- Frequent overwhelming, almost dizzying, episodes of appreciation.
All life is a gift. I did not create myself. I do not cause my heart to beat, my lungs to expand and contract, the blood to course through the veins in my body. I can claim no credit for the incredible privilege of my life circumstances. Health is a gift, family, friends, beauty, employment… all are gifts.
As I dwell in the secret inner realm of the Spirit, I realize more deeply the gifted nature of life. My heart opens more fully to gratitude.
I do not have to work at gratitude, or manufacture an artificial feeling “of appreciation.” Gratefulness is just there as a natural product of a heart that opens to a deep encounter with life.
As with #3 above, gratitude also leads to gracious action in response. When I know myself to be truly blessed, I am compelled to give blessing in return. There is a natural flow from gratitude that opens the heart to kindness. Gratitude parents generosity.
True spirituality is never myopic, self-centered, or self-serving. It always leads the practitioner out into a fuller more compassionate engagement with life. A life of kindness is the spontaneous product of a grateful heart, which is why #5 “Symptom of Spiritual Awakening”, follows naturally from #4.
5. A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fears based on past experience
Fear drives far too much of life. We plan, strategize, organize, and scheme in fear. We are afraid that, if we don’t “get our act together”, nothing meaningful will happen; life will fall apart; we will be overwhelmed by chaos.
Obviously, it is important to be responsible and relatively organized. But when planning is driven by fear, it never leads to a positive life-affirming place. Fear-based organization ends in rigidity, dogmatism, intransigence,inflexibility, dishonesty, and violence. These are not symptoms of spiritual awakening.
The epistle of John affirms that “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (I John 4:18) When fears fall away, freedom arises; my life becomes more “spontaneous.” This may look less organized and a little more chaotic than we might feel immediately comfortable with. But a degree of untidiness is probably another mark of a life that is following the inner compass of God’s Spirit.
Speaking about the work of the Spirit Jesus said,
The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’ (John 3:8)
Wind is unpredictable, untidy, uncontrollable, and powerful. If we are going to be available to the wind of the Spirit, we may need to let go of our agenda and open to the possibility that life will proceed in unexpected directions. There is no absolute description of what a life guided by the unpredictable wind of God’s Spirit will look like. God’s Spirit respects the circumstances of every person’s life and manifests through each person in the way that is uniquely congruent with the individual realities of each person’s life.
Although it may be possible to list “12 Symptoms of Spiritual Awakening,” it is impossible to say how these symptoms will manifest in the practicalities of a particular person’s life. Any life lived in tune with the working of God’s Spirit will show forth the work of the Spirit in ways that are uniquely suited to that person’s temperament, character, upbringing, and setting. Our challenge is to stay open and responsive.
nb: since I started posting these “12 Symptoms of Spiritual Awakening” I have been directed to their original source – please see: http://www.symptomsofinnerpeace.net/Home.html