This Season Plan (Spring 2018)

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(Note: for more about This Season Plans, including how I produce them and why see the explanation at this link. )

This Season Spring 2018 Plan:

New Season Spring 2018

May 2018

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”— Isaiah 43:16, 18-19 (NIV)

Current Situation:

I’m fearing that I’ll arrive at the end of the summer in the exact situation I’ve been in for the last two years. I don’t see the chess pieces God is moving to back my desire to monetize my calling. My wife and I have a secret adventure planned for this fall and I don’t feel progress toward it.

Seasons Recap:

2012 God clarified my glory: bringing life to dry bones. 2013 God simplified my life through shameless humbling/shaking the agreements from me, like my craving/fearing my heart’s desire to be recognized for my talent. 2014 God reframed my understanding of risk and hardship. I needed to embrace that God was pushing me out of comfort to explore shameless humility: my deep water. 2015 God showed me that finding my deep water (what I pull up short of doing) was the key to finding my calling and that my resistance to that indicated disparity between my flesh and the new man. 2016 I spent trying to apply “The secret to abiding in Christ as a cleric”–living in dependency and wonder (I worship what I fear), externalized obligations (in the light), and imagination (my unique gift). 2017 God refined the topic of applying my calling to helping others and earning a living, then He began healing my boldness. 2018 God lead me to find focus (single purpose) on my calling/mission/message etc. He also healed my fear of public humiliation, pushed me to launch unprepared, and declare my desires as His plan for me.

Bringing it all Together:

If I boldly believed my current project is going to be successful, I would rise early and work on it before anything else. I would do anything I needed to get rest each night and I’d approach my day rested in the knowledge that I can do all things in Christ. I’d stop believing that I need to figure out how to make the project successful and remember that only God knows the outcome He wants for it. I should just finish it!

Daily Battle:

  1. Choose the light side of the paradox.
    I trust God to catch me if I fall and would rather die serving my purpose than live a slave to fear.
  2. Declare who God says I am.
    I’m an adventure writer pursuing wisdom as I adventure. I believe Jesus came that we would have life abundant. My mission is to wake the walking dead Christians who waste the gift of life trying to be safe.
  3. List 3 – 5 things I can do, even if I can’t see how they’ll fix things.
    Skip all TV, bed by 8:30 pm & up by 4:30 am, be intentional about everything I do (eat or say).

Who is God being for me this season? I’m built in his image, what part of His Glory is He restoring in me this season? If I reimagine my circumstances as part of a redemptive plan, what’s God trying to accomplish with them? Is there a theme to it all? What gift or superpower would result from me being healed?

God wants to restore in me his image as a Providor and Giver of Good Gifts.

The New Season:

A) Looking at the crossroads of my answers above, what do I feel God is saying right now about this season?

He wants me to stay the course. He wants to show me that I’m doing more than I think and He can be trusted to come through at the appropriate time.

B) What outliers did I think of during this process? What things did God speak to that I wanted to ignore because I couldn’t see where they fit in?

God wants me to work on receiving supernatural rest, physical health and fitness, & cleaning up unfinished projects so I’m ready to move when things change.

The Daily Battle

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Appendix C: Bonus Material!

Welcome to the fight!

This picture above is very different than anything else in the book “Primacy of God” or on my website. My target market is men and I don’t include many pictures of women unless they’re in the background somewhere. But this woman and this rose are a perfect metaphor for our daily struggle. We are surrounded by desolation. It’s a rough world. We need to find the one beautiful thing, like this girl did, and focus on it. Be thankful for it.

Graham Cooke says, for every problem, there is a promise from God. With every promise, there is a provision and for every provision, there is a pearl. God doesn’t allow anything near us that wouldn’t benefit us, or grow us in some way. He is expert at redeeming the trials and wounds in our lives. He engineers circumstances that we pray to get out of because getting through them with Him instead is the only way we can become who we need to be to inherit the next blessing.

 

Abiding & readiness for the fight

We need 4 factors–Humility, Rest, Thankfulness & our Unique Identity.

  • Humility – To see clearly that God is up to something (blind faith works too.)
  • Rest – The enemy has no patients, its a characteristic of God. We can become relentless in Christ and wear down any circumstances through our standing in Christ.
  • Thankfulness – This should happen naturally but its a good practice. It’s the key to entering His presence which unlocks the gift associated with the provision.
  • Unique Identity – Look out for book 2 – Adventure to Identity

How do we fight our Daily Battle?

The key to fighting this battle to stay in a positive place, learning from God’s flow of provision and abundance is surrendering it all to Christ. I look forward to going into greater detail in book 2 but for now, here’s a great exercise from Sam Williamson.

There is no negative in God. Any time we run across shame, or fear, etc. imaging Christ on the Cross as he suffered for you. Ask him if he died for that specific thing. When he reassures you, let your thankfulness led to praise.

The Daily Battle

PS: The Daily Battle is when we surrender every negative to God.

 

 

The 1st Battle to Fight

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Appendix B: Bonus Material!

Welcome to the fight!

You most likely landed on this essay after reading the e-book, “The Primacy of God.” Or you may have simply stumbled onto it from my website. Either way, welcome to the fight. Everything you’ll encounter in the Cleric Path makes you what John Elderedge calls, “dangerous for good.” i.e. you know too much.

Don’t be frightened. God is with you. But it’s only fair to warn you.

Tactic: You enemy likes to lurk in the shadows until someone shines a spotlight on him. When he can’t pretend he doesn’t exist anymore he’ll try for intimidation and then try to get you to make an agreement so he’ll back off.

He’s a lier. He won’t stop messing with you, but don’t worry. Operate from a place of rest. Graham Cooke has some awesome teachings on rest. If you read five experts on spiritual warfare you’ll get five different opinions on spiritual warfare. It’s not a scripted fight.

BTW: Beware of relying on experience and stick to what the Scriptures say.

I don’t want to spend a lot of time on it, not because it’s not real, but because you don’t actually win by focusing on it to the exclusion of anything else God is trying to do in your life.

BTW: Know this, the enemy’s goal is to isolate you–from God and from your intimate allies.

That’s why shame is such an effective weapon. It’s very isolating. He’ll also use distraction, diminishment, disqualification, and depression.

Tactic: The enemy likes to tempt you, then when you fail he turns back and accuses you.

There’s a lot to this and I encourage you to seek out help from others if you feel oppressed or attacked, but I do want to cover only one aspect that I’m qualified to speak to. Then honestly, go seek more on the topic as you need.

One Final Note:

Before we begin, I want to point out one last thing on the topic of Spiritual Warfare. I personally believe that Heaven is a spiritual place, as opposed to the soul or body realms. We don’t see demons walking around in the flesh (just people who are clearly under oppression). We get scriptural references to the enemy visiting Heaven to argue over Job, and clearly, he pulled something physical off with a snake in the Garden of Eden, but when the enemy and his forces were cast out of Heaven I think they’re essentially stuck in the realm of the soul.

When I saw the “First Battle” I’m not talking about chronologically, I’m talking the first in order of flow. God’s love/glory/abundance flows into us through our place in Christ, transforms us, and then shines from us into the world. The first battle is at our place of connection to God. If we choose to take on that fight, the rest of them are much easier to fight.

The First Battle!

When Adam and Eve fell it’s called original sin, but it’s actually not. John Elderedge points out the lie, we didn’t author sin. That’s how tricky the enemy is.

“Sin is anything that separates us from God.” Mike Galeiotti

The fall created a rift. We were children who doubted the heart of God toward us. Adam and Eve’s first instinct was to cover their inadequacy with fig leaves and we’ve pretty much been doing that since. We sense, without having to be told, that we are in over our heads and we do our best to work it out on our own. But we’re not on our own!

God fixed the problem. Before Christ, they needed to believe that God would fix it and we must now believe that God did. We must take it personally. Our first battle is against anything that creates separation. Our first battle is with our own fig leaves and the wounds that inspire them.

In order for us to have a void in our experience of God’s abundance, we need to cooperate with the rock in the stream. We give permission somehow. We seed our authority in our own lives to something other than God. Often its when we worship our own intelligence, but generally its something that happened in our youth that the accusor convinces us to own.

To quote from Goodwill Hunting, “It’s not your fault.”

Even if, like me, you chose to do the terrible thing, it’s atoned for. We need restoration, the very thing that happens in a Christian’s life if they don’t hold it at bay.

Three Parts to Every Human:

When you become spiritually alive again, the Spirit of God communes with your new Spirit–in your heart (your most holy place). The Bible describes your body as a temple. That means your soul is the Holy place and your Heart is the Most Holy Place.

When Christ died the curtain between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place was torn from top to bottom. This symbolizes the flesh being circumcised from your heart. IF we allow that healing God will flow freely out through your life. But we must journey with God to restore our understanding of who He is, how He sees us, and what His restored image looks like in us.

The First Battle is to Trust God’s Heart for you.

Now Read…The Daily Battle

 

 

 

Personal Culture vs Lifestyle Design

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Lifestyle Design gets a lot of attention these days, and it deserves a closer look. At long last, folks are attempting to put things like success, happiness, and wealth into personalized perspective. They are asking the postmodern question, “if I pursue what everyone says is the American Dream, will that bring ME satisfaction?”

I wrote on a related topic in my post on stoic reality. The gist is that we do need personal definitions but we also need to realize that reality doesn’t care about your definition. Sometimes the things that are difficult in the short run bring more life in the long run. Sometimes we need to lean into discomfort, or even pain, in order to pursue more LIFE. Sometimes we need to risk personal disaster in order to live in line with our values.

The famous quote from William Wallace’s character in the movie Brave Heart comes to mind. “Everyone dies, few men ever really live.”

So, I advocate something I call Personal Culture. It requires you to create your personal definitions, but then test it against your values. The trick here is that most of us don’t really think through our values. It takes an intentionality that isn’t possible in the typical busy American schedule.

The Average American Life

(Note: I use the term American a lot before things I’m criticizing. I’m not bagging on the U.S. I love America. Out of all the ways we do government and culture, America has figured out the best over-all way. Since I myself, and most of my audience, live in America I’m using it to indicate typical way most of us live. )

The two biggest challenges facing most of us are fear and shame. I plan to write on these at greater length, but my mentor, Sam Williamson covered shame far more brilliantly than I can.

The thing that makes fear and shame so terrible isn’t the temporary grip on our emotions, it’s that they take hold deep in our identity and become a guiding force in our decision-making.

If we don’t live from God, we live from fear or shame…or both.

Guilt vs Shame

As I mentioned above, unless we heal the wound in our ability to trust God we won’t be able to slow our pace enough to develop an effective personal culture.  Guilt is a soul level issue that can motivate us to make changes, but shame is at the level of our heart.

Guilt says, “I did something bad,” where shame says, “I am bad.” –Chris Skaggs

They require different weapons to combat. If you have debilitating guilt talking actually does help. Talking with a counselor can identify shame, even create ‘understanding’ of it, but it cannot heal it. That takes God.

Sam’s post will describe how to heal shame, permanently.

Cleric Path

A major factor in walking the Cleric Path is living inside out, authentically, in line with your values. As the 1st book in the series, The Primacy of God, points out; abundance flows from God, through us/changing us, then out to other people. We must subordinate our lives to God or we are relegated to a life on the hamster wheel–trying to outrun our problems and succeed in our own strength.

When Christ said he came that we may have life abundant, I believe him (John 10:10).

Very few people I know, Christian or not, live a truly abundant life–including me. The Cleric Path is my journey to receive abundance. The vision is a bullet-proof Tarzan, who could manage a kingdom or lose everything and still function in my purpose. I want to be responsive to what Micheal Q Pink calls Spontaneous Wealth–those flashes of epiphany that seem to almost accomplish themselves which we commonly ignore for lack of time.

What’s the Differences?

The key differences between lifestyle design and personal culture are the direction of flow and the source of the answers.

  1. Clearly, I’m going to advocate for God as a solution, but hear me out. The secular answer to shame, for example, is to be self-compassionate, improve self-esteem, think positive, or recast our stories, etc. Basically, try harder/run faster on that hampster wheel. Which leads to more failure and more guilt. We must have a source outside ourselves to defeat something bigger than ourselves and believe me, our problems are larger than us.
  2. Instead of living outside in, where your actions arise from a desire to create a desirable environment, we must live from inside out. Want to stop playing whack-a-mole with your problems? Stop reacting to urgent crap and let your actions arise from who you really are.

 

Personal Culture (see also this post)

 

An effective Personal Culture has three elements:

  • Mythic Reality Vision
  • Intentional Pacing
  • Authentic Actions & Rebounds

Mythic Reality Vision

We need to get a bigger perspective. When we worship our own intellect we tend to blind ourselves to things that are beyond the scope of our influence. The result is we live in a smaller story where the right thing to do is everything you can do to improve your existence. Sure we want to help people but what can one person really do, right?

Well, we lack the perspective to effectively make decisions in our lives. Only by seeing ourselves in the context of the story God is living, can we begin to glimpse the factors beyond our immediate circle of influence. On your most triumphant day at work, the most truly important thing you did all day, in God’s eyes, was smile at your barista.

While we’ll never be able to predict the unintended consequences of our actions, positive or negative, we can view life through a larger lens by consulting God about every situation.

Intentional Pacing

If we can learn to trust God we can move at a slower, more deliberate pace. You actually get more stuff done. How? Well, when your actions arise from your authentic identity you feel more satisfied. You spend less time on urgent things that turn out to be meaningless (although sometimes you’ll swear its the opposite). You also gain a secret blessing called multiplication.

While the world is telling you to multitask (split your focus and do several things at once) God’s answer is to bless you with manifold outcomes to your single efforts. God is the original two birds with one stone guy. He has given his people crops they didn’t plant, and victories over armies without lifting a finger. He will bless you manifold if you do everything you do with Him.

Authentic Actions (Journeys & Rebounds)

Living outside-in is when you try to change your circumstances. You’re always reacting to your circumstances because that’s how you know what to do next.

Living inside-out means letting your actions arise from who you are and then living with the consequences. You actually end up living above our circumstances.

For example, God is always abundantly giving to you. If you lose your job you could drop everything and seek a new job to replace the income. Or, you could ask God what He’s up to. Are you now poor because you don’t have an income? Or are you now rich in time to work on things?

God does understand that you need to provide for your family, but if you live from the assumption that God has your back you gain the ability to look around for God’s blessing in the hardship. You are free from the myopic and self-limiting belief that without money you can do nothing.

I’m not actually advocating that you throw your hands in the air and take whatever life hands you. We are given stewardship over our bodies and our kingdoms, which means we are authorized to manage these things. In fact, Jesus told an entire parable about a rich man leaving talents with his three servants. It didn’t go well with the servant who buried his talent. His reason, BTW, was that he feared his Master and couldn’t risk losing it. If God gives you a hammer find a nail and start swinging–it doesn’t go well for that third servant.

So here are two Godly ways to pursue God’s abundance in your sphere of authority: Journeys & Rebounds.

Journeys:

Journeys – a mini-adventure to remove a constraint to the flow of good things from God through us to our unique audience.

If you want to improve your physical fitness, financial outlook, or organize your environment better you can take on what I call a journey.

A journey looks a lot like the sort of secular mission-driven effort to fix our lives through our own strength but there are a couple key differences.

  1. You take a journey with God and as a result, it should draw you into a more intimate relationship with your Father.
  2. While you are trying to accomplish the goal of the journey (changed situation) your goal is to reveal constraints (wounds) that impede the flow of abundance through you.

About Journey Plans

For more on Journeys see this post.

Rebounds:

Rebounds are habits we undertake to make incremental improvements. Where a journey is more like a project to lose 15 lbs by efforts x, y, & z, a rebound is an attempt to replace certain bad habits with beneficial ones.

The goal, again, is to bring you closer to God.

Examples of rebounds:

  • Prayer before meals
  • doing 5 pushups on the counter before you brush your teeth
  • keeping a gratitude journal
  • parking further from the door so you get more walking in

And so on. The idea is to replenish you by doing things that make you more aware of God, more aware of your decisions, and to increase the bring more heart satisfaction.

More on Rebounds coming in a separate post…(Link?)

 

Abundance Mindset

 

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What if these were truffles?

 

Among the biggest constraints in experiencing the abundance of God in our lives is a scarcity mindset. It’s rooted in fear, specifically fear of failure. So many worthwhile things in our lives would never be attempted if we believe that we must have proof of something as an ingredient to even try.

I know how obvious all this seems when someone says it, but when we stand in a situation we find ourselves doing it over and over. Take falling in love for example. I many terrible experiences in my pursuit of finding the right person to share my life with. Even when I found her, we broke up repeatedly, like it was a hobby, for months because we were both so gunshy about letting ourselves feel what we felt.

The reality is, that you can never know someone loves you. If you entertain the idea that they don’t you’ll see all sorts of “proof” that they don’t. It’s a fallen world and even when we’re passionately in love with someone we’ll say the wrong thing or act selfishly. There is always a reason to believe someone doesn’t love you. But if you put that aside, you start remembering times when your spouse showed that they love you and put your needs first. Then you start seeing the subtle things about what they’re doing in the present. Life starts getting better.

There is a vital connection between needing faith to receive love and needing faith to receive abundance. If we’re loved by an all-powerful God who’d do anything for us, including let his only son pay our tab, then why are we concerned about failure?

Because in this world we’ll have so much “proof” that God doesn’t love us. It takes faith to believe it, and once you do believe it you’ll see proof. If you don’t have faith, you’ll never see proof.

In reality, we revolved on a scale of believing/receiving love and abundance. It might be a theme, but most of the time we’re somewhere in transition on the topic. Or, maybe we’re receiving it in one area and not another.

An abundance mindset is about intentionally connecting your acceptance of love to your receiving of good things from God. That way you’re prepared for the cool, spontaneous wealth blessings that God is giving out in situations. You’ll anticipate them. You’ll be in a “bad” spot and catch yourself wondering what awesome thing God is going to do about it.

Here’s an example: fear of failure. As discussed in the experiential learning post, we need to draw lessons from the classroom of life. We learn some of life’s biggest lessons when we completely blow it. If you’re not failing you’re probably not learning. If you’re gripped by fear of failing, you’re probably not even trying to learn.

The Path of the Cleric is about letting God transform you into his image (2 Cor. 3:18) by beholding the one whose image you are designed in. It’s a learning process and God’s opinion of your mistakes…well, let loose your imagination. Remember that you’re adored by a loving God who is actively trying to bless you. Rember that He’s perfect and no matter how successful you are it won’t actually measure up to perfect. Remember that all good things come from God, we’ve never authored anything truly good without Him handing it to us.

If perfection is too hard to picture here, think of your own experience from the place of faith not fear. When is the last time you saw a parent get bitter and angry because their baby pooped it’s diaper? When is the last time you saw a good parent spank their toddler for falling down while learning to walk? It doesn’t actually jive with our experiences, yet in the heat of the moment our mindset will take a bad bump and entertain the idea that God is distant and angry because our circumstances aren’t obviously good right now, or we didn’t get the results we expected from our efforts.

There’s a lot to actually cultivating the mindset of abundance but this post is merely a statement that having an abundance mindset approach is a core concept of everything we’re trying to do on this website to receive a more fulfilled life from Christ.

Here’s a place to start though: Next time you encounter anxiety, look at the circumstances bringing it about. Write yourself a quick note so you’ll explore it with God. Does that situation often bring about feeling inadequate? Is there a place God wants to unlock healing in your heart. Maybe God wants to equip you with a bit of knowledge. Maybe God wants to demonstrate his power in your life.

One of my mentors, Graham Cooke, often says, “Ask what if…” as in what if I’m not really afraid of being embarrassed? What if I don’t blow this interview? What if person x doesn’t hate me?

Try it out.

Stoic Reality

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Some criticisms of postmodernism are legitimate. I’ve said before that I’m using a narrow definition of the term postmodern. I’m interested in using the part of modern life and technology that have merit and improve life, while also searching out what worked in earlier times that’s been discarded simply because we have a new way to try. In short, Postmodernism (PM) to me is about searching for what works instead of what everyone else is doing.

One thing that’s missing from the postmodern approach is stoicism. Unlike most discarded things from earlier times, we didn’t just move on to a new way and never ask if it actually improves anything. No, stoicism, as I’m going to define it, actually runs directly opposite to the postmodern concept. Because a stoic is a person who keeps doing something even when it’s tough because, despite all indicators, its better than simply going with the flow.

Short Explanation/Description:

One of my mentors is a stoic with postmodern tendencies. I’m a PM with a secret stoic side.

If we came upon a man slamming his face into a walk I’d rightly say that this man lacks the creativity to think of a better way, or he is afraid to try something different so he just keeps trying the same thing hoping for a better result.

If we came upon a maze my mentor would rightly say that if we randomly turn right and left we could be lost forever, but if we pick a wall (right or left) and keep following it we’ll eventually reach an exit.

Conclusion–like so many things, stoicism and postmodernism are paradoxical.

There are two major points to Stoic Reality:

  1. Life’s hard, you must do it anyway, knowing that somehow makes it a little easier.
  2. You can’t predict the outcomes of your actions so you can’t let desired outcomes guide your actions.

Point one can be summed up as embrace the suck. Life will require risk (emotional/financial/physical) and no one gets out of it alive. Find a passion (something worth suffering for) to keep you going and then grind. Anyone who loves camping has learned that if you accept cold/wet nights, mosquitos, hard ground, scrapes etc. it’s actually a lot of fun.

Point two is a doozy. Our culture is based on setting goals and trying to achieve them. Postmodernism relies heavily on lifestyle design because it rightly points out that earning money just to keep score and win an imaginary game of life is exhausting and superficial. I’m a fan of lifestyle design but I can’t ignore the fact that we don’t really know which actions will result in the life we want.

You can take acting classes and audition every day and still never get a part. I understand that this is a “choose yourself” era. We can focus on a career path that makes our own efforts the key factor of success rather than some industry gatekeeper. But still, I can write/publish/market a book, but I can’t make anyone buy it (much less the thousands needed to turn it into a success).

Conclusion–It’s good to look around once in a while to see if you keep getting the same results. Is fear of trying something outside the box causing you to make the same actions over and over, hoping for a different result?

It’s also good to weed out personal agreements that hold you back. Things like, “pain is bad,” “risk is bad,” “I am what I do or have,” “if I only had X I could be who I am meant to be,” “good things are easy and come to you if you want it bad enough,” “Love always feels good,” “I’m unworthy to receive my hearts desire,” “if there’s a price to pay…” and so on.

How do we stand in the paradox of stoic reality and postmodern philosophy? Live from inside out. Look at your outcomes as an indicator of your fidelity to the reflection of God in you. If you’re miserable then you’re probably not being authentic. Chances are good that God is prompting you to do something your fear. It requires faith that he will bring about a good result, even though you secretly know what you hope that result will be. Sometimes God is not bringing a physical blessing, he’s enlightening your character to be more like himself.

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Experiential Learning

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As I’ve mentioned before my superpower is smashing things together and finding the awesome new things amongst the wreckage. I call it x-roads (crossroads). I don’t need to dig that deep for this post because the items are very closely related.

Experiential Learning has been a concept for a while, and it’s a big theme for those following the Path of the Postmodern Cleric. Let’s define and expand the concept here.

Defined

For decades some employers and teachers have believed in the informal concept of “hands-on” learning. Aristotle introduced the idea that somethings must be learned that way. Kolb now has a formal theory of experiential learning.

As opposed to rote or didactic, the process of discovery makes learning more fun and more likely to stick.

Another advantage is that you might learn something unintended, but more valuable, and it might be something nearly impossible to describe to someone.

Another advantage is that most of us need to learn concepts that we may be resistant to. A teacher can’t force you to grasp a concept if its opposite to your beliefs, but when you go through a process that brings you to that conclusion you don’t need to be convinced.

For more details I recommend two resources, both sadly written by men who’ve past away. One is “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch and the other is a weekend course by Brian Klemmer and Associates.

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Step 2 of the process is unpacking the lesson in the experience.

We need to set in a quiet place with God and look for his purpose in it. It helps to think in the context of a relationship. Often the lesson is about who God is or how he sees you. Exploring that relationship will open doors to feel more peace, and unlock greater learning as you move forward.

Bonus Material:

The sooner you can teach what you’ve learned to someone else the more likely you are to retain it.

Time invested in learning how you learn, aside from experiences, will also pay dividends. Which of your senses best imparts knowledge to you? Eyes? Ears? Are you better with facts and figures or do you need to know why you should learn it before your brain will attempt to grasp it?