The Deeper Way

I am trying to put some thoughts in order and trying to unpack what a Jesus-shaped spiritual life could/should look like.

Obviously as the title suggests “deeper” means more work! Sorry but there is no bucking that. It means that more is asked of me on all levels. It means pushing past discomfort. It means that if I am shy and introverted I have to step up and speak before crowds, while if I am self-assured and extroverted I will be asked to go into my closet and do things seen only by God.

There is deep reasons for this, but most importantly is that we must work really hard to become like Christ.

Important here to keep in mind: it is a choice. It is a daily choice. People who have been married for a while know this. You can choose this.

To choose something it is better to have a goal in mind. In this case the goal is similarity with Christ. Buddhists are always going on and on about being Buddha-like. In the church we do not talk much about being Christ-like. Why not? Are there not ways to do this?

You will know if you arrived if you are comfortable with saying: “So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, you should do it all for God’s glory. Don’t offend either Jews or Greeks, or God’s church. This is the same thing that I do. I please everyone in everything I do. I don’t look out for my own advantage, but I look out for many people so that they can be saved. Follow my example, just like I follow Christ’s.” (1 Cor. 11)

This deeper way calls all persons into a continual personal transformation by grace in every area of life. It rewrites experiences and it renews relationships. This way calls on disciples to live out the deepest meaning of “respecting the integrity of every human being.” Perhaps even the integrity of all creatures – human or not.

This deeper way can recognized by a regular practice of prayer, reading scripture, worship, servanthood, mission and simplicity. Disciples will not only be those who do these things, but also who do it in community with other disciples.

This deeper way is consciously, exclusively and intentionally Jesus-centered. Jesus is the center and the boundaries. It is a spirituality that takes the study of Jesus seriously, but not dogmatically.

Practices

1) recognize you are plural – not a single, solid block.
2) recognize that you have limited energy, limited power. But that you have much more energy than you are used to spend. People who start exercising are frequently surprised that even though at the beginning they had less energy (body tired, had to cut some sleep to work out in the morning etc) they soon find themselves with more energy than before. it is not that they have “more” energy – it is that they have unlocked more of the energy they always had but were not using!
3) recognize that you are living by auto-pilot, and do very very few things intentionally. The usual term for this in spiritual books is “sleep”. Some of you wish you could get some more of this sleep people keep talking about (I am looking at you mothers in the crowd) but, this is spiritual sleep here.
4) recognize that the automatic responses (non-intentional actions) are mostly fearful reactions to inaccurately assessed experience: fear of the past coming to light (shame, depression), fear of the future happening (anxiety), fear of lack (not enough, food, money, fame, sex, coffee), fear of pain and suffering (aging, disease), fear of death.
5) recognize that the reactions from fear are always demanding payment – you are making the whole world owe you.
6) recognize that each one of these fears were at one point a legitimate response to a specific situation, an accurate response to reality. A baby cries when it is hungry. that is a good response. But an adult being angry because dinner is late by half an hour is childish.
7) recognize that at any time some suffering is necessary, but most of it is not. When exercising, some muscle pain (suffering) is good, but injuries are not! Same thing with thoughts, with feelings. Some discomfort at learning a new language is worth the effort. Some discomfort at letting go of an old grudge is also good. Being in an abusive relationship is not!
8) recognize that no two situations in life are the same. Life is turbulent which makes living a creative act. It requires all our energies to respond creatively and navigate the white waters. Sometimes you his a good patch with low turbulence, but pretty soon you are back in the rapids. Most people will want to remain going around in circles in the quiet parts, but this is not possible in life.
9) recognize that you cannot use old responses to new events. Upgrade to Windows 8 and had to re-install my programs, get patches. Some programs just flat will not work with the new system. Same with life – but we get a new system to operate in every minute!
10) recognize that you can stop a program, and quit it, even if halfway through, by refusing to give it any attention and maintaining inner silence. If you refuse to “talk” with the miscreant reaction it will die down. Best way to teach dogs is to praise good behavior – the same with children, spouses, mothers-in-law!
11) recognize that you can choose a better way – by dropping all unnecessary suffering you free up the energy required to grow.

How to go about it

1) Every morning set your intention to live your day patterned by the Lord’s Prayer.
2) Read over the Sermon on the Mount every single day. Memorize it if you can.
3) Pray always for God’s will to be done and for the Holy Spirit to enlighten and guide you. No matter what.
4) Every night review your day. Look for moments of automatism and re-write them.
5) Try to be conscious during the day (awake!) by recalling that every event is your “daily bread”.

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About spaceloom

An urban monk, and an experienced spiritual director with a Masters in Psychology. Married with two children. Want to know me better? Read my thoughts.
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