The book stores are filled with isles and isles of self help and personal development books. Topics to help you be motivated, achieve success, how to combat depression, anxiety, improve self esteem, abound. If you are seeking help to improve in an area of your life, you’ll most likely find a book on it.
My book shelves are filled with these “helpful” books, even spiritual and Christian books on the subject of improving our spiritual walk. I am a voracious reader, soaking up as much as I can. The more I’ve been reading, however, the more empty I have felt. This week I finally discovered why.
Last night I attended a Bible study where we discussed 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. Paul talks about how all things become new when we discover Christ. In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. Simply stated, God accepts us and allows us to experience wholeness just as we are. God loves us in all of our brokenness and lack of perfection. By definition, reconciliation means to restore or to save.
Our constant striving to improve, which seems like an admirable goal, is really a distraction from our spiritual walk with God. The paradox lies in our strong need in discovering who we really are while at the same time finding ourselves in God, where true peace exists. We need to surrender our brokenness to God so that we can be made whole.
I know that it has taken me a long time to discover my soul and who I am. Having done all kinds of work on ridding myself of past harms and false self actions, it seems wrong to have to let go. But letting go is precisely what is needed. I have heard quoted many times that we must die to self. To use the paradox word again, that is the paradox, self-discovery but at the same time dying to self to be transformed by God’s love.
Letting go and letting God guide our lives seems like it should be a no brainer. But we value control too much. Letting go is scary, even letting go and giving our lives over to God. We have learned that relinquishing control comes with a price in the material world. I believe we take this same fear into a relationship with God as well. Perhaps we don’t feel deserving. Perhaps we are comfortable even if we are miserable in our current state. Any change can be difficult.
If you have read any of my posts or have spent any time on my website, you will be familiar with my endorsement and practice of meditation, prayer, Bible study and contemplative writing. Our culture is very fast-paced and days are filled with endless tasks. It is so important to be still and to set aside quiet time every day.
There have been key points in my life when I have made a decision. Change can only occur when we make a decision. This week I made a decision to change and to quit trying to take control.
On the spiritual path we encounter phases that look something like this: Awareness, Forgiveness, Acceptance, Love and Letting Go.
First we become aware of our lives and our souls not being right. We forgive ourselves for making bad choices and forgive others that might have harmed us. We accept our situation and move on. We experience God’s true love and are able to love ourselves and others in return. Finally, we let go and let God lead us on this journey.
I encourage you to find some quiet time every day, even if it’s just ten minutes. Join me in letting go and letting God give you the restoration which is waiting for you.
I have a meditative affirmation and prayer called Letting Go. You can download it for free. To letting go.
Jackie TrottmannJanuary 4, 2011 2:12 pm
Well, as far as Google liking my website, it’s Divine intervention since I just try to write what is on my heart. And yes, I am a freelance writer. Thanks for addressing the subject of self help. It’s all about using what you can to experience wholeness. Peace and blessings, Jackie
christian loveDecember 27, 2010 9:16 pm
Hi there, I researched Bible Study Self Help Personal Development The Big Paradox | Christian Meditation a Spiritual Journey of Meditation and Prayer and your website was in the initial few websites, you must be doing something right for google to like your posts a lot. Have you ever contemplated blogging for money?
Jackie TrottmannMarch 24, 2010 2:51 pm
Thank you for the thoughtful response. I like your insight on the alignment of the author and mentors being in line with Godly principles. I look forward to contributing to your posts as well. Keep that passion burning!
Thad, The Passion Life CoachMarch 21, 2010 10:47 pm
You’ve made some very good points in this post, especially about how the whole realm of “self-help” and personal growth can lead down a blind alley of disillusionment and confusion.
I might be shooting myself in the foot here, after all, I am in the field of personal growth. I’ve experienced the exact same feeling of emptiness as you have, after devouring volumes of personal growth texts from all the greats in the field, but I have learned some powerful principles as well.
Being the analytical person that I am, I’ve asked myself many times – why is it that certain books and certain principles bring me a positive result while others produce quite the opposite? There’s no simple answer to that question, but I have a few thoughts that might shed a bit more light on the matter.
Firstly, I believe that our desire is an important factor in what we get out of our readings, or learning. If we are disconnected from God, trying to make our own way outside of his plan for us, we’re bound to run into issues big and small. There’s been many times when I’ve decided OK, I’m going to do this and I’m going to have that, without discerning what is in line with God’s plan for me.
That’s where quiet time comes in – to be still and know that God already has a way for us, and know that he will supply our every need.
Another factor is the alignment of the author, and I’ll even extend this to our mentors, with God. If what the author is saying is out of line with Godly principles, or who we are as God has designed us, we end up with conflict inside of us.
I’ve found time and time again that the principles I’ve learned from books on personal growth that have served me best are the ones that tick these two boxes: it’s in line with how God has designed the world to work, and it’s in line with how God designed me to work.
I’ve had the same shift in the way I see these books now. Rather than looking to them for the ‘answer’, I now treat them as shortcuts in experience – I see how the author has experienced life, and take the best of what he or she has learned on the condition that it fits in with who I am and who I AM.
Thanks for the insightful post Jackie! Keep sharing your unique perspective with the world, it’s much needed.
Believing In You!
Thad, The Passion Life Coach