My journey of faith has been anything but peaceful. Life has a way of throwing curve balls at us. Although I have always desired to follow God and live life in his presence, this has often not been my experience.
To follow God requires that we fully embrace his kingdom and all of its ramifications. God is King and I am not. Quite frankly, this makes me a little angry. God's kingdom is about his right to rule over every aspect of my life.
This affects where I go, what I do, who I interact with, and how I treat them. It even goes deeper. God rules over what I do, say, think, and feel. There is no area that is outside of his claim to rule.
So here's the rub... I like the benefits of his kingdom, but I want to rule. Me and everyone else. I want to get my way and have complete freedom to do, say, think, and feel whatever I want to. This is my lifelong struggle. I want the benefits without the rulership.
When I was younger my faith was riddled with self-deception. I always believed that I was much holier than I actually was. I had an optimism that everything would eventually go in my favor and that God would give me all that I wanted. I had expectations that were to be fulfilled as part of the contract of the righteous man.
As I have aged I see that this contract is an illusion. God is king and he doesn't owe me anything. He has already blessed me more than I ever deserved. His presence is what bring me to wholeness.
This life is filled with both joy and sorrow. I have no right to expect to escape from the pain of being human. But I can rejoice when I experience joy. God's promise to me is not that he will make life painless, but rather that he will be with me through the pain.
By nature I focus on the painful spots. I am able to use my imagination to catastrophize any problem long before it happens. Perhaps this is what makes me a good engineer. How will this thing break?
Over my life I have struggled with bi-polar tendencies. When things are good I push forward and take on more and more. My expectations of the future greatness automatically ratchet forward. I attack problems with vigorous enthusiasm. Life is great and I demand more of myself and everyone around me.
When reality rears its ugly head, the dominos begin to fall. The illusion is broken and I realize that I have been lying to myself. This puts me into a deep depression and emotionally I fall apart. My life often has felt like a roller coaster: Glory, Tragedy, Triumph, Despair.
I believe that humans must fulfill four quests to find ultimate happiness. These quests are based on resolving the fundamental challenges of our humanity and they unfold with each new stage of life.
As I enter the fourth quarter of my life I am clearly on a quest for understanding. Issues that I have struggled with all my life are now my top concern. Areas that have defied solutions now consume my thinking. I must find out what is true and what is false. I must understand how the world works.
In the past I have had ego issues that blocked me from admitting serious and painful truths about myself. Now I am ready to be brutally honest about the things that are wrong in my life. I have been searching for the keys to understand not only my own life but the world we live in.
During this quest I desire to understand my behavior (what I Do and Say) and my motivation (what I Think and Feel). What is crystal clear to me, is that affecting these area can only be done with a deep change at the core of my spirit. No amount of self-help or learning skills will change who I am at the core.
Spiritual transformation is the process that fundamentally remake my inner being to be the person that I most want to be. I want to be more like Christ in every area of my life. What I do, say, think, and feel need to change. Both my public persona and my private persona need to experience a transformation.
It could be argued that this process has been going on my whole life. But I have only become aware of it in the last few years. Now I sense an urgency to find better answers to lingering problems. I believe that coming to wholeness is a supernatural work within us that requires our partnership. We cooperate with the work of the Spirit in order to be transformed.
I am confident that the quest that I am on will give me opportunity to pass on wisdom to others. I believe that everyone can benefit from wisdom and some will accept it. I desire to have influence with others but realize that my role is greatly limited. I have no wish to attempt to control the decisions that others make and recognize that everyone must live their own life.
I now see that this phase of the spiritual journey requires coming to grips with issues that we may have been able to ignore for many years.
To make life work over the long-term requires a new mindset. This is a transition in thinking that places an increased emphasis on Sustaining, Coping, and Abiding.
In the past my focus has been mostly about control. I have invested my energy to change the world around me. I have worked hard to shape the events and the people in my life to conform to my desires for them. I have been very active in communicating my viewpoint on everything to anyone who would listen.
In this phase of my life, more emphasis is placed on being at
peace with the way the world is, rather than attempting to reshape it.
Cultivating an attitude of acceptance has given me a great deal of peace. I no longer feel a need to change the world and am less troubled with the reality I face daily. I acknowledge what is broken and recognize that I can do very little about it.
Part of my journey has been to recognize that loss is inevitable. It happens to everyone, including me. Loss occurs in may ways: loss of loved ones, loss of dreams, loss of prosperity, loss of hope, loss of motivation, loss of position, loss of relationship, loss of authority.
When loss occurs, we need to lean in to truly connect with God and his love for us. It is his presence that will ultimately allow me to cope with any form of loss in my life. Understanding how to cope with loss is an important part of my spiritual transformation.
Loss tends to come in waves and can threaten to pull us under. This is when our trust in the goodness of God is most tested. Loss is inevitable and when we yield to God in the midst of it we can experience powerful breakthroughs in our spirituality.
Each person is quite unique, possessing both extraordinary strengths and weaknesses. I have always been aware of how unusual I am both have alternated between being proud of my strengths or ashamed of my weaknesses. Both of these extremes deny the reality as it truly is.
Over the last few years I have been able to acknowledge my unique personality traits with a dispassionate appreciation of what is true. This has been quite freeing. I am neither better or worse than others (or both better and worse), but the comparison is largely irrelevant.
What matters most to me is that I live the life that I have been given to the maximum capabilities that I have. I am not responsible for how others live, but I am accountable for how I live.
I would like to believe that my potential is unlimited. As I grow old I am learning to embrace the limitations. What my life will be is defined by all sorts of limits. There are many things that can never be for me. Part of my spiritual journey is learning how to acknowledge this and be at peace.
Physical Limits - As I age my body prevents me from doing many things. This is more than a temporary situation and eventually I will go downhill and eventually die. This gives me a new passion for maximizing the health I still have.
Expectations - As I ambitious idealist I see the perfect world that could never exist, and labor effortlessly to create it. Because my expectations are always ridiculous I must contend with continuous disappointment. I recognize that this is a problem with my expectations, and try to lower them to a reasonable level.
Family, Career, Church - Finding balance between a vibrant life in all three of these areas is a key challenge in this season of life. Staying engaged in the lives and goals of others is a real challenge for me In the past I have often disengaged in any area where it didn't seem like my goals could be met. I am learning how to be more content and how to play a minor role but still be connected.
Building a legacy - I have always wanted to inspire others to be more and do better. My influence is limited, but it is still there. By recognizing the true limits that exist to build something for others, I hope to create something that will last after I am gone.