'The Me I Want To Be' - Part 5
This is the fifth installment in a series of blogs I am writing about very helpful book I am reading called 'The Me I Want To Be' by John Ortberg. I write each blog after reading a 'part' of the book - usually a collection of three or four chapters or so. It focuses on a few points I have found particularly useful or thought provoking. Now I have just completed 'Part Five' I am well over half way. So here it is:
Part Five: Deepening My Relationships
To help us grow more in our spiritual lives, Ortberg stresses the importance of prayer, but prayer that flows out of time spent alone with God in whatever way that works/looks like for you. He points out that we each need to find that special place where we can just be alone with God be it on a park bench, in the library or jogging. There is a special part of us so deep inside that only God has access to so pray about your deep concerns, whatever they are (even if they don't seem 'spiritual' - eg. the bank balance).
One thing I liked about this chapter was the idea that even when our minds wander when we pray, we shouldn't beat ourselves up about it. In fact, we should go with it! Ortberg encourages us to pray about the things our minds wanders to. We should invite God in on it. I find my mind wanders quite a lot when I'm alone with God and often I get discouraged by this. I'm now going to try to let God in on my wanderings and to see what happens!
Connectedness is a vital part of what it means to be human. It is that ability to share life's experiences with another person. When life connects between two people on a deeper level. Ortberg does point out that connectedness is different to knowing many people )or how many 'friends' we have on facebook). Connectedness is deeper than superfifial and is a relationship that requires time, sacrifice, love and commitment. This chapter further reinforces the vitally important role open and honest fiendships have in the process of spiritual growth. "More than anything else, we are shaped by people" (Ortberg p.182).
Another step towards becoming the me I want to be is to 'be himan'. To be real, open, honest and authentic. I must admit I do find this one difficult as it exposes all of me including all my sin in all its ugliness! I like the way Ortberg phrases it because it is so true: "In the church we have a sin problem. The problem is not just that we sin - everyone has that problem. Our problem is that we can't talk about it" (Ortberg p.194). The church is the place where hurting people come to get healed. What's the point of visiting a doctor if you have already got yoru healing? What is the point in visiting a chirch if your sin issues have already been sorted out? Confessing our sin to a very close friend is a very freeing experience and will often lead to an even deeper relationship and love between you. Ortberg encourages us to take off our masksof pretending everything is great - be real!
Out of the entire book I was dreading to reach chapter 18 the most! Here's why - it's called 'Find A Few Difficult People To Help You Grow'. Now I know several people who would fit into this category quite comfortably and part of me wants to continue to find them difficult! I want to dislike them, to complain about their decisions and bad behaviour. I somehow find this helps me feel better about myself. I didn't want to be told that I have to love my enemy - that's just too difficult and painful!
But having read the chapter I must admit it is one of the best chapters in the entire book! Yes, the Bible does tell us to love our enemies: "God can use them (difficult people) to help you become the best version of you - maybe even more than the people you like . . .Other people don't create your spirit; they reveal your spirit" (Ortberg p.204).
One thing I found particularly interesting is why we should pray for our enemies. Ortberg suggests that there is a special place deep inside everyone that only God and that person are allowed into. "Only God can touch the deepest place of another's soul" (Ortberg p.205). So if they are a person I find difficult, I should pray for them. Only God can change them. Only God has access to that deep place inside their spirit (whether they know it or not). So praying for my enemies is the best way I can try to change them for the better. However, by praying for them, God could also change me! I could also be someone elses diffdicult person!