Who do I want to be?How do I want to live? How do I want to live, so that I can be who I want to be?
Over the past two years I have had the opportunity to participate with a group of other folks from various places and walks of life in quarterly retreats as part of a Transforming Community, led by Ruth Haley Barton and the Transforming Center. It has been a tremendously valuable experience for me, and this is part of the reason why:
It is a sad irony when, for any of a variety of reasons, people lose a sense of closeness to Christ because of their heavy involvement in doing things for Christ. Certainly these two do not have to be at odds with each other, but... it happens way too often. I was experiencing that a couple of years ago when I met Ruth and she encouraged me to be a part of the Transforming Community with her and a group of others. For me, there were many benefits to being part of this experience, but I think the greatest one was that it gave me permission to live my life in the way that I deeply wanted to live it, but at the time felt like I couldn't afford to.
Participating in the Transforming Community involved making a commitment to regular rhythms of things such as time in solitude and silence, engaging spiritual friends and others in relationships that help us grow, reading the scriptures in a way that allows us to be shaped and changed by their message, and others. These were all things that I had experienced at some point, but for which I had long felt a constant (although dull and shoved under the surface) longing to make major components of my lifestyle.
Among the tricks we often play on ourselves is the idea which the Transforming Community helped to dispel in me that it is someone/something else's fault that I am not living my life in the way that I truly desire to live it. Perhaps we lay the blame on our jobs, or relatives, our boss, or just some particular circumstance of our lives. But reality is that our lives are our lives, and one of the most important parts of making them spiritual lives is taking the responsibility to arrange them in ways that allow the kind of life we want to live to become a reality.
Since busyness has come to be so closely associated with responsibility and importance in our culture, the most common reason that we feel we are not living like we want is because of our sense that we have too much to do. While it is true that many of us have done away with any margin in our lives and are living beyond our limits, we do not have to buy into the lie that this is inevitable. As Dallas Willard says, "God never gives anyone too much to do. We do that to ourselves or allow others to do it to us" (from his article, "Personal Soul Care").
So who do you want to be? How do you want to live? How do you want to live so that you can be who you want to be?
I'm looking forward to the next few months of experimenting with seeking to further my own answers to these questions, as my church has given me an unbelievably generous offer of a three month Sabbatical leave in order to deal with recent circumstances of life and ministry. Obviously most of life is not lived as a Sabbatical, but I am hoping during this time to discover more of the life that I want so badly, to do as the header of this blog says, to take hold of that "SalvationLife," the life that really is life.