Opening to God
God often seems to use themes in my life for “lessons” He is teaching me. I’ve recently had the themes of “opening to God” and “proper alignment” coming at me from a variety of directions. These two go hand in hand. I believe being open to God is proper alignment. To me that means being aware of God’s presence and loving gaze as often as possible during my day, and being aligned to a posture that is open and curious to recognize how He is moving in my life.
One week ago I had my right hip replaced and have had a lot of time to ponder how I am to be open to God and what am I to learn from this surgery. My hip surgery was successful! I have a new right hip. My hips now line up perfectly, but a scoliosis curve in my spine and resulting adaptations in my muscles are making it hard for my body to know what to do with proper alignment. My body will need to change to adapt to this new correct alignment. These changes will be painful for a while. This metaphor of proper alignment is obvious and powerful for me now. Just as my physical body adjusts to proper alignment, my spiritual and emotional body do better with proper alignment, and changes will need to be made.
So what does it mean to be open to God, or aligning myself in openness to Him? I don't really know, but I know it involves slowing down to have space to hear His voice. In addition to space, I need to consciously turn toward and seek connection with Him. I want to be in a position to be tuned into God’s presence, as often as possible, and allow myself to see my circumstances and those around me from His loving perspective.
I am reading a book I highly recommend by David Benner called Opening to God. Benner says: “Opening implies not just a position, but a direction to movement toward full openness. This recognizes that, even for those of us who long to know deep communion and union with God, we are ambivalent about the surrender that this involves.”
The idea that I didn't want to be vulnerable enough to fully surrender to God was not one I had spent much time thinking about. I found Benner's “obstacles“ very helpful in bringing to mind any possible blocks to surrendering and vulnerability. Obstacles are “obstructions of the channels of self that we long to fully open to God, blocking our capacity to receive, or even imagine, the fullness of God’s life.”
“Psychological – fears and unhealed wounds.'' An example for me is the question, does He really have my best interests at heart? I think my answer is honestly “Yes!” but there is fear of trusting. How do I practically align with that belief? And the next obvious question is why do I think I might know better than God?
“Theological – distorted views of God.” For me I often revert to a belief that I need to serve Him, or perform for Him to think I am worthy. Deep down I honestly think I believe I am enough. I am asking where that distorted belief sneaks in and how I align with His words to me – that I am beloved.
“Spiritual – rigidly hanging on to spiritual practices that no longer bring us life.” For me I am evaluating which practices bring me life and where I can incorporate them more.
I can discover blocks for me in each of these areas that close me off to God’s tender love. What I realize is identifying my blocks is a delightful way to be ”open to God.” I can take each place I recognize I am not open to Him and have an honest conversation with Him. For example:
“What do you want me to know when I’m feeling like I’m not enough?”
”Will you show me times I respond to you and others like I am not enough so I can learn and grow in this area?”
“Is my feeling of not being enough really about me in your eyes or about my fear of the eyes of those around me?”
“How can I be aligned and open to your perspective and freed from other voices?”
This act of giving God more of my heart with openness and a posture of alignment is both worship and prayer.