Quoting myself into silence was a post from just under five months ago where I set out practices which I intended to implement in order to focus on intentional growth this year. Self-reviews, especially on things like this, can be good so I thought I might do one!
Here is what I committed to exploring:
CREATING SPACE FOR GOD TO SPEAK
- Meditating on Scripture (which may mean dwelling in it, rather than reading great swathes of it)
- Times of listening silence before God (which means a silence that is heart-deep: thus, not only no music or talking but also no reading at those times. How will I cope?)
- ‘No agenda’ devotional times (and yes, no agenda means no prayer shopping lists, not even church/pastoral care-related ones!)
CREATING SPACE FOR GOD TO SPEAK THROUGH OTHERS
- Reading (thank goodness!) in the area of spirituality
- Perhaps even exploring spiritual direction again, and definitely appropriate openness with believing friends
CREATING SPACE FOR ME TO RESPOND
How am I doing? Well, I’m loving the journalling and have journalled more in the last two months than I usually journal in about six months, so that’s been productive.
And, as you know, I’m still reading. Both the stuff I blog about and the more theological stuff which bends my brain into positions that it was not made for. It feels a bit like going to the gym sometimes! I just hope that the unnatural stretching of my brain will prove to have been transformative in the long run.
As for interactions with others, I have had some new God-connections take place with significant people in the last few months and am loving what I’m learning through these people. And, despite all my fears after the last debacle (sorry, can’t find the circumflex or acute accents on this keyboard!) with explorations into spiritual direction, I have now met twice with a spiritual director. (This deserves a specific update not because it is more significant than the other new relationships but rather because it was a path which I was not sure about pursuing.) She has been great and has helped me notice some things in my life with God which I might not otherwise have noticed.
So what about the first category of practices?
They have been harder, although I have relished the freedom of ‘no agenda’ quiet times. Occasionally I feel guilty about not ‘doing’ stuff, but most of the time I feel beautifully, gloriously free to enjoy being God’s beloved. If you’ve come from the same stable as me where your ‘quiet time’ is as structured as anything else in your diary, all I can say is ‘try this!’ and you may find a new lease of devotional life!
The Scripture meditation has also been great. I have been hanging around in the first six chapters of John now for months. This has also been helped by the fact that my recent Greek lecturing has focused on John 6 (thank you, Steve!).
At first, ‘hanging around’ in Scripture felt irresponsible. But now, you know…I just don’t care! I cannot shake the words of Jesus in John 5 that he only does what he sees the Father doing. I go back to it again and again. I measure my life against it. (And hang my head!) Thus, I suspect that ‘hanging around’ in John with no agenda may prove to be more transformative than any other Scripture reading I have done in the last few years. And I have done lots…!
The other two are solitude and silence. The solitude experience has been mixed but when I have been able to do it, it has been a wonderful refreshment. Silence…hmm, I’m working at this. If silence whilst journalling counts, then I’ve got this down to a fine art. But I don’t think it does count. Silence meant:
a silence that is heart-deep: thus, not only no music or talking but also no reading at those times
(Yes, self-quoting again. And if that means nothing to you, go back to my whinges in the original post!)
The lawyer in me notes that I didn’t technically say ‘no journalling’. But I suspect that was bad drafting in all honesty. Sitting in listening silence before a loving Father may need to be an area of growth for me.
I wasn’t planning to write this today. In fact, I had not intended to review my planned practices at all. But I’m glad I did. It’s been enlightening. I know now where things have gone well and what needs a bit more attention. I’ll focus on the listening silence in the next few months if I can. You can ask me about it if you like!
What about you? What are your plans for growth and how are you doing with implementing them? What sabotages those plans and what would help you to follow through on them?