An A-Z for your life – God

GodAnd so faithfulness brings us to an idea of God.  It is possible to have some religious beliefs, to have none or to be unsure about what you believe.  Whatever the case it seems a sign of maturity is to give yourself some time to reflect on the questions and come to a sense of truth for yourself.  At some point it is helpful for us to have a sense of why we are here, how we can use our life and what might happen in an afterlife.

For some faiths it is about spreading God’s word whether that is a Jewish, Christian or  an Islamic god.  Other faiths are about peaceful coexistence and views of an afterlife that may include reincarnation.  For some without religious belief it is all about now: we are born, we live and we die.  Some beliefs pay special attention to the individual (Buddhism), the family (Christianity) and the community (Islam).  This is a very simplistic glance at who or what God might be to you.

There are libraries dedicated to the great faiths of the world and I suggest you begin to explore what your beliefs are.  We may develop our faith from the family we are born into, our cultural heritage, as part of the greater culture to which we belong or as a part of a personal journey.  Such soul or spiritual seeking can lead to various experiences of acceptance and rejection by you and to you.  Eventually you may find an approach that feels true to you.

Belief and faith can be very nuanced and individual things as they are not externally provable to those who do not believe.  It is possible to belong to a faith and not believe every aspect of it; some people are more literal than others.  ‘Faith is not belief. Belief is passive. Faith is active.’ Edith Hamilton. 

Myths and stories also play a vital role in elaborating on the human experience.  In my experience faith is not just about good and bad and sin and forgiveness, it could also be about the value of life and stewardship of the earth’s resources or human rights and equality of opportunity for all human beings.  Whatever faith or God we believe in we are human and we are imperfect.  We may have godlike qualities but that is not all of who we are.

I find it sad when people decide against a belief because they have met fallible representatives of that faith.  If we can accept that there are imperfect parents, children, learners, teachers, doctors etc why can’t we accept imperfect believers?  Human imperfections encourage us to trust in our God and not rely on our own limited resources.  Our approach of all or nothing does not give us choices but limits our experiences.

Of course there are those who would say that they have nothing to do with God or belief.  Yet I believe there is that spiritual hole within all of us and we find something to fill it with.  This becomes our god by another name.  As I write this I can think of many such gods including money, politics, sport, art, nature, work, fame and power.  People of faith could also participate in these aspects of life but their motivation and relationship to it would be different.  It is not always what we do but why and how we do it.

So who or what is your god?  What do you believe in and put all your effort into understanding and following?  I am not here to judge you for it but to encourage you to be aware of what it is for yourself.  There is no need to tell the world but it helps you to know what you choose to believe and how that affects your subsequent decisions.  All belief is about faith: nothing will be proved 100% otherwise it would simply be a fact and not a question of faith.  Some of us believe.  Eventually we will know.  Others feel and think that there is nothing to believe.  Find out what you believe and share it with those you care about and who care about you.

Any thoughts?

Faith or fate, how do you see your life?

Faith fateSome of us have faith and this belief helps to hold us in times of uncertainty.  Others believe in fate and that enables them to take an appropriate stance when making plans for their future.  What are we moving forward towards?

For each of us it is something to lean on and it enables us to have hopes, plans, goals and aspirations.  Neither approach guarantees predictability so we can only do our best and leave the rest up to God, fate or spirit – depending on our perspective on things. ‘Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.’ Martin Luther King Jr.

For some, mindfulness and being in the moment is the best way to approach life.  If your particular personality gets so caught up in worries about the future that you cannot focus on anything in the immediate present then it would benefit you to develop the ability to be in the moment.  If, on the other hand, you have a healthy respect for the present and can give it the attention it deserves then you might want to develop the ability to have an eye on your future and appreciate how your current choices might impact on your future.  Not in such a way that it paralyses you from doing anything, but just that you weigh up things and make the best choice you are capable of.

When I worked as a school’s careers adviser I remember some of the more academic students being particularly stressed about their future.  They expected so much of themselves that they seemed to want guarantees that, for example, a language degree would get them to the UN or a business degree would get them a career in the City of London.  Neither faith nor fate can tell us what will happen to us in our lifetime.  In The Soul’s Code, James Hillman speaks of life being ‘foreordained yet not foretold.’

So do you have faith in anyone or anything?  How do you keep hope when the evidence is not always visible?  Are you so scared of being disappointed that you believe in nothing and no one?  How does that affect your day-to-day choices?  Is this an area you would like to explore in more detail?  Leave a comment here and have the conversation with the people in your life.


M.P.’s to access mental health services in Westminister


In June 2012 several members of parliament from all parties engaged in a discussion on mental health. Many were very open about their personal experiences living with  challenges around mental health.

Today members approved a referral service and treatment fund of £25,000 per annum, enough to cover the equivalent of 1 counsellor. Referrals will be made by the already existing Parliamentary Safety Health and Wellbeing Service.

Mental health affects us all and it is good to see politicians in the House of Commons recognising their vulnerabilities. It takes courage to ask for help.

What do you think about this? Is there support in your workplace and are you able to ask for help?

Effort and Energy

Effort energyWell no doubt you are beginning to feel that life really takes effort and energy.  It does but it can be a cyclical process where the energy supports the effort and such effort encourages more energetic responses.

It is about the energy we give off when we meet others and that which we pick up from them.  We have our own natural energy levels but that gets drained when we are surrounded by people, places or things that do not encourage us to reveal who we are.  A lifetime of that could really take its toll and leave a person feeling completely depleted.  In such circumstances a recharge is necessary before any energy could be found, let alone emitted.  So if all this sounds too heavy and laborious, maybe you need a retreat, a chance to rediscover yourself and what you want to put into and get out of life.

Think of your favourite person – how would you describe the energy they give off when you are with them?  What about your least favourite person – what is their energy like?   And what about you – how would others experience your energy or lack of?

Effort can have a bad name but there is nothing wrong in trying to achieve something.  Most of us admire people who build something from nothing through their own effort.  I am not suggesting forcing ourselves to be constantly heroic by ignoring our human frailty but success after effort can be very good for self-esteem and brings about a sense of empowerment.  I remember how great I felt after passing my driving test having had several attempts.  Although I found it more difficult than academic study I knew it was important for a more confident adult life.  It gives me more options about what, when and how I participate in the world.  Both energy and effort helps to move our life forward rather than allowing us to stay in some early form of development for our whole life.  Life has a lot to offer but generally things tend not to fall into our laps.  Although it may seem so for others that is not the case.  Apart from winning a lottery most people work hard to get somewhere or to stay somewhere.

Are there any issues in your life you have ignored or avoided because you did not want to put in the effort?  Was this from a real need to protect yourself or some less admirable reason?  Is there anything you would like in your life now if only you could put the effort in? Leave a comment to share how you experience effort and energy.



An A-Z for your life – Death

DeathSadly for all of us dying is an aspect of living.  It is inevitable, regardless of our attitudes, behaviour or caring.  None of us are infinite.  Death comes, whether slow or fast, gentle or chaotic, expected or shocking.

So how do we live with this certainty?  For me, this is something that has changed over time.  Although I have always known that young people could die, the experience of my family and friends has always been that one got old and then one died.  Then my youngest sister passed away very suddenly.  What is that about?  What does it mean?  What am I here for?  What shall I do with this time?  This was my specific process in facing my newfound conscious awareness of my future death.  Of course, we will not mourn our own death, others will.

What would you like to offer to the world, to leave behind before that fateful day?  Now is the time to start thinking about this.  For me it does not mean being depressed or particularly serious but recognising that we cannot take our life for granted so we need to prioritise what we would like to do and try our best to live the way we feel called to – our soul’s unique journey.  Maybe we have a special gift for the world and whilst we waste time trying to copy everyone else our gift is not being used or seen but remains hidden.

Here is a quote that encourages us to explore our individual gifts and the impact that has on us collectively:

‘Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body and each member belongs to all others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.  If a man’s gift is in prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.  If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.’

Romans Chapter 12 verses 3(b) to 8 in the Bible (New International Version)

It would be wonderful if we could all offer our gifts to the world before it is too late. Together we can have a big impact on our world.

If you consider that you will not be alive forever how do you feel?  What would you like to do with your time here on earth?  Are you concerned about what happens after death and does that impact on how you view your life?