And it's certainly more difficult than you'd hope. Our modern culture teaches us that self-development is only one purchase away. We're brainwashed into thinking that we can purchase emotional development in the form of self-help books, phone applications, yoga mats, and other products. But the truth is that real self-growth requires work. Otherwise, only the wealthy would have access to maturation. And that, as evidenced by our political leaders, is clearly not the case.
As a licensed therapist and executive coach , embodying my values is one of my most important aims in life. Part of doing the work that I do with clients requires me to continually improve myself--because in this field, you can only take others as far as you've been yourself. That's the reason I decided to meditate for days straight--to practice what I preach. To do what I say. And to be the congruent person I challenge my clients to become.
I learned that real self-development practices, such as meditation, are windows into your psyche, meaning that you can't hide from yourself. Not anymore. When most people move throughout each day, they have several opportunities to look in the mirror. To engage in brief moments of self-reflection and notice how they're feeling, what they're thinking, and other important sensations they're experiencing. But most people don't use this time wisely. Most of us are conditioned to seek stimulation.
To look at our phones, our computer screens, to talk to someone nearby, or get lost in the infinite fantasy of our thoughts. Meditating on a regular basis changed that for me. When you make the choice to surrender more deeply to God because of some suffering you are enduring, there is great value in that choice because you are invited to radically overcome self-pity, selfishness and pain.
Reflect, also, upon the person whose life is going quite well. This person will also be invited by God, every day, to turn and surrender to Him more deeply. Because the only motivation for trust in God in these moments will be pure faith. The person whose life is going quite well will not be pressured by any outside influence to hear the invitation. Rather, that person will be invited to surrender simply for the sake of surrender.
There is also great merit in this form of surrender to God. It is different than surrendering to God because of a trial experienced in life, but it brings much grace, nonetheless, particularly because the choice is made in great freedom without any immediate motivating factor other than love of God. For example, imagine that you have a wonderful marriage and a beautiful family.
Your job is producing a large income and you continue to advance in your career. However, deep down you realize that there is more to life than this form of success. You realize that God wants more for you and for your entire family.
As a result, you make the choice to respond and begin surrendering more deeply to the will of God simply out of love for God. You firmly resolve to give God everything and are ready and willing to let go of anything God may ask of you. This is a risky choice in a worldly sort of way. What may God ask of you?
The real question to ponder is not so much God may ask of you; rather, the question is whether you are ready and willing to give to God even before you know what He may ask of you. The key is trust. Do you trust God enough to let Him take the lead? For the person who surrenders all, especially when life is good, the future will become even more blessed in a far better way than could ever be imagined. Perhaps not in a worldly way, but certainly in a far better way since it will produce the good fruit stemming from a life filled with an abundance of grace. Say your daughter needs surgery and you buy her a gift and give it to her as a consolation.
This occasion of her hospital stay offers you an opportunity to show your love by giving a gift. However, what if you decide to give a gift to your daughter for no specific reason other than to freely express your love on some other day of the year without any immediate motivating factor? Which act of gift-giving will most likely affect her more? And which act of gift-giving is a greater expression of love on your part? Both are good, and both occasions bring untold blessings in their own unique ways.
However, the freely chosen and unexpected act of love has great value simply because there is no motivating factor other than love. So it is with surrender to God. When the only motivating factor for surrender and trust is love of God, this act is of great value. The important point to take from this section is that no matter if your life is filled with suffering, is going quite well, or is somewhere in between, the potential for you to surrender more fully to God is great.
No matter where you find yourself, there is great value in responding to the invitation from God to entrust your life to Him and to embrace His most holy will. Discerning the Will of God.
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One important factor in trusting God is knowing His will. But what is the will of God for you? How do you know what He wants of you? These are important questions to answer if you are going to live an active life of faith and surrender. So it is with the will of God in your personal life.
A great way to discern the will of God is to look at the good fruit that comes forth when you embrace one decision or another. This is a very helpful principle of discernment to remember. What good fruit should we look for? If you experience the above good fruit, you should use this as an indication that what you are doing is in accord with the will of God. If you do not see these good fruits in your life, or perceive other unholy effects resulting from choices you make, then you should proceed with caution and conclude that your actions are not in accord with the will of God.
But beware! Sometimes you can misconstrue good spiritual fruit with other forms of fleeting satisfaction. As an extreme example, some people may find revenge somewhat fulfilling. They may take delight in this or that action that gets back at someone who has hurt them. Though there may be some form of twisted delight and satisfaction that comes through something like revenge, once you come to know the authentic Fruits of the Spirit, you will not mistake them for false representations and distorted pleasures.
Paul lists the following contrasting works as indications that we are not embracing the will of God: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like see Galatians If these are present in your life, then you can be certain that you are not making choices in union with the will of God.
Another important principle in discerning the will of God is to look again at the virtue of humility and to look at the way that humility affects your desires. Ideally, if your desires are imbued with humility, you should be able to quickly and easily follow the will of God simply by following your desires. When you are humble, meaning you are free from selfishness and fear and authentically desire the good of others, then you can more easily trust that whatever desire is in your heart is also in union with the will of God. On the contrary, when you still struggle with pride and selfishness, your desires are usually a poor guide.
Prayer as the Greatest Source of Discernment. The most important source of discernment and surrender comes from prayer. It is impossible to discern the will of God and to surrender to Him without an active life of daily prayer. An active life of prayer is not the same as saying prayers. Clearly it is good to say prayers, to intercede for your needs and those of others, to join in formal prayers, liturgical prayers and the like.
A life of prayer means that you have formed a habit of communicating with God over time in such away that it becomes ongoing, sustaining and foundational to every decision you make in life. It means that daily meditation, faithful surrender, a healthy moral life, and a basic embrace of holy living has so affected you that you are living an active and real relationship with our Triune God throughout the day, every day. A life of prayer means that you have come to know the voice of God and are familiar with His promptings.
This cannot be learned overnight. It cannot come simply by asking God to speak. Rather, it is something that comes slowly, as a result of an ongoing relationship of love with God. There may be constant struggles with clear communication, and emotions may cloud the relationship.
Compare them to a couple who has been married for over 60 years and has lived a very loving marriage with strong communication. Often times, very little needs to be said for them to understand each other. In fact, in some ways, the spouses may know the other even better than they know themselves. This form of knowledge takes time, commitment and love.
As the years go by, the relationship deepens and develops. The same is true with God and discernment of His will. At first, a new Christian may not clearly understand what God says and why He says it. However, as the years go by and the person continues to pray deeply every day, this life of prayer, based in mutual love, will enable the soul to begin to understand God and His ways more easily. God, for His part, understands us perfectly already. However, we are the ones who need a life of prayer to understand God and His will more fully.
Therefore, in a life of trusting surrender, there is no substitute for daily prayer with God, lived day after day, year after year, decade after decade. Being Transformed Through Prayer. Your life of prayer provides the context by which you meet God and encounter His holy will more directly than in any other way. However, your life of prayer is not only for discerning the will of God. Prayer must also become the foundation for every choice and every action in life.
Once God and His will are encountered in prayer, you must then allow the rest of your daily living to be transformed by these encounters. Prayer alone must become the source of all you choose in life because prayer will be your lifeline to the will of God. Hearing Him speak, responding to His will, and allowing Him to transform your life will be the fruit of an authentic life of prayer. Prayer changes you, because in prayer, God takes over your life.
This forms trust and surrender. The problem that most people encounter is that they say a few prayers here and there. They go to church each Sunday.
They try to live a morally upright life. But they fail to daily encounter the living God in prayer. Saying a few prayers here and there, going to Sunday Mass and living a morally upright life are great. It's ours. It's not about me. It's about us. Your stories and your wisdom are just as meaningful as mine.
Click here to read more. Think Web Strategy. Essentially, I had manifested my own jail cell, which represented what I thought I deserved. That was exactly what happened. What amazes me is that our practice of deeper self-love is continually evolving and growing. This is why awareness is the magic key. So if you find yourself in a less than healthy and ideal situation, take a moment and ask yourself: Does this relate at all to your feelings of self-worth and self-love? Is there any way that you are responsible for creating the reality that you are living?
What you feed your mind grows and becomes your reality. Then ask yourself: How do you want to be living? Love yourself first and the world will love you back. Photo by Aevar.
Meditation for Self-Reflection, Introspection and Awareness
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