Recently, one of my directees so astutely overheard herself: "[My inability to cultivate space for God] both causes something in me and is also a symptom of something in me."
In other words, she saw something unfolding within her that felt akin to a downward spiral. The symptom driving the shame, causing a gentle, but nontheless berating of herself for not doing enough for God, to trying again, to failing, to being exhausted in the trying, to ignoring what is too painful. This led to a seemingly nagging (but actually a "disguised" but beautiful longing) "Isn't there more?"
What unfolds in us over time comes forth from what is cultivated... in the same way a gardener attends to the specific needs of planting seeds in the correct depths and widths, into proper soil nutrients, with appropriate amounts of water and sunshine so that it can flourish and blossom, we need to cultivate environments so that time (and God) may unfold the blossoms we are designed to reveal with beauty to the world.
A haphazard environment is more likely to produce a reactionary, "survival" or "vague, but shallow wishful thinking" about life and living. Merely hoping for change will lead to a life lived in regrettable responses to the stresses and strains that come along with their taunting, devouring and cynical ways.
As you think about approaching Advent - a season of waiting, listening, stillness, expectation, hope, joy and receiving of God's gift of life - even amidst the crazy, busy, party, overindulgent distractions of the season - what is God inviting you to cultivate?
- What is unfolding in your heart and life? Are you unfolding into a person that you'd like to be?
- If you were to describe your "spiral" of growth, what would it look like?
- Are you moving toward the things you long for (relationally, spiritually, physically, emotionally, vocationally)?
- Are you cultivating ways to care of your body in ways that bring nurture, health and respect for God's temple? What would that look like?
- Are you cultivating moments to "ponder" and "treasure" life and God's good gifts?
- Are you helping to shape a life (physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, intellectually) that you'd like - or are you putting it off for "someday" or just excusing it with thinking you're just in a season you have to gut out?