By Ariel Villaseñor and Cameron Silsbee
Begin with prayer
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting. Take a moment to sit in silence in the presence of Jesus and each other. Have one person read Ephesians 3v16-19 over the group, and then have one person pray to ask the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Take a few minutes to discuss anything noteworthy from your time reading and praying through Luke 14.
Read this overview
There are few questions that linger on a person’s mind quite like the question about identity – “Who am I?” Often the question isn’t asked as openly. It can surface as anxiety around what college degree to go towards, what career to start, and whether to marry or not. It can also appear the older we get as questions about what we’ve done with our lives – our legacy in this world as we draw closer to death.
The foundational answer to this question is not necessarily complicated. You are joined with Christ, he is in you and you are in him. And as one joined with Christ, you are the beloved of God. It’s an answer that God intends for us to experience and explore over our entire lifetime.
And yet, we live in a world where we are addicted to words, noise, people, and performance-focused activities. God invites us to be still and grow in the process of knowing Him and knowing more of our true selves. As Ruth Haley Barton puts it, “To be still long enough so the swirling sediment can settle, the waters of our souls can become clear, and we can begin to see whatever is needing to be seen..”
Talk through the following discussion questions:
As you discuss the following questions, there is no need to rush to give an answer. It can be helpful to have silence for a moment as people think deeply about how to answer the question.
- How does your pace of life either connect or disconnect you from yourself and God? Briefly describe the pace of life for you that is most helpful in cultivating connection.
- Is there anything in your life that might need to be entrusted to God so that you can be fully present with him in solitude? How do you imagine you could entrust these things to him?
- In The Gift of Being Yourself, David Benner writes: “Genuine self-knowledge is available to all who (1) genuinely desire it, (2) are willing to prayerfully reflect on their experience, and (3) have the courage to meet themselves and God in solitude.” Which of those three do you struggle with the most as you explore your true self?
Talk about this week’s Practice as a Community:
For this week’s Practice, you set aside time to do silence and solitude three times. Setting aside at least 20 minutes each time will be needed. It will be helpful to have something to jot down notes on as part of this time.
In your time, use the following outline:
- Find a place that is quiet and distraction-free. Silence your phone and turn off any music that might be playing. Once you’re in a good space, invite the Spirit to lead your time.
- Begin by taking a deep breath, sitting with your body fully supported as you sit up. Close your eyes, taking a moment to see if you can identify what the experience of curiosity might feel like for you. Typically curiosity involves a desire to know or learn something without judgment. Notice any thoughts, feelings, images that come to mind, and even physical sensations connected to the experience of curiosity. What is it like for you to explore something unknown?
- As you continue to breathe in and out deeply, spend a few moments reflecting on how you’re feeling in this present moment (e.g., weighed down, exhausted, burnt out, unfulfilled, grateful, and/or satisfied). Approach this with openness, engagement, interest, and attentiveness to what you are feeling.
- Allow your attention to also include God’s presence with you. Shift your curiosity from how you’re feeling to include God as he is seeing you now. Curiosity implies a sense of not knowing, even uncertainty. What do you imagine God thinks of you at this moment?
- With all of this fresh in your mind, sit in silence and solitude for 15 minutes. Relax your mind in God’s presence, acknowledging it and accepting it without an agenda on what you should think or achieve in this time. As your mind wanders to different tasks, worries, or distractions (which is normal), gently focus your attention by thinking of the words, “You are my son/daughter whom I love. With you I am well pleased.”
- When the 15 minutes is over, take a few more minutes to reflect on this experience. Jot down what the experience was like for you (good, bad, or mundane) and anything you may have learned about God, your true self, and any other areas you would like to continue to explore with this posture of curiosity and openness.
- Share these reflections and insights with God in prayer.
Be prepared to debrief with your Community next week about how your time went.
Close in prayer