There was a Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist named Viktor Frankl who wrote a book called Man’s Search for Meaning. In it, he shared his observations from the concentration camps about how people survived the daily horrors of Auschwitz. He wrote, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
This season may be a far cry from Auschwitz, but you may find it limiting many of the freedoms you enjoyed pre-pandemic. Or, you may find it creating real trials and difficulties for you. For some of you, financial hardship has become imminent, if not a downright reality. For others of you, you’re struggling to recover from the virus itself, or some other illness. Or you may be on the frontlines as one of the essential workers (thank you and God bless you!), battling not only the pandemic but mental fatigue and physical exhaustion.
In any and every situation, we have a choice–to become better or bitter. Every experience in life leaves a mark on us and shapes us in one way or another. We may not get to decide what our circumstances are, but we do get to decide how we are formed–or deformed–by them. The first step to growing better, rather than bitter, from our difficulties is being intentional: being aware that we have this freedom to choose and then choosing our freedom. Our attitude in suffering can free us from growing twisted and gnarled by bitterness, fear, anger, and anxiety and we can grow better instead.
Christians throughout history have been persecuted for their faith, often viciously and mercilessly, and yet Christianity still prevails. How? Often, it is not because these people were any more special than you or me; rather, it is because they were intentional. They were aware of their freedom to choose and they chose to be better rather than bitter.
Often times, though, it was not only that they chose an attitude that shaped them into better people of faith. They had a secret weapon–they relied on certain practices to form them and sustain them during times of tremendous pressure and tribulation. It is these practices that I want to introduce to you because they will not only help you discover your purpose in life, they will help you discover the Creator who designed you for your purpose and who will give you the strength to overcome any obstacle you face.
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There tend to be two types of people: those who are disciplined and those who are not. Those in the first category may find it easy to incorporate these practices into their life on a regular basis. Then there are people like me, who fall into the second category. The key is to recognize that you do not have to be disciplined to have regular spiritual practices. You can mix and match and change it up.
The beautiful thing about spiritual practices is that there is actually so much grace in them, and like the God they point to, they are quite forgiving. It is hard to do them wrong–if you connect with God and hear God in them, and keep trying when you don’t, then you’re doing them right. In time, you will find, maybe to your surprise, that you have become better.
Join me in exploring some of these practices at my YouTube channel. See you soon!