This year we will be exploring what it means to "live an integrated life." Webster defines integrate as, "to form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning or unified whole." Therefore, an integrated life is one that coordinates or blends all its parts (even that which we would label as "bad, ugly or unwanted") into a functioning or unified whole. This past Sunday Sean talked about one of Journey's values - that of Advocacy. Advocacy can be defined as, "the act of pleading for, supporting, or recommending." Advocacy can, and most often needs to, begin with advocating for ourselves. Too often we rush in and try to advocate or "fix things" for others without considering why we are doing what we are doing. While sometimes "faking it till you make it" is a good tactic to get moving, it's an ineffective long-term approach to living an integrated life of advocacy.
When we take time to consider why we we do what we do, we advocate for ourselves. In advocating for ourselves, we look at the false beliefs that keep us bound to negative ways of behaving and thinking about ourselves. We replace lies and old tapes about ourselves with God's view of us- that we are His beloved, good creation (Gen. 1). Since we're perfectly imperfect humans, our behavior won't always live up to who we are. None-the-less, our behavior can't alter our basic goodness as God's beloved- we only falsely believe it does. We think God is a fickle human, whose love and commitment is swayed by our imperfect thoughts, desires, and behaviors. Nothing is further from the truth- He promises that He will NEVER leave us, forsake us, or fail to love us (Rom. 8, Deut. 31:6, Ish 49:15-6, etc)! Once we advocate for ourselves by becoming aware of and replacing the old storylines of God and of our lives with truth, we have a firm groundwork from which to truly advocate for others.
Once we know we are, with all our human imperfections, God's good, beloved creation, we can more easily and truly love/advocate for our neighbor and our even our "enemy." Jesus calls us to ‘love the LORD your God with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength, and all our mind.’ And, ‘Love our neighbor as ourself.’ (Luke 10:27). It's that little, two letter word "as" that makes all the difference. If we don't love ourselves we won't be able to truly advocate for or love another well. As we allow ourselves to be fully known and loved (the heart of self-advocacy), we are able to love others because we are becoming whole in God and no longer need those others to fulfill our needs. We then are able to give, love and advocate from an overflowing heart that sees everyone as equal, good, beloved creations of God (even if their/our behavior hides it). It's been said about Jesus' birth, death and resurrection that "He (Jesus) wasn't changing the Father's mind about us, He was changing our mind about God and thus about one another."
Reflect this week:
How well am I advocating for and loving myself? How can I, just for today, advocate for and love myself better?
By Babs May Clark