Why How You're Wired Isn't Everything
I have publicly declared my struggle and anger towards math. Mostly because I'm not skilled at or naturally inclined to work well with numbers. I'm not wired that way, as they say. However, my family has number stuff to handle all the time:
Dates & weeks on a calendar Bills that need to be paid Anniversaries that need to be remembered & counted (I actually cheated and got married in 2000. Win.)
So I cannot rightly just say "I hate math so I'm not doing it." There is goodness, richness and health in my life that would implode if I didn't put my head down and do the mathematics of my life.
Recently, I had a great discussion with a spiritual direction training course. We were talking about the word "contemplative" and whether everyone on earth needed to become a contemplative. If that word freaks you out, then you could simply say being a contemplative is about slowing down and paying attention to God & our soul.
Contemplatives are usually portrayed as people who hide away, read books, and think deep thoughts about their own glowing innards. They are often expected to be inactive, maybe even lazy because they tend to focus on a few activities instead of many (and we all know THAT'S a bad idea) and are often quiet and comfortable with silence.
I have taught on our spiritual pathways before, and contemplative was presented as one of many pathways but not one for everyone.
I'm not sure I agree with that any more. Here's why.
Contemplation is the active and intentional slowing down of our life of spinning plates.
Many issues I see in my own life and in the lives of others is because, either by their own drives or the expectations of others, they have adopted a life that does not allow for pausing and resting and examining what is going on and what it's doing to us.
But, more importantly, our spiritual direction facilitator Jessie Vicha said, "The opposite of contemplation is not action. Action is necessary. The opposite of contemplation is reaction."
Reaction. The way we compulsively and sometimes thoughtlessly respond to situations in our lives. We even have catch phrases for these responses:
I just lost it. I don't know what came over me. I just cut loose on him/her. I jumped all over them.
Compulsion leads to rigidity, obsession, anxiousness and out-of-whack desires. Contemplation leads to surrender, acceptance, and desires that are aligned with God. The Psalmist phrases it this way:
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. (Ps. 139:23, NIV)
Here's the deal - even if we're not wired for contemplation, we will lose richness and beauty in our lives if we stay in the place of compulsion and make excuses for not slowing down and paying attention.
Here's a practical step. One of the ways we find our way to contemplation is to find out how we play. The question being "What do we do that requires no outcome?" When was the last time you engaged in something for the sheer joy of doing it? If you can't make time for that, then contemplation is a critical need for your life.