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Transformational Knowing of Self and God

  • Focusing on God while failing to know ourselves deeply may produce an external form of piety, but it will always leave a gap between appearance and reality
  • Knowledge that Fills
  • “It would be more accurate to say that he believed God is forgiving but did not know this as an experiential truth”
  • “Listening to the things he told me about his life was like reading a throwaway paperback novel or watching a B-grade movie. The role he was playing lacked depth and reality. It was two-dimensional”
  • Knowledge that Transforms
  • People who are afraid to look deeply at themselves will of course be equally afraid to look deeply at God. For such persons, ideas about God provide a substitute for direct experience of God
  • Peter’s Transformational Knowing
  • Peter’s inner knowing at several points on his journey
  • First being called by Jesus to follow Him
  • His encounter with Jesus walking on water
  • Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet
  • Peter’s denial of Christ
  • Peter’s encounter with the risen Christ, out in water fishing
  • Being asked 3 times by Jesus if he loved Him

Knowing God

  • The Christian God is known only in devotion, not objective detachment. This is why Paul’s prayer is that we may know the love of Christ and so be filled with the utter fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19). This is transformational knowing.
  • To know God demands that we be willing to be touched by Divine love.
  • The meditation I am recommending is not the same as Bible study. It is more an exercise of the imagination than of the intellect. It involves allowing the Spirit of God to help you imaginatively enter an event in the life of Christ as presented in the Gospels.
  • Another struggle for me was the feeling that meditation was a waste of time… That is what friends do together–they waste time with each other. Simply being together is enough without expecting to “get something” from the interaction. It should be no different with God
  • Meeting God in the events of life
  • This is the core of the spiritual journey–learning to discern the presence of God, to see what really is. But nothing is more dangerous than presuming that we already see when we do not
  • The goal is simply increased awareness of God in the events of life and the depths of my being. It is attending to the God who is present.
  • In general, “what questions (such as, What was I feeling? What disturbed me about that comment? What exactly made me anxious?) are better than “why” questions (Why did I feel threatened? Why did that bother me?)
  • And avoid making demands of yourself or God. Just accept whatever comes from each experience, each day.

First Steps Towards Knowing Yourself

  • Neither knowing God nor knowing self can progress very far unless it begins with a knowledge of how deeply we are loved by God.
  • Knowing Your Ignored Part-selves
  • If I refuse to face my deceitful self I live an illusion regarding my own integrity. Or if I am unwilling to acknowledge my prideful self, I live an illusion of false modesty
  • Self-Acceptance and Self-Knowing
  • To truly know something about yourself, you must accept it. Even things about yourself that you most deeply want to change must first be accepted–even embraced.
  • Self-transformation is always preceded by self-acceptance
  • Self-acceptance does not increase the power of things that ultimately need to be eliminated. Rather, it weakens them. It does so because it robs them of the power that they develop when they operate outside of awareness and outside the embrace of self-acceptance

Knowing Yourself as You Really Are

  • A little girl hides her hatred of her brother because she knows that she should love him. This lack of integrity is then reinforced by her parents, who commend her loving behavior
  • We learn to fake it, appearing as we think important others want us to be and ignoring the evidence to the contrary
  • Knowing Yourself as a Sinner
  • You are not simply a sinner; you are a deeply loved sinner. And there is all the difference in the world between the two.
  • Getting Behind Sins to Sin
  • Stuart had learned to cover his resentment over his unnoticed specialness with a mask of false humility. But beneath this lay a smoldering fire of bitterness. Pride suggested that he deserved special treatment. When he didn’t get this, he withdrew in hurt and anger. This, in turn, led to a sense of being cut off and deprived of intimacy. And this was behind his attraction to pornography
  • Discovering our core sin tendencies is helpful because it lets us deal with our problems at their root. But even more than this, it is helpful because discovery of our core sin tendencies will inevitably fill us with such despair and hopelessness that we will have no option but to turn to God
  • As is always the case when one finds one’s true type within the Enneagram, this was initially accompanied by a horrifying sense of humiliation. How could I dare name my basic sin as deceit? How willing I suddenly was to own any of the other eight basic sins! How profoundly exposed I suddenly felt!

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