I began a Coaching Christlikeness class with Neal Nybo at church today, devoting myself to spending eight weeks learning more about myself, more about Jesus, and more about the path that will lead me to the life I want. The scary part? I’ll also be challenged to surrender things that are important to me. To deny myself, and my wants. To surrender control. Scary stuff. The love and gratitude and peace all sound wonderful … but getting there along a path of surrender, denial, and loss of control? Taking down my protective barriers built up over 54 years and being brave enough to be fully vulnerable? To stop talking and thinking and doing and rest in silence to listen to God? Not sure if I can do it. But for today, at least, I’ll try.
I have big dreams of retiring early and of spending a year in France, of long walks and daily yoga and reading under the shade of the oak tree in my back yard for long hours at a time.
What if God has some other plan for me? A plan involving long hours of feeding the homeless or building orphanages in Afghanistan or who knows what else that takes all my money and all my time?
(How can someone see this child and not want to help her?)
God’s plan may be something I’ve never even considered and can’t imagine, and it might be nothing like what I think I want my life to be. But I know to live my fullest life, to live my best life, is to live the life God planned for me, whatever that may be.
Today’s lesson focused on Belief, and Neal interspersed quotes from his mentor, Dallas Willard, with Jillian Michaels, among others (finding examples for our spiritual lives in the words at the end of Ripped in Thirty is just one of the things I love about Neal!) Jillian was speaking of physical exercise, but the words fit well in our spiritual lives as well. To quote her:
“Most people don’t show up in their own lives. They go through life every single day without being focused and bringing their A game. Transformation is not a future event. It is a present activity. That is why you must bring everything that you have to give in every moment. And it doesn’t have to be perfect. It isn’t about perfect. It’s about effort. When you bring that effort every single day that’s where transformation happens. That’s how change occurs.”
We started class by listing three things we believe to be true — so true that I am prepared to live my life trusting it to be true. That the sun will rise every morning. That my kids will be okay, despite some bumps and bruises along the way. That my parents love me, even if it’s in their own unique way. I live my life each day knowing and believing those things to be true. Next, three spiritual beliefs that we’re prepared to live our lives based on. I stole my three from Neal. (Note to self: perhaps stealing rather than using original thought is not the best way to uncover my own truth?) But to be fair I do really believe these three things, so the fact Neal also believes them doesn’t make them any less true for me.
1. God is a loving God (at times I did question this, with good people dying, bad people thriving, and all the things that aren’t perfect and don’t work the way it seems as if they should, but ultimately I’ve confirmed my belief that above all else, God loves)
2. God loves me (yes, even me, even when I’m stupid and sinful and ignore Him and even if He knows I Could Do Better)
3. God has a plan for me, and if I do anything less, it will be second best. (And I’ve done a lot of second best in my life.)
If we believe it, we should act as if it is so.
Neal closed by assigning homework — three times this week we are to sit in silence and solitude. First, for five minutes, then 10, then 15. Silence to allow God to speak to us, should He so choose. God doesn’t tend to interrupt us. If we are busy with our own thoughts, He doesn’t usually butt in. But if we sit in silence, listening for His voice, He may speak. If we ask, “is there anything you’d like to teach me?” He just might let us know that, in fact, there is.
So I sat in silence, with eyes closed, for 10 minutes today (I’m a Type A … what’s 5 minutes when I can do 10?) I didn’t hear God, and I almost fell asleep, but I sat. I decided to sit for 5 more, with eyes open. I’m not sure I heard God speak to me, but I felt it was step 1 of a long process of being open, receptive, still and willing. I’m in, and curious and excited to see where it all leads. Thanks for coming along with me on the journey.