LIVING AS APPRENTICES
In the classes I teach, I’m accustomed to saying that spiritual transformation requires three components: surrender, choice, and feeling safe (i.e. believing that we live in the unshakable kingdom God and no matter what happens to us we are safe).
Now, I’m prompted to add a fourth component: “consciousness.” In Breathing Under Water, Spirituality and the Twelve Steps, Richard Rohr reminds us that consciousness is “that which sees me seeing” (p.85). In other words, it is the skill of separating myself from my thoughts and actions and being able to observe myself doing that thinking and those actions. If I can’t get outside myself and watch myself being me, how can I see what needs to be transformed? And how can I see the need to surrender and make different choices?
When this concept of “consciousness” came up in a class last week, I raised the question, “How do we develop the ability to become conscious of our thoughts and actions?” A counselor in the class said that the act of looking back on our past to see how our parents or grandparents may have influenced our lives is a one way of learning to step outside ourselves and become observers. Also it seems to me that teaching us to be “conscious” might be the role of the Holy Spirit is playing when the Spirit brings up places in our lives that we need to examine. However it happens, the idea of me looking at me and deciding I don’t like what I see is necessary for repentance and transformation.
One of my continual issues is “vainglory” – the idea of acting with the hope of the approval and acceptance from others. Some of us find it difficult to accept compliments because we want to appear humble. But vainglory goes beyond that. Vainglory is an “unconscious” need to go looking for those compliments or even acting in a way that forces approving words.
Today my pastor (and boss) praised and quoted a post from this blog during a sermon. That made me smile. Then he went on to say that mine is the only blog he reads. I gave him a thumbs up. Later in the sermon he quoted something I had said in a conversation that he really liked. Those comments “puffed me up” a bit more.
As I was leaving the sanctuary, three people mentioned the mentions. Now my addiction to approval kicked in. Since I understand consciousness and was able to watch myself getting a bigger and bigger ego boost, I began to be concerned. So I decided to walk out the door of the church instead of walking toward the crowd coming out of the sanctuary. I saw how I was loving the attention. I knew that I have grown beyond the sad little girl who craved constant affirmation. So I needed to stop feeding the addiction. I thanked God for the compliments and went on my way.
Consciousness, “that which sees me seeing,” is a God-given blessing to help me live in the kingdom.