Today’s reading is right on time for me, as I struggle to reign in the summer’s loose structure and begin the Fall Semester. When I got out of the comp orate infrastructure to devote myself to my son’s education and upbringing, I got out of a regimented schedule. For the last four years my only priority pretty much has been making sure that my Autistic son if afforded the necessary opportunities for him to do life successfully. This las year it was getting in the swing on school. My first semester back I almost failed because school wasn’t my priority. Going into my third semester, with the dynamics on the home front changed, I’m forced to reassess my priorities. There’s a whole lot more going and I have to make sure that I’m embracing only what are truly my priorities. I have a tendency to put other people’s stuff before my own, especially when they are in crisis mode. People will run away with me; taking more from me than they actually need if I let them. So this weekend I must wade through all the many rooms of my life asking myself what’s really important, prioritize that, roll up my sleeves and get busy. I’ve got to keep it pushing!
Tag Archives: 40 Day Soul Fast
I’m reminded of the day that I sat with my family surrounding me at the San Francisco Airport as we waited for my boarding call. The night before, I had spent a sleepless night. My subconscious mind undoubtedly trying to manage my feelings of anxiety wondering if I had made the right decision to join the Army. As we sat there in silence, I looked into the worrisome face of my mother; masking the face of my own fear of the unknown. New Jersey seemed like a world away. I didn’t know at the time that my being shipped there was by the military’s strategic design. It was only by being sequestered from all that was familiar – comfortable, could I focus solely on mastering the skills needed to be an effective soldier. BECOMING a good soldier requires DISCIPLINE as does this process that I’m on to evolve and become the woman that God destined me to be.
I went thru Basic Training with a Platoon of two hundred women who were from all over the United States. We were all very different only sharing this one commonality. Some were there to get away from home. Some to stay out of trouble. Some to see the world outside of their tiny town with limited opportunity. Some for education they couldn’t afford to pay for. Some of us were actually there because we wanted to be soldiers. With the intentional decision to join the Army also came intentional levels of commitment to the process, which became obvious as we moved through our training. Our days were long and hard as our Drill Sergeants pushed us through each phase of training and mercilessly drove us to new levels of physical endurance. There were many days that I wanted to cry, quit and go home to the comfort of the life that I had left behind. Only those of us who were able to develop a soldier’s mentality survived the rigors of Basic Training. There were many for whatever the reason couldn’t take it. Rather than a speedy discharge, they were reassigned indefinitely to the Training Discharge Program. Once you sign on with the Military you are the disposable property of the U.S. Government. They spent their days digging trenches that seemed unnecessary and cleaning out our Porta potty’s all over the Base. On the day that our Platoon marched to our Graduation we passed their work details still on the side of the road digging ditches. I cannot imagine how heart wrenching that was for them covered with dirt and stench, to see us in our dress uniforms, heads held high – victorious. If they had just stuck it out.
Now all these many years later, I find myself in Boot Camp again. Spiritual Boot Camp! The process and the commitment to it is essentially the same. The attainment of spiritual empowerment to do the will of God only comes through personal consecration. Setting the world aside to pursue the life that God has called me to. A choice that I now make. That choice reflects a necessary change in personal priorities. The mediocrity that I carried into the Soul Fast along with the lack of life fulfilment or attainment of spiritual purpose was directly related to my enmeshment in the world. Being conflicted, inconsistent and confused on some matters because my focus has not been just on God, I’ve been trying to hold on to some of the world too. It is impossible for the light of God to fully shine in my life straddling the fence. Having one foot in the Kingdom and one in the world, just doesn’t work. Consecration puts my soul under the management of my spirit that is governed by God. It makes provision for God’s will in my life to be executed from a spiritual perspective as I am led, guided and directed by Him. Not by my interpretation of it. This life is not frivolous one nor was my redemption cheap – it was bought with a price. The greatest honor in this world or the next is to have served. However, I must serve well!
As week two comes to an end, I feel as if God has set a machete on the table before me as He looks at my hand. I knew going into the Soul Fast there would have to be some amputations. I was fortunate in that a couple of the things that I knew needed to be cut away actually fell away on their own. It was a bit uncomfortable but not too because I really wasn’t emotionally attached to them. Now on day ten, I’m confronted with the fact that I have to amputate a limb. It’s something that God won’t do for me, I have to do it myself. Something that has been a part of me for four decades that I can’t carry any further. It has been something that has comforted me, been with me through difficulties but nevertheless is a bad habit. An impediment to my relationship with God. When I was in the world, I was thoroughly immersed in it. I can honestly say that I have completed my repertoire of sin. I did everything that I thought I wanted to do. I have seen mankind at his worst, which includes me and the life I once lived. When I take that into account it has established a protocol by which I’ve given myself permission to hold on to this one thing that I consider small in the scheme of things. However, the Book says that it’s the little foxes that spoil the vine. For I know that little sin can be a bridge back to a dark place within myself that I don’t want to go. God in his infinite GOODNESS has never extracted from me what my sin deserved.
The foundational element in this Soul Fast is detoxifying my soul. Cleansing my thoughts and purging my life of any habits or behaviors that prevent the light of God from shining in me. How can I radiate God’s light and goodness to the world if I’m living in darkness? I live in a world that says that I can live any way that I choose to and still serve God. How can that be so when the world’s systems and values are a direct contradiction of what God is about and stands for? My mother used to say that what I do in the dark will eventually come to the light. God will eventually expose sin. For me it has always come at the most inopportune time, usually when I’ve gotten comfortable with it enough to think that I wouldn’t be found out. I’ve watched it on a grand scale in ministry with Jim and Tammy Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart and the late Zachary Timms. Sometimes sin can literally be the death of us. When they were exposed, the impact of if reached far beyond themselves. Families were shattered, congregations were devastated, faith in God was destroyed and all the good works their ministries did were brought into question.
In a nutshell, repentance is turning away from what’s not working and embracing what is. For me God’s goodness is the catalyst to my repentance. I don’t want to do anything or live in a way that would hurt Him or destroy my witness of everything He is and has been to me. I want to share that goodness with every person that I meet who is open to receiving it.
Today the integrity of my journey to living a life of authenticity comes into question as I’m running to keep up with the business of my day. The day that I’m DIRECTING instead of God. What I’ve actually done is squeeze this process of discovering a deeper relationship with God into my existing schedule. It’s not working. As I go forth with the readings that require me to look within myself for the answers; I find myself rereading the chapters several times and pondering extensively what is coming up for me. This process is requiring way more time than the hour I had initially allocated to it. I thought the journey would be a relatively simple one, but it’s not. I don’t know what I was thinking. Perhaps because this is the first spiritual process that I’ve been engaged in that has required me to look beyond the superficiality of myself. I just can’t put a band aide on the lifetime of hurt and pain that I’ve carried with me over the span of almost five decades. This isn’t minor day surgery where the procedure will be done with a topical anesthetic and I’ll be discharged the same day. This is a full blown major operation. I knew going in that there would have to be some amputations. Now that I’m opened up the procedure is going to be more in-depth a bit more complicated. I didn’t expect to need a heart transplant, dialysis, and I’m not quite sure what else at this point. Not to mention the recovery period after the operation.
Now’s the time when I have to ask myself some questions. Do I really want God’s best plan for myself or am I okay here? Do I want to live with my Spiritual cancer or do I want healing for my soul? Am I willing to transform into the person that God wants me to be not knowing what that’ll look like? Am I willing to leave all my old baggage behind and put on the new clothes that God will give me? Can I continue to accept mediocrity and complacency as my portion instead of excellence and exceptionalism in my Christian journey?
The terrain is getting rough on Day 9. I’m now looking up at that mountain within me that I’ve refused to climb, and haven’t been able to get around. I have no choice but to deal. I have to now admit that there are some things in my life that have been overwhelming. They are way too big for me to fight successfully on my own. The only way that they can be eradicated from my life and I can truly be free is giving them to a God that’s big enough to do for me, what I cannot do for myself. That’s difficult for me. I want to be in control. There’s a problem with that. It can be only one way or the other. Either I’m in control or God is. Coming to this realization puts me face to face with my trust issues. I have to stand back and trust God. Trusting God means surrendering my will to His and allowing Him to direct my life knowing that He will not do anything to hurt me. It doesn’t mean that it’ll always feel good. Nor does it mean that I’ll always understand His decisions. What it does mean is that I will one day reach my goal of living a rich, bountiful life of Spiritual authenticity that I so desperately need.
If it’s all about me where does that leave you and if it’s all about you where does that leave me? In a world that has created a culture of self absorption to the point where nothing or no one matters a great chasm of hurt, bitterness, resentment and mistrust has consumed us all. It isolates us from one another and hinders us from having and maintaining the deep, meaningful relationships that I know I need. The pain of living this life has at times, been almost unbearable and has left my soul deeply wounded and scarred.
Pain insists upon being attend to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world. C.S. Lewis
I don’t know why I once struggled with depression since I was four years old. I spent a great deal of my life not knowing what happiness was. At it’s worst I couldn’t get out of bed. The world had a solution for me. It was called therapy and anti depressants. What I found was that the medication didn’t eliminate the issue it only masked it creating for me a false sense of reality. My therapy sessions pretty much gave me permission to live any way I chose and questioned my belief in a God who insisted through His word that I aspire to embrace my higher self. To exist in the world but not be of it. It was only when I decided that I would not spend my life on psychotropics that God was able to heal me. What facilitated this healing (and others) is my faith that God could do it and my belief that He would do it. God’s best plan for me is WHOLENESS.
Part of my HEALING process and being the best human being that I can possibly be is forgiveness. Forgiving all of the people who have hurt me and just as important is asking for forgiveness of the people that I’ve hurt in my life. And there’s been a bunch. Hurting people hurt people. What I’ve discovered is that people can’t give me what they don’t have. Whether it be love, kindness, care, acceptance, support or whatever. Neither can I in turn give it unless I’m operating from a place of being Spiritually centered. And just as importantly in this process, I can’t forget to ask me to forgive me for the damage and hurt that was self inflicted.
I realize that only God can give me the magnitude of unconditional love that never changes and is always there that I need. Only God has the ability to put together all my fragmented pieces and restore my soul to a state of wholeness…the place I want to be.
The worst state that I’ve ever been in, is when, by choice, I was disconnected with God. When I turned and walked away from him choosing rather to run on self will and do what I wanted to do. After all I was grown. Mother Teresa once said,
The biggest problem facing the world today is not people dying in the streets of Calcutta, and not inflation, but spiritual deprivation…this feeling of emptiness associated with feeling separate from God, and from all our sisters and brothers on planet earth
My choices left a huge, gaping hole in my soul that nothing in this world could fix. No amount of partying, shopping, working or material things could replace God’s presence in my life. I equate it to running away from a loving home, realizing your mistake, but refusing to go home because of pride and needing to be right. What I found was that just as any loving parent. God was only a phone call (prayer) away.
I thank God every day that I’m not there anymore; however, I’m not where I want to be in my relationship with God. Today’s reading is on CONNECTING or reconnecting with God; allowing Him to work out all the things in my life that are separating me from having that level of depth and intimacy that I desire. Now comes the real questions that I must ask myself. Am I willing to pick up my cross and follow Him? Do I have the courage to face myself and examine my life from the inside out? Am I willing to eliminate the junk in my life? Am I willing to deal with my issues in a proactive way? Do I have the CAPACITY to encounter God on a daily basis and hold up my end of the relationship? Much of the relationship has been lopsided. He’s always given more than He’s gotten from me. However, what He’s given me has been based on my capacity to receive. So what I intuitively know is that He has much more to give of Himself to me if I will only enlarge my capacity to receive it.