A long time ago now, I came across a beautiful little book that presented four simple truths I desperately needed to hear. I was 35, a wife, mother of two and a third and fourth grade teacher. In addition to that I was leading committees, mentoring, being mentored and in a nutshell had more meetings than should ever have existed. Living in a perpetual state of anxiety was very hard on my body and 21 years later I continue to be aware of the toll those few years at warp speed took on my life. Had this book not come into my life, I’m pretty sure I would not have been able to find the resilience I needed to get through the years of chaos that followed.
The book is called Intimacy with the Almighty by Charles Swindoll, an Evangelical Free pastor from Southern California. Though I no longer consider myself an Evangelical, I continue to center my life in God. Lots of times I feel more like an agnostic than a person of faith but more often than not I’m drawn back to an awareness of God and the mystery of faith. The four points Swindoll focuses on in this book seem to have a universal reality as well as a specifically Christian one. I have a very close Buddhist friend who embodies all of these and has actually mentored me in them.
The heart of the message is that there are four decisions and four disciplines one must realize to enjoy “intimacy with the Almighty”. That said, these four disciplines are applicable to anyone who wants a life of depth and meaning.
- to reorder one’s private world
- to be still
- to cultivate serenity
- to trust the Lord completely (for those who do not believe in God, I have found that they simply do not argue with what is but accept it as it is. “It is what it is”)
Now honestly, who couldn’t possibly benefit from implementing these decisions and disciplines in one’s life? Every time I pass a golf course I become aware of the reality that golf is the way for many people to find a place of silence and solitude. Even though it’s technically not a place of being alone, for most it is one of the most quiet places they have in their lives and their inner being craves both.
The reality is that life often just sucks and pressures seem to come upon us that we aren’t fully able to avoid but what I’ve come to realize is even when life is going utterly crazy, if I will simplify, get silent and alone, I will find the ability to surrender to what is. My lizard brain locked in fight or flight calms down and my logical brain finds space to make the decisions I need to make a whole lot easier. These four decisions and disciplines have literally been the foundation of my life since 1996. If you know anything about me or my life, you know that the winds have nearly blown me/us over more than a few times. It has been and continues to be this foundation that keeps me going. I am so very thankful.
You can buy this book at used bookstores and on Amazon or you can buy anything written on Dialectical Behavioral Therapy or the Buddhist concept of Radical Acceptance if you want to explore more. Namaste.