Apparently, when John Wesley was a student, he started a 'Holy Club'. This went on to become Methodism. HOW GREAT IS IT THAT A MAJOR DENOMINATION WAS STARTED BY A BUNCH OF STUDENTS. Every day, these students would ask themselves 22 questions to check how they were getting on in their spiritual journey. I thought I'd have a go at these!!
I quickly realised that 1) these questions contained about a million opportunities for hating on myself, and 2) I didn't have to take them
. It's entirely possible to answer the whole lot in a spirit of self-compassion and make major discoveries about where you're at. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression than I am better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
I think 'I'm a hypocrite' is a static generalisation and a monster belief... and it's one I struggle with a lot. I tell the entire internet about most of my failings, and then there are things I'm so ashamed of that I tell NOBODY EVER. This leads to 'people only like me because they don't know I did x' and 'how dare I talk about God when...' monsters. Clearly, I need to either find the courage to admit what I did, or give myself acceptance and permission to never tell anyone, and right now I can't imagine ever managing either of those things!
Needs work. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
Being honest all the time is a big dream of mine, and I'm definitely not there yet! My need for approval gets in the way sometimes. Do I confidentially pass on to another what I was told to me in confidence?
No Can I be trusted?
No, I often let people down because of my procrastination and forgetfulness. This is a particular bugbear of mine because I LOVE the concept of honour and always keeping your word, and I'm frustrated that I'll only get there after a lot of time and work, if ever. Someone did once tell me, 'I can always trust you to try
,' which I liked. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work or habits?
Dress - LOL NO.
Friends - still a bit, but much, much less than I was, and making active progress.
Work - my first reaction was LOL NO, because I spend so little time working, but actually I spend so much time procrastinating and guilting about work that I probably am.
Habits - yes. Making progress here too. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
Self-conscious - YES YES YES, I'm self-conscious an awful lot of the time. Really want to get over this. I love the idea of being a 'fool for Christ' and happy to be laughed at for the cause of love.
Self-pitying - Yes, I have a pattern of getting off on seeing myself as some kind of deprived urchin, and it's getting mixed up with my attempts to learn positive self-compassion. Needs work on detangling the two.
Self-justifying - UGH, I have a lot of recent painful stuff around the concept of 'self-justifying' and it's really hard for me to be objective about where I'm at. Also, I think a lot of what gets called 'self-justifying' is actually positive. I think it's a GREAT idea to explain that you did x because you were feeling y. The problematic bit is when you're not acknowledging other people's needs and feelings because you're angry at them for criticising you. And yeah, I've done a bit of that. Did the Bible live in me today?
It's still rather early in the day :) but I think doing this is a good start. There are lots of places in the Bible that advise you to check on yourself and how you're doing. (Galatians 6:4 - Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else.
This is about the third verse I found on this subject, the first two creeped me out.) Do I give it time to speak to me every day?
No. Recently had a major revelation that I am just not wired for daily self-forcing-type habits and God is okay with that
. I function best when I'm tuned in to God and myself and just doing what feels right to me from moment to moment, and it's great
that my nature encourages me to live that way. Having said that, I would like to read the Bible more. I'm currently feeling awkward about it because I've recently shifted from 'I'm sure it's all at least a bit
God-inspired in some
way, even if not the way it's commonly understood' to 'no, a lot of this really was just made up by humans'. Which means I now need to be reading it with vastly
more spiritual connection, discernment, and critical thinking than I was before, and just eek
, frankly. Having difficulty trusting myself to do that and not go barking up too many wrong trees. Am I enjoying prayer?
Very much when I manage to do it. Managing to do it remains a big problem. When did I last speak to someone else of my faith?
Yesterday. I don't favour evangelism but I do favour being open and non-embarrassed about your spiritual life when it comes up. I've been finding this pretty hard and I'm getting better at it. Do I pray about the money I spend?
NO and that would be a really good idea! Never occurred to me! Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
NO, massive life-damaging problem here. Having said which, I did catch up on a lot of sleep yesterday and woke up early this morning, so progress. (Also: awww. This question really
says student society to me.) Do I disobey God in anything?
Yes, I often have a feeling that God wants me to do/avoid something, and ignore it. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy.?
See above!! Am I defeated in any part of my life?
No! Lots of areas in which I'm down, but still fighting. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrusting?
Jealous - Yes. Mainly being jealous of other people's perceived virtues, which of course gets really silly when you're like 'GRR, WHY CAN'T I BE MORE COMPASSIONATE LIKE SO-AND-SO?' Also, being jealous of people who are close to someone I love - not so much at the moment, but it got really
bad when I was living with my last housemate.
Impure - I'm sure John Wesley meant this to be about sex, but I don't think sex makes a person impure. To me, purity is about pure love flowing through an open heart. A wide-eyed, childlike spirit, clear of preconceptions. Transparency. Being like a glass filled with a clear light for eyes to see that can.
I think I've got some of that already and I want so much more.
Irritable/touchy - I've sometimes had problems with this, but not lately. NB. I don't think feeling irritable is wrong because there's no such thing as a wrong feeling, though there are more and less helpful ways of dealing with it.
Distrusting - Yes, actually. I think of myself as a really trusting person, but I have a HUGE lurking monster belief that I'm at constant risk of being rejected and thrown out on my ear because I deserve it. How do I spend my spare time?
Goofing off on the internet and drinking. Needs work. Am I proud?
because of my rocky self-esteem, I do have a need to see myself as 'more special than others'. I'm trying to switch over to 'everyone is equally special', because dude, we are. Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisees who despised the publican?
Not sure I've literally thanked God for it, but I've definitely been known to feel smug in that way. Ick, uncomfortable realisation. This would be linked to the 'need to see myself as more special than others' thing. Is there anyone I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? I If so, what am I doing about it?
Fear - Yes, working to rebuild my relationship with them. Though I object to the implication that being scared of someone is wrong and that it's the responsibility of the scared person to do something about it!
Dislike - I have trouble with men who hit on me/make sexual comments to me. If I really care about being friends with the guy I'll have the 'I need you to not be at all sexual with me' conversation, if he's just an acquaintance I'm likely to just be jittery around him and show him wildly variable amounts of friendliness depending on how well I'm coping that day. Not sure what to do about this. Probably giving myself more reassurance that I'm allowed to feel uncomfortable will lead to handling this in a MORE compassionate way, not less.
Disown - no
Criticize - yes, I wouldn't say I'm a big criticiser but I do do it, and behind people's backs rather than to their face. Sometimes because I need validation for my feelings, and sometimes because somebody else started it and I want to give THEM validation for their feelings. Working on talking about people's behaviour in a more NVC
way, which allows you to do all the feeling-validating without saying that another human being sucks.
Resentment - I have some childhood stuff like most people, and also some more recent stuff from a friendship that ended badly. Currently it's Confused Emotional Soup and it's hard to sort out what I actually feel from what I think I ought to feel and what I think other people think I ought to feel. Needs a lot more time and possibly more attention than I've been giving it.
Disregard - Yes, a lot of friendships and potential friendships I've been giving a LOT less time to than I'd like. Procrastination/social anxiety thing, needs work. Also (paradoxically) needs massive permission to not
interact with people, because guilt makes it so much harder for me to get in touch. Do I grumble or complain constantly?
No, I do a bit but not constantly!! Is Christ real to me?
YES!! Though the bar is really set pretty low in my case. A whole LOT of stuff is real to me. Belief isn't something I usually have to try at. So I do worry that my faith is like the seeds that fell on stony ground and it'll wither because its roots are shallow. Having said which, Mary Poppins has been real to me for 30 years, and no sign of withering there yet!!