Knowing & Connecting with God in my Connection Network.
Updated: Aug 29, 2019
This post is Part 2. We're looking at the second and third steps in inviting God into our Connection Network. If you missed Part 1, Inviting God into my Connection Network by Knowing Myself, go back and read it HERE. That first post laid the foundation by making the argument that...
Possessing both self-knowledge and self-awareness helps us to separate from others and our adaptive behaviors in a healthy way so that we can really connect with ourselves and God.
It gave some practical resources for gaining self-knowledge and self-awareness. Today, we're looking at inviting God into our Connection Network by first knowing Him (God-knowledge) and Connecting with Him (God-Awareness).
Knowing God: What's the difference between God-Knowledge and God-Awareness?
It is important to have a solid foundation of what God is like, what He wants and the heart-intention behind His actions. Otherwise we can be mislead by other people's, and our own, false perceptions of God. One could easily draw a parallel between self-knowledge and self-awareness and God-knowledge and God-awareness. Knowing things about God is NOT the same as knowing God. Knowing things about your best friend is NOT the same as knowing them personally. Our richest deposit of God-knowledge can be found in Scripture. Dig in there and you can't help but strike Gold. You'll probably need help to understand the context of scripture. That's okay, we all do. There are a ton of good resources out there for this. Just make sure to keep in mind that learning about God from other people or even God-inspired Scripture, is Knowing about God. This is NOT Knowing God personally. It is nevertheless important and wonderful.
Scripture helps teach us about God. Does it say that God wants to shame me for this? Or free me from this shame? Does scripture say this is my responsibility or God's? Does Scripture say to run away or draw near? Does Scripture say there are times to remain connected to God and times to disconnect to punish myself into greater discipline? Looking at Scripture though this lens will have many of us relearning old thought patterns and beliefs. Scripture is amazing. Eating up scripture is a must. But by itself it's not enough. We must connect with Him.
Connecting with God: Welcoming God into your Connection Network.
The third piece, after first knowing ourselves and second knowing God is Connecting with God. Knowing can be done at a distance. Connecting is up close and personal where feelings and vulnerability are involved. Here are some practical ways we can begin to move past distant God-knowledge into intimate God-awareness. As we connect with God, with the Real God, we can't help but slowly invite Him into our deepest parts. Welcoming Him into the center of our Connection Network. So how do we connect with God in that way? Here are some practical things we can do.
Making Space May take time or we may be forced to make space overnight. Once we reach our burn-out level, we are usually out of the game for a while while we recoup. That's the "overnight option". The other option is a slow lifestyle change of increasingly saying "no" and giving ourselves permission to "stay in our own lane." Slowing accepting our limitations and then communicating those boundaries to people. One key to making space, aka Margin, is to take the concept of Sabbath seriously. It's easy to stop for half of a second, ponder the "absurdity" of a Sabbath these days, be confused, feel slightly guilty about it and then move on to the next thing. What if we really took that commandment to heart? Who do you know that has a regular Sabbath rhythm. Ask them what it's been like for them. What can you learn from them? Then schedule a day of Sabbath for yourself and see what happens.
Accessing Sacred Pathways Gary Thomas' understanding of the Sacred Pathways can be very illuminating. He recognizes nine ways that God made us to unique connect with Him. He has made us some combination of Naturalists, Sensates, Traditionalists, Ascetics, Activists, Contemplatives, Intellectuals, Caregivers and Enthusiasts. There are many more ways that we connect with God, but these broad categories are nevertheless helpful. Knowing our own pathways can guide our time with God and validate our intimate experiences with Him that fall outside of the "expected norm". Take the FREE assessment HERE.
Creating The authentic expression of ourselves comes out when we create. It is both extremely vulnerable and freeing at the same time. As we create we connect with ourselves. With some practice we can make it a regular rhythm to invite God into these creative spaces. Here are some practical ways you can begin doing this. First as you settle in with your creative supplies center yourself until you become keenly aware that God is in the room with you. Then...
Try sketching as you reflect on your week. Ask Him how He saw your week.
Break out the water colors as you consider an overreaction that you had earlier that day. Then sit in the stillness while you wait for God to speak.
Write a short story about a feeling that you've been overwhelmed by. As the character in the story invites God to speak, write what you sense God saying in response to that character.
Put on some music and dance. Invite God into that space as you express yourself through movement.
Playing The way a child can let go of responsibility and play, knowing that their dad is taking care of the big stuff. As we connect with that child-like nature buried deep down we build experiential trust that God is personal, playful and able to hold the universe together without us stressing about it. Playing together is an important part of any child-parent relationship or friendship.
Cultivating Vulnerability Making a conscious effort to center ourselves, connect with our truest most vulnerable parts, and invite God in. This is more of an internal posture than an outward action. You'll know you've hit vulnerable territory when you feel exposed and at risk for rejection. If you believe God to be a safe person for you (based on what you know about Him and past personal interactions with Him) then sit with that a moment and breathe. If you need to tell Him that you're feeling vulnerable, go ahead. Tell Him whatever you are feeling. He cares and He is the most sincerely kind and empathetic person any of us will ever meet.
Building Intimacy Happens over time through repeated experiences of connection.