The Trajectory of Our Lives
The Trajectory of One’s Life
November 15, 2019
Jesus’ Two Great Commandments are about love: love God with all of yourself and love your neighbor as yourself. What gets overlooked is to love yourself as in love your neighbor as [you love] yourself. And I think that we often do love our neighbor as poorly as we love ourselves. We each grow up with a skewed self-image and beliefs about ourselves that we assume even in a loving family. Our self-image is a lot worse if there was abuse or neglect in our past. The resulting beliefs can still rule us till the end of our lives if we don’t wake up to a truer picture of ourselves, as God sees us.
It helps us to see what the trajectory of our life has been and what meaning that might reveal to us. It’s a bit easier to see God’s help in the past than it may be in the present, so to look at the longer arcs of our lives not only gives meaning to them, but also helps us to see where God has been active.
Just as example, the trajectory of my life revealed a lot that I had never thought about. I was raised in a hell-fire-and-damnation church and that layered a whole lot of negativity on me that as an adult, I couldn’t stand. I was out of the church for 10+ years because I could not tolerate the negative ties to God. My husband and I joined a cult, on that focused on Jesus’ teachings and not his divinity. For 8 years I was happy to belong, to do whatever was required, and then suddenly I began to argue with what the leaders were saying. In leaving that cult, it was the first time I had said yes to a deeper part of myself, and a no to the part that wanted to belong so much. Giving our lives to Christ was a priority in the cult, but for whatever reason I couldn’t do it, until a year or so after leaving it. Even then the Lord had to distract me from thinking about it, and in that distraction, I gave my life to Him. We did go back to the church; I read lives of saints and about Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism. Everywhere I went I thought, “Oh, that’s what Jesus meant.
As I followed the suggestion of the “still-small voice” I was healed of so much stuff, guilt and shame. I became a spiritual director as I resolved my negative feelings about God. Later I began to write a blog about living this spiritual life in the 21st c. As I look back on my life, the trajectory was resolving the pain from that early church and doing what comes most naturally to me—living my life in Christ. As I look back I can see God’s footprints in everything—in that early church, but more in leading me out of it and into what I am called to do. I would never have been doing the work I do today if I hadn’t been brought up in that hell-fire-and-damnation church!
What would make sense of your live? Follow the prompts below and see where they lead you.
Write out your answers truthfully, thoughtfully and fully. Take your time, as long as you need to do it thoroughly. Do it with prayer, asking God’s help in doing this assessment. And finish the project.
Weeks 1 and 2: Looking back over your whole life,
- Write out all the things/people that formed me positively.
- Write about the things/people that formed me negatively.
Weeks 3 and 4:
- Write about the things that I did that left me with guilt or shame.
- From which things have I learned the most?
Weeks 5 and 6
- Which formative things are healed in me?
- Have I been able to help people who were similarly mistreated or challenged?
Weeks 7 and 8
- What have I gained from helping others who faced similar problems?
8.List all the things/people in my life I am grateful for.
Weeks 9 and 10
- What would it take for me to be grateful for everything in my life?
- How can I live a life in gratitude to God for all that I’ve been given, all that I have lived through?
Part 3: Accessing your truer self
This is an exercise that starts with sitting in God’s presence or praying for God to reveal what you need to know now.
- Start with a prayer of your choice
- Draw or scribble, use crayons or pens or pencil or paints; put some image, good or not, down on paper. Starting in the right brain, even if you are not an artist, gives you access to the deeper parts of yourself.
- Write down whatever comes. And then figure out what God is saying to you in the drawing and the writing.
- Repeat this Pray/Draw/Write exercise maybe once a week until you feel you have completed the assignment to see the trajectory of your life.