We want to move forwards but somehow we shy away from it or we struggle to it. The more fearful we get the harder it becomes to do what we are supposed to do. This could come out as procrastination so we avoid doing it. Or if we do make a start the fear of doing it makes it so much harder to do it. It is as agile fingers become fumble fingers or an active clear mind become sluggish and foggy.
Do we need more courage?
This was the first area that I looked at on this journey. Someone sent me a link to a video of a Ted Talk by Brene Brown. Their comment was was that she was not talking about the Bible but what she was saying seemed so much in line with it they were amazed.
Brene is a social scientist and what she wanted to know in her research was why do people feel shame. She was surprised at what she found i.e. people who had loads of affirmation as children were less likely to feel ashamed of who they were. She described courage as the strength of heart that enabled people to step out and be themselves.
Remember we say things like I believe with all my heart that. When you hear that it makes sense to say that our heart is associated with the things we believe. The word courage comes from the word heart. Well that makes sense when you think of the French word for heart i.e. coeur.
Our heart is strengthened by hearing people say good or positive things about us. Some people call this unconditional love. Others, especially professionals, call it unconditional positive regard as professionals cannot be thought to love those they work with.
Courage is about being strong enough to do things even though you are afraid. It is a case of feel the fear but do it anyway. So if like me you have been stuck in a place and every time you have tried to go forwards you have either procrastinated or developed fumble fingers it could be because you have not have the strength of heart or courage to go forwards.
Do we need to grow our human spirit?
Thinking about that idea of courage it sounds normal and human. So what is this idea of having a human spirit all about? The biblical understanding is that human beings have a spirit that enters their body before they are born. It is that spirit that leaves its earth suit behind and either goes to heaven or hell depending on the choices that the whole human being made while all the pieces were together on earth.
Our human spirit is what connects us to God. I think of it being asleep until we connected to God and it was only then that it wakes up. There is a difference between being dead and asleep. It is not always easy to tell the difference but there is a difference. If someone is asleep then they can wake up.
The thing is when someone is asleep God can still communicate with them. Well, think of all the dreams we hear of in the Christmas story. Joseph had a dream or two then there were the magi who changed their plans after a dream. Joseph you might expect given his relationship with God but the magi? God needed to communicate with them and did so even though they were asleep.
Once we have been adopted as a child of God our spirit can wake up and receive communication from God more easily. We still need to recognise His voice but it is a lot easier to hear Him.
While pondering this something struck me. God needs to be able to organise those outside His family so that He can help His own people. I mean simple things like I was expecting a delivery and wanted it to arrive sooner rather than later. The text said that it would come between 2-30 pm and 5-30 pm. It actually arrived at 2-15 pm. To make this happen for me God had to be able to organise a number of people and situations. I would be surprised if all of those people were in His family. How do you organise people unless you are able to communicate with them?
Now we have considered what this human spirit is and what it does we need to think about what part it plays in getting us to do what we believe God wants us to do. If it is the part of us that is in direct communication with God then it will be the part that will be more in line with what he wants. It is as simple as realising that second hand communication is rarely if ever as good as first hand.
The thing is that while our human spirit was asleep another part of us took control i.e. our soul. If we want to do things God’s way we need to make sure that our human spirit is in control. Thereby hangs the story our soul does not always want to step down and let our human spirit take control. When our soul is in control it is harder to do what God wants us to do. When our human spirit is in control it is harder for us to do what soul encourages us to do.
I must admit it is easier to do things when I have made an effort to build up my human spirit. Jude talks about certain types of prayer building us up from the inside. I have always understood this to mean strengthening my human spirit. When I do that it can become a lot easier to do something that I once struggled to do.
Is it either or or both?
The idea of building courage by positive affirmation is one of those biblical principles that has caught on outside the Christian community. Hardly surprising as it works and to be honest it does not seem to be anything to do with Christianity.
The idea of building your human spirit using prayer is something that seems to be specifically for the religious community. This is especially true in that it is those who use a type of prayer that not all Christians are familiar with, or even accept as good practice, who know from experience that this type of prayer has this sort of effect on them.
One thing I wonder is that when you use that type of prayer is it easier for God to communicate to our spirit that he has unconditional positive regard for us. In other words, does it actually make it possible for us to hear the Father’s love song, a song that strengthens us to face all kinds of challenges?
We all need help to stand up straight in the face some kinds of challenges. There are some things that I find hard and have a habit of cowering away from. I don’t have many people around me who could provide positive affirmations for some things. After all, it is only those who really understand what I am struggling with who can do this effectively. No wonder God provides His people with an alternative way of gaining the strength to do things that are difficult.
OK, it is now time to get on and do the things that I am struggling with and have been for a few days.