Sometimes I believe I read too much. I tend to read things I agree with, rather than things that challenge my thinking. Is this good, or is this a serious weakness? Do I really think for myself, or do I simply reflect the opinions and attitudes I borrow from others?
I’m learning to contemplate more, but it’s a struggle. For me, contemplation makes effective prayer possible. Without being deliberately contemplative, I approach prayer as task that needs to be completed efficiently and checked off my list of tasks. I must continue taking more time to contemplate, listen, observe, pray.
I believe my greatest strength is the ability God gave me to think for myself. Conversely, my greatest weakness is my unwillingness to think for myself. Contemplation enables me to be the unique person God created me to be.
Smallmouth Bass in Maine
I’m in the process of reading a complicated book, The Shattered Lantern by Ronald Rolheiser. It addresses our inability (or unwillingness) to live in a manner that allows us to see and experience God. It smacks me in the face with reminders of all the excesses in my life that consume my time, energy and resources. Even more concerning, the clutter in my life often prevents me from seeing and experiencing God.
As described by Rolheiser, “When we are excessively self-preoccupied, we tend to see nothing beyond our own heartaches and problems. Our sense of reality shrinks accordingly and it is not then surprising that we have trouble believing in the reality of God since we have trouble perceiving any reality at all beyond ourselves.” Rolheiser says our obsession with self results in a “non-contemplative personality” that is oblivious to God, unable to see Him in ordinary life.
I’d like to think Rolheiser’s description of a non-contemplative personality does not apply to me. However, it does. I’ve been thinking about this and wondering about my ability to make some changes, and move in a direction that reduces the clutter and distractions in my life. I want to be more contemplative.
More thoughts later .…
About six years ago I made some notes to myself regarding my work, and the impact of my Christian faith on my daily work activities. It helps me to look back and remind myself that what I believe really does make a difference (at least I believe so). Here are a few thoughts from 2004:
- My daily work is an opportunity to reflect God’s grace. By showing love, respect, and kindness to others, I demonstrate that His grace has impacted my life. Question: Do I treat everyone the same, regardless of status or position?
- I must recognize every task as an opportunity God has provided specifically for me. Question: Am I focused on doing my very best, or am I pursuing money as the end goal?
- I am called to serve God with boldness and without fear. Don’t waste time worrying about my “calling” in life. Question: Do I fear failure, or relish new challenges?
- I should aggressively pursue my passions and interests, knowing God gave them to me. Question: Do I have confidence and faith in my God-given abilities?