Category: Awareness Assessment

Into the Dark

Into the Dark

Recently I’ve been reading a book by Barbara Brown Taylor titled, “Learning to Walk in the Dark.” The concept is just as it sounds, that there is a matter of human need to learn to walk in the darkness since we are so very conditioned to lean toward the light. We have learned, formally or informally, to identify light as good and darkness as bad. Taylor seeks to debunk that thinking and encourages us to learn that there is good in the darkness as well.

One particular chapter of the book relays her day of cave exploring with an experienced couple. Not the sort of caves that you visit with other tourists but the true caves of exploration where equipment is needed and no lighting is included for your convenience.

At the end of this chapter she notes her appreciation for her cave guides in keeping her safe and helping her explore darkness and her own courage. And then she says this:

“Maybe that’s the difference between pastoral counselors and spiritual directors. We go to counselors when we want help getting out of caves. We go to directors when we are ready to be led farther in… The way out is the way in.”

Barbara Brown Taylor, pg 129 in “Learning to Walk in the Dark”

The way out is the way in.

We so often avoid our inner struggles, emotions, and heaviness just as we avoid physical darkness. But when we confront those very things, and when we lean into that darkness, we just might find that there is a source of light to be found within. Absent of light, there still might be goodness, beauty, and healing in the midst of the darkness.

Life has felt pretty dark lately. And maybe you feel that too. But there is still goodness, beauty, and healing to be found. Perhaps that’s something that you’ve been looking for as you try to move toward light. Maybe you need to sit in the darkness for a while.

Feel it. Get to know it. Talk with it. Understand it.

Then perhaps you will see the glimmer of light that leads out of the cave.

Let’s talk about spiritual direction as a way to grapple with the darkness. Email me for information, or check out my spiritual direction page.

Something Beautiful

Romans 8:28 from The Voice Translation: “We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.”

One of my favorite Old Testament stories is about Joseph, sometimes alternately known as the Technicolor Dreamcoat guy. He had a rough go of it (see Genesis 37-50—yes it’s a long story but a good one!). He was despised by his brothers, sold by them into slavery, accused of rape, tossed in jail, forgotten and left behind, etc. In every situation God was working behind the scenes, sometimes visible but mostly unseen, and bringing about good from bad situations.

If anyone had the opportunity to cry out, “Why God?! Why me?!” it was Joseph. If anyone could ask the question, “Why does bad stuff happen to good people?” it was Joseph. 

What always springs forth to mind with that last question is that it infers that it’s totally fine if bad stuff happens to “bad people” (whatever that’s supposed to mean) and that only good stuff should happen to “good people.” The truth is that good stuff happens to everyone and bad stuff happens to everyone. That’s life, and that’s reality. Stuff happens. Period.

What I’ve come to realize is that the questions we ask are not always the right ones (see this post for more on that), and sometimes asking questions isn’t helpful in the slightest. What has been helpful for me, though, is the verse that I shared above. The Voice translation is a fun one to check from time to time to compare with other translations, and I love the way this is translated. God IS able to orchestrate everything—sometimes behind the scenes and invisible but still active—to work toward something good and beautiful. That something good and beautiful can often be hard to find, but it’s there. That something good and beautiful may not spring forth immediately in the timing that we would prefer, but it will happen.

No matter the darkness, ugliness, brokenness, or pain, there is promise that God is not absent. God sees and knows and cares, even if it seems for a time that we are alone. 

We might not see the ways that God is at work, and it might not be our definition of the right timing, but God is there and is able to orchestrate something good and beautiful out of even the worst of circumstances. 

If you’ve been wanting to talk about the circumstances in your life, and could use some help in processing the good and bad as a way to identify the beautiful, let’s get together for spiritual direction. Click the image below for more information and scheduling.

Something Beautiful
Greater Awareness

Greater Awareness

when we take the time to reflect, work on our self-awareness and our circumstance-awareness, and be more present, I think that we’ll find that God is so desperately hoping that we look up, and look around

I haven’t posted much in the last couple months. With the changes and weight of our current pandemic and culture, my role as pastor has taken all of my focus as I try to care for my church family. With that my work here has receded a bit. 

In church life I’ve been preaching a series about Peter, the disciple. We’ve been looking at his tendency to move back and forth between faithfulness and failure. Just when he seemed to have figured things out he lived more fully into his flaws. Yesterday I preached on John 21 and one of the post-resurrection appearances. Here’s an excerpt of where that text took me:

I don’t know about you, but as I look back on my life there have been cases where I lived into my flaws rather than faithfulness. I missed the opportunities that God presented, and even if I recognized the opportunities I failed miserably. And if I look back, I can also see second chances. I can find patterns of “do over’s” where God presented me with another opportunity to be faithful where I had previously failed. 

I think that’s partly how God works—not exclusively, not always, and not for everyone—but I think there is a part of God’s activity where God circles back to us and gives us another go at the things we messed up the first time—or first 4 times—around. Perhaps the last time it featured our flaws, but with a new opportunity we are presented with the chance to instead be faithful in our response.

I think that’s where the power of being present comes in, and the power of awareness. Far too often we slip into auto-pilot, going through the motions of life, and we just say what we say and do what we do without much thought to our interactions and opportunities. 

Perhaps during this time of pandemic we’re getting an opportunity to assess a bit. When we take the time to reflect, work on our self-awareness and our circumstance-awareness, and be more present, I think that we’ll find that God is so desperately hoping that we look up, and look around, and identify those 2nd or 3rd or 4th chances to shift toward faithfulness rather than flaw.  

How have you been working on creating awareness in your life?

During this time of “stay at home” where schedules and habits have been entirely disrupted and changed, how have you taken the opportunity to pause the roller coaster to work on creating a greater awareness in life and spirit?

If you’d like to talk, let’s book a session for Spiritual Direction and take some time to assess where you are, where God has been speaking, and how you might move forward with some greater awareness.