Coaching Christlikeness

Image

 

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.  

Image

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?  

Image

(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.)

Image

 

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.

Image

 


Inspired By An Email Failure To Communicate

Today’s The Daily Love blog began with a quote from the Bible, then an explanation that, even if you aren’t a Christian, you shouldn’t automatically ignore the wisdom set forth in the quote.  My initial reaction was to email the blogger to question why he felt he had to “apologize” for including a Biblical quote in his post.  I got myself quite worked up about it, going so far as to email him a comment — something I’d never done in my months of reading his blog.

The email didn’t go through.  I signed off the computer and turned to the next item on my task list for this Sunday — 45 minutes of Kundalini Yoga.  And as I sat in Easy Pose doing my daily Kundalini Yoga for Chakra 5 with Maya Fiennes (she says do it every day for 40 days and see if it causes you to speak the truth)  the idea came to me (when I was supposed to be focusing on my Third Eye —  focusing during meditation is still a work in progress) that rather than emailing the blogger, I could create my own blog to express  my feelings on the topic.  Thereby checking two items off my list — venting my feelings about  how people feel they have to apologize for being a Christian but can be proud of being Buddhist or some other religion seen as more enlightened, and sitting down to write each day.  (One item that always keeps it place on my To Do List is to Relax, not try to accomplish so many things in one day.  That one rarely gets checked off.)

So as I sat in rock pose and turned my head from side to side mentally saying “Sat Nam” (Truth Is My Name) I thought of different  blog titles that would capture the journey I’ve been on for the past year or so, in a way that would tell anyone interested in reading what this blog will be about.  53-Yr-Old-Questor?  BalancingMom?  The names that came to me were all too limiting.  Yes, I’m in my 50s and I assume there are other 50-somethings in similar spots, but it’s not just a question of age.   Yes I’m a Mom and partner at a large law firm spending so many hours on work and business development and admin tasks that I’m hard-pressed to find time to read, relax, exercise, …, but that’s not really the focus of my search.   I’m an East Texan (therefore Southerner) living in Southern California, so in some ways am the proverbial fish out of water.  And a life-long Christian who grew up spending most of my daily life in my Southern Baptist church, who assumes everyone grew up singing Jesus Loves Me and celebrates Easter and has John 3:16 memorized, and is shocked about how naive I still am every time I learn that one or more of those things is simply not true.  And I’m now married to a man who spends part of each day in Buddhist chanting, who is a TEDster, who was one of those very hippies that so horrified the third-grade me (more on that to come).  And I’m on a quest to change my french-fry and burger with diet coke habit for organic, home made carrot coriander soup and other healthy foods.

Then “An Enriching Life” popped into my head, and I knew that was it.  Being a Six on the Enneagram I also worried and was in fact convinced that the name would already be taken.  But it turns out it was there, just waiting for me. It was meant to be.  Because Enrichment is a great word for this journey.  I’m seeking to enrich my life, in every way that entails.  Whether through improving the food I put into my body or learning the pleasures of cooking for myself and my family (something I’ve insistently resisted most of my life), or through using my faith in and love for Jesus in a way that, combined with Chakra work and chanting and meditative walks in nature and all the different ways each of us can seek to connect with Love, Nature, Something Bigger Than Ourselves — grows my spirit and, with it, my spirituality.  I want it to be about love and not judgment.  Comfort, not critique.  I want to be the person God meant me to be, to fulfill whatever purpose He might have had for putting me on this earth, to make the earth or my little place in it just a tiny bit better because of having been here.  Or to evolve sufficient so that in my next incarnation I won’t have to repeat lessons because I’ve learned them already, here, in this life.  Or that in Heaven I have something to say when the angel asks me what I did with all the many blessings I’ve been given on this earth.

So I’m writing a blog inspired by an email that was returned to sender.  Hopefully turning a little setback into a grand learning, joyful adventure.

And, by the way, I went back and re-looked at the blog that had gotten my dander up and realized that really the author wasn’t being apologetic.  He was just saying that no matter what you believe, you can learned from the quoted Bible verse.  And my initial reaction to it was a knee-jerk reaction that resulted from my frequent feeling that people judge me, judge Christians, in ways they don’t judge those like my husband who practice Buddhist chanting or other religions that are seen as less … I don’t know … judgmental?  I feel that people assume I am narrow-minded or worse when they find out that I am a Christian, without knowing anything about me or even about my faith.  It’s so sad that organized religion seems to have turned people away from God and that so many seem to use it for political agendas in a way that’s contrary to the truth they profess to believe.  In the end, I’m glad my email didn’t get through, because it wasn’t true, and it inspired me to start writing this blog.

There’s much to discuss, and learn.  Come with me.  I know I’m not alone in seeking an abundant, rich, fulfilling life and I’d love your support and guidance along the journey.  And hope we have many adventures along the way!