Integrity, Romance & Love ⋆ Miss Kristin

Today’s Bible reading

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. – James 1:19 (NET)

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. – Ephesians 4:14-15 (NIV)

More thoughts for meditation

If there is not a lively inner and outer dialogue about spiritual dwelling and seeking, people often come up against what Janet Hagberg, and others, call “the wall.” At its best, spiritual dwelling  includes connection to a healthy community with a well-worked tradition which gives people permission to explore rituals and practices that provide depth and continuity. But spiritual dwelling can also lead to boredom and disappointment as experiences become too predictable or lack the vitality necessary to keep in step with developmental challenges. Detachment or denial can creep in. Complacency can set in.  Hopefully this leads to an honest, courageous move through the wall to spiritual development. But it can also be a dead end.

Hopefully coming to the end of a season of life or of spiritual practices propels one into spiritual seeking. Initially, this seeking is destabilizing and stressful, but it also helps us focus our attention on what is important. We are with Jesus in the wilderness; the old is dying and the new is rising. If our desire for comfort and safety exceeds our willingness to tolerate the intensified anxiety of seeking we might opt for the familiar, like Israel longing for Egypt. But all the great things of life in the Spirit come through overcoming our resistance to transformation and moving through the suffering new life causes us.

Spirituality in Christ all comes down to the construct of love and integrity. Love is the essence of warmth and security, integrity is the core of being conscientious and caring.

Mature expressions of spiritual dwelling are centered in love for God, love for self, and love for neighbor. Love is the gym in which we grow spiritual health since few things in life are harder than mature love. Spiritual intimacy naturally challenges every anxiety we carry about relational closeness, about loving and being loved.

Mature expressions of spiritual seeking are grounded in the virtue of integrity, which includes the difference between genuine questions and commitment-avoidance. Integrity requires openness to prophetic truth and commitment to social justice. Integrity also means actively admitting when we are not really committed to God or spiritual growth without hiding behind shame.

You can see this construct in today’s readings. Dwell in love – it will make you quick to listen and slow to speak. Let integrity motivate your seeking – then you will be more likely to speak and practice the truth in love.

Suggestions for action

Dwelling and seeking might be like teamed horses that keep our lives moving down the way of Jesus. The metaphor quickly breaks down if you think you are holding the reins as the driver. But if you are along for the ride and not looking for an alternative route at every stop, maybe you can come to appreciate the scenery and even the bumps along the way. How have you been doing with all this talk about “dialectic” – holding in creative tension what often seem like opposing forces or desires in love and hope? Learning to do that is elemental to relating to God and becoming mature.

Pray this prayer adapted from Psalm 27:

Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from you Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in your house
all the days of my life,
to gaze on your beauty
and to seek you face to face.
For in the day of trouble
You will keep me safe in your dwelling;
You will hide me in the shelter of your own home,
set high upon a rock. – Psalm 27:3-5

Today is All Saints Day. Learn all about this holy day at Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body.