Last year I began this series on Noticing Transformational Moments. I wrote about Part 1: Awareness and Part 2: Acceptance. They are longer than my normal posts and would be used as great morning quiet time / meditation material. The response to these was more than I expected, I could tell this was resonating with readers.
However, after our third child was born last spring I never returned to it. A lovely reader emailed me this week to ask where the third part was because the first two were speaking so deeply to her. I had to, embarrassingly, respond that I never actually finished it even though I had promised it at the end of part 2. I am finally completely part 3 today. I pray it leads to newness that breaths life into your soul.
To offer a brief recap of Part 1: Awareness is the essential first step in soul-level transformation. While what we think about ourselves is important, it’s not just about thinking your way to “a new you” as self-help books may purport. Becoming aware of transformational moments is more of an inner disposition that allows all moments to become transformational fodder: fight with a spouse, frustration at work, mad at yourself for stupid mistakes, apathy toward a certain individual or issue…all of these can be guideposts to deeper transformation. You don’t have to look further than your own day to experience life-changing invitations. Read more about Awareness here.
A brief recap of Part 2: Acceptance is the antidote to shame and feelings of not being loved. Once we become aware of our honest inner disposition, we move onto acceptance of ourselves just as we are. It is powerful to enter into Christ-like acceptance. In many Christian circles Acceptance gets a bad rap because of two very common, and dangerous, misconceptions about what acceptance really is. I expose those in my Part 2 post and tell you what Acceptance actually is and how to engage it in your life. I also give an optional prayer experience on how to integrate acceptance in your own life. Read my post on Acceptance here.
Part 3 is about finding A New Way. After you have become aware of all the transformational invitations in your very everyday life and have brought your exposed self into the presence of Love, what is next? Just these two movements of the soul have enough power to change the way you see your regular life in all of it’s limitations and joys. Yet having a path forward is undeniably helpful in your desire for growth. So if we are not just manufacturing self-help positive thinking, what are we going for? Glad you asked 😉
As I mentioned in part 2, I am going to follow the pattern of Jesus Christ and how he offered people a new way. In reading the Gospels you can see him bringing awareness to their motivations, acceptance of their personhood, and then offering them a new way. We are going to explore that new way.
What is A New Way?
The new way is always the way toward healing and wholeness.
The path to get there is always unique to our own story.
Jesus offered a new way to everyone he met, some call it “Good News.” His big desire was, in part, to bring the Kingdom of God through opening the hearts of people to the Love of God. There are so many things that get in the way of receiving and giving this Love, and he knew that. He also knew each of our journeys are different. My hang-ups are unique to me, created by the difficulties of my story and personality, just as yours are to you. So when Jesus interacted with people, he offered them a new way particular to their story, and it was truly Good News.
Lets take a look at a few of the random and strange things Jesus did to offer others a new way to the people he loved:
- He spits in mud and makes a blind man see
- Tells a rich man to sell everything you have and give to the poor
- Exhorts a promiscuous woman to go and sin no more
- Tells a man to let the dead bury their own dead
- Heals a invalid and tells him to take up his mat walk
Jesus is walking the earth ever dismantling each individual’s particular blocks to giving and receiving God’s Love. He knows their motivations and speaks directly to their hearts. His Good News is the same for each of us, but the new way to that Good News is nuanced. For us it could be in the form of:
- Words of comfort, identity, challenge, courage, humility
- Call to action
- Call to active inaction
- Call to be seen
- Call to be hidden
- Call to go
- Call to sit with deep unanswered questions
So how do I find A New Way in my own life?
This is where we move into territory that can be new for many, so stay with me, there are really good things ahead. We are going to explore a way of listening for the Voice of the Spirit through the Gospels. Ignatius of Loyola created this way of prayer over 500 years ago. It endures today because it is a transformational way to meet with the Living God of the thousands years old Gospels stories.
Two essentials to embarking on the New Way journey:
- If we are going to hear our Guide’s voice on our new way, we must be listening. Rather than spending all of our time in prayer talking, we must change our approach, and sometime drastically. Begin to adjust your idea of prayer so that listening is just as legitimate way of praying as speaking words.
- Assured by Matthew, the writer of one book of Good News, God knows our needs before we even ask (Matthew 6:8). So let’s trust that He knows us, sees us, and the Holy Spirit at work in the world is on the same mission as Jesus Christ when he walked on earth: To dismantle our individual blocks to giving and receiving Love. This in ultimately and invitation to rest. God sees you in your vulnerability, trust his Love.
Begin by quieting your own heart. Take some deep breaths, be a quiet place so you will be able to listen to the movements of God’s voice. Let go of the fear of hearing “nothing” or doing it incorrectly; just trust the process. We will debrief at the end. You are in a safe place here.
Choose a short passage in the Gospels; anywhere Jesus is interacting with others will work.
Some possible choices:
- John 5:2-5
- Luke 19:1-10
- Luke 15:1-7
- Matthew 21:28-32
You will read through the passage several times, each time expanding your focus.
First, read through this passage slowly and take in the scene. Allow your imagination to construct the scene. It will be what your mind creates, your imagination need not be perfect or vivid; it need only be engaged. You are simply creating space within your mind and heart to connect with God; trust He can and will use your imagination exactly as it comes.
Second, read through the passage again. Linger in the scene and be there with all of your senses:
- Look about the scene, what do you notice around you?
- Are there many people, just a few?
- Is it hot or cool outside?
- What is the weather like?
- Does the air have a smell?
- What noises do you hear around you?
- Who is talking? What is Jesus doing?
- Where are you in this scene? Are you an observer or interacting somewhere?
- What does it feel like to be there?
- Third, read it again to refresh your imagination as you engage with Christ. Pay attention to your feelings.
- Do you long to ask a question to someone in the scene? Do so, and wait for an answer.
- Is there a particular experience someone else is going through that draws you?
- Where is Jesus in relation to you? Are you interacting? Is he speaking to you? What might he be saying? Maybe you want to speak to him?
Go with your instincts in the scene and be open to your interaction with Jesus.
Write down your experience, thoughts, and feelings about this imaginative prayer exercise.
Are there other ways of receiving A New Way?
There are!! And there are many. I will share another important one below. First let me say I have engaged Ignatian Prayer (above) more times than I can count. I regularly return to this way of listening and find it a refreshing way to hear God’s voice. Many times I understand what God is inviting me to, but it is not always immediately understandable. There have been times when I have written down my experience with no discernable understanding, only to be completely surprised weeks later when it all unfolded and I understood what God was speaking. As I wrote a few weeks back for The Mudroom, it is good to remember we transform at the pace of nature, not at the pace of a smartphone. Be patient with yourself, rest in God’s love to unfold His ways to you as you seek.
We are never alone in our seeking of A New Way. The Spirit is ever speaking to our souls, drawing us to the Love of God; as we slow down to listen we can begin to hear. While we are equipped to experience that “hearing” in our own prayer life, it is also be healthy and helpful to experience hearing God’s invitation to us in the context of relationships. If you are in a place of longing to experience God in your life just as it is right now I highly recommend Spiritual Direction. It is a safe place to explore your deepest inner places. There is no prerequisite for spiritual direction except interest.
I highly recommend you find a trained director to meet with you. Most meet once or maybe twice a month. I offer direction via skype from anywhere in the world and in person in the Chicagoland area at The Mansio Center. You can find a Spiritual Director near you through graftedlife.org or sdiworld.org (the database here offers direction from all religious backgrounds. If you are seeking Christian spiritual direction you will need to be sure to vet that out yourself.).
The inner journey is THE journey that will transform your life. It doesn’t offer the quick fix like shopping online or binge watching your favorite show, but it is satisfying in all the ways you want your life to be.
Thanks for coming along on Noticing Transformational Moments. The final part 4 will come soon. We will explore what this means for our relationships, the Gospel, and the world. Be ready to have your mind opened wider than it has ever been in relationship to the Gospel. I can almost promise that. 😉