This year has really been AWFUL. There is no other way to put it. So, I think now is the right time to start a gratitude journal or I am at risk of becoming the world’s grumpiest spiritual person. You know, I was thinking back to the days when I was very involved in fundamental Christianity and these types of years just didn’t happen. It could be because the economy was better, I wasn’t a single parent, I had family around me, and I was involved in my church and religious beliefs. But, the more I think about it, I think there is one thing in Christianity that really helps people who are dealing with very sour years: their belief that God is testing them and so all their trials will make them better people. I know it sounds weird, but how can you look at things in a bad light when God is the one sending them to you?
The Christian View Of Trials
I actually read a very good book, in the Christian vein, that exemplifies this teaching, which is enormously important. It is called: “Turning Your Stess Into Strength” by Robert H. Schuler. He talks about how very devoted Christians had terrible things happen to them (far worse that what I am experiencing this year) and they managed to turn these awful things into a very strong faith in God. It didn’t solve any of their problems, it just made them cultivate the inner quality of strength in difficult times. I could use some of that right about now.
Some people may bristle at the fact that I actually encourage fundamental Christian beliefs – if they work for you and they are not producing animosity through intolerance in your life. This is the tradition I grew up in, and I have to say it is a highly spiritual path. I know that we eventually outgrow many of the teachings, but the core beliefs are very helpful to furthering a deeper connection with Spirit. Some people who find devotion in Buddhism may want to say that this is “the right way” and the others are not. It really depends on what works for you, I think. We’re all such different people. Personally, Christianity always worked for me, and I still go back to it when I feel I need some more instruction on core spiritual methods that work for me. I find that having this background doesn’t keep me from appreciating other spiritual traditions too.
How Can I Take A Christian Teaching And Use It Now?
The problem I have with the Christian teaching now, of course, is that I don’t believe that God sends us trials. That’s a pretty big obstacle to me if I want to now give Him the credit or the blame for the entire situation. I believe we create our own reality through our Inner Divinity, some people call it the Christ Presence Within, and others like Buddhists would refer to it as “basic goodness.” It’s still the same thing, I think, just different names. My view is that we are not separate from God, therefore there is no outside Presence forcing anything on us. We create it, for better or for worse, it’s all Ours. At any rate, if God doesn’t get the blame or the credit, that teaching of giving God the glory in times of stress to deepen your faith in God kind of falls flat. Oops. And, if I create it, I could assign myself blame, but that’s always proven to be a good way to create more trash in my life.
So, I do know one thing: We use our beliefs to create our reality. If I can go back to believing that Christian ideal of God sending us trials, I’d have it made. My life would be better, no doubt about it – which is why I say use what works best for you, even if it is a fundamental Christian belief. It’s just a belief, it doesn’t make the concept so, but it will be reflected in your outer reality regardless. So, why not? My issue is that I have to revamp my entire reality to fit that belief in now, unless I can get at the core teaching. It sure took me a long time to figure it out.
My Gratitude Journal
What happens when we believe that God sends us trials because he is trying to strengthen our faith or use us in His great plan? We start to focus on trying to appreciate these trials instead of fighting them. We stop blaming God or ourselves and we start to look for the positive in the situation. In fact, you will hear Christians suggest that they feel blessed to be of “use” to God in the manner of suffering. I had a little bit of dilemma with Victor Frankl’s position that man must have meaning in their life and one of the three ways to get it is suffering. Actually, I don’t think it’s meaning nor suffering that ends up finally motivating someone to continue and create a better life, I think it’s actually appreciation. That’s the core teaching under all that. Learning to appreciate things for what they are is how one can keep from creating more obstacles, especially when your energy shows tremendous force in this area, like mine.
So, what do I have to lose? I started a gratitude journal and I am seeing there are many things to appreciate in my current situation. Are you having a difficult year? Add your appreciation for something simple in this time period to help you shift out of those energies. I’ll start:
I’m grateful that I can share with so many different people on the Internet.
I’m grateful for the cup of Earl Grey Cream tea I had this morning.
I’m grateful that I have friends who care.