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How will your Rule help you grow into the person you can be?

Phase 6: Create a Solid Garden Plot
Workbook Exercise: My Rule of Life

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So a community that has shaped me profoundly before coming to this Society has been a church community called “The Crossing” here in Boston. And a chant that we used to sing at the beginning of worship with “The Crossing,” the words are something like, “Take O take me as I am. Summon out what I shall be. Set your seal upon my heart and live in me.” And so when I think what challenges me personally about living a Rule of Life, I think about one challenge being complete trust in who I am, what I am just in this moment, as being completely beloved of God. So this, “Take O take me as I am,” part of the chant, the reality now in this moment is that I am enough, that God loves me completely, and in a way, that’s it. I can rejoice in the beauty, the truth, of that reality. And also, the work isn’t finished. That God has envisioned so much more for the unfolding of my life, for the ways that I am to give expression to God’s kingdom in the world, to the ways that I am destined to come to greater self-understanding, self-integration that I haven’t yet. So the “summon out what I shall be” part of the chant.

So I think that with a Rule of Life, with a balanced Rule of Life, there is a really healthy and whole holding of both a person’s present reality as completely beloved of God, and that there is so much more to unfold in the future that God has in store for us.

– Br. Keith Nelson

30 thoughts on “How will your Rule help you grow into the person you can be?

  1. Thank you for this, Br. Keith, and your other offerings in this series. I have found them very helpful. Thanks, also, for introducing me to the Iona chant which I tracked down on-line (e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3hIiGgTsHI where it is mis-labeled as Taize). It has flowed into my prayer today and may, also, into the worship of the parish I serve.

  2. The challenge of having “… complete trust in who I am” is very hard at times. I often struggle with this , striving to be what I’m not at times. When you then say that we should be; “… what I am just in this moment, as being completely beloved of God” has completely resonated with me. I don’t know why but as I prayed and reflected over these words they were as if God was speaking to me.
    Thank you Bro. Keith.

  3. One of the things that I understand from this series is that the rule is something that gives structure to your life, particularly in darker days when one might be hopeless or misguided. Like the analogy of the trellis in the winter.
    The other things I imagine about the rule is it helps us to learn about ourselves and our limitations and strengths and trust that God has guided us to a set of regularities that are helpful and are shaping us.

  4. The Serenity Prayer has surfaced a number of times for me during this Lenten study. Today is one of those times. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” The essence captured within the lyrics of Take O Take Me as I Am, is the process of giving of self and receiving the gift of God. I believe that as I continue to give my heart to him – to surrender fully – that God’s work is done in who I am now, and who I am to be when my address changes to heaven.

  5. This hits a little bit on a recurring theme for me. I’m not quite ever content in the present. I can get very busy becoming and forget to be. I’m not enough now, but if I do this, get that credential, maybe one day I’ll be ready.

    I don’t know that I have anything to add to that. There it is.

    • Wow. “I can get very busy becoming and forget to be.” That’s deep, man. I had to think about that one for awhile. I think I used to be there, and you know, I never even understood it. Thanks for sharing that insight.

  6. This understanding that God loves me faults and all is difficult for me to understand. My hope is that given time God will reveal more and I will be made more as God intends me to become. This mystery is again hard to accept but I nevertheless put myself into God’s hands for his purpose.

  7. At age eighty, I wonder if I’ve become yet? How much more unfolding will there be? More than I can possibly imagine, I suppose.

  8. Just as a parent’s love and acceptance encourage new learning by a child, so does security of God’s love of me enable me to move forward toward what I may become. I must accept that I am far along in this life’s journey. Maybe I can’t do in the world as I used to or would like to. But God’s has further ways for me to grow and I must relax in His love and explore them.
    I like the chant…’summon out what I shall be….live in me’.

  9. My rule of life will help me grow into who I should be because my rule of life begins with be still and listen to the voice of God… this will allow me to hear what I am meant to be…Then my rule allows me the opportunity to hear where he is leading me. Even if I am unable to hear God’s voice because of the other noises that surround me I trust that she is there and speaking to me when I have the chance to hear and listen.

  10. I think what’s really difficult for me to accept is believing that God loves me just as I am, no matter what flaws & faults I think I possess. I pray to be a better person all the time & for him to guide me on that path. I can be so hard on myself and maybe I just don’t need to be that way. I know I’m not there yet, but I would love to be able to come place where I feel total acceptance. I believe it’s possible for me, with increased faith and trust.

  11. Knowing that God “takes me as I am” doesn’t always help me to accept who I am at that moment. There is a very real challenge in asking God to summon out all I will be, and then having the patience to wait for that call. As humans in modern society we tend to be impatient. We tend to have our own ideas of what we should be, whether imposed by society, our family or ourselves. Waiting on the Lord is hard. Allowing that small voice of God to lead us to who we should be is even harder, at least for me.

  12. I can become more balanced between work, prayer, play and rest; I can become more holistic; more the person God wants me to be. I can be more loving, more patient, more self-controlled. I can produce fruit for God and for those around me. I think the rule of life will help me in all these things.

  13. A rule of life to me is deliberately setting as my top priority paying attention to God and what God has in mind for me at that moment, responding to the past present and God’s intentions for the Kingdom. That means for me a routine that I build my life around to such an extent that I can’t blow it off very easily and does not respond to what I feel like or “need” to do at every moment. It includes times of prayer alone and together, worship together, music, studying (which I do as a default anyway!), as well as work and maintenance.
    Last night at a church study the idea of “total depravity of mankind” was strongly argued as a necessary doctrine and I had to come right out and say I didn’t believe it. I was then accused of being self-righteous at worst, lacking humility at best, but dead wrong in any event. I think I get what it is trying to say: that we cannot earn God’s love no matter what we do, God gives it to us no matter what, and we respond by trying to do God’s will (i.e. pay attention to God at all times). But as it is stated, and apparently a whole lot of my fellow parishioners think they have to accept it in this way, it means we are worthless no matter what we do. Anybody have any insights into this? Do I have to accept that depravity phrasing to get at the truth that God is infinitely greater than we are and will always be in front of us? Do some of you on here who have trouble with the idea that God loves you have a church past where you have been told a lot about humans’ total depravity?

    • I did have a problem with that as I grew up in a church that pounded into my head that I could never ever deserve the love God gives to us because his Holiness could not even stand to look upon our total unworthiness. It seemed as if every sermon repeated how horrible I was and how I needed to repent every day. I decided if I could never be worthy enough why bother? 30 yrs later up to my eyeballs in sin and depression I came to re-read the story of the Prodigal son. The father stood at the window and saw from afar his son heading home – he ran to meet him. It caused me to weep when I realized God was watching for me to come home, met me on the road and covered my filth with his own coat. Total depravity is a theological construct of words — the reality is God loves you and me so much he provides what we need to help us see the world through His eyes. He meets us, covers us and brings us home to celebrate!! — not to punish or berate us for our lack of humility or selfishness, etc. His brother was not happy with that arrangement — but the Father still has the last word on all that. ….for us it is ‘For God so loved this world…”

    • Mryka, God has given us the ability to think and to question. Do not allow yourself to be pushed into accepting the doctorine of others. Continue to ask God and He will continue reveal Himself to you. – You may be interested in the writings of George Macdonald ( http://www.worksofmacdonald.com/ ), the great Victorian mystic who inspired (and converted) C. S. Lewis.

  14. I do not think I will become a better person and become transformed as such. I just feel that one can have moments everyday when we are given opportunities to be better than our usual selves- to be sympathetic, patient. kind, generous. loving. grateful and to practise Christian values. I do pray to God for guidance in difficult moments-May my thoughts be thy thoughts, my words thy words, my deeds thy deeds.I try an live in hope and pray for a better and more peaceful world.

  15. Thank you so much for this twinning of the present and that God loves as we are, and the future where God’s direction will lead us. Very helpful as I come to my retirement years and only wish I had these concepts in grained early in my life.

  16. My first thought is the old aphorism from the Coneheads skit on Saturday Night Live, “I am not worthy.” Beyond its comic intent, this expresses what my present reality feels like and what possibly I can grow beyond with the discipline of a Rule. I am so aware of the ways I fall short of God’s intent for me, his dream of what my existence was/is to be. There is a goal, I know, and I want to rush to it, but I often feel lost on my way. Maybe I am expecting a Rule to be a wayfinding system for my soul. So, encouraging patience might be a way my Rule can help me grow. Recognizing forgiveness might be a way my Rule helps me grow. Aspiring to deeper connectedness might be a way my Rule can help me grow.

  17. For me, I believe my rule of life is a “live document”. The ideas expressed within it are of myself, and for myself, with spiritual growth and enlightenment in mind, written out of my own will to improve myself. And for me, improving myself involves evolving into habits which are less self-serving, and leaning more toward more service to others. I honestly believe that you lead (and teach) others by your own example, and I want my actions and words to be a positive influence for those around me,. So as I grow more into the me that I am striving for, I’m sure that I will be making revisions to my rule of life to suit the needs, of the time and planting different seeds in my garden.

  18. Before this study, I have been using the verse from Micah 6:8. “This is what the Lord requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”, as my rule of life. It has served me very well but after this study I am still going to keep using it but it will be my “trellis” on which to support the rest of my life which is a work in progress.

  19. I’ve mentioned before having lived an horarium for many years. And that it had dried into more of a time management ‘tool’. And now, a dusty memory with a few last vestiges. Just a few days ago, here among you, I received the gift of a prayer of the heart. Very grateful… riding on my breath, softening, moisture returning…
    a prayer of the heart, is… a trellis, and pruner, and fertilizer, flowing up from the soil, the ground of my being in Jesus Christ, The Father, The Holy Spirit…
    mmm…

    very
    grateful

  20. …’my’ rule is the complimentary polar opposite of being in deference, which provides peace

    …while there is some fear, I remember prayer

  21. The rule is consistency in being in God’s presence so that presence can change me, love me as I am, love me as ive been designed to be loved, love me into deeper relationship with Him, so I can love others the same way.

  22. I also come from a church influenced by Calvin’s and Luther’s view of total depravity. the beliefs were not as formulated but went something like this once always saved but if you sinned you were never saved. Also, anything that you did was never good enough or Godly before salvation because we are all a pile of cow dung. I have wondered through many other traditions before coming to the Episcopal Church but I still feel a distance between myself and God. It is Psychological and has to do with my past.
    Anyway, I think a rule would add stability to my life.

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