Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Behind Those Eyes: Ms. Spirituality (Chapter 5)

Spirituality is like a river flowing
through every person.
Unfortunately, it can be dammed in
times of illness, dying, and/or
bereavement, with pain, fear and loneliness.
However, a compassionate,
caring presence can prevent the dam
from forming and keep the river flowing.
~Steven Jeffers
(Institute for Spirituality in Health)

No challenges expected with the title of Lisa Whittles' chapter here-Ms. Spirituality-right? Wrong. I saw it coming...like a deer in headlights. What a sweet reminder to examine our heart in this concept of our "spirituality". I lost a distant colleague and friend-Steven Jeffers a few months ago in a car accident. I immediately thought of his work on this concept of spirituality in health care and the value he played in educating and fueling my passion for this subject.

I love this subject. As a nursing professor, I teach this. As a nurse and women of God, I live it. But do I live it in the right mind set-God's mind set?

I could rattle off a variety of definitions within the concepts of spirituality. In our faith community nurse course we offer for the experience nurse, I teach the concepts of spirituality and religion and what it is to be a nurse in a faith based community such as our churches. This class is made up of a diverse population of nurses from different faith backgrounds. I have been careful to not "offend"-to teach with an openness and acceptance of all the faith belief systems. I have used the same cautious approach in the classroom of our beginning nursing students as I have had professed atheist sitting in the those chairs. However, I have been convicted in this after reading this chapter.

Ouch. There's that word again...convicted. Are we really called to walk carefully in this matter? Are we really suppose to use caution as we identified the truth of our spirituality? NO! NO! NO!
Even though the college I teach at is professed to be "christian", there are no requirements for its students to be of the same thinking. We have all walks of faith, non-faith, sexuality, etc. Sadly this fine line in addressing concepts of God has masked the truth of spirituality. I thought I was entering into a much different environment when I accepted this position 5 years ago. However, I was most empowered and convicted by the following from this chapter which relates to my thinking as I teach my spirituality courses and examine my own heart:
"True spirituality is about the awesome power of God showing up in a person's life to the point that people around her notice a difference." (pp.95).
Wow. Can I say that of me? When I sit in my red paisley chair each morning for my quiet time or drive along listening to an inspiring christian song I can feel God's presence and the spiritual is very real and alive in me. Yet is it evidenced to others? I can work in every ministry, fill every void within my church, open and close the church doors every time there is an event but that does not make me spiritual. Does it really make me who I am? No. It's an action, a service, and it does not always require the spiritual.
When I came out of my "pit" I went through a spiritual distress time-I read everything I could on grace and healing, I only listened to Christian music, I prayed, I journaled relentlessly, I involved myself to the point of not feeling within the act. I was desperate for others to see what God was doing in my life, that I could be more than my sin. But my thoughts have changed over the last four years. My desperation has shifted gears to be more passionate about who Christ is and who I am in Christ=less focused on my outward works, more focused on my inward works. Its the inward work of our heart that leads us closer to God.
"The person who actually is spiritual is spiritual as it comes from the Holy Spirit and is in the presence of Almighty God". (pp.95)
I want more of Him. Yes, I want to serve, I want to be successful for Him but more than anything else, I want to know Him better than anything else. I want to be fully spiritual under His qualifications. In knowing Him more then I know my "desire to please God superseded [my] fear and anxieties about [my] leadership role" (pp. 93). I can serve in my church because the spiritual is alive and well in my heart and mind, not because I can perform an action.

Lisa's tough question for us this week: "Are you trading your reputation for repentance?" Yes, I am guilty of this. Oh Lord, forgive me for the times when I have done this. Then she ask, "Do you need to get spiritually real?" Well, it has been a work in progress but it is happening. Internally. Again, externally, I pray I can be more real than I ever have been. In the meantime, I am resting in this "desert time" I seem to be in and I am desperate for anything and everything He has for me that will draw me more fully into Him, into His spirituality. I will be most spiritual when I enter into eternity but until then my assignment is to be spiritually minded in all things.
So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. ~Romans 8:6

I cherish the insight everyone has within this blog Bible study which you can get to from our host blog site Lelia!! Thanks for taking the time to stop by here today. I will pray for each of you. I will stop by your postings this weekend. Blessings!

Now on a discerning note...I feel like I am so overwhelmed lately. To the point that my mind is tired. Did you see all the typo's in my last post? It shows in my speech, my thought process and now my dress...look closely at this picture...

I took my 12 year old shopping for some much needed winter clothes after our parent-teacher conference yesterday. We were at our last store and I happened to look down at my shoes. Do you see it? Oh my gosh...I wore two different shoes!! To the parent-teacher conference-to the mall and several other stores!!! After the initial shock I told my daughter I meant to do this. She is already embarrassed by her parents, I have now topped it for her. Augghhhhh!! My husband is thinking it's time to reserve a room at the extended care facility down the road. Seriously. I think I need prayer.

In Him~Pamela


Amy said...

Bless your heart, Pamela! I feel your wearing two different shoes out in public pain. *sigh* I am checking and double checking now before I leave the house. LOL!:) When we left to go out Saturday, my husband said, "Are you wearing the same shoe on each foot?";) *sigh*

Shannon and I are both going through a transition with our church life, and it is hard to know "what" to do, because sometimes, whether intentional or not, others judge us based on "what" they "think" we should do. But at the end of the day, it matters more that we follow Jesus in our hearts, actions, decisions, thoughts, etc. Just opening the church doors every Sunday does not make us more "spiritual." It's Christ in everything we do that matters...not always "where" we do it.

And tell your husband, to reserve me a room at the extended care facility next to yours...Maybe we could attend a "How to match your shoes" workshop.;)

Much love,

Carol said...


This is the first post I've read on our chapter. I love how you said it convicted you. That must be difficult to feel like you have to tread so lightly, while teaching.

I'm having writer's block on this one. I think I'm just really tired too. To much weekend activity. I'll have to double check my shoes before I leave.


Jill said...

Pamela, I have once again enjoyed your insight into this chapter. I too agree that I am moving in the right direction as well, the only trouble I find with that is just when I think I'm doing okay something comes up to remind I have plenty of room for improvement. Guess that's the thing about the walk of faith it's never over. Glad I'm walking with you different shoes and all!! Blessings on your day, Jill

much2ponder said...

Oh my...two different shoes. Do you know that you are the third person that had blogged about that this week. What in the world is going on? I better check my own shoes an make sure they match before leaving the house:o it's an epidemic.

Lelia Chealey said...

Oh sweet Pamela!!! I'm sorry, but I laughed out loud at the picture and what you said about telling your girl.
I always love your post. The teacher just comes out of you in the most loving way.
You are awesome...keep sharing your heart with us. Jesus shows loud in clear in each post...even with typos from being tired! :)
love you,
Thanks for being such an encouragement to my heart.

Laura said...

"...it has been a work in progress but it is happening. Internally. Again, externally, I pray I can be more real than I ever have been. In the meantime, I am resting in this "desert time" I seem to be in and I am desperate for anything and everything He has for me that will draw me more fully into Him, into His spirituality."

We are all a work in progress, Pamela! I love these words, for they remind me that I am not as I will be. I am being refined.

My little guy had spirit week this week at school. YOu would have fit right in with those shoes on mismatch day...

Cindy said...

"I want to know Him better than anything else. I want to be fully spiritual under His qualifications."

This is where I wanting to be also.

Not just doing but being in Him.

Kim@Seasons of My Heart said...

Two different shoes...hum....been there and done that. sigh :-/

Great post Pamela...thanks so much for blessing my heart....and challenging my heart as well.

Anonymous said...

Oh Pamela,
I did the same thing last spring. I noticed it while in Wal-mart and I could not stop laughing!! You know that you are so over-the-top with life when you put 2 different shoes on!!

Now to your post...your situation at your teaching postition is a scary example of what our nation is turning to. This "tolerance" stand of not offending anyone elses beliefs or ideas must leave our Lord weeping. No..we should not push them on anyone else but I think that we have gone so far the other way that we don't share when we have the opportunity. Blessings to you while you "work through this"

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

We finished our last session on "anonymous" last night. Talk about being blown away and cutting through all the crap to get to our spiritual center! I wouldn't have traded this time of walking with my sisters for nothin'! Well, just to keep it real, and so as not to rest of my self-appointed mountain-top, God sent some visitors my way this morning, the Jehovah witnesses.

Normally, I don't answer the door. Not today. Boldly and with the confidence of Peter, I opened the door, listened to their "talk", and then proclaimed the risen Lord with a power and confidence I've not previously known. Too much info to go into here; I may blog about it soon, or not. But our words ended in my telling them I loved them...looked right into their eyes and said that the love of Jesus Christ compels me and enables me to love them, despite our differences.

I don't know if it impacted them, but it impacted me.

Guard it friend. Speak it friend. The more we immerse ourselves in the truth and only truth of scripture, the more it just splashes out all over us.

He is so worthy! So are you.

Love u~elaien

HIS Daughter said...

I do wish we could all meet one day and just take time to talk about what GOD had done and is doing in our lives - from times of wandering in a desert to those mountaintops!

You, as Anne of Green Gables would say, are a kindred spirit! I read you and I totally know (or I guess I should say..think) where you are coming from!

This was wonderful and again, it's my life too..only I'm just now a little over 2 years in.

Praying for you Dear One,
P.S. Did you tell me you were in Louisiana because you keep saying a parish nurse..

Anonymous said...

This was so good. Thank you for sharing your insights, and how this all has effected your life, your teaching.

I too am desperate for anything that will pull me in closer to Jesus. All I want is all of Him..

I am so glad to meet you on this journey!

Yolanda said...

If I lived close by, I would watch your family so your Man and you could enjoy a night or two away from home.

Love ya!

Kelley said...

Reserve me a room next to you at the "facility". Life can be so overwhelming at times, I find myself praying more and more for the "rapture" (which REALLY grates on my kids' nerves). Take care and have a restful weekend. Perhaps we need to meet at the ELMS sometime....

LynnSC said...

What a thought-felt post Pamela. I know all too well... the sadness of trading my repentance for reputation. It is never a "deepening" experience.

Thanks so much for your honesty. That is what I love about you.

Pat said...

Ooohhh Honey, it might be time for a break :0),

Mari said...

Whatever facility you wind up in, let me know so I can make my reservation. If we're going, let's be roommates :D For instance, I left out and drove all the way to church with no purse or jacket (in the cold). So I can relate.

I have no doubt that where God is taking you after this desert time is going to be fabulous. I want wait to see it. I'm right there with you in my own desert. Just remember our previous study...there's more to come! And it is GOOD!