Saturday, September 10, 2016

Dear God,

At the end of each chapter of The Good and Beautiful Life, James Bryan Smith includes a Soul Training exercise.  The idea is to engage in spiritual practices that relate in some way to the content of the chapter.  Some of these spiritual practices are familiar ideas related to prayer, offering service, and keeping the Sabbath.  But others are a bit  more unconventional, such as play and de-accumulation as a spiritual practice.

In his first chapter, Smith invites us to write a letter to God.  He encourages us to begin with the words, "Dear God, the life I want most for myself is..."  In the letter, we are sharing with God our ideas about what a "good and beautiful life" would look like for us.  "Feel free to dream big," Smith writes. "Let God in on your greatest hopes."
In our Living Stones meeting, some of us shared our letters aloud, and we all discussed our feelings about the process.  For some, it came naturally to express prayer in writing; for others, it was a difficult task to commit thoughts and feelings to the page.

There is no right or wrong way to write a letter to God.  It is essentially a written prayer, and will reflect your thoughts, needs, and concerns.  I invite you to try this Soul Training exercise.  Some people write a letter to God every day as an approach to a daily journaling practice.  For others, it might be an isolated exercise that can still give us guidance and inspiration about our lives and our relationship with God.

Here are two letters written to God by members of our Living Stones group, shown here to give you two examples of the innumerable ways we can address ourselves to our Creator:

Letter #1

Dear God,
The life I want most for myself is the life You have created for me. I want to be the person You created me to be. I want to be a woman of integrity--a woman whose insides match her outside--whole, honest, and authentic.

I would love to stop caring so much about what other people think of me, but until I manage that, I want to be seen as strong, faithful, honest, kind, compassionate, and creative. I want to be valued by my family for who I am and for what I do.

I want to raise daughters whose lives reflect the values I try to teach them--as well as the values present in Jesus' teaching that I fail to teach them.

I want a life filled with friendship, humor, joy, memory-making, and optimism. I want to live my life with a daily awareness that I am Your beloved child, and that I am surrounded by all Your other beloved children.  I want to treat others gently, and I want to be treated gently.

I want a life where the work I do, the service I provide, makes a positive difference for my family, my friends, and my community. I want to inspire creativity, and lead people to understand the beauty of a life lived in communion with You. I want to take care of all the blessings You have provided me, to be a good steward of my resources: my home, my body, my children, my husband, my friends, my church community, and my world.

I'll say again at the end what I said at the beginning: I want to be the person You created me to be. I want to live in the light and joy of Your love, and feel Your presence, protection and guidance.

Letter #2

Dear God,
The life I want most for myself is a life full of peace and joy. This life would be free from worry and anxiety.

In order to have the good and beautiful life, I need to learn and grow from my mistakes in the past such as: trying to control the situation, trusting myself more than You, and succumbing to the gentle whispers of negative thoughts and temptations from the devil.

In order to achieve this I will need to call on the power of the Holy Spirit and turn to prayer or scripture in moments of doubt or temptation. I can only do this with your help.

Thank you for always loving me. All glory, praise, and honor are yours.

In my next post, I will share with you our Living Stones discussion points for chapter 2 of Smith's book, "The Gospel Many People Have Never Heard."

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