Words of Wisdom, Email Newsletter
WoW 094: On practicing awareness in the journey towards goodness, Meaningful Action, part 1
This episode is part 1 in a series I've got brewing in my head: I'm calling it Meaningful Action. 75% (or more) still needs to be written, so we will see where the writing takes us. I've discovered that my thinking is greatly improved by writing, which is probably true for all of us. This series aims to think through the fundamentals of what it is to be human and live a life of flourishing. Our thinking must cover things like evil, purity, the human will, and prayer to do that. I hope it stirs your thinking and inspires you to pursue the most meaningful action in life possible: living wisely.
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It could be said evil is choosing what is best for you at the expense of others and enjoying it.
The more the justification and pleasure at others' pain and loss, the more evil.
The more people you harm and the more cost to them, the greater the scale of evil.
It could be said that goodness is choosing what is best for others and enjoying it.
The easier it is to choose the good, the better.
The more skilled you are in choosing the good, the better.
The more impact on others, without immediately benefitting your reputation, the better.
The process of growing in maturity is to transform your heart, or your will, to consistently have the character to do good with joy. This is a journey of moving on the spectrum from selfishness to the highest good.
Maturity starts with awareness.
Here is a list of what to grow in awareness of: this is awareness of the evil, twisted parts in you.
- awareness of choosing selfishness,
- awareness of feeding resentment,
- awareness of believing lies about yourself
- awareness of telling lies
- awareness of chaotic feelings
- awareness of choosing self-preservation out of fear
It's not popular, but it is true to say that you have evil in you. You cannot experience deep transformation without intentionally growing in awareness and surrendering the dark desires within you.
As you learn to identify and surrender different forms of selfishness, you can grow a desire to serve others.
But this service is conflicted. It's full of impure motives, fear, expectations, greed, pride, and insecurities.
As you surrender these impurities, you will learn to choose what is good.
- You will grow awareness of others in pain
- You will see more clearly the people at the bottom and the edges and see a kindred spirit in them
- You will increase your empathy
- You will be quick to forgive and will labor to reconcile
- You will see opportunities to create value and beauty in the midst of difficulties and tragedies
- You will take the long view
- You will strengthen your gentleness and compassion.
- Instead of needing people to change as you serve, you will grow in loving others right where they are.
You will develop a loving presence that is full of joy. Life has no greater meaning than to serve and sacrifice with joy.
This process of meaningful action, then, can be mapped in a simple framework of fleeing selfishness and desiring the good.
This is what I call the Meaningful Action Scale.
The greater you grow in the skill of joyfully helping others, the more meaningful action you will take.
You will not have joy if your motives are impure.
The deeper your awareness, the more capable you are to take meaningful action.
Part of growing in wisdom and maturity is to grow in self-awareness so that you can consciously turn from what is selfish, unhelpful, and evil and choose the highest good.
If unconscious reactions trap you, you will have a low ceiling on who you can become. Your immaturity will constantly limit you.
Maturity is transforming your will so that you continually choose the highest good. This is a process of growing awareness of what prevents you from choosing good, surrendering what does not serve the highest good, and choosing the good.
In taking meaningful action, you open the door to more meaningful action.
Regularly choosing the good with joy is the virtuous skill in living that occurs as you abide in Christ. This is wisdom. This is the kind of life you should seek above all else.
A place to begin is a daily awareness practice of prayerfully surrendering the 5 Strongholds of selfishness, dishonesty, fear, resentment, and distorted thinking. Build on this awareness practice by confessing to others. This is a simple yet courageous practice of walking a narrow way of purity through prayer, surrender, and confession.
The greater your devotion to this awareness practice, the greater the transformation, the deeper the joy.
Will you dare to look within and ask God to give you awareness of your darkness?
What is the greatest stronghold you need to surrender today: selfishness? Dishonesty? Fear? Resentment? Distorted thinking?
(Use these questions as a journal prompt and prayers this week)
"Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart…Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens."
Carl Jung, C.G. Jung Letters, Volume 1
"We have to understand: Greatness is not just what one does, but also what one refuses to do. It's how one bears the constraints of their world or their profession, it's what we're able to do within limitations—creatively, consciously, calmly. "Most people have a job and then they go home," the Queen once reflected, "and in this existence the job and the life go on together, because you can't really divide it up." There is no better definition of the path of temperance. It's an all-consuming, full-time thing. It's the journey of a lifetime, one that gets more impressive (and rewarding) the longer you stay at it."
Ryan Holiday, Discipline is Destiny
Seek the wise life craft of pursuing the highest good and develop an intentional awareness practice.
Did someone send this to you? Do you want to cultivate more of the good, true, courageous, and beautiful in your life?
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