Book Look: Ordering Your Private World (Revised & Updated)

adult with kids reading book

When Saul became King of Israel, he enjoyed too much immediate success. It apparently made him unaware that he had any limits to his life. He spent little time pondering his need for others, engendering a relationship with God, or even facing his responsibilities toward the people over whom he ruled. The signs of a driven man began to appear.”

To the extent that we see him in ourselves, we have work to do in our private worlds. For an inner life fraught with unresolved drives will not be able to hear clearly the voice of Christ when He calls. The noise and pain of stress will be too great.”

In Ordering Your Private World, Gordon McDonald explores topics such as:

  • Stewardship vs. ownership
  • Identity
  • Knowing one’s purpose
  • When to “let go”

By contrasting the lives of John the Baptist–“he must increase and I must decrease”–and King Saul,  he shows us the difference between living called and driven.

This is not an ethereal treatment of pious practices. A successful leader, McDonald freshens up time management tips using words like budgeting and recapturing, and discusses how disappointments of the past drive the actions of the present–unless we learn to pay attention. Nor is it a dry treatise. There are plenty of biblical examples, literary allusions and personal anecdotes to hold the reader’s attention.

He advocates for an integrated, whole life approach and holds valuable work and intellectual rigor in high regard, writing about them in chapters titled “The Better Man Lost” and “The Sadness of a Book Never Read.” Having established the importance of paying attention to the inner world, the last portion of the book invites the reader into five spiritual exercises that bring order to the inner world, a private world McDonald calls “The Garden.” These are silence and solitude, singing, regularly listening to God, the experience of reflection and meditation, and prayer as worship and intercession–and in his clear, straightforward voice. It includes a study guide.

I didn’t make my way through this gem when it made its way onto my bookshelf many years ago—maybe it was the original cover… The first version released in 1984. But you can be smarter than me–read this new edition now! The author has given us wisdom as timeless as kings and queens and as current as today’s CEO’s and entrepreneurs. Illustrations have been updated but the core message remains the same: “He who orders his inner spiritual world, will make a place for God to visit and speak. And when that voice is heard, it will be unlike anything else ever spoken.”

 

 

*Disclosure: Product received from Handlebar for my honest review.
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PRAXIS 1: Don’t try this at home…unless you want to remove barriers to freedom.

At our friends’ recent 50th anniversary celebration, I was introduced to Darci–not her real name–by way of a challenge: You’ll never guess what SHE does for a living!

Cards on table, OX signs, couples picts

Piper’s 50th Anniversary

Thus commenced an impromptu round of “What’s My Line” wherein I discovered that, at 5′ 4″/ 120-ish lbs, she is a long haul, semi truck driver–logging in over 2 million miles in seventeen years! In his 70-year driving career my dad was a 2-million-miler, accident-free. Now she, too, has my mad respect–and he hers, for racking up a good portion of his before technology and paved roads. It takes a lot of doing a thing over many years to realize one’s potential–for whatever, in whatever era.

Large log on truck, man standing on running board

Dad 1951

In trucking terms, he and I had little in common. We did, though, share a love of language and learning. He was also a philosopher at heart. When assimilating new information or processing a foreign concept became difficult, Dad would often say, “Well, that’s Greek to me!” And, in fact, the Greek is helpful.  [See “praxis” (Gr. for practice).]

If you’re short on time, here’s the short version (…you’re welcome). Otherwise, read on.

  • Words are symbols for actual realities
  • Internalizing new realities takes practice, and by extension, time
  • Spiritual formation is not about learning new words…it’s about practice
  • Transformation is the process of removing barriers to freedom
  • Darci is a rock star. So’s Dad. And Happy Anniversary to my friends.

Practice is required to truly learn anything new. Language and learning are hard to separate, but learning involves much more than words, as words are simply symbols for the realities they represent.

Yellow Sign says: Praxis, Theorie

For example, as a young piano student, I studied theory books explaining how music worked and completed lesson books requiring me to actually practice–for an hour a day (thanks, Mom). I exercised the principles for myself until one day my miniature finger muscles had memorized the necessary motions and could perform them without studied concentration. Likewise:

  • Doctors invest themselves in internships
  • Counselors submit themselves to “supervised” hours
  • Mothers commandeer children
  • Pilots soar with flight simulators

Each is showing up and doing the thing, day after day. In the work I do with spiritual formation, it’s quite easy to slip into engagement with the theory of formation and attend less to doing the thing day after day, to praxis.

In A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God, an anthology from Upper Room Books,  Howard Rice says this, which I share in the spirit of both accountability and encouragement:

Discipline in the Christian life is not a luxury. Without it we become confused, lose our way, compromise our principles, and discover that we are not the people we had intended to be. No one is so sturdy in the faith that the temptation to surrender bit by bit does not erode conviction. Days go by and we discover that, instead of growing in grace in these days, we have wasted them…These means of grace are not a method of deserving God’s grace, but a pattern by which we enable ourselves to be receptive to grace and remove the barriers that God permits us to erect as the price of our freedom. These tools, or aids, are ways by which we open ourselves to God’s free grace.

A common question I hear is around how to “do” all these practices. “Isn’t this just another set of rules? A new kind of legalism?”

To which I cry a resounding, YES! It can be. And if that’s where you find yourself, notice that it’s happening to you and STOP! Re-evaluate what has taken you there and reorient your heart toward freedom.

It is one of the reasons I’m so glad to have found Willard’s Spirit of the Disciplines before I found any of the to-do lists at all, i.e. Celebration of Discipline, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, books I recommend, by the way. But to have reversed them may have been my tragic undoing. While transformation is not accomplished by what we do, our doing something is needed in order for us to experience transformation. That something is to turn, over and over again, to the Love which sets us free.

And that means being who I say I am, doing what transforming people do: praxis.


What practices help you to turn toward God, the Love which sets us free? What will you do today, this week? What would you like to experiment with or know more about? Are your practices changing over time?

Leave a comment. I would love to hear what’s helping you open to God more fully…running, reading, reflecting, resting…it doesn’t have to start with ‘r’.  🙂


Spiritual direction is one such practice. If you’re interested, contact me here for more information.

Mindful Monday

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Meet “Lewis”

The Beast, our new Great Pyrenees/Belgian Shepherd, turned five months old last week. He doubled in size in four short weeks, requiring the help of a pre-teen grandkid just to hoist his sorry carcass into the vet for his last parvo vaccine!

There’s nothing like a new puppy to help you pay attention. Take your eyes off the little buggar for a second and the curtain is shredded. Or there’s a puddle of pee demanding yet another round with the Resolve. The cat suffers from PTSD and the hose you left out mysteriously sprouts a new hole. Well, not mysteriously. Meet Lewis, our newest reminder of what it costs to NOT pay attention.

We miss so much when we don’t:

  • The fleeting look of tenderness in the eye of someone who lets down their guard for just long enough for us to see the fear behind the front they prefer to wear
  • The nudge to send that email or text to the person needing an atta boy/girl

A high-pitched shriek of childish delight easily arrests our attention, but the more subtle moments, the mundane, the nuanced… it’s easy to forget those are just as pregnant with life if we pay attention.

  • Laundry reminds us of work accomplished or an event attended. Yet was I fully invested, wholly engaged, entirely present?
  • Dishes indicate a satisfying meal. But did I bother to take in the aromas, the textures, and can I remember with whom my meal was shared, or our conversation?
  • Fueling the car or balancing the checkbook, the privileges of enough. Was I aware that I was shopping on purpose, though, rather than simply self-medicating?

Life is made of routine, non-descript moments. Thanks to help from uber-efficient brains, we learn to function without thinking at all about how to open the front door or climb stairs. Heuristics someone smart called it. Shortcuts. Imagine if you had to methodically tell yourself to execute every move required for tying a shoe–there was a day, remember?! But now you can do it all without paying attention. Alas, the tradeoff is that over time auto-pilot becomes our default.

Think about your yard, your car’s interior, your office desk…Things left entirely to themselves generally speaking, end in at least mild disarray–which is charming in an English garden, but not in dog training.

Ergo, here’s a “Mindful Monday” post, a gentle poke reminding you and me to exercise our attention muscles.
Mindfulness, awareness, paying attention:

  • Is a step in developing our capacity for gratitude.
  • Helps us nurture and steward well the life we are given.
  • Serves us in recognizing where we get in our own way of receiving love and being more loving–something neither of these pests pets have any trouble with.

Sure, it takes a little time, a different kind of energy, but it keeps stuff from soiling the carpet…if you get my drift.

 

Perks and Process: The Why and How of Memorizing

 

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Parroting with perfect 6-year-old Elizabethan elocution, I was rewarded with glowing approval.

“Blessed is the man”-or person, my dad astutely responded to my early gender sensitivities, “that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly…” (Psa. 1 KJV)

“And God is the redeemer of every situation…”

Someone said that to me once, a line I committed to memory and have never–well, sometimes–forgotten.

Mmm…Tasty!

Those same words, once sweet in my mouth, turned to gravel over time. The experience of having the Bible crammed down Continue reading

Injured? 3 Essentials for Returning to the Game (Pt. 2)

Jeans with hole in knee

When we sustain an injury, a little self-care may be necessary if we’re to return to the game. Consider taking an intentional approach to recovery. (Click here for Part 1 of this two-part post.)

Acknowledge – Be real with ourselves and our situation

Pride is a killer. I hate it when I have to admit that everything’s NOT okay. But sometimes it’s just not. And while our difficulties don’t need to be broadcast to everyone, we need to be willing to tell the truth at least to ourselves. It’s normal and healthy, and in fact good Continue reading

Injured? 3 Essentials for Returning to the Game (Pt. 1)

Man and woman playing pickleball outdoors

Courtesy of Creative Commons. Photo credit here.

Pickleball. I started playing two or three years ago at my husband’s urging as a way to get some moderate exercise–and so he would quit nagging me. I figured it had something to do with the comic strip that follows the antics of Earl and Opal Pickles as they learn the ropes of retirement, and while it is popular with the retired set, don’t be fooled by the association. It’s actually a rather rigorous court sport originating in the Northwest, which shouldn’t be played by people with bad knees.

Some sessions result in more-than-moderate exercise. Ergo, six months in, my “all out or get out” approach netted me a severe sprained ankle that sidelined me for the next Continue reading

Post-Flu and Ready for Resurrection

This is my real life. We’re on the home stretch of a two-week bout with flu—not the gross intestinal type, but the respiratory variety that keeps you awake coughing and pinned to the couch with nary enough energy to lift a pinky. It’s been brutal. Mr. S got the shot, I didn’t. I guess this strain sneaked through. I tried as many immune boosting remedies and DIY recipes for relief as I could possibly find on Pinterest as well as the OTC “tried’s and true’s.” (Thank you, God, for Nyquil.) I’m sure I would have gained several honey-cayenne-ginger induced pounds were it not for the lack of appetite that accompanied this bug. But we’re all better–or almost, and life is getting back to normal. A new normal since Daylight Savings Time happened in the interim.

While I was down, I had the opportunity to face the reality of my attachments. Continue reading

It’s Not Complicated: How the Liturgical Year Can Simplify Your Life (Lent, Pt.2)

Too Many Words
If all it takes is words, I am, with Paul, a Pharisee of the Pharisees. Mr. S has been known to say, “That’s too many words. Can you please say that another way?” I’ve learned to be less offended because he’s right. (To my accusers who would say I am for other reasons, I can only reply, “Likely, guilty as charged,” and ask your forgiveness.)

Clarity seems to reside in the DNA of some. Others of us arrive only by hearing ourselves talk a thing through. I know because we have lamented it together–after I went first! It does tend to complicate things (many thanks to our longsuffering friends) but we have other gifts.

Maybe the John 7 account of Jesus’ exchange with the religious leaders of the day is just for us. But I don’t think so. I think there is something more systemic at issue than the word count.

Where Am I?
In the last post, I wrote about the value of observing the liturgical or church year, how it simplifies one’s life serving as both guide and reminder. Today, I write about an insight from that practice, one that keeps me mindful of my location in time like a GPS does as I travel.

Cover of book: Engage-Pastel brush strokes

In the day’s reading in Engage, the brass is getting all worked up because Jesus pokes around in their insistance that connection with God requires navigating their complex labyrinth of requirements (John 7).

Historically, what began as ten reasonable guidelines given for the good of the whole became a highly developed code to illuminate humanity’s need of grace (that in the present cultural context seems foreign at best, repulsive at worst). Enforcement of The Law of Love fell into the capable hands of a corrupted power structure until life with God was understood as an exhaustive and exhausting system of external behaviors–Leviticus on steroids. But Jesus entered the conversation, cut through the crap and created clarity where clerics had clouded most everything with complexity. Yeah, like that.

Aaarrghh!
Spending time in the scene revealed how easily I, too, confuse internal consent with external compliance, a heavy yoke, a way to prove to others, to myself, to God, that all is well with my soul. And how easily I expect my yoke to be worn by another, at least invisibly if not aloud!

For example…

  • Squirming if another expresses or experiences their creativity or passion or restraint as I do–or don’t (Tattoo or not…, hands lifted or not…?)
  • Uses a vocabulary with which I am uncomfortable or unfamiliar to explain their life experience or mine. (Do you get pissed of or just really ticked?)
  • Prioritizing a particular value over one another has deemed more valuable (Bible study before mercy ministry, or vice versa?)

Judging, assessing, measuring… Exhausting! As long as external behaviors come into compliance, I am to assume that internal consent has been given, or that the reverse will be true?

Frankly, Jesus lifts from me the burden of assuming anything. It’s not in my job description, though I’m pathologically inclined to assist wherever I think the watchful eye of the Spirit may have overlooked something!

A Bigger Story
Living the liturgical year calls me back in regular rhythm to the Bigger Story, the simple invitation to a life with God, here and hereafter. It tells me God can be trusted with that Big Story and with my little one. It walks me through the one Jesus lived on earth rather than clamoring after this or that variation on The Theme.

Any one of our pet distractions (the nicer word might be emphases), interesting, exhilarating, or well-intentioned as they may at first be, can, without the larger canopy of grace, become its own complicated system of dos and don’ts; death-dealing dogmas with heavy, excess baggage we are not asked to carry. Before we know it, we lose our way. Centuries of religious tragedy, comedy and glorious, epic love story are proof.

Instead, hear Jesus’ invitation: Come to ME, you who are weary. I will give you rest.

Jesus + X = Rest
I suppose I could be the only one. But maybe not. My early experiences of “coming to ME” had moments of relief, but they resulted in my finding anything but true rest. Over time, it came to be understood less like an invitation to fine dining and more like a McDonald’s menu (Jesus plus X = the “full meal deal”):

  • Jesus plus the proper moral code
  • Jesus plus the right social group
  • Jesus plus the right theological language
  • Jesus plus the right physical manifestations
  • Jesus plus the acceptable fashion
  • Jesus plus a sanctioned career
  • Jesus plus a quota of gatherings attended
  • Jesus plus the right political ideaology
  • Jesus plus the right view of eschatology
  • Jesus plus a specific worship style
  • Jesus plus financial sacrifice
  • Jesus plus _______________________________ (fill in the very long blank).

No longer. Less truly is more. If you’re in a similar place, perhaps you’re ready to hear again–or for the first time, the invitation to rest, to step onto the simple path of trust and walk with God through the eyes and life of Jesus… for the love of God! It really is that simple.

AND YOU?  It’s midway through Lent, the seaon when generally we give up something to give our attention more fully to what God offers. What “plus” are you carrying that makes your journey heavy? Are you unaware of a “plus” you might be asking another to carry? How might God be inviting you to them up?

In simple rest,
Gwen


P.S.
Lest it seem that rolling to the rhythms of the liturgical year is just one more “Jesus plus ______,” this:

“Once again I should emphasize that what I’ve been describing here is not a matter of biblical rule. You don’t have to recognize the Christian year to be a faithful follower of Jesus. But the experience of countless believers throughout the centuries should at least encourage you to consider shaping your yearly life by the themes and narratives of Scripture – and this is, after all, what the Christian year is really all about.”
(Mark Roberts, Patheos Blog, Bible Gateway)


It’s Not Complicated: How the Liturgical Year Can Simplify Your Life (Lent, Pt.1)

“What’s a good Charismatic girl like you doing in a practice like this?!”

EngageHere we are, well into the new year. Advent, Christmas and Ephipany are behind us, the first period of Ordinary Time is nearly over and Lent is just around the corner.

A couple of years ago, I worked through Engage (Kai Nilsen & others), Renovare’s 2014 Lenten Guide, and what I experienced stuck with me. That’s one of the things the liturgical year does. It provides natural markers for those special moments in your journey, like photos next to that giant sequoia you took on your recent road trip (which I almost posted the picture of but was scared off by Getty’s copyright infringement notice…!)

The spiritual practice of observing the liturgical year, the church calendar, has allowed me to engage more fully with the essence of the story of God without adding to its complexity. Yet I encounter a range of responses when I talk about its value :

  • Fascination with its symbolism and unfamilar vocabulary
  • Curiosity, but with caution
  • Ambivalence within their own views
  • Perplexity over mine
  • Resistance
  • Disinterest. Period.

In my case, the ordered simplicity has helped me unwind a tangled accumulation of theological threads. As an Enneagram 4, notorious for our skills in creating chaos from clarity, it has been helpful in ordering my life around stated beliefs, something Barna’s research says we Christian types apparently aren’t so good at. On the other hand, Jesus was quite skilled at living with focus and great intention.

So…About Lent

Lent is not native to my formative Protestant tradition. Growing up, I heard it most often associated with Mardi Gras, the huge party filled with unspeakable iniquities  that served as its kickoff the night before. Therefore, Lent was implicated in the trangressions. Bummer. Because it’s much, much more.

In reality, Lent is the 40 days before Easter set aside for an honest look at our human condition, emphasizing our mortality and the need for repentance, or turning, from our selfish orientation toward God. It begins on Ash Wednesday, with a reminder that we will not live forever as the beings we now are, and that to experience our God-designed wholeness here and the best of life hereafter, we might consider looking to something outside of our mortal, finite selves; that we need–and have–a Savior. That’s the reason for the cross-shaped ashes drawn on the forehead. And yes, it feels weird and it gets in your hair and doesn’t always wash off easily–just keeping it real–in the way doing so keeps it real, which we don’t usually think of ’til someone we love dies in a rollover or loses a child.

Abstaining from sensory pleasures of some sort, prayerfully chosen, holds space for more focused reflection and an increased awareness of something more important than, say, the next episode of Blacklist–or whatever you’re currently binging on. Sorta like not texting at the dinner table so you can join the conversation…Archaic, I know.

While these are routinely practiced by those intentional about their life with God, setting aside time each calendar year, guarantees that we won’t get accidentally occupied and conveniently forget–a sort of spiritual Alzheimers. It means we participate with the community of Christian faith around the world, many traditions, at the same time. Engaging in such activity is an overwhelming prospect for some. Apparently that’s what all the partying is about–one last dance before the lights go out.

Living the God Story throughout the calendar year, reminds me that observing the life of Jesus creates clarity where I cloud most everything with complexity. It’s noteworthy that Easter follows closely with its promise of resurrection and new life. Now THAT’s what I’m talkin’ about.

Thank you, Sweet Jesus, for being so uncomplicated! I am in desperate need of such a Savior. And such a Savior You are.


BONUS:

Engage is available to download this year for a small donation to Renovare and is an accessible introduction to the lenten journey. Great for doing with a small group of friends.

Next time, an example of How Jesus Was Uncomplicated. 

12 Lessons from a Jigsaw Puzzle: Putting Together the Pieces of Spiritual Formation

Jigsaw puzzles often appear on our table during long January evenings. We’ve done several this year.  As we worked at the one pictured, I began to notice what the process has to teach you and I about spiritual practices that help us know and encounter God. Here are a few things to think about next time you reach for a puzzle. I know I won’t approach it again in quite the same way.

First this, though.

Q: If “it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phillipians 2:13), why engage in regular spiritual practices at all? Why our effort, if the work is God’s?

A: Because we get to be a part. Our part is to turn–repent is the religious word, to turn toward God and consent to the recreating, renewing work of the Spirit routinely taking place in us. And because it seems we humans are masters of resistance, it helps if we acquire some new habits to reduce the friction.

Quoting N.T. Wright, “Virtue is what happens when someone has made a thousand small choices requiring effort and concentration to do something which is good and right, but which doesn’t come naturally. And then, on the thousand and first time, when it really matters, they find that they do what’s required automatically. Virtue is what happens when wise and courageous choices become second nature.”
After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters

Since I’m talking about the forming God does in us, not what we accomplish ourselves, the one wise and courageous choice I hope will become my second nature is the turning. It’s the one choice that gives me the most trouble, yet holds the greatest promise; a promise of freedom and life for me, and of living and loving others authentically and well.

Dallas Willard says that training in turning involves VIM–vision, intention and means. It’s from his weighty text, Renovation of the Heart, but I’d skip that and go straight to Jan Johnson’s stellar study guide by the same title–unless you’re of tougher cerebral material than me–which you can also exercise with a jigsaw puzzle.

Consider these 12 lessons:

  1. Know your options. Once you open the box and dump the pieces on the table, turn them all over so you can see everything you have to work with. There is a long recorded history of the many ways people have been helped along in their life with God. Learn about those beyond your own tradition and experience. Find out what is available to you.
  2. Establish the framework. Assemble the border by finding and connecting all the edge pieces. My established framework defines the scope of my  own practices. a) God initiates my desire for him. b) My response is enabled by his grace. c) God does the heavy lifting. d) My practices are aligned with scripture and the revelation of God as seen in Jesus. e) God is good, loving and trustworthy, therefore I can have confidence in the process.
  3. Approach with intention. A system helps. Once the pieces are turned over and the border put together, work on objects, areas, then colors, then shapes. Resort to process of elimination if necessary. Random growth in love and freedom happens by God’s great grace. But there is a special kind of life that comes through being awake and engaged intentionally in the process.
  4. Keep the big picture in view. Put the boxtop where you can easily see the completed picture and refer to it often. To live and love as Jesus…that’s not a shabby picture to keep in mind.
  5. Stressing takes the fun out. Remember to breathe. What is intended to be a pleasant activity can turn to frustration when several minutes go by without finding a piece that fits. It’s good to be reminded that there are no gold stars for finishing first or best. We can become so intent on doing it fast, right, efficiently, etc. that the simple fun of partnering with the Puzzlemaker and a partner to create a thing of beauty is lost along the way. Speaking of…
  6. It’s MORE fun with a friend–mostly. Buddy up. It can be hard to persevere if you’re going it alone–even if your friend gets in the way, or hogs the boxtop, or beats you to the piece sometimes. Still, a task shared is worth a little inconvenience. It’s the paradox of community.
  7. Start small. Every puzzle goes together the same way–one piece at a time.“1000 pieces sure is a lot!,” we kept saying, a little overwhelmed by the size of the task we had taken on. That’s why the kids started with 25-piecers that their grandma bought them, graduating to 100, then 300. 500 is just right for a quick night of relaxed fun. Our first in this recent puzzlefest, though, was 750 before we graduated to 1000. (Not heroic, but it’s about capacity for now. ) There are myriad disciplines to choose from but start with just one or two that fit your lifestyle and season, and to which you feel drawn. It takes God very little to make a lot.
  8. Do what you can. Begin with something you can work at. While the majority of pieces seem to belong nowhere in particular at the beginning, there’s usually something that stands out.  Don’t be stubborn, insisting that the one piece you want to make work, simply doesn’t.  Someone may insist on a practice that is life-giving for them, maybe for many. But if it doesn’t make sense for you at this time, lay it down and pick it up again when you can see where it fits. Follow Dom. John Chapman’s counsel, “Pray as you can, not as you can’t.” But start.
  9. There are surprises along the way. Spending time working piece by piece, reveals much you might miss when you only look at the picture on the cover of the box. The latest surprise was a bird in the window when all we saw was the countryside house. There were 20 birds total and the euonymous bush in the corner was hiding a ladybug–Who knew?! Come with at attitude of openness. There is much to discover.
  10. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Not all the surprises are pleasant. One of the puzzles we purchased had only partially-cut pieces and bizarre, ill-fitting shapes. The shades of color were quite different from those represented on the cover. It was unlike any we had attempted before, presenting difficult and unexpected challenges. We came very near putting it back in the box and giving up. The satisfaction when we finished, however, was that much sweeter. There is discomfort when we are presented with the opportunity to shed old, unloving ways of being. It means encountering parts of ourselves that may surprise us. We may want to stuff it back in the box and give up. Don’t. Anyone can start but only those who keep going know the joy of having persevered.
  11. Change your perspective. View the pieces from a different angle. When I hit a wall and was making no progress, I moved to a different side of the table. It opened up fresh possibilities and shook loose what seemed stuck.  I had new energy to continue as the pieces began coming together again. Find a spiritual director to help you see some part of your journey in another way; participate in a different tradition; meet new friends who share your faith but not your expression. These things can bring a new, rich perspective. Consider shifting your position at the table on occasion.
  12. Take a break. Know when it’s time to do something else…like sleep, or dinner. Stay mindful of time and your immediate reality. (So, like…it’s 1 a.m. before you realize it–not that it’s actually happened or anything… ) God has a timeline for you. Stay grounded and connected to the ordinary moments in life. Put aside a practice that isn’t serving you right now, that has lost it’s life-giving quality. Consider that it may be an invitation to explore some other way God wants to be with you. Move on. Relax. It will all get done when it needs to. Don’t obsess. God, Who began this good work in you, will complete it. Trust that. And rest. Maybe doing even do something non-religious–like a jigsaw puzzle.

BONUSES:

Greg McKeown explores the psychology and behavior of habits in Essentialism. “We have a choice. We can use our energies to set up a system that makes execution of goodness easy […ier, I would add] or we can resign ourselves to a system that actually makes it harder to do what is good. We can apply the same principles to the choices we face when designing systems in our own lives.” Great book; check it out.

Adele Calhoun explores a host of spiritual practices in her book Spiritual Disciplines Handbook. You may be surprised to discover that she lists things you are already doing. With a shift of intent they, too, can serve as spiritual disciplines. See it here.

~~Remember to support your local independent booksellers. In Yakima, it’s Inklings Bookshop. 

What “lesson” resonates with you? What other things have you learned from your experiences with various spiritual disciplines?