This is one of the books that I am reading for the Spiritual Practices from A to Z and Read 52 Books 52 Weeks challenges that I am doing this year.
The book is actually a 40-day spiritual treatment plan and devotional guide that provides practical daily connections life lessons. I began doing the daily reflections and journal writing, and then stopped - ironically - because I had too much to do with leading a 4-H club, the barn quilt trail, and upcoming events and field trips with 4-H.
If anything, it made me realize that I do need to create more balance in the next school year so that the things and people I value aren't taking second place to activities I am volunteering for - however worthy and interesting they are to me.
From the book, there were some general things that I wanted to remember:
- The "unanswered life" of broken relationships or misguided intentions of habitual patterns of poor decisions , or of the wrong answers from the start invariably disrupts our relationship with...one another, because, as the effects grow, our natural tendency is to turn "inward" and to focus more and more on our own self-interests.
- A new direction in life: compassion, understanding, response, and encouragement. Each of these four categories provides a different way to view the world, to disconnect from our self-destructive patterns.
- The first letters of each of the four categories of answers form the word CURE.
- We find ourselves living in the trenches of warfare or in the ruts of complacency. Either way, we are unable to become what...is so deeply inside each of us.
- We must survive and so, in response, we learn to live chronically in crisis. And these patterns give birth to worries that permeate every corner of our lives.
- To often, or as human nature is expected to do, we focus on these worries of life and remain hostage to the whims of this world. And all the while, our souls are craving something more, something different. We crave awe and wonder. We are built for such, to run and to praise - not to be tied down by the meaningless goals and broken relationships.
- Most chronic patterns do not start overnight. We do not wake up one morning with a brand-new chronic illness. No, the symptoms develop over time and become debilitating. The result is a life lived at 50 percent power or possibility.
- Depression signals a degree of loneliness that permeates one's soul. You can see it on her wherever she is. At times it debilitates her; at other times it runs her life in quiet ways, not peering above the surface, but you are always sure it is there. When she feels like this, she is fragile and insecure. Life seems to control her or, at the very least, she is held hostage by the day.
- But the other side of the coin is just as dangerous. During these times, she sparks her strength and moves into the world with a fierceness that is strong and certain. But she is not well enough for the battle; she puts up a good fight but ultimately realizes she has taken on an enemy that is much stronger than she is. During these times, our friend will empty herself, usually for nothing much in particular, until she runs out of steam and is left drained ' elsecally and emotionally.
- What do you do with a secret or a broken heart or an addiction that is too much for you to deal with or even admit? Most people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol live extremely functional lives. And yet, they are always on the edge. Life has pushed them there, and they teeter between the next hit and the next plunge.
- The chronic life is very much like this. We remain in these patterns long enough, and they almost take on the air of addictive behavior - a habit too much to handle or break.
- For every season, there is a beginning and an ending. Beginnings are easy. Endings? Not so much. Life has seasons.
- Compassion: it literally means "go beyond one's own struggles to recognize the struggles of others." We can't throw off the chronic life until we have moved out of our own way and are prepared to see the other side of the story through someone else's perspective.
- Understanding: the chronic life limits us in our thinking; in our impressions of the world; in how we see ourselves and others.
- Response: Love is the binding factor of faith and of this new life.
- Encouragement: Means becoming the blessing. The chronic life is the opposite, with the focus on us.
- The real goal and purpose of compassion is not just one single set of kindness. It is a recasting of the situation so that kindness becomes the predominant frame for how a person moves forward from there.
- Maybe your life needs a U-turn today - a place, an occasion, an opportunity to stop going in the same direction that has led to so many problems, and to try something new.