Spiritual growing pains

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you… seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Colossians 3:1-17 ESV

Spiritual awakening is a process of becoming authentic and genuine. Moving from the illusion of external controls of our false image and other’s perception – to the internal illusions of control where we embrace true honesty; listening to counsel of the spirit of God, and having true relationships. A person ultimately sheds the old lifestyle in order to experience the new way of living.

The true relationship with self and God begins to grow. We become more aware of our emotions, need for rest, of what compromises and violates our core values. And, while change sometimes comes within a insightful flash and moment of clarity, real change comes through those small growing pains of spiritual maturity.

Closer we draw to God, through Jesus Christ, we become more sure of our true sense of worth and purpose, draw closer to friends and family, and our real self evolves and reveals itself.

Repay with blessings

Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

~ 1 Peter 3:9, ESV ~

We have a propensity to return insults with insults and evil for evil. We desire some justice when a sense of wrong has occurred. If we consume our resources on seeking justice for the wrongs, injustices, and unfairness of life, then we are depleting ourselves of opportunities for growth and development. We, instead, allow our wounds to stay open and block any necessary healing. Instead, we need to put to death our resentments and hateful attitudes.

Perhaps we allowed ourselves to be passively awaiting for another to make amends. If we are, then are we not allowing those whom we are at odds with have some power over us? We want to move beyond this and embrace the reality that it is far better if we are able to say I am going to move on because the change that is needed is  for us to turn to God and allow the healing to occur within us.

Our happiness is not contingent upon another person. And, more than revenge, we desire a life that is worth living. A life worth living for ourselves and for those we love. Our time and energy is best served when we are focusing our resources on cultivating healthy and loving relationships and not getting caught into the trap of our need for revenge.

Today, let us lift ourselves from the desire for revenge. Instead, through Christ, we are empowered to replace our need for revenge with the fullness healing of love and life.

Blessed to endure all things

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him

~ James 1:12, ESV ~

We become spiritually blinded when we find ourselves lamenting how difficult a situation, or experience, is and we resolve that there is nothing we are capable of doing. This is because we have allowed our vision to dim when stressful times come into our lives. We fail to allow ourselves to see options and opportunities for growth. We give ourselves over to the worries and fears. Thereby, we lose our spiritual vision and become blind to reality and all support around us. This fearful blindness brings the conviction of our inadequacies that fuel our fears

Instead, when we are spiritually in tuned, spiritually nourished and strengthen, we have an eye on the horizon. Despite the worrisome situation we find ourselves in, we see with clarity. A spiritual man breaths deeply so as not to tense up or close off his exchange with the world around him. He returns to the relationship he has with God, trusting in the process that will carry him through. Eyes open to possibilities for further learning and growth.

Today, let us draw close to our Heavenly Father, knowing there is a place of calm in the midst of our difficulties and see the possibilities through spiritual eyes. This is so we have the faithful courage to act upon those possibilities and opportunities.

Ready to change

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

~ Luke 4:18, ESV ~

The most difficult act of our will and desire is to accept the fact that our concept of control is flawed. With that, we stand on the precipice of realizing our own powerlessness. Yet, we come to face the fact that we are not perfect and therefore lack the power to make necessary changes. When we come to embrace and accept the fundamental truth that we are not in control and are powerless. Here, we are ready to admit our need for change and are already engaged in changing.

Of our own will and desire, we are incapable of becoming perfect. Through our readiness to let go, to radically surrender our need of control, we become ready to be harmonious with our Heavenly Father and His divine will and purpose for our lives.

The word “poor” does not necessarily mean that a person is in absolute, abject poverty. It may mean that a person is weak or powerless. Jesus promises us freedom from our weakness. In a spiritual sense, it applies to every one of us. We all have been spiritually powerless and in need of being set free from our own illusions.

Today, let us attempt to become ready for the help and change we most stand in need of in life – a change that occurs through our faith and relationship in Jesus Christ.

Why are you angry?

The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen?

~ Genesis 4:6, ESV ~

Anger, unchecked, is a problem that correlates with problems we have within our relationships. Some of us may have held back our anger and resentment and bitterness has blossomed. Others may have indulged in their anger and ended up becoming abusive. Yet, there are those who became quite frightened of anger where they closed off any dialogue and isolate themselves.

Unchecked anger wastes time and energy, especially when we focus it on those who may not be significant in our lives. Do we truly want them to become that important to us? Do we want relationships that are important to us become frozen when we are not open and respectful? It isn’t possible to be close to someone and not experience anger. 

With healthy dialogue, we are empowered to hear those close to us express their anger as we allow ourselves to be respectful and open about our own anger. Through transparent communication, we are able to resolve our anger. If not, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, (cf. Genesis 4:6-8).

Today, let us be aware of those people we are making important in our lives and will grow in dealing with our anger.

In every season there is purpose

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven

~ Ecclesiastes 3:1, ESV ~

Our purpose in life is the very meaning of our existence. Without knowing this, we often suffer because of our own lack of significance. We become disillusioned that our lives do not matter.  We have no connection or impact on the world around us. Scripture offers many insights into our purpose and living out our lives within a meaningful mission.

This sense of purpose is not fixed in concrete. It changes from youthful innocence and throughout the stages of our lives. Often in transitions where we experience new growth, confusion may seemed to abound. Our lives had become chaotic and unmanageable where we experience powerlessness. Any sense of meaning and purpose had collapsed. We all experience those moments where we questioned the point of living, questioned if anything truly mattered.

There is a why for our own personal existence and participation in life. We are sons, fathers, mothers, daughters, brothers, and sisters. We are friends, and colleagues. We have a community that extends beyond our family origins. Our very purpose may change as life circumstances change. We get married, experience divorced, alienation from children and parents, and friends come and go. We experience the death of loved one’s. Each time life happens, we are asking ourselves: Now what?

Opposition calls us to awareness. In adversity, we face the seasons of our lives whereby we find those hidden meanings and purposes. We allow ourselves to being open and keeping our barriers down. Yes, life happens. We just need to understand and realign with our purpose and understand our deep sense of meaning in life through all seasons.

Today, let us continue to respond to the every changing seasons of life and be open to the renewal of purpose which is here for each of us.

The reward of love

Let all that you do be done in love.

~ 1 Corinthians 16:14, ESV ~

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is based on the foundation of love. It is the feeling of attachment, being related, and of caring. The hallmark is compassion and charity. Prior to coming into recovery and faith, we may have feared love of self and love of others. Our greatest fear is the love of God. Many of us have experienced betrayal of love. Affection not being reciprocated as we had expected. Or, some may have thought relationships had become too convoluted, complicated, and painful. Granted, difficulties in our relationships do exist, we do ourselves disservice by isolating ourselves in not having any relationship.

Reflecting on our relationships and close attachments – we come to realize the essential necessity of them toward our progress in spiritual maturation. Without them, men and women are not engaged in any healthy recovery. We do not want to say to our friends – “What have you done for me?” We all feel an inner fullness and satisfaction when we truly care and accept others as we come to accept and care for ourselves. In this, love is a remarkable reward that we experience from God, and share within our intimate relationships with others.

Today, let us appreciate the joys our relationships bring and remember to do all things in love.

Full of strength and wisdom

A wise man is full of strength,
    and a man of knowledge enhances his might,
for by wise guidance you can wage your war,
    and in abundance of counselors there is victory.

~ Proverbs 24:5-6, ESV ~

What war are you waging in an attempt to claim victory? In our culture, we have this conversation about toxic masculinity along with the emasculation of men. Yet, we still view ourselves as being tough and having sexual prowess, and not showing any vulnerability when it comes to emotions. Our life in recovery is a realization of what true toxic masculinity and femininity is. These myths and silly immature behaviors, even though they are seemingly repeated throughout media venues, are just that – silly, immature, and childish myths.

The impact on us is hearing, repeatedly, that the way to live is not through immature and false social standards. We come to no longer admire brute strength born out of immature and childish beliefs. We no longer admire weekend conquests and stories of domination over other people. We have exposed ourselves to those things that do not empower true spiritual growth and enlightenment. Instead, true courage rests in coming to know who we are through Jesus Christ.

Knowing who we are, through Jesus Christ, connects us to a higher principle truth and depth of love where we allow ourselves to love and to embrace the pain of life. We become more than conquerors through Christ (Romans 8:37). And, what is it that we become more than conquerors over? Our present attitudes, beliefs, and values and insecurities we may have. Through wisdom and counsel, we are able to lay to rest our old and immature self and rise up in newness of life through Christ.

Today, let us show gratitude in knowing that how we share emotional vulnerability helps us connect and cultivate genuine relationships with those whom we love.

He Who Hates His Brother Lives in Fear

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

~ 1 John 2:9-11, ESV ~

We are more generous toward other people when we are capable of finding our authentic self and living out in the divine Love God has revealed. Yet, there are times when we lend ourselves in thinking too much about what is wrong with others and how they ought to change. That is a form of hatred. If we are searching for what we have power to change within our families, in our friendships, within our communities, and society, we are more than capable of learning to be big enough to set aside our own fears.

Do we bear ill will toward other people? Honest within ourselves begets a sense of fear in how we may relate to other people. What is it that we truly are afraid of when it comes to our relationship with God and others? Perhaps others may fear us in the same way we may fear them. When we live in God’s divine love for Him, for ourselves, and for other people, the hatred resolves without any further effort. It is only when we come to that place of honesty and transparency between God and us where we are able to confront our hatred and fears of other people. Only then are we in tuned to the authentic self.

Today, let us remember we have the inner strength through Jesus Christ to face our fears and not send them outward as hatred toward others.

Being of Good Courage

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

~ Psalm 27:14, KJV ~

As we deepen our commitment to a strong and mature Christian spiritual experience and life, we see a conflict between our old self and new way of living. When we drop our defenses and come to an honest place, we are taking a chance of vulnerability. Some learned long ago that when we became vulnerable, others became abusive. It is difficult to abandon everything we learned about being nobody’s fool and staying safe.

Being committed to a strong and maturing Christian faith does not mean we have to leave ourselves open. We still have the right to be discerning and selective about how open we will be and whom we will place our trust in. For our own spiritual growth to continue, we must be an open book to ourselves, to our Heavenly Father, and to a few friends. We must face the fear of being open to others in our spiritual life. Developing true friends is part of the change which we come to embrace as we progress from faith to faith.

Today, let us pray for the courage to be honest with ourselves and to stand up for who we truly are.

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