An entry I received via email from a respected counselor.... - goodsoul
"If we live our spiritual lives only in fear of punishment (in some form of exclusion) or in hope of reward (in some form of inclusion), rather than in the simple awareness of the One because of Whom all life is totally meaningful and worthwhile, we can end up becoming very 'religious' people, but not very 'holy' people. Then life becomes simply a series of tests and trials and disciplines and scores, instead of the moment-by-moment, joyful revelation of God Who is present in everything that happens to us, in every single thing we do. Sanctity is about how we view life, and then how we live life from that vantage point. It is not about empty, ritualistic spiritual exercises designed to evaluate our spiritual athleticism or a kind of spiritual bribery designed to win us prizes we've already received and can never really earn or deserve. ... I used to think that sanctity meant keeping all the rules (or at least appearing to do so). Now I know that it means knowing and managing the self. When I really know myself, I know what I must do to be the best me I can become. Then and only then does it become impossible to judge another."
-- Joan Chittister, in Becoming Fully Human; The Greatest Glory of God
"There must be no limit to your goodness, as our God's goodness knows no bounds."
-- Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount
Who do I think I am to judge anyone else's spiritual life (or, for that matter, to judge those others who I think are judging others), as if I am living a life of unique quality and depth? There is no official "ranking" that I need to concern myself with, no grade or performance that can ever make me "good enough," while others are clearly not measuring up. The only human experiences that are in my control are my own attitudes and behaviors, and forgiveness of everyone and everything is the only path to my own self-forgiveness and redemption. I have more than enough battles to fight inside my own skin, battles I've been instructed to focus on and die to, as I "remove my own plank." I really don't need to be distracting myself fighting battles with others. When I see their speck, I can simply name it with love, because I recognize it inside myself, and let it go.
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