"Blissfully Unaware": A Valuable Spiritual Practice

Morning glimpses.

When I wake up in the morning and choose to say yes to Lady Wisdom’s invitation to start my day, then checking my phone for e-mail is not the first thing I do. Getting up to date on Facebook’s news feed is not the second thing I do. Reading my Twitter timeline is not the third thing I do. Scrolling through my Instagram feed is not the fourth thing I do. 

When I say yes to wisdom’s invitation in the morning, I check my phone for the time, and that is it.

Then I stretch out and feel the softness of the pillow against my face. I revel in the coziness of the flannel sheets and heavy blankets keeping me warm. If Kirk is still in bed beside me, I turn to him and enjoy a few moments of conversation and connection. 

Then I make a french press pot of coffee and take the piping hot tumbler to my desk. I open my worn blue Message version of the Bible to the psalms, then flip to the other sections of the Scriptures that I’m steadily making my way through at the moment. I give Diva attention as she sits and begs for affection at my feet or jumps onto my lap or stands beside my Bible on the desk. I look out the window at the day unfolding before me — the wind waving through the moss hanging from the trees, the color of the sky, the squirrels running around on our driveway and our lawn.

On those days I say yes to wisdom’s invitation, I’m present to the morning, to the quiet, to my own heart, and to God in ways decidedly different than the mornings I launch straight into the clamor of technology. 

These are the days I feel centered. I feel rooted. I feel focused on the most important things. 

But when I connect to technology first, the day — and even my body — have a completely different feel.

I shake my leg at my desk and impulsively grab my phone to check for updates every few minutes. It’s hard for me to get quiet inside. Pulling my Bible in front of me and settling into its pages doesn’t hold much appeal. 

The day garners a frenetic energy, and I lose momentum on the most important things. I have a hard time being present to Kirk, much less anyone else. I feel lost and confused and unsure which way is up or which direction I should go next. 

It’s hard to remember sometimes, in those few seconds after waking, that ignorance really is bliss when it comes to starting my day. But hopefully, as I continue to notice the decidedly different feel the two different starts to my day offer me, I will choose more and more to be blissfully unaware from the start. 

Can you relate to this at all?

The Principle of Indirection

About a week and a half ago, I began an eight-week Pepsi fast as part of a spiritual disciplines course I’ve been taking at Spring Arbor. I’ll write more about the reasons for the fast and the impact it has on my life once the eight-week practice has finished, but I at least wanted to write a short note today about what I’m discovering about the principle of indirection — namely, that it works!

Richard Foster writes about the principle of indirection in an essay included at the beginning of the Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible (which is a great resource, by the way, that I highly recommend). He says:

“We cannot by direct effort make ourselves into the kind of people who can live fully alive to God. Only God can accomplish this in us … We do not, for example, become humble merely by trying to become humble. Action on our own would make us all the more proud of our humility. No, we instead train with Spiritual Disciplines appropriate to our need … By an act of the will we choose to take up disciplines of the spiritual life that we can do. These disciplines are all actions of body, mind, and spirit that are within our power to do … Then the grace of God steps in, takes this simple offering of ourselves, and creates out of it the kind of person who embodies the goodness of God.”

We do what we can do so that God can cultivate in us what we cannot do ourselves. Yes, that is what I’m learning already through the seemingly simple practice of this Pepsi fast.

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