Nils von Kalm

My take on faith, life and how it all might fit together

Category: Surrender (page 2 of 3)

When it hurts like hell

alone-62253_640“It’s not about what you’re doing but what God is doing in you” – Mark Sayers

Even when it hurts like hell.

Sometimes we go through things in life which are painful beyond anything we’ve ever had to go through before. And sometimes we feel like we’ve just had enough. Recently I posted a very good article about the fallacy of believing that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. A few more thoughts about this come to mind:

  • We sing a song at church sometimes which has the words of Romans 8:28 – all things work together for good for those who love the Lord. That might sound glib, mainly because this verse has been used out of context, and often in an incredibly insensitive way, but it’s a statement of hope. And hope is what we can’t live without.
  • From my devotional book this morning: Leave outcomes up to me. Follow me wherever I lead, without worrying about how it will all turn out.
  • “I know it aches, and your heart it breaks, and you can only take so much. Walk on.” – U2, Walk On
  • Suffer well. Depending on your suffering, the temptation to bitterness and self-pity is always there. You will no doubt feel these at times, and if you do, don’t beat yourself up. But don’t stay in those places. Ask God to teach you to surrender and trust. One day you will be able to use your experience for the good of others.
  • Surround yourself with friends. Reach out to them. It’s not selfish to say you’re struggling. If you’re anything like me, you will tend to feel weak and a burden on others. That is mainly about fear of their rejection. You may also be too proud to ask for help, believing you should be able to handle these things yourself. Don’t be fooled.
  • You will go through a rollercoaster of emotions and you won’t be yourself a lot of the time, possibly for months. Again, depending on the nature of your suffering, your confidence and self-esteem will likely take a battering. That’s ok. Don’t worry about what your friends might think if you’re a bit different around them. You’re still you and they will still love you.

People are there. Rely on them. God is there. Trust in God as much as you are able. Hope is real. Our present sufferings are temporary.

What does maturity look like?

Understanding peopleI’ve just been reading a bit of Larry Crabb’s book, Understanding People, again. It’s a book I got in 1987 and it has made a huge impact on me.

The sections I read today discussed maturity and what that looks like. The fact is that much of what looks like maturity in people is actually a commitment to self-protection.

Here are some quotes from the book that have really struck and challenged me. The fact that I find a lot of these quotes so uncomfortable is a sure sign that they apply to me.

  • “Maturity is less related to perfection than to a growing awareness of imperfection, an awareness that…drives us toward dependency on Christ for anything good to come out of our lives.”
  • “A mature pattern of relating involves whatever actions represent the abandonment of self-protection. The defensively pushy person will become more gentle as he matures, while the self-protectively gracious person will assert himself more.”
  • “Mature people relate to others without self-protection as their controlling motive. They love. Their actions may be gentle or brusque, silly or serious, traditional or progressive, quiet or noisy, gracious or severe, tolerant or confrontative, but they will be patient, kind, not envious, humble, sensitive, other-centred, slow to anger, quickly forgiving, haters of wrong, lovers of right, protective, trusting, hoping, persevering.”
  • “[Mature people] relate to others on the basis of a trust in God to look after their deepest welfare that frees them to direct their energies toward helping others.”
  • “In [the presence of mature people], our growth seems more appealing to us than required of us.”
  • “As people learn to love, the internal structures that sustain their emotional and psychological ills are eroded.”
  • “When the Scriptures give no clear instruction to govern specific choices, then the principle is always to do what is loving.”
  • “The effect of dependence on God is freedom to take hold of our worlds and to deal responsibly with them without being controlled by a fear of the pain to which our obedience may lead. The effect of clinging to God is the freedom to love.”

Meditation on the mind

candle-335965_640For those of you who bought today’s Sunday Age, the article below appeared in the Faith column.

Something I should have said in the article was that meditation is not something I have done much of at all in the last couple of months. I let the busyness of life take over and then get out of the habit. What I need to do is take my own advice from this article!

Meditation and mindfulness have enjoyed a surge of popularity in recent years. In January, Time Magazine ran a cover story on the benefits of being still in our constantly wired culture. Soon afterwards, The Huffington Post said that 2014 would be the “year of mindful living.”

More and more people are tuning in to the benefits of taking time to be still in a world that is always on the go.

As a writer I find that creativity and inspiration come a lot easier when my mind is not racing. I need to make time for stillness and to block out the distractions of the day.
The Psalms in the Old Testament talk a lot about meditation. These were people who knew what it was to see themselves and their lives in perspective. Check out this from Psalm 8:

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars you set in place, what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?

This Psalm goes on to say that despite this, God has made us with the utmost dignity and respect. That’s another benefit of meditation. It helps us see ourselves rightly – made by a God who is infinitely greater than we are, but loved in equally infinite measure by that same God.

The Scriptures are full of examples of meditation. David, who wrote many of the Psalms, talks about being still; Jesus spent whole nights in prayer; and St Paul encourages us to “pray without ceasing” (prayer can also be a form of meditation).

Meditation can take many other forms too. Personally, I like to focus on my breathing; it helps me to block out the distractions in my mind and in the space around me. As a believer, I also like to repeat a favourite Scripture verse to myself. Alternatively, a meditation practitioner I know likes to say that meditation can be nothing more than sitting there doing nothing!

Research shows conclusively that people who meditate are more relaxed and energised in their relationships with the people around them. The latest scientific research affirms this, showing that the brain actually rewires itself the more we meditate.

Meditation never promises to make our lives better, but I have found that it does help me to deal better with life on life’s terms. Starting with just five minutes per day was all I needed.

More and more people are realising that a life of constant materialistic pursuit leaves us empty. I am slowly learning that meditating on a loving Power greater than me is the key to a life of contentment.

If the poor are always with us, why bother trying to alleviate poverty?

Sight Magazine just posted my recent piece on Jesus’ oft misunderstood words when the woman anointed him with perfume.

America the noisy

stress-CBT_1I am spending some time in the US this Australian summer. It’s my fourth time here. My first impressions this time are that, for most people, life is a daily battle to get everything done. It’s about making the bucks, working so hard that we no longer know what we’re working towards. No one seems to stop and smell the roses.

A culture that stops reflecting is a culture that doesn’t know where it’s going. This article is not a criticism of the US, because Australia, where I come from, is just the same. And even more so, I don’t spend enough time reflecting in my own life. But in this land where freedom and the individual pursuit of happiness is the guiding light that will lead us to the Promised Land, it seems to stand out more.

It has been said that we in the West have “noisy souls.” That is, we have so much going on in our brains that we are no longer able to take notice of the little things in life. We are so wired that we don’t know how to stop and notice the birds singing. Continue reading

Life won’t begin at your next milestone

Here’s a very wise article from Relevant magazine. I’ve been learning a lot in the last few months about living in the now. It’s about being mindful, being present. I have always struggled with what this article talks about. Real life is always in the future. If “_____” happens, all my problems will be sorted out. This has been my subtle belief about life. It reflects a restlessness, a dissatisfaction about the present. Richard Rohr talks a lot about this.

Someone said once that these are the good ol’ days. What he meant was that joy comes from living in the present, not in the past or future.

The wisdom of St Paul is pertinent here: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11-13).

How love transforms pain

transforming loveYesterday’s post looked at sitting with pain. It discussed the fact that in an analgesic society we have lost the ability to live life on life’s terms. So instead we do all we can to make ourselves feel better.

Having said what I did yesterday, I want to make clear that it is ok to make ourselves feel better at times, if it is in an appropriate way. Going to the footy or grabbing a chocolate bar is fine if it doesn’t take away from your growth as a person. Of course we need to be sensible about this. If you have an addiction to something, then obviously it is not healthy to indulge in that to make yourself feel better. That is the point I was making yesterday.

The best thing we can do however if we want to make ourselves feel better is to remind ourselves that we are loved beyond measure by the God of the universe. In his book, Inside Out, Larry Crabb says that when we are struck by the confusion of life, it is healthy to remind ourselves of God’s infinite love for us. That’s why being still and meditating on these truths is so beneficial, especially in our 24/7 culture that needs constant stimulation. Here is some of what Crabb says:

Cling to what you know is true. There is a God, He loves you, He sent His Son to die for your sins, He’s promised to never leave you, and one day He’ll return to make everything right. Remind yourself of these truths. In moments of soul-wrenching confusion [and I would add, pain], ponder the importance of these unchanging truths until they become burning realities in your soul.

Love is the most powerful transformative force in the universe. Surrendering all of our lives to God allows us to become more loving people, transformed more and more into the image of Christ. To become more loving is our ultimate goal in life. It is the highest reach for which the human person can attain. That’s why it’s so wonderful to remind ourselves of God’s incredible love for us.

Continue reading

Adding Power to Our Passion – 2

Fire smokeThis is the second part of the ‘Adding Power to Our Passion’ post. Read the first part here.

Often these words of life will not be easy to hear. Look at the words of life that Jesus spoke. They didn’t end up getting him very far in the popularity stakes. But they were words of life nonetheless.

For many people this will be a difficult thing to do, as we have been hurt at different times in our life. This is where we need to be sensitive to people, and sensitive to the Spirit leading us in our own lives. It is not loving to barge into someone’s life speaking truth but without love. That is just destructive. 

Continue reading

Adding Power to Our Passion – 1

eagle(Firstly, thanks and apologies to Midnight Oil for the title of this post. I thought up the title myself but I then realised that it is very much like the title of their 1980s hit, ‘The Power and the Passion.’)

Yesterday we asked what our passion is. For me it is something that has to provide ultimate meaning in my life and in the life of the world. I need to be a part of something that is contributing to a greater cause than me. But how do we do this in real life? The sentiments are fine, but how do we get the power to live out our deepest passions? As has been said by many people, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and fine resolve. How do we find where the rubber hits that road and we turn around and start walking the uphill journey to the life we are meant to live?

Human beings are flawed. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work that out. Our biggest problem in life is that we so often don’t live what we believe. We need to start living ‘as is.’ What I mean by that is that we need to start living by what we say we believe. If we believe that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life, then we need to live that out. Many people call this ‘acting as if,’ meaning to live as if it really is true that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. But as someone pointed out to me not long ago, it is really living ‘as is,’ not ‘as if.’ If Jesus really is true, we need to start living that truth – living it because it is true. We are not being true to who we really are if we don’t.

Continue reading

Richard Rohr on the art of letting go

Let Go Let GodHere is another brilliant piece from Richard Rohr. This one reminds me of what someone said once about Christian conversion being like an experience of coming home. For me it’s been about finding what you have been looking for all your life (sometimes without even realising you’ve been looking!).

It is good to remember that a part of you has always loved God. There is a part of you that has always said yes. There is a part of you that is Love itself, and that is what we must fall into. It is already there. Once you move your identity to that level of deep inner contentment, you will realize you are drawing upon a Life that is much larger than your own and from a deeper abundance. Once you learn this, why would you ever again settle for scarcity in your life? “I’m not enough! This is not enough! I do not have enough!” I am afraid this is the way culture trains you to think. It is a kind of learned helplessness. The Gospel message is just the opposite—inherent power.

Thomas Merton said the way we have structured our lives, we spend our whole life climbing up the ladder of supposed success, and when we get to the top of the ladder we realize it is leaning against the wrong wall—and there is nothing at the top. To get back to the place of inherent abundance, you have to let go of all of the false agendas, unreal goals, and passing self-images. It is all about letting go. The spiritual life is more about unlearning than learning, because the deepest you already knows (1 John 2:21).

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