I am a minister, and the son of a minister. I grew up in a home that made relationship to God a priority, and all that it may imply in terms of the way one is suppose to act and be in the world. That being said, I passed through periods of intense anger, cockiness, arrogance, stubbornness, self-righteousness… you name it.
When I came to the point of wanting, for myself, a deeper understanding and relationship to the Source of all life, I connected to God in a new way, raised my own questions about Christ, religious dogma, etc… while seeking my own path, although grateful for the family I came from, and that they exemplified love and faith.
I have been a long time minister and pastor. When I started the spiritual practice presented in the book, Power For Life… I had never done that specific practice before, and I did not know what to expect, except perhaps some generic sounding words and general statements.
Well, I was very wrong! The words that came were neither generic, nor general. They were beautiful, intimate and challenging. The guidances became an amazing journey and adventure into my weaknesses, faults and character defects. For all of my personal commitment to living a life of divine love, I discovered on a daily basis the places within myself that needed attention, that needed work, that needed maturing, even though I was a mature adult!
I knew that I was a good person, but this practice challenged me to be very conscious, moment-to-moment, of what I was thinking and feeling. It challenged me to watch my behavior and my actions toward others. It uncovered my failures at being unconditionally loving and made me look at them close up. It challenged me to be honest about me. Yes, I could celebrate where and how I have grown and how far I have come to be the person I was. But what emerged was much more than a simple call to “be a good person in the world.” What emerged was an opportunity to deepen my soul and become more of the things that foster love, healing and joy; and to become them more and more, regardless of the situations that would challenge me.
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The benefit of the practice for me, simply stated, is that more of my ego took a back seat to Divine Presence being the guiding power of my life and being. This may sound funny coming from a minister, but the ego is a very tricky part of our humanness. It wants to be the guiding power, the God of our life. And it knows our weaknesses before we do in our conscious mind, or at least before we are strong enough to admit them. With this practice, I was taken back to the basics: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
I grew in every area the guidances touched on, and more. I grew in my ability to extend love into situations and circumstances that I may have been more apt to express anger or frustration. I grew more able to remain in joy when I was challenged by those who saw mine as a threat to their power and inability to make me afraid. I grew more able to be at peace and extend my peace; to be patient and let things be, to extend kindness to those who weren’t; to seek the common good in situations and circumstances. I became more gentle and grew to really understand the beauty and power in that quality. I practiced being gentle in situations I would have earlier been more curt or put off by. I re-engaged faithfulness that God was ultimately in control and became stronger in my own self-control brought on by a re-commitment and renewed devotion to Divine Will.
It certainly doesn’t mean I didn’t fail in living some of the guidances or parts of them. I did. However, I could get back on track by reliving that guidance again the next day, which I did with many of them. When I did try it again, I felt the grace that helped lessen the triggers of my lesser emotions. They lessened in terms of frequency and intensity, if felt at all. I let go and let God in a way that was more powerful and freeing. Simply put, I experienced the growing of my own soul, which had already been on a path of growth for decades. Yes, one can give themselves to God… but that is not the end of the journey. It is just the beginning. And it never stops. There will always be places of growth.
The benefits of this practice, when done with integrity and honesty, and when done consistently, with courage and humility is… transformation. I don’t use that word lightly. My mind has been transformed – again. It was transformed when I first gave myself to God. But I believe anyone can grow as long as they are alive, if they wish to grow. I have experienced people not wanting to grow; otherwise good people, who just don’t want to do the work. And growth is work. But with the work comes great gain, for the one who grows, and for the world.
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As one engages this work the benefits become self-revealing. I experience more peace, joy and happiness. I experience an ever growing love for all humankind and creation. I did before the practice, but the practice has taken me, for lack of a better metaphor…. higher and deeper. Perhaps a better way to say it is there is more of what there was.
In addition, I feel more comfortable in my own skin and more at home in the world. I see the divinity within all living beings. Again, I did before, but this is a new dimension of it. My feeling of gratitude to God is more vast, more powerful and profound. My life is richer with the gifts that come with an ever-deepening spiritual maturity, and I sleep at night with a certainty of God’s love for all creation, and all in creation.
Where does one end up in this work? There is no end up… only love’s light shining brighter and brighter.