I write a biweekly column for Healthy You Now. This was posted on Sept 3, 2012
By Enuma Okoro
Lately she has been paraphrasing the same passage to me at least once in our ongoing conversations. “Don’t think about the old things, because God is about to do a new thing.” It is from the lips of the prophet Isaiah. My sister-friend Lisa says it when she catches me falling into unhealthy self-dialogue and thought patterns. She knows these patterns of mine because she knows me well. She knows that sometimes I let the wrong guides lead me away from growing towards wholeness, and sometimes those guides have the sound of my own broken voice.
“If you want to put your energy in more life-giving places then you have to change some of your practices.”
She tells me what I already know but so easily I can forget. I, like so many of us, have allowed old wounds to train my mind to repeat certain life-defeating mantras; “What if it’s just like the last time?” “It would be foolish to trust him.”
She reminds me that to live into whatever new thing God is doing in my life, requires me to actively and habitually let go of the old constricting words and ways I have learned to cling to with hard familiarity. I must practice telling myself a better story, a more gracious story that allows room for holy healings and new life-giving possibilities.
Who would ever guess how much discipline it can take to choose what is life-giving in our own lives.
We often think of discipline as a necessary evil for better gain. But when we consider the advantages discipline can bring to all areas of our lives, especially for our spiritual centers it seems discipline is merely an opportunity and gift for richer living. As our faith grows and as we learn to listen more to the spiritual guides in our lives we will discover that each stage of our unique spiritual development will require the practice of certain disciplines. These can serve as practical steps to slowly habituate our actions and thought patterns as we learn to be better truth-tellers about our lives and our purpose in life.
The hard work for each of us is in trying to figure out how particular disciplines are connected to our particular growth and healings. Some of us need to learn the discipline of saying “no” more often or establishing firmer boundaries. For some the discipline might be to cultivate more spaces of solitude or quiet. For some, the discipline might be that of slowly letting go of those people, habits, and personal narratives that tie you to a past God is seeking to bring you out of – the discipline might be accepting new life.
And there are those of us for whom discipline and healing might require a more active engagement with others, opening ourselves up to the practice of stepping into the lives of others in ways that might make us uncomfortable AND letting others step into our lives in new ways, seeking new communities of support, offering our time and our hands where needed. The discipline might be learning to simplify, a new freedom that brings you spiritual health in ways you might never have imagined.
The possibilities are endless but all of us probably have a discipline we could practice at this particular time in our lives, one that is for our benefit and growth, one whose fruit when practiced will spill over into the lives of others we encounter. But discerning the particular discipline you are called to requires the initial discipline of stepping into the quiet places to listen, to ask questions, maybe to wait for a while to catch the Spirit’s wind blowing us into new ways of LIFE. What discipline is necessary in your life right now?
For the next week set aside ten minutes each morning or evening to sit in silence.
Be still for a few minutes with your hands in your lap.
Then lift your hands a little and turn your palms down.
Silently practice letting go of those words, phrases, thought patterns that take away from a healing image of yourself.
Offer a silent prayer of release.
When you are ready bring your hands back to rest in your lap.
After a few minutes, hold them back in the air and turn them palm up.
Offer a silent prayer of what new words, phrases and thought patterns you are ready to receive into your life.