God-Awareness and Self-Awareness…

     I’m taking some literary license here when I paraphrase words spoken by The Apostle Paul:

Good grief! Why do I keep on making the same mistakes over and over? I don’t want to keep making them, but I do. Why can’t I just do what I know is the right thing to do? (For a more accurate translation, find Paul’s words in Romans 7:14-17)

     Have you, like me, found yourself lamenting similar questions?

     As I’ve told you previously, I am currently in a 2-year program—into my fifth month now—of study that will lead to certification as a Spiritual Director.

     The program requires much personal introspection, direction and accountability. The process isn’t always easy. I’m convinced, however, for spiritual growth to occur, we must be willing to allow the Spirit to show us what lies beneath emotions plus factors that influence thought patterns and motivate behaviors.

     Throughout church history, much has been written about the importance of self- awareness that draws one into deeper relationship with God in order understand one’s God design.

     In the 14th Century, Catherine of Siena said,

Be who God created you to be, and you will set the world on fire.[1]

     John Calvin, a 16th Century theologian, pastor and reformer during the Protestant Reformation, said,

Knowing yourself begins with knowing God. Man never attains to a true self-knowledge until he has previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into himself.[2]

     A 20th Century theologian said simply,

Self-Awareness leads to God-Awareness.[3]

     The Christian’s spiritual growth must be forged upon the mercy, grace, and unconditional love of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Then he or she must be willing to listen with the heart to what God is saying. Finally, we must trust God to provide wisdom and resources needed to make life-giving, God-honoring changes.

     Self-awareness dawns in different ways. Writings of ancient Christians have whetted my spiritual appetite to learn more, but throughout every age God guides us to life-producing resources when we search humbly and expectantly.

     In the 21st Century, the era in which God has placed you and me, we are blessed to have access to many different translations and paraphrases of Scripture to read, listen to and study. Counselors, pastors, coaches, spiritual directors, educators, inspirational books, groups, podcasts, and Youtube, talks provide helpful insights to assist spiritual awareness and growth.

     A powerful tool that’s helped me with self-awareness is the Enneagram, an ancient personality assessment, traced to around 4th Century Christians. The Enneagram has re-surfaced in the last few decades and is used widely for personal and spiritual growth. I believe it is a tool God has resurrected to help 21st Century seekers live in the freedom God intended for us.

     I’ve read several different books about the Enneagram. If you’re interested in learning more, I’d recommend starting with The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. It’s a well-written primer, penned from a Christian perspective.

Blessings in your journey of self-awareness that leads to greater God-awareness…

Sue Reeve

  1. https://www.azquotes.com/author/17881-St_Catherine_of_Siena
  2. https://www.bloggingtheologically.com/
  3. Although I’ve read this quote attributed to Thomas Merton, I’ve been unable to verify

Following the ‘Wonder?’

O God, who by the leading of a star didst manifest the only-begotten Son to the people of the earth: Lead us… Amen.[1]

     If you, like me, are accustomed to a less Liturgical faith tradition, you may not realize today, January 6th is known as The Epiphany, which commemorates the visit of the Magi to worship the Christ child.

     The word epiphany derives from the Greek and means an experience of a sudden and striking realization.[2]

     In today’s culture epiphany may be used to describe a scientific, philosophical, religious, relational or intellectual realization. Psychologists, counselors, coaches and educators often refer to such dawning as an ‘ah-ha’ moment.

     On Christmas Day my brother-in-law and I discussed Epiphany. As a result of our conversation, the following morning, I meditated upon the Matthew 2 biblical account of the Wise Men. My meditation led to three insights I’d never considered before. Those insights led me to ask probing questions.

  1. The wise men were well-educated scholars who didn’t simply collect information. They’d read about the birth of a king, but when they were convinced the time of that king’s birth was eminent, they departed their homeland, willing to go to great lengths to follow a ‘star of wonder.’ It is believed the distance of their trip to Bethlehem was around 800 miles—not an easy trek when you’re riding on the lumpy back of a big old camel!
    • My Question: How willing am I to leave the comfort of ‘knowing’ and take that next step of faith to ‘do’ or ‘go?’
  2. The Wise Men worshipped with the belief, knowledge, and resources available to them. In addition to time and inconvenience, they gave of their wealth. Bowing low before the Christ child, they presented gold, frankincense and myrrh—gifts fit for a king.

     Sometimes, what a person has to offer God seems impressive. Other times, it doesn’t seem like much. If you’ve ever attended a children’s Christmas pageant, you’ve probably seen an adorable child recite a poem penned in the 1800’s by Christina Rosetti.

My Gift –[3]

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part,–
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

  • My Question: How much of my heart—the core of who I am—will I surrender as an act of worship? My schedule? My comfort? My convenience? My finances? My goals?
  1. Despite the wicked King Herod’s invitation to return to him with information about the baby’s whereabouts, the Wise Men were willing to ‘listen with their hearts’ and heed the ‘still, small voice’ of the Spirit given to them in a dream. Instead of reporting back to Herod, they chose a different route home.
    • My Question: How receptive will I be to ‘listening with my heart’ even if the ‘still small voice’ instructs me to travel in a direction different than what I’ve presumed to be correct? What resources and wise advisors will help me avoid being misguided?

     I’d love to hear insights you may have concerning The Epiphany

Sue Reeve

  1. The Book of Common Prayer, Oxford University Press, February, 1990.
  2. Wikipedia.org
  3. https://www.poetrynook.com/

Wishes for a Wonder-Filled New Year…

     A few weeks before Christmas, Ron showed me photos he’d taken of the full moon from our front porch. With out-of-focus Christmas lights as a backdrop, my husband was able to capture through his camera lens the wonder of creation.

     Ron’s photos triggered a precious memory.

     My three-year-old daughter and I were driving home after work and daycare when I saw the huge harvest moon hanging low in a dark autumnal sky. It was spectacular. I decided to seize the moment to illustrate the wonder of God’s creation. Pointing to the sky, I said, “Look at that big moon, Angie. God made the moon.”

     A couple evenings later Angie pointed to the still-impressive moon, squealing, “Mommy, mommy. Look! There’s God!”

     Many moons have risen since that sweet mother/child exchange. How quickly pass the years!

     Here we are once again. A new year has arrived. This year is extra special since it is the beginning of not only a new year but a new decade.

     As I ponder the commencement of another new year, I keep thinking that this year—indeed, this decade—I’d like to become more childlike in the way I perceive God. I want to be more aware of God in all things! I desire my soul will cry out with the wonder of worship, “Wow, there you are again God!”

     Many ‘WOW!’ wonder-filled God moments is also my wish for you as we step into a new decade. This ancient Irish New Year prayer meant to bless friends and loved ones is my prayer for you this second day of 2020!

May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields…may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

     Happy New Year!
          

Sue Reeve