Christian spirituality – leaving the self out?

By Dave Henning / December 1, 2020

“Leaving the self out of Christian spirituality results in a spirituality that is not well grounded in experience.  It is, therefore, not well grounded in reality.  Focusing on God while failing to know ourselves deeply may produce an external form of piety, but it will always leave a gap between appearance and reality.”- David Benner, The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery

Aundi Kolber concludes Chapter 6 of Try Softer with the third way for you to live with attention.

3.  Tracking.  Tracking represents another important resource.  Here you simply learn to intentionally notice change in your sensations and emotions.  Also, with tracking, your respond purposefully to these sensations.  Certainly, what you experience is not more or less important than what someone else does.  But, Aundi stresses, it is as important.  Hence, as we honestly assess our own needs, we absolutely think of ourselves as we ‘ought’ (Romans 12:3).  Above all, as David Benner notes, knowing about something fails to equate with having an embodied knowledge of it.

In addition, as we do our own internal work, we literally develop the capacity to listen to — and love — others more fully than when we white knuckled our response.  And when we connect to our own souls, we also ‘map’ what’s happening with other people!  Even if no words are written or spoken.  In conclusion, Aundi explains:

“Doing our own work allows us to feel with others, and it is the framework that allows us to hold space for others. . . .  While there is no absolute definition for what it means to hold space, I like to think about it as the process of carving out a sacred space for people to experience whatever they need to without shaming or rushing to fix them, remembering we are cotravelers on our journey through life. . . .  We do not see the people in front of us as tasks or obligations — they are imago Dei, and we see and feel with them.”

Today’s question: How do you feel about leaving the self out of Christian spirituality?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Enfleshed – the truth of our Belovedness”

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Dave Henning

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