Recently a good friend of mine asked me to write a blog post on how to manage time and navigate the complexities of life and mental wellness. Just a small topic lol…. It has been percolating away in my spirit. The answer has a lot to do with knowing who we are and what we need. I could do a blog post on organisation and time management but I think that our daily exhaustion goes much deeper than this.
1: Who are you?
One of the main objectives of spiritual awareness or spiritual awakening is to get to know yourself. The spiritual life is a journey to the centre. I would suggest that the majority of people today do not know who they are. I am a celebrant and as I meet with couples to craft their wedding ceremonies I ask them. What are your values? What are the non negotiable areas in your life? What does marriage mean to you? What is love? What do you need in a relationship to thrive? Most find it very difficult to answer because they simply don’t know. Most think that getting married is about the reception, the dress and the rings.
Let me ask you? What are your values? What do you build your life on? What values are you intentionally instilling into your children, your family? What energizes you? What depletes you? Are you an introvert? Are you an extrovert? Are you motivated by beauty, by logic, by knowledge? Are you dealing with your trauma your relationship issues? If I scratch the surface what do you bleed? Love or anger? Could you answer those questions. If I asked the people around you what would they say about you?
2: The two sides of us.
All of us has a dark side and a light side. We are all two sides of the same coin. We cannot ignore this dark side of us. In the book of Matthew, a young man asks Jesus about the wheat and the weeds. “Should I pull out the weeds?” he asks. Jesus tells him to let them grow up side by side until the harvest. We have both growing inside of us. We are a mixture of weed and wheat and the trick is knowing which is which.
A Cherokee parable talks about having two wolves and the fight within us.
An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life…
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.
“One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego.
“The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
“This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather,
“Which wolf will win?”
The old chief simply replied,
“The one you feed.”
Note: At Calvary we see a picture of Jesus hanging between two thieves. The good thief who accepted Jesus and the bad thief who did not. Jesus forgave both and so should we.
How does this fit into the balance of life?
If you do not know yourself or acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses then how can you properly balance your life or know what you need?
For example: April is a bad month for me. I am aware of this and take the time to remind family and friends. It is full of grief memories and heartache. It triggers trauma incidents that happened in this month. Easter and particularly the weather can make some days very difficult. It is also my birthday and the birthday of my deceased husband. Those of you who have suffered death or loss will know that birthdays are particularly difficult.
This is a dark month for me. I can grow quiet, remote, snappy, tired, depressed and teary. Knowing this helps me to navigate my month. I won’t book too many engagements into my diary so that I don’t over extend myself. I will take time out to rest over Easter. If I’m tired and need to have solitude, I will give myself permission to do so. I am aware that my mental health will test my physical strength and emotional capacity.
The alternative is to pretend that everything is fine while I quietly die inside or to punish all those around me as they fail to measure up to my crazy expectations. They cannot fix the pain, I must embrace it, and navigate it with wisdom and patience knowing that I will come out the other side and that every year gets a little easier.
3: Living on the edge
In our society, most of us are like rats in the wheel. We run busily around on our tread mills, spinning out day after day. Running from the past, running from pain and often doing all we can just to survive.
We are not meant to live like this.
The Hebrew meaning for Shalom is to flourish. Shalom is a beautiful word that means to have peace and to flourish in every area of your life.
Shalom is: contentment, community, health, reconciliation, peace, well-being, justice, wholeness, integrity. Shalom is the way that things should be or ought to be. If we are living in Shalom then we are living as we ought to live in order to flourish.
Anthony Bradley says: “An emphasis on human flourishing, ours and others’, becomes important because it is characterized by a holistic concern for the spiritual, moral, physical, economic, material, political, psychological, and social context necessary for human beings to live according to their design.”
We all desire Shalom. Shalom is the perfect balance of life.
The wheel is a great example. There is an edge – the circumference, there are the spokes – life tasks or pieces of the pie that we dish out to everyone in our life, and there is the essence – the centre. In my experience we are mostly a circumference people. We live on the edge of our life. We run round the outside trying to do everything and to be everything to all people. It is obvious that there are tasks in our lives that need to be achieved. Work, relationships, school, health, education, etc, etc,…….
The best way to navigate the demands of life in a healthy way, is to live in the centre. If you are into physics then you will know that the centre is the best place to bear the load. However, we can only be centred if we know where the centre is and how to get there.
“We are a circumstance people, with little access to the centre. We live on the boundaries of our own lives”(Rohr).
No wonder we sometimes feel like the centre is collapsing, or that we are running out of steam. Most of us are literally on the edge. If we stay on the circumference of our lives we will never get to know ourselves and we will never get to know God. It will also become difficult for us to know or to love others.
Jesus asked us to love others the same way that we love ourselves. If we don’t know ourselves how can we love ourself. If we don’t love ourself how can we love others. Compassion and grace toward others comes from the realisation that we all have these two wars going on inside of us. We all struggle with the weaknesses of our characters. We have all failed, we have all fallen. Coming from the centre, from humility enables us to love others and to be inclusive and accepting of who they are instead of repelling others because we see them as unlovely or unloveable.
There are two main pathways to the centre. Prayer and pain. Both of these are pathways of transformation. It is through the pain, heat and death, that life and transformation occurs. Richard Rohr says that: Suffering gets our attention and prayer gets our hearts. We need to be in touch with both the essence and the edges of our lives. Only then can we safely navigate and balance our days and weeks.
1: We must get to know the core and essence of who we are
2: We must acknowledge our dark side and our light side
3: We must not stay too long on the circumferences where the doing overtakes the work of being.
4: Once we understand who we are and what we need, then we can plan our life around that. Cutting out the things and people who unnecessarily deplete or disempower us. There are only so many pieces of the pie. This is the part where we take stock and look at what to keep and what to cut.
This one is for you Tim. Tim supports me on Patreon.com and sent in this topic that he hoped that I would cover. It was a challenge accepted gratefully. xxx Lisa – Shalom
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