives life true meaning! And ultimately, how do we get beyond our own selfishness and narrow way of looking at the world into a broader definition of purpose and value for us and others!

I have discovered, inside and outside the church, that many people experience a limited appreciation for anything in life other than what comes there way – how to get through the work week, day and month. Most of us don’t grow up experiencing “spiritual” realities in our own homes and stumble when it comes to defining what gives life true value.

And so it becomes important to open up spiritual resources, ideas and experiences to provide deeper meaning and purpose to this brief journey we have on earth.

I would argue that your journey in life is a spiritual one if you choose to appreciate this kind of personal meaning for all that happens in your present and future.

The beginning of all this centers on your commitment to expand your own view of life’s meaning to include something both inside and outside yourself – explore and focus on where positive energy comes from – within and without – and you can even start with your views on “light” and “love” to kick start the process.

The Shrinking Circle

Back to our circle! We have now expanded our model of spirituality to include not only our inner core and our deepest beliefs but also where we draw positive, life giving energy from outside our own human existence. Remember that we argued our circle can grow and expand, bringing success and joy into our world. Yet just as the circle, representing our spirit and essence as a human being, can grow and expand, it can also retract and shrink.

One of the best examples of this is in the field of addiction and recovery. Drug and alcohol dependence or abuse and sexual addiction – actually any addictive and compulsive enslavement – limits our experience and awareness of our true self! Our priority becomes “using,” along with all the obsession, time and money it takes to get high and act out.

In other words, our focus and intent centers on the substance or experience we keep pursuing at the expense of knowing ourselves fully and being in touch with our brilliance, light and the best within our personality. Addiction simply drowns out and replaces an alignment with all that we really stand for.

And so in the process of addiction, our circle begins to shrink. Our only priority centers on a selfish high we chase and has nothing to do with experiencing and bringing out our best for others and for ourselves. We become enslaved to the highs we seek out.

Now imagine your spiritual circle and whatever in your life limits your experience of your true nature and values. Even aside from addiction, that can be the pace of life you keep or even how you limit your own awareness of your core values, spiritual resources you draw from and the difference you want to make in the world. Anything that limits our perception and connection with our deepest values and our true nature causes the circle to shrink.

Growing the Circle

This is in large part why organizations like AA and other recovery programs emphasize the spiritual nature of the recovery process. During the process of addiction, the circle shrinks and most addicts don’t even know themselves in the fullest sense of the word. Their inner spirit is covered up with acting out and priorities that center on using.

And so the recovery process can be defined as growing and expanding your spiritual circle so that you truly know and embrace your core as a man or woman. And broadening this circle to include spiritual resources that transcend just your person and your own wants and needs! This process honors the life you have within – your deepest core values and self-definition and allows you to grow in your awareness of yourself and what you have to offer life and even God.

Beyond addiction, many of us get caught up in the pace of life and our awareness and appreciation for what we hold onto most dearly in our values and beliefs gets covered up. We lose sight of what ideals, spiritual tools and even transcendent beings hope to bring into our world. It is easy to lead an unfocused life – just trying to get by – and hoping to manage the anxiety and stress that comes our way.

What a beautiful model to think of – that our spiritual being can grow and expand as we choose to live a different life that honors our deepest values, our core beliefs and the spiritual resources and principles that guide our journey! And that allows us to give to the world – to others and ourselves – what matters most to us – our best self!

A Mindful Approach

I believe the real starting point for honoring our spiritual self, centers on practicing “mindfulness.” In essence, a mindful life implies we spend time reflecting on our inner experience, what brings joy and energy to our existence and our ultimate purpose and gifts we have to give the world and those we love.

Mindfulness means we explore our thoughts and feelings non-judgmentally to discover overt and even hidden meanings. It means we reflect on our spiritual nature and seek out influences that provide dynamic, positive energy into our outlook and way of living.

Being mindful means becoming a “seeker” of the truth – being curious about what we don’t know and soaking up information and experiences that give us an expanded and even different view of situations and people we hadn’t considered before.

And being a mindful seeker means we don’t judge other people’s experiences as bad or good but stick to our own truth, the light we bring into the world and what we have to offer others. Ultimately, a spiritual journey embraces not only our own needs and wants but those around us who need to experience our light and compassion.

I view “mindfulness” as a way of accessing spiritual truth – a kind of gateway into the heart and soul. It implies we are willing to let go of our defenses and seek answers within ourselves. And it means we look for meaning outside ourselves in a universe replete with joy and light.

For many of us, we have found this in the being of a God we worship. Your journey needs to define, for yourself, all the sources of love, compassion and light that make this more than a simple existence trying to get through the day. Your circle will grow and you will become a true light in a world that needs your shining brilliance.

Conclusion

We can examine our life with a simple metaphor of a circle. Imagine that inside this circle you can visualize your own spirit and the spiritual resources that give you energy and meaning in life. Allow them to fill up the circle completely.

The more we fill up this circle with our spirit and the flow of spiritual resources available in life, the more the circle expands and grows.

At the same time, experiences, choices and lifestyles can restrict our awareness and growth spiritually to the point the circle begins to shrink. The best example would be addiction – which limits our ability to know our deepest values and keeps us from experiencing spiritual realities that life or God provide!

The growth of our circle means we are thriving as human beings, that we live in the presence of energy that gives deep meaning to our journey and those we love and creates purpose and direction that drives our choices and behaviors.

In this growth model, we continually define our core values and identify the spiritual resources that infuse us with life and personal meaning.

Growth Exercises

  1. Identify your core values – those beliefs and standards you live by and that drive your choices in life. List each one and examine how you specifically live these out. Could you enhance the way you operationalize these values by becoming more strategic and consistent in living them out?
  2. How do you define spirituality? Does it include a higher power, a set of working, positive ideals you subscribe to? How does your model of spirituality influence your life choices, how you treat others and how you spend your time?
  3. Draw a circle. Imagine your spiritual energy filling up that circle. Underneath, list the values and spiritual beliefs that define you as a person and give you purpose and meaning in life. Now draw an even larger circle – what causes your circle to grow? What choices, behaviors and beliefs cause it to expand and create even more meaning in this journey of life?
  4. Spend time this week and month exploring how to become a “mindful,” contemplative person intent on learning about love, light and joy. List and meditate on those principles that contribute to your circle, that expand your understanding of your spiritual nature and that allow you to reach beyond your typical way of viewing your purpose in life.

 

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