In a post I wrote recently, I talked about my desire to live into the Realm of Flow–aka willing surrender–perpetually. I expressed how over the past few months, I’ve been feeling deeply that the best contribution I can be to the communities of which I am a part is to get in the Flow and stay there. If you didn’t read the post, I shared how I have had several experiences in my life where after some trauma, I would surrender my will and all of a sudden this peace would descend upon me and I would find myself in this comforting state of awareness that everything was working out perfectly. I should express that “working out perfectly” does not mean things went my way. Rather, what would happen is that I would be at peace with the Way things did work out and would find myself unquestioningly knowing that all was well.
I’ve learned from writing that post that the way that I am translating these experiences does not fully connect with everyone who reads it. Saying things such as “God’s Kingdom is Wholly present now” translated to one and may translate to others as a denial of the tragedies that go on in the world. For clarity I will share that some of the instances when I felt this peace I am talking about were after an extremely painful breakup, my grandmother dying suddenly, my father dying after we thought he was cancer free, getting evicted with a one year old baby over a technicality weeks after my father died, and losing a house in a neighborhood where a large portion of our friends lived.
I’m sharing this personal information with the intent that it might help some readers understand that I do not say what I am saying lightly. I’ve been paying attention. And I see that many of us humans love to wait until the last possible minute to learn our lessons at best and in most cases, it isn’t until after tragedy that we start considering greater possibilities. I am choosing a different way—the Way expressed in the post, No More of This! No, More of This and the above mentioned Realm of Flow post.
I am not trying to deny what is going on in the world. What I am doing is acknowledging that the way we are doing things is off and that we have been shown a better Way. I choose to work toward living into it in every moment and would like to learn from and with people who are consciously making a similar choice.
The fact is the world and all of its structures are managed by people. Trying to change the structures and the institutions without changing the people doesn’t make sense to me. Furthermore, I cannot really change anyone else. So I am allowing myself to be changed and inviting anyone who happens along these posts to walk with me for a while. One thing you must know before going forward though is that this is a “Walk by faith and not by sight” kind of journey. So if you are stuck on the surface of things we are going to miss each other. That’s all I am going to say about that.
Challenges To Flowing
Below are some of the observations I have made about what, at times, has distracted me and others I’ve witnessed from staying in the Flow.
- Worrying needlessly about others – When I snowboard, I can do most blues without ever falling. However, if I am going down with my daughter, I get distracted. I split my attention between where I am going and what she is doing and as a result I end up on my back a lot more frequently as she continues speeding along doing just fine. This doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be concerned for others when the situation actually calls for it. But more often than not, I have found that most worry is wasted energy. (see Matt 6:25-34)
- Wanting to be fully understood – I will tell you that wanting to be understood is a “fool’s goal” (haha play on words). Fortunately I reserve this foolishness for special people, but either way, it is a big distraction. The fact is that it is virtually impossible for anyone to truly understand you. They aren’t you. Personally, I think that it’s enough to be accepted. Believe it or not, it is easier to accept something or someone than it is to understand them. And here’s the bonus. If you accept someone you will find that you start to understand them more. But if you wait to understand before you accept them, then you will likely achieve neither. The same goes in reverse. Waiting to be understood will slow you way down and it is an indication that you don’t accept yourself. Some people aren’t just going to get you. (see Matt 13:54-58)
- Looking for a reward – The reward of going with the Flow is the Flow itself. If you enter into the stream hoping that you are going to get congratulated, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Consider this. What if your popularity and self-esteem was contingent upon you acting in ways that are contrary to Flow i.e. you’re a bully, or use money or something else to gain social acceptance, you are a work-a-holic, or abuse yourself in some other way? In this case, going with the Flow will take you away from whatever rewards you seemed to be getting from this behavior. That means at least at the forefront you will feel like you are losing. For examples, look at people who were super popular and then when they lost whatever was attracting people into their lives the people went with it. (see Matt 6:1-24)
- Comparing spiritual/religious paths – I choose to be a Christian for a lot of reasons. Other people choose their paths or pathlessness for their own reasons. Some people might have a problem with me saying this, but I do not think we become better adherents to our chosen paths by comparing ourselves to other people on their paths or by putting people down who choose a path different than ours. There was a time when I thought that everyone had to believe what I believed because that’s what I was taught. But, then I encountered enough people within my own tradition who who also only believed what they were taught without examination. And that says nothing about the people from other traditions I encountered who believe whatever they believe simply because they were told that they had to. Does anyone see a pattern? (see Matt 23:13-15 and Luke 18:9-14)
My point is this. If we are so called, live into our calling and don’t compare ourselves to others within or without our tradition because it doesn’t serve us or anyone else. Ultimately Flowing is between you and God. Yes, you can learn from others and with others along the way—even if they have a different label to their path. For example, Martin Luther King Jr. drew great inspiration from Gandhi—a Baptist informed by a Hindu. And Gandhi was deeply informed by Jesus. He famously said that he would have been a Christian if it were not for the treatment he received from Jesus’ followers.
Judging – This one is hard for most people. How do you get around it? Don’t we have to judge to navigate the world? Yes and still in my opinion there’s a reason why Jesus told his disciples not to do it. It may be a little perplexing, but it is worth contemplating. Regardless of whether it makes sense, judging others throws us off. (see Matt 7:1-6)Of course there are a lot of other distractions out there beside these, but these are the first that came to mind. I’m of the mindset that working on these will go in the right direction toward remaining in Flow. In the next post, I’ll talk more about how I get myself back in check when I stumble.