We continued to look at what it means to live generously. This week focused on how we can cooperate with the Spirit to allow generosity to flourish in our lives. Generosity is part of our true selves as it is part of our "DNA" as children of God. It's been given to us by God's generosity and grace. Unfortunately most of us have lived out of touch with our true selves and have bought into the subtle lie that living generously "takes away" from our lives instead of adding to them. The Spirit longs to help us unlearn old patterns/lies and uncover our true self, which is generous in nature. It is a matter of accepting grace and opening ourselves up to the work of God in our lives. Three ways to open ourselves to the Spirit are: one- taking an honest look at our lives, two- practicing silence and solitude so we can hear God, and three- accountability.
To cooperate with the Spirit is to take an honest look at our budget and our calendars. Our calendar and budget tells us what we truly value. An honest look at these can be hard and is best seen as in invitation rather than an "ought" or "should." "Oughts" and "shoulds" lead to shame. Shame (I am a mistake/bad /rotten /stupid) is not from God. Healthy guilt (I made a mistake/I want to change), on the other hand, is God's invitation to grow. When we accept God's invitation to grow the Spirit cultivates freedom, generosity and knowledge of our true self in our heart and life.
Once we have taken an honest look, it benefits us to spend time in silence and solitude. In the silence and solitude we begin to develop a posture of humble listening. It's listening that opens to the whispers of the Spirit inviting us to change. The invitations are specific to each heart- do less of this, more of that, give here, save there, value this, let go of that, etc.. Some invitations will be easier to accept than others. Some may take us years to accept, whereas others, only a moment. The point is to remain open, keep listening, and keep making the time for silence and solitude so that when the invitation is given we will hear what is being said. It is in practicing over time that we finally come to trust that the invitation is to a grand event rather than to a boring lecture or painful procedure. Eventually we come to trust that the Host is only wanting to bless us rather than take away our toys.
Accountability with fellow travelers on a similar journey is what helps us stay the course. To know we are not alone on the journey of honesty and listening for God's invitations to change, gives us courage to lean into the journey rather than run the other way. In 2 Corinthians 7:2 we are invited to "make room" for others in our hearts and lives. Not only does this refer to those who have less materially than we do, it also refers tomaking room for others to journey with us. It would especially benefit us to make room for others in those places in our lives where we are being invited to change. We were not designed to "go it alone." We need other people- trusted others with whom we share our journey, who will ask us deeper questions and help us stay aligned to our true values. In turn, and with God's help, we get to be that person for others.
We will find that over time as we are honest, open to listening, and willing to be accountable we will live a more generous life. Our lives will more closely resemble our Father's "DNA" rather than that of our false self or our culture. By God's grace we will be free, joyousand fulfilled (likely not all the time, but certainly more than before).
By Babs May-Clark