Soul care: renewing our mindsWhere's the Faith? Thursday, March 7th, 2013
Social Chaos: Where's the Faith?
I invite you to join me for my birthday celebration and fundraiser at The Center, Tuesday, April 2, 6:30 p.m. The food will be catered by Babbo’s at a reasonable price and your money goes to a good cause. I hope you’ll join us! … end commercial!
Te amo! Je t’aime! Ich liebe dich! I love you!
One of the beautiful things about language is the fact that we can say anything in a number of different ways.
This past month we celebrated Valentine’s Day. If you’re blessed to have a Valentine there are so many different ways you can speak the language of love. Some people do it through flowers, others chocolates, still others through a card, a dinner or a romantic evening. Maybe you do it through a kiss or holding hands while walking on the beach.
There is such a variety of ways to say what we want to say. Just as there are many ways to say “I love you” there are also many ways in which the Scriptures invite us to experience soul care.
Throughout the past several articles we’ve been looking at soul care – the need that we all have for spiritual healing/inner healing. Moving from brokenness to wholeness, from mourning to joy, from captivity to freedom! Soul care, the journey toward being a positive person who’s filled with hope, joy and praise!
In this series, we’ve looked at Isaiah in the Old Testament, we’ve looked at the words of Jesus – and today, again, there is an invitation to healing, to soul care.
The way the writer in Romans 12 puts it, is that we are no longer to conform to the pattern of this world but, rather, that we be transformed by the renewing of our minds. The writer goes on to say that God sees this transformation as good and perfect. That when our minds are renewed, this is good and pleasing to God – and this transformation is also God’s will for us. God’s desire is our wholeness.
I love sunsets over the ocean. Did you know that walking next to the ocean is actually healing? It’s therapeutic, in that it releases ions in the air that have the power to heal us.
Let me suggest that just as the ions from the ocean bring about physical healing there are also “ions” in the spiritual world which God uses as instruments in our individual healing as we’re on the journey toward healing and wholeness.
So, how do we move from being “conformed to this world,” to being people who are whole; people who have been transformed; people who have renewed minds?
First, let’s work on a definition for the phrase “conformed to this world.” What does it mean when we are living a life conformed to this world? One of the things it means to me is that we remain victims to our past. Listening to, and replaying, and being intimidated by the tapes from our childhood, stuck in old patterns. Listening to those hurtful things we’ve heard growing up and then somehow believing them. Some of us also have old tapes from our churches; that we are sinful, wicked, perverted. Last week I learned a new term PTSSD – post traumatic spiritual stress disorder! And some of us have experienced that and need to be healed from that.
Being transformed by the renewing of our minds means moving from the position of brokenness to wholeness, to a new understanding of who we are as God’s creation; seeing ourselves as good and pleasing and fabulous in God’s eyes; in fact, seeing ourselves through God’s eyes as God sees us, as God sees you.
Let me suggest that in a healthy, authentic community of faith – there are “ions” at work. Ions promoting the transformation from brokenness to wholeness. Just as when you’re walking along the beach you’re being transformed by being in the presence of the ions at work so, in a healthy community of faith, there are “ions” that help us in the process of moving from brokenness to healthiness.
I see some parallels from the ions on the beach to ions in our spiritual lives. I remember a vacation I took to Thailand in 2000. We stayed right on the beach – and every morning I would take a long walk. It was so beautiful and relaxing. I felt a transformation taking place in my mind and my body. Now, it didn’t happen in one walk, or one hour or one day. It was a process. And by day 2 or 3, I began to notice a change. I wasn’t so stressed, I didn’t think about all that needed to be done. I wasn’t paying attention to the time of day or news reports. In fact, I didn’t even turn my cell phone on! The point is healing takes time.
When you walk on the beach, allowing the ions to do their work the natural healing process just takes place; it will happen.
The same is true spiritually. Healing takes place. And it’s important to realize that we heal at different rates. Don’t compare yourself to someone else.
As we allow our authentic community of faith to have that invisible effect on us, like the ions near the ocean, we will experience a transformation – a different outlook on life with more patience, with more love. At some point we will realize, wow, healing is taking place. I’m moving from being conformed to this world and I’m in the process of being transformed, of being healed.
Please don’t misunderstand me. Allow me to talk about how I believe spiritual ions are at work in an authentic community of faith. Again, this doesn’t happen instantly, it’s a process as we’re open to it.
I think attending corporate worship is a healing. Maybe it’s as the choir is singing or during the prayer or during the sermon or while taking communion.
During any of these parts of the worship service there are times I look out and I see you being moved (sometimes to tears) and it touches me and I get choked up. What is that? What’s going on? Perhaps it’s an “ion” at work; a spiritual ion at work touching your spirit.
Maybe spiritual ions are at work as you come in these doors, and an usher greets you with a smile, and looks into your eyes remembering your name; and then you walk into the sanctuary and someone else says hi to you and invites you to sit next to them, another spiritual ion!
Spiritual ions come in a variety of ways. Maybe at a Wednesday night discussion while people are sharing their life story you hear something and you say, “That’s me!”
Maybe in a Sunday School class when you have an opportunity to sit next to someone who comes out as a transgender person and shares their journey from woundedness to wholeness; maybe it’s in a small group that meets in a home; maybe in Centering prayer; maybe in something you’ve read on our Facebook page; maybe it’s in one of these moments that an “ion” rests on you and transformation and healing begin to happen.
In an authentic community of faith, honest people who don’t claim to have all the answers, seeking a relationship with a God who loves them unconditionally, will find one or more, maybe all, of these things to be effective in our soul care and our journey toward wholeness. But for soul care to happen I believe we need to expose ourselves to the opportunities of spiritual healing in our lives. Allow ourselves to be in a place to receive.
Like many of you, I’m on the journey from brokenness to wholeness. And, like many of you, there are areas in my life that God is nudging me to not be stuck in my past, to get beyond that and be transformed by the renewing of my mind. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m not alone.
Let me share a personal story. Part of my being stuck in the past is wanting approval from certain people. My father is one of them. Since early childhood, when I looked up as my dad was giving the blessing before eating supper and said, “Daddy, teach me to pray.” I have gone on a huge journey with him as I’ve come out as a gay man. It hasn’t been easy. And, to this day, I still catch myself seeing myself with his disapproving eyes. That’s listening to old tapes.
I’m so grateful for the transformation that comes with the renewing of my mind. To see myself, not as I perceive how my father sees me, but to see myself as our unconditional loving God sees me.
Maybe you’re not dealing with your father. Maybe you’re in the process of being healed in some other aspect. Let the healing continue and let your light shine brightly for all to see!
Rev. Dan Koeshall is the senior pastor at The Metropolitan Community Church (The Met), 2633 Denver Street, San Diego, California, themetchurch.org. Services every Sunday at 9 and 11 a.m.
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