Bible Study, Self Help Books and Personal Development – The Big Paradox
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.