Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Five Ways to Raise Your Level of Spiritual Freedom

None of us wants to go to work tired and then get to the end of the day feeling like we could have done more. The energy and mood of the morning carries through the day, so making life more meaningful begins there. We're used to waking up just before we have to get to work, or to a class, or to a workout, or to shuttle children off to school. We leave ourselves just enough time to shower, eat breakfast, pack up, etc But having just enough time means not having enough time. You run late. You skip breakfast. You leave the bed unmade. You can't take the time to enjoy your shower, brush your teeth properly, finish your breakfast, or put everything away so you'll return to a tidy home. While friendly enough, she left me completely to my own devices, which allowed me quiet and solitude. She seemed completely oblivious to the tear-stained cheeks I woke up with (inexplicably escaping from my eyes as I slept) or my muffled sobs into a washcloth in the shower on the morning of what would have been my anniversary. Nor was she in the room anytime I wanted breathing space between sessions. Much of the conference was a blur in grief-induced fog, but certain moments remain crystal clear. I remember the beautiful music that began each morning and had me bolting from the room in tears. I'll never forget author Jane Rubietta who found me in the hallway and took hold of my hands to pray for me, or Cynthia Ruchti's workshop that I ended up in by accident, with a message I copied down so I can share it now. God doesn't waste anything. Let the Lord use it. God will refresh you and revive you, she said as a lump formed in my throat and tears filled my eyes. Brave writers all write from a dwelling place, or a history of pain. To be resilient to upward comparisons that will represent a genuine source of motivation and learning Currently, we're `damaged' by most upward comparisons as the perception that somebody is better than us automatically makes us believe that we're inferior to them.

Often, we don't just feel that we're a lesser person than the individual we're comparing ourselves with but more generally as well. As such, these comparisons serve no constructive purpose whatsoever, simply filling our mind with hurtful thoughts. Our Target-Selves think in a completely different way. Upward comparisons don't undermine our sense of self-worth but are deemed genuinely useful, potentially representing a handy means to motivate and improve. We even actively seek out those more expert than ourselves as a source of learning. The targets of our upward comparisons can be younger or older; These are no longer the criteria we use to determine whether, or who, to ask for help. The only thing that matters is that the person may have insights that we currently lack. I was musically talented but he never acknowledged that. If it seemed like things were going my way or that I was happy, he would try to make me feel bad. I was called every name in the article. He once called me a slut because I wore flip flops to school. As a teenager preoccupied with myself and my problems, I did not realize how bad my father was treating my mom and how much damage was being done to her. My dad has laid guilt on my mom for just about everything that has happened since the day they were married. Anytime he was unhappy with his life (basically all the time) he blamed her. If they did not have enough money, he blamed her. He blamed her for the size of our house. She was also blamed for the fact that his brother and his family were more well off than we were. You can't do things with purpose and care if you have to speed through them. When you start the morning with high pressure and high stress, you're programming your body to operate in that mode for the rest of the day, through conversations, meetings, appointments.

Waking up early leads to a more productive day. Successful businesspeople are already onto this. Apple CEO Tim Cook starts his day at 3:45 a. Richard Branson is up at 5:45. Michelle Obama rises at 4:30. But it's important to note that while lots of high-impact people rise early, there's also a movement among top executives to reclaim sleep. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos makes it a priority to get eight hours of sleep every night, saying that less sleep might give you more time to produce, but the quality will suffer. So if you're going to rise early, you need to turn in at an hour that allows you to get a full night's rest. Mine the pain. Don't waste it. I don't have to search my memory for the sign I discovered the final day of the conference because I've saved it as a reminder. The piece of paper--that hadn't been there just moments before--was attached to a tree on a pathway that reminded me of the University of Northern Iowa campus I'd walked with David the previous year. The handwritten sign declared: If a tree does not suffer great winds and storms, its bark will not grow thick and strong. The tree, thin, naked, and weak, will fall over and die. Storms will bring strength, majesty, and growth. God brings storms to build us. When He builds us, we will go forward. I carefully removed it from the bark, certain its message was meant for my wounded soul, just as that morning's guest pastor's devotional had been. Being intimidated by others is a thing of the past. To no longer rely on downward comparisons to inflate our ego

Downward comparisons can represent a quick and easy way to feel better about ourselves. Consciously or not, some of us use them for exactly this purpose, bolstering our self-esteem as a result. But we need to be careful here. Frequently putting others down to feel better about ourselves is to live a blinkered, negative life, akin to that of a bully, without (hopefully) the use of their physical or verbal intimidation tactics. There's another issue to be aware of as well. A 2006 research paper examined the relationship between the self-esteem of a random selection of more than 60 adults and their experience of `destructive' emotions and behaviours. Put another way, we can have a relatively high level of self-esteem - by always comparing downwards for example - and yet still experience a wide variety of adverse traits. The study discovered that the people most likely to experience these damaging behaviours and emotions were precisely those who compared themselves frequently with others. When my father was diagnosed as clinically depressed my mom tried to hide it from me and my brother, though we eventually found out. He used to tell my mother every day that he wanted to kill himself and then blamed her for his misery. He actually did attempt suicide a few times. I remember the abuse escalating when I was 13 years old. At the time my father had been unemployed for a couple of years and was home all day, so there was no way to escape the abuse. My brother, mother, and I walked on eggshells around him, trying not to upset him, but nothing we did helped. His explosions were random. From the moment I came home from school until the moment I left he made our lives a living hell. My mother spent a lot of time outside of the house trying to avoid my father. She eventually separated from him, but that only added fuel to the fire. Life gets more complicated if you have kids or a night job, so if these or other circumstances make the idea of waking up an hour earlier unfathomable, don't despair. Start with manageable increments (see the Try This below).

And notice I didn't name a specific time for you to get up. I'm not asking for 4 a. The hour doesn't even have to be early--the goal is to give you enough time to move with intention and do things completely. That spirit will carry through the day. Create a time cushion at the beginning of the day or you'll spend the rest of the day searching for it. I guarantee you will never find that extra time in the middle of the day. Steal it from your morning sleep and give that sleep back to yourself at night. See what changes. I see you, Mary. His booming voice startled me at the back of the room, and his eyes seemed to look straight into mine, yet I'd never met him and was convinced he'd chosen a random common name. I see you, Mary. Take courage. Be filled with courage. Every follower of Jesus Christ can survive their deep water and dark night experiences because we have the knot of reassurance that even when we can't see Jesus, Jesus sees us. I am here for you,' he says. Don't be afraid to take the next step. Thanks to the conference, I knew my next step: I'd be writing a article about grief. That fall, I traveled to the Maranatha Christian Writers' Conference to personally meet and thank the man who was responsible for the scholarship I'd won. A much better way of living is to have a sufficient, genuine sense of security and self-confidence not to require the use of downward comparisons to boost our ego. We'll still make such comparisons but mainly to generate empathy for others and to track our progress (see below).

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