Last night, I started rapping with one of my Morehouse brothers, and the conversation ran way into the night. At its close, I couldn’t muster up the energy to pencil down my thoughts, so I’m technically a day behind on this self-reflection piece, but I was in constant thought and prayer all day yesterday.
Most of my exhaustion yesterday stemmed from my Insanity workout. (Yes, I’m crazy enough to even attempt that appropriately titled exercise routine.) A lot of people have asked why I’m so suddenly interested in working out. Truth be told, I’ve always been a rather active, outdoorsy chap; I’ve just been on the hefty side for a fair majority of my life. Never had any issues with blood pressure or [bad] cholesterol levels or shortness of breath (unless I was sprinting after someone who had just stolen something of mine). But, this year, I’ve decided that a healthier lifestyle would top my year’s list of resolutions. And when I resolve to do something, I do it. I become obsessed, nearly to the point of expertise on whatever it is I’m interested in. My current obsession has become healthy eating, fitness, and wellness. Of course a byproduct of this change in lifestyle is weight loss, but I’m honestly not as concerned with the physical manifestation of my efforts, as I am with my overall well-being. No one can change the way I feel about me, but me. And, who knows? My journey to do better and feel better may inspire another, which leads to me to a few thoughts on the many dimensions of reliance.
Back in high school, my American literature teacher opened the unit on Transcendentalism with one of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous pieces, “Self-Reliance.” Aside from being absolutely enamored with transcendental philosophy of the interconnectedness and inherent goodness of God, humans, and nature, Emerson’s essay deeply resonated with me. I can paraphrase a few lines here and there, but one, two-word sentence has remained with me throughout the years: “Trust thyself.” Many folks took Emerson’s words as a refutation of the need for a God and a call for a total dependence on self and one’s capacities. Those critics were wrong, but they were also, in a way, right. The God of Emerson existed in himself and was also reflected in the nature he admired. He never explicitly denied God’s existence or capabilities, but he did re-envision the God of the fundamentalists of the period (i.e., early 19th century). According to his theology, within each of us, there lies the essence of God. Our souls are the divine aspects of our being. If we trust ourselves and listen to the voice of God that speaks softly from our cores, then there is little room to err.
Reliance on one’s self for direction, strength, peace, and a host of other necessities for good living also holds a higher purpose. Self-reliance should not only direct your path, but it should also help better the lives of others. Collectively, our individual endeavors should benefit the lot of God’s own. When we rely on ourselves and trust the voice of God within us, any personal strivings will fall in line with the larger goal of bettering the lives of all human beings. You’ll begin to notice that your desires will reflect the values of your community, which will in turn inspire a neighboring town to make a difference, which will provoke another city to be change agents, and so on and so forth, until more selfless than harmful act are being committed worldwide.
Instead of offering a prayer, I’ll close with a request to complete this task:
I urge you to take a few moments out of your day, and just sit and listen. Find a quiet spot, close your eyes, and just listen. Let God’s voice emanate from within and bask in its beauty. Let those words guide your thoughts and your conduct for the remainder of the day. Meditate on your self-worth and remember to whom you answer. Remember the One to whom you surrender your all—however small. Be giving of yourself in that moment and thereafter. Be grateful. Don’t succumb to distractions following your intimate moment with God. Rely on your inner Godly presence to lead your actions from that moment onward. May the peace of the Lord be with you, always.
I’ll offer a prayer to wrap things up:
God, the joy of my heart, create in me a will to shy away from excess. Allow me to shed those people, things, and thoughts hindering me from experiencing the fullness of your glory. Let a spirit of satisfaction and overwhelming gratitude reach the very depths of my soul. Embrace me as your own, so that I’m reminded that all I need rests in your grace. If I am to be in excess of anything, let it be you, O Lord. Let your warmth and light flow freely through all of my being, so that others may experience your endless love. This, I pray. Amen.
So, today begins the first day of a week-long fast prompted by the community choir I’m part of: Unique Vision (UV). Our spiritual leader decided that we all should make an effort to begin 2014 with a fresh, renewed mindset via reflection on our respective purposes in this ministry. Another goal of the fast is to gain some foresight into the direction God has for us both individually and collectively.
To hold myself accountable, I’ve decided to track my fasting journey on Tumblr and use this as an opportunity to reflect on my current position in the group and where God wishes to take me (within this ministry) in the near and distant futures.
Today’s buzzword is purpose. For members (current and past) of and those of us approaching the Quarter-Century Club, we’ve often heard this word within the context of our lives, more specifically, our careers. It’s become almost second nature to equate purpose and financial livelihood, which brings another buzzword into the mix—passion. Somehow our passions are supposed to act as navigation tools to our purposes in life, but what if your passions are out of line with your purpose? In many cases I see folks, including myself, mistake hobbies and revelrous times for passions, when such activities are merely pit-stops along the way to your true passions. These true passions will lead you directly to your true purpose. The way we come to acknowledge those true passions is through discernment, reached by prayer and supplication. Through prayer you express your earnest desire to have God make plain the work you are to do. Through supplication, you demonstrate your humility and willingness to receive the answers to those prayers.by participating in an event like a fast. :)
Proverbs 16:9 states, “The human mind plans the way, but the LORD directs the steps” (NSRV). These words shed light on the freedom we have to choose in reaching our destinations. God allows us to make mistakes and experience setbacks so that we may grow fully to understand and appreciate our purposes in life. Our spiritual selves will undergo much revision, but the Godly core will remain in tact and untouched. The journey to True Purpose is a long, winding, hilly, uncomfortable one. It will unearth some painful memories and create beautiful ones, as well, but we must stay the course to enjoy the bliss, the indescribably peaceful joy that awaits us at the end.
I’ll close with a prayer:
God, my source of protection, comfort, and inspiration, I humbly ask for your presence along the journey to my purpose. Give me the strength to endure the troubles I am to face, the faith to believe in your powers of deliverance, and the love I will need to recover from any wounds sustained. Let the desires of my heart reflect my true passions and let those true passions give rise to my true purpose. Amen.
Do you smoke?
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Age you get mistaken for
Want any tattoos?
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Want any piercings?
Biggest turn ons
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I’ll love you if
Someone you miss
Most traumatic experience
A fact about your personality
What I hate most about myself
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My idea of a perfect date
My biggest pet peeves
A description of the girl/boy I like
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What I find attractive in women
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Where I would like to live
One of my insecurities
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My favorite ice cream flavor
Who wish I could be
Where I want to be right now
The last thing I ate
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A random fact about anything