Posts Tagged ‘awareness’

characterBasic definition of character: “the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing”. But there are others and among those definitions is “an account of qualities or peculiarities of a person–“. In this election year and climate, character has been a constant topic of conversation, from good to bad, true or false, kind to selfish, dependable to undependable and so forth. We are all, looking outward, asking, “do we see fruit in the lives of the candidates that reflects their true nature, or their character?” But perhaps, it’s time to ask these same questions of ourselves. 

I have always maintained, put a microscope on someone and you’ll always find something, some tarnish or blotch, some surprise or another. Can I tolerate the same? Not hardly. So, who am I kidding? This public evaluation will probably be somewhat cursory at best.

So what is the question? How do I stack up to the “image” or character of God (as in Genesis 1:26, made in God’s image)? The list I was given only had 24, alphabetically, we only go through the letter “F.” I found another website that lists 49 character traits. My guess is that the list could go on and on and on.

Let me pick three then, that I can somewhat safely say I have demonstrated: endurance, initiative, and thoroughness. Notice: I had to go all over the alphabet list. Here’s what happens when I try to identify a positive character trait, I name one and the first thing that comes to mind is the time I didn’t reflect that very well. And then another and another. So, scratch that one. Oh, well, just look at the overall feature, my mind says, but still I can’t get past it, the murmur of “liar, liar.”

image-of-godI can claim these three just because they speak to the last two years of my life, reinventing myself as a widow, enduring the loss and the sorrow, initiating new routines and lifestyle (even selling and buying a house), and then tackling all the little jobs that are now all mine, working to make those efforts the best they can be. But have I embraced the Presence of God in the midst of these traits as I walked them out? Not as much as I should have. Much of these are part of my nature (my family background and the influence of my mother). I know that. And yet, I also know, then the gas ran out in my energy, God was there, filling up my tank. Things might have been easier had I used God’s gas all along. Hindsight reveals much.

But out of this list, what do I really need to develop? With a conscious choice, what can I put in front of myself, like a post-it, if necessary, and say to myself: go here first.

pooh-contentmentContentment. This is not about never trying or working toward a goal, but it is saying yes to now, today, this moment, this life.
Gratefulness. And so, along with contentment must come gratitude, for what has been given and what will be given.
Patience. With some hesitation I bring this forth. Everyone says, never ask for patience, for the circumstances that demand patience will come in a flood. But, honestly, hasn’t that already happened? And isn’t patience the sister of contentment and gratefulness? I think so.

Where do I see these traits practiced? Here’s the worst confession of all. I’m not sure I know people well enough to know if they are operating in these qualities day to day. I know the courage of several acquaintances who went through challenging cancer treatments, I saw in them these qualities wrapped inside the fight for life. What charges me up is their ability to be bold and yet patient at the same time, to be confident and yet grateful, to be determined and yet content with truth.

CGP are not passive at all. That’s the clue I have about them. They are conscious. They are a choice. They are a team. And I choose to be in. Some call this mindfulness and to some degree, awareness as well. Stay awake!

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When God searches my heart, I believe it’s a cooperative effort. In other words, I don’t think God is lurking around my heart and soul without my acquiescence (not that God couldn’t, but doesn’t). If I practiced more mindfulness and stayed in tune with the Holy Spirit, the process would be deeper.

I Chronicles 29:9a
And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought.

I don’t believe God searches my heart like an airport full-body x-ray scan, where I am humiliated and exposed by the discoveries God might make about me. God is not looking for weapons of mass destruction or examining my heart just to find the mistakes and evil lurking there. Instead, God is teaching me about myself and about my Spirit-self. God is lighting up my interior.

Depending on my willingness to learn, God will do a basic search or a more advanced one. If I am closed off to the idea of transparency and truth, if my fears about my past and future are more powerful than my desire to know, then God’s search is less invasive. Holy Spirit, as teacher and guide, operates at my pace. I can choose to remain at a cursory level or I can open the closet doors, the cellar doors, and the attic drop down ladder.

This is a trust issue. The more I can trust God, the more likely I will go deeper into the heart of God within.

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Ceramic tile by Katherina Short

Imagine being in that early flush of honeymoon love and waking in the morning. The first thing I do is turn to look at my beloved. A wonder. If he has risen beforehand, I might call out the name or simply rise to seek him out. I know he is there. So it can be with God.

I Chronicles 16:10-11
Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.

To seek God does not need to be a quest, it’s just turning my head to look, to really look. It’s like being at a party and for a moment, losing sight of my date. I look for that familiar head of hair or the clothes I know he wore. There he is. All is well. I don’t need to rush over and clutch at his sleeve. We are in the same room. We are together.

Sometimes seeking God is simply a reawakened awareness of God’s proximity to me.

As children grow into toddlers, the first thing they want to do is stretch the boundaries of their independence. One of two things happen, the child ventures away but keeps checking back to make sure Mom or Dad can be seen, can be reached in need. Often, the toddler will make a number of trip back and forth, out into the bigger space and back to Mom. Yep, he knows the way and he fees secure. The next foray may be further and maybe out the door. But, if the toddler goes too far, the parent senses his absence and will follow.

I want to capture this truth today. Not just now as I’m writing, I want to pull myself away from what I’m doing and intentionally look for God–in the eyes of a friend, the walk of a stranger, the wet nose of my dog, in a handshake, in a flight of birds, in the wind or warmth of the sun.

Look! Look!

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