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What I Wish I had Told My Youth Group 35 Years Later – post #2

Richard Rohr makes a great distinction between the “first half of life” and the “second half of life.” He calls the first half of life our “survival journey” and the second half of life our “sacred journey.”

He says, “The task of the first half of life is to create a proper container for one’s life and to answer the first essential questions: What makes me significant? How can I support myself? …And, who will go with me?,” He goes on to say, “the first half of life is about creating identity, finding some boundary markers (spiritual traditions and beliefs, cultural traditions, trustworthy authorities and structures), making some money, getting an education, marrying, and raising children.”

For me it meant making my mark in the world (adopting children & becoming a minister), supporting myself, developing significant relationships and deepening my spiritual beliefs about God. I also spent the first half of my life believing I was right; right about church, right about God and right about how people should live. If others didn’t agree with me, I prayed for their salvation and hoped to somehow influence them to believe as I do so they wouldn’t spend eternity in hell. And, I was nice about it. 🙂

In my early fifty’s I began to see a larger world outside of life in my “container.” I could finally see the arrogance in my “know it all” spirituality. I questioned some of the structures I built with my superior moral high ground. I wept and grieved over the woundedness of my own heart and the pain of others. I had to make a decision, would I rather be right or would I rather be loving? Did I really have all the answers about the God of all creation? It was then that I stopped studying about God and began to look at God. Though the Bible taught me about God (which I still believe), God spoke the loudest about who he was/is through the person of Jesus.

So what can Jesus teach me? He certainly didn’t live the way I lived the first half of my life. He wasn’t interested in storing up money, power or even significance. He saw the God given essence in people who were rejected and abused in religious circles. Jesus spoke over and over again about the poor and our responsibility in caring for them. He wasn’t overly concerned with Caesar and the decisions of the government. I’ll say it again and again, Jesus narrowed it down to two priorities; “Love God and love others.” If anything gets in the way of me following those two laws, I am not living the sacred journey.

What about you?

Are you still doing the survival dance storing up money, power and significance?

What might God be calling you to do in order to follow Jesus’ example of love?

Do you spend more time and energy defending your presidential candidate than you do in finding ways to help the poor?

Are you spending time with Jesus or simply talking about Him?

These are questions that get my attention because my answers remind me that I am only a beginner on the sacred journey.
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