Personal Culture: The Journeys to Improved Self and Life
I consider myself an adventure writer on the path of the Postmodern Cleric. I define “a cleric” as a person who pursues wisdom by adventuring with God, and sharing what he/she learns to help others. Writing is my way of sharing what I learn.
I know postmodern is a loading term these days, but I simply mean the pursuit of effective ways of living based on wisdom.
Wisdom is simply the ability to apply knowledge effectively.
When I look around me, I see tired people running as fast as they can in the hopes of catching a break. We’re all busy. It’s not a wise way to live and I think technology has been a blessing and a curse contributing to our inability to slow down because we don’t use it well. But technology is just one aspect of our modern lifestyle. We need to take a look at what I call our personal culture and decide if the life we’re living is the best it could be.
Lifestyle design is all the rage these days but I’m advocating something a little different with personal culture. In addition to working on the areas that create dissatisfaction, we need a changed perspective about our lives. We must view our lives as an adventure with God, and the problems we face as opportunities to learn and grow.
If you feel like you’re playing whack-a-mole with life’s emergencies just to survive the good news is that there’s a way through it. One deep problem can cause a multitude of symptoms which leaves us treating an endless list of issues. The opportunity here is to dive deep on a few crucial battles and actually correct several problems with the one effort.
I call them journey’s and here’s a list of my current journeys.
Lifestyle design does make sense, we used to all have the same definition of the American dream but we’ve had a mega-shift in the last thirty years (ending the industrial revolution) and we need a new map to success. We now need a more individual/personal definition of success. Hence the question, what do you really want your lifestyle to be like?
The big difference between lifestyle design, which is what most of the ‘Gurus’ out there are touting, and personal culture through journeys is that we are taking the journey from outside in–not living our lives outside in.
Inside out life is choosing our actions based on our unique identity and living the results. Outside in life is letting our circumstances dictate our actions. Anytime we look at how our life is and how we wish it were and then make a list of actions that we think will move us toward that lifestyle we’re living from outside in. Anytime we’re living outside in we’re reactive to the tyranny of a thousand urgent things that come up. There’s no way to focus hard enough on achieving an external goal without losing focus on something else that’s equally important to you.
Most people who achieved wild success in one area of life sacrificed another area. This is the group most of the gurus below too.
- Join us on the minimalist farm surrounded by friends, homeschooling our kids, growing healthy food (we won’t mention that we owe the IRS and can’t afford to take our kids to the doctor.)
- Learn how I made my first million before age 30, (nevermind my 3 divorces and 6 kids I never see.)
- Learn how my husband and I paid off all our debt including our house in ten years (it just gave me diabetes and my husband heart disease.)
There are people who seem to have it all, but they didn’t do it by picking 12 goals and pushing day and night on all of them. They did it by discovering the single, authentic thread that connects their passions–that grand adventure which produced results in multiple areas of life through effort mainly on it.
Journey–A mini-adventure to remove a constraint to the flow of good things from God through us to our unique audience. The Key here is that you’re doing it with God.
It’s going to seem like I’m completely reversing myself with this next part, but there’s a subtle yet important distinction between lifestyle design and taking journeys.
In order to discover our authentic path we need to take some journeys to explore some of the problems we notice in our life. So we are looking at the things in your life that you’re dissatisfied with and planning your pursuit of a solution.
I realize that I’ve been shouting from the rooftop not to use your circumstances to determine your actions and that’s true for how you live your life. What I’m saying is to prayerfully consider the areas of your life that aren’t reflecting the abundance God promised you and then sitting with God to ponder what the two of you are going to do about it.
When you take a journey it’s experiential learning. When you learned to ride a bike you learned how to avoid falling down. You also lost some of your fear of falling down. You can gain several lessons from a simple skill building exercise. So how much can you learn by having God mentor you through an effort to move cities, lose weight, change jobs, or write a book?
What’s important here isn’t whether or not you succeed at any of the goals, it’s what the journey reveals about your authentic self, how God wants to relate to you and learning to see yourself through his eyes. A single journey could take years. Expect to fail several times along the way because any journey worth taking will reveal the deep issues holding you back.
Consider this: Every smoker has been told that cigarettes harm your body. They choose to smoke despite believing that it’s not good for them. If you loved yourself perfectly would you tolerate a habit that harms you? If you quit smoking do you think it might uncover a place in you where you don’t really love yourself?
I’m not trying to pick on smokers here. We all have self-destructive habits. Mine is unhealthy eating. At this point it’s not even about being physically fit anymore, I’m just angry that there’s someplace in my soul I hold God out of because if I let him in, his love would heal it. Why can’t I receive that healing? I don’t know yet, but I’m on a journey to find out.
The disease is always not receiving God’s love and accepting who he says we are. We’ve been masking the symptoms (or living with them), our whole lives. It’s time to pressure the symptoms until our flesh cries out at the place of brokenness.
We aren’t just looking for heart wounds when we journey. It can also reveal our adventure or our battle. It can repair our understanding of relationships with other people. It can reveal our true life’s calling. All these things come when we address the issues in our lives in relationship with God, instead of trying to fix the problems ourselves.
4 Types of Journey
Heal a Wound:
In his groundbreaking book, “Wild at Heart” John Eldredge covers this topic far better than I can hope to reproduce. This is the single toughest topic for men to take on and it requires a level of vulnerability with yourself and God that is foreign to all but the most courageous of men.
In short, the words and actions of those we look up to as we’re growing up can place a mark on how we see ourselves, other human beings and God. Unless or until this shattering is healed a man walks through life broken hearted and unable to receive the full abundance God designed for him.
Again from the book, “Wild at Heart,” there is always a lie that accompanies a wound. We get the wrong idea about the critical things in life. The message of the wound is that you, personally are unacceptable. It may be more subtle, like “you are a mistake,” “screw-up,” “a failure,” and so on, but it all adds up to be something we hate to hear and embrace. Some men live to prove that lie is false and others surrender to it, but either way, it becomes the defining reality that you accept about yourself.
The reality is that in Christ we are acceptable. When being justified and restored to relationship with God becomes the defining thing in our lives we can accept God’s larger-than-life opinion of who we are. We can walk forward with a whole heart. Even if you accept that this is true, it can take a journey to make this truth a part of your DNA.
Battle for Freedom: (from addiction/etc.)
When wounds aren’t healed for a long time they become encased in scar tissue. We’ll call it the flesh. We achieve a state that’s no longer bleeding but not yet repaired. We treat the pain of wounded place by not looking at it, ever, under any circumstances. The pain of the wound continues and we’ll do anything to treat the pain–short of healing the wound.
It leads to chemical addiction, eating disorders, porn addictions, rage fits, and so on. Battling something in your life that you’ve learned to live with can expose a deep wound but it also creates lasting victory. When you dry out a drunk using a process like alcoholics anonymous you get someone who’s potentially less destructive to themselves and their world but still an alcoholic. They often relapse repeatedly or exchange one addiction for another. If you journey to the source of the addiction you can have a lasting victory.
Clarify your Identity/Relationship with God:
There’s something unique about every single human being. It’s the goal of your enemy to convince you that what sets you apart is actually what makes you a freak and unable to have deep relationships with others and God. It takes vulnerability to be in a relationship and if you see your superpowers and mutations you’ll pull back from offering your uniqueness to others. You’re left feeling rejected for the very things only you can contribute to the community around you.
We must take our identity from who God says we are because we’re built in his image. That means cultivating a trust in him because he’s going to have a vision of you that’s more glorious that we’re ready to accept. It takes a journey to remove the color-distorting glasses we’ve worn our whole lives and stand unapologetically in our full magnitude.