Gifts from the Church

I am not certain my change of heart would have occurred outside the context of the church. For as I sat on the town-square bench, my mind was filled with stories and examples of forgiveness I had learned at the church’s knee. While I belong to a number of organizations and institutions, only the church has given me the language of reconciliation and has concerned itself with my human growth and betterment. When I have been angry, it has taught me to forgive. When I have been lonely, the church has provided friendship. When I was happy, it celebrated with me. When I was sad, it shared my grief. When I was egotistical, thinking only of myself, the church corrected me and taught me to consider others. When I was stingy, it taught me generosity. And when I was fearful, it taught me courage. In short, the church let me practice what it meant to be human. Not just any kind of human, but the best human I could be.

It is also abundantly clear that what the church has provided for this Christian has also been provided to the Jew, the Muslim, the Buddhist, and others by their spiritual communities. All of them, in their own contexts, have been taught what it means to be human. To be sure, I and others have not consistently lived up to the ideals of our spiritual communities, but those ideals are no less important and imperative.

— Philip Gulley, The Evolution of Faith, p. 185-186

Be Who We Are

We live our deepest soul’s desires not by intending to change who we are but by intending to be who we are. And clearly our intention — to change or to be who we are — profoundly shapes how we live, what we believe we must do to learn, whether we feel we must ceaselessly push ourselves to reach higher or simply find the courage and confidence to allow who we are to unfold. The latter view calls for choices that support and expand our essentially compassionate nature, while the former aims to reshape our essentially flawed nature with heroic efforts of endless trying.

— Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Dance, p. 8

New Energy

The experience of forgiveness is profound and refreshing. When we do the gritty, methodical work that goes into healing and resolving an old hurt, we dissolve the stagnant weight of resentment inside us, and our bodies are flooded with new energy. Forgiveness mends our tattered personal boundaries, improves our health and relationships, and empowers us to move forward with hope and creativity. As we release the past, we also release ourselves into the richness of the present and the possibilities of the future. We find ourselves on new ground, ready to walk forward into our goals and dreams.

— Mary Hayes Grieco, Unconditional Forgiveness, p. 1

Not Your Responsibility

Your partner is responsible for his own well-being. Deeply loving women struggle with caring profoundly for partners who are not good for them. They care for them with a love and a sensitivity to their spirits that their partners are not giving themselves — and certainly are not offering in return. It is a challenge to find a way to fully honor a partner who is embroiled in addiction, or who is suffering emotionally in other ways, but who periodically is cruel to you. And it can be unimaginably painful to leave a partner you love who is self-destructing.

Your partner’s relationships with others, his spiritual path, and his inner life are his own. If he grows and changes, it will not be because you repaired his relationships, found a spiritual path for him, or learned the inner workings of his psyche. When — if — he changes, it will be because he did these things himself. You can lay out your requirements or even outline resources for him, but then you must step away.

— Lundy Bancroft, Should I Stay or Should I Go?

A Space for Us

Could it be that the joy we pursue in life — whether the joy of playing an instrument or a sport, of chipping a sculpture from stone or building a business from the ground up — is the joy of knowing that there is a silence, a void, a space that waits for us to fill it? And could it be that God, the creator of both us and that void, is the witness, the audience, the Listener for whom we are always performing? And could it be that contemplation is the pause button that freezes time, so that we listen to the Listening and witness the Witness?

— Brian D. McLaren, Naked Spirituality, p. 228

Escaping Memory Fog

When you feel yourself drifting back into the fog of a memory, command your energy to return to the present moment by saying, “I am not going in that direction any longer. I release it once and for all.” And don’t make heavy weather out of the act of releasing. It isn’t always necessary to beat up pillows on the floor while screaming in rage. Release can also be accomplished with a bit of humor, such as, “You again? Beat it! I haven’t got either the time or the energy to think about you any longer.” Lighten up, and don’t allow your past to frighten you. Stop giving it power by clinging to the belief that things could or should have been otherwise. That is nonsense.

As you gain more control over your thoughts, try changing your vocabulary too. Speak more in the present tense about your life. You can certainly recall your past, but make it a habit to recall the good times. When someone asks you how you are, give them a positive answer; let that be your default setting. If you are genuinely coping with something that recently happened to you, go ahead and share that, but don’t dwell on it.

— Caroline Myss, PhD, Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can, p. 26

Like Children

Majesty and humility are such an odd fit. This is one reason we struggle with prayer. We just don’t think God could be concerned with the puny details of our lives. We either believe he’s too big or that we’re not that important. No wonder Jesus told us to be like little children! Little children are not daunted by the size of their parents. They come, regardless.

— Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life, p. 116-117