Monday, November 23, 2009

On becoming a God-defined, non-anxious presence

Robert Grant shared this phrase with us during his recent visit here. The phrase is not original with Robert; I believe it comes from his work with coaching/mentoring and leadership development, but perhaps he can speak to that more specifically. In any event, I have found it packed with layers of meaning. What would I be like if I were becoming increasingly a God-defined, non-anxious presence? What would the life and work of the church look like? How do I move from my "current reality" towards the kind of future reality that is God-defined, non-anxious, and fully present, to God and to the people I happen to be with?

So please weigh in on this. What does "God-defined" do for you, or where does it take you? Any connections to make between anxiety levels and what is defining you? We're not hunting for some kind of "right answer," but want to see what kinds of conversations this phrase kicks up for us.


Brian Emmet said...

Hope Robert will pay us a visit... and something like this might be up Dr. Sam's alley?

Dr. Sam said...

Good phrase!

Wow! God's presence = healing, safe, accepting, all is under control, feels good... All that our parents should have been to us. :)

Brian Emmet said...

Hmm, have we at last found a worthy recipient of our LIP (least Interesting Post) Award?

just joe said...

I'm not sure why, but the apparent interest in participating in the blog conversation has been tapering off for a while ... even though the number of daily visitors to the blog remains about the same. Maybe eveyone is just too busy or is all talked out.

steve H said...

To discuss the phrase "God-defined" requires some thought and choices about what one is even defining. A God-defined person? A God-defined people? ...purpose? ...mission? ...success?

Of course, it should be all of these and all of everything. Every thing should start and end with God and God's creation and God's intended end.

However, I don't live that way too much of the time. It's an ideal (although I had not used the phrase before)that hopefully is becoming reality in me.

Concerning the topic and participation: When we choose to discuss a book, then it pretty much limits discussion to those who have read it, doesn't it? That may not be a bad thing; it doesn't mean that those who simply "look in" on the conversation aren't gaining good from it.

just joe said...

true ... maybe one of these days we should discuss an old classic that everyone has probably read.

Regarding anxiety: I battle with it all the time. It is a useful internal barometer for me to know to what degree I am walking in the kingdom in the moment: if there is no joy and no peace, then I am at that at point in time not fully living in the kingdom and the Holy Spirit (Romans) and I need to do some self-evaluation. Like every other day!

happy thanksgiving to all!

John M. said...

Just now read the new post Brian. I had been painting a room here at home during my school break.

Good comments Sam, Steve and Joseph. I like what each of you said.

" Living/being in the present moment" has been a current emphasis and challenge for me recently. To the degree I am able to do this, my classes at school, my relating to my students and my other relationships are much more pleasant and enjoyable -- I'm sure for them as well as for me.

Now,I can add more content to the above phrase by attempting to "live in the present God-defined moment as a non-anxious presence".

A couple practical tools in addition to practicing His presence: Journaling and Drugs (properly prescribed and administered). When I discovered several years ago that I had an ADHD brain (which explained so much) and went on medication it provided a freedom from generalized, floating anxiety that I had only exprerienced in fleeting increments before. I had tried many things to obtain a clarity of mind and freedom from depression and anxiety -- including, but not limited to, exercise, addictive/compulsive behaviors (to which I am still prone), my wife, prayer, fasting and deliverence. Then I found that a couple small pills each day did wonders -- not eliminating internal anciety, but minimizing it and turning the trend from incremental peace toward incremental anxiety.

So the meds actually assist me in becoming more God-defined and "non-anxious". I see them as an answer to the prayers I prayed for many years for deliverance and relief. Those RX's have become part of my daily bread. Not a silver bullet; not a substitute for God's presence and peace, but a tool to help me abide there more frequently and fully.

A clear conscience obtained by living transparently and in daily accountability with another human being does wonders to reduce anxiety also.

Brian Emmet said...

OK, maybe there is some traction here. "God-defined" in my mind focuses on identity: something or someone "defines" (the term can have a good sense/meaning to it, not a coercive, oppressive or reductionistic sense) each of us, tells us who we are and what our lives are for. Of course we each participate in that process, but we're not the primary agents of our own identity in the ways we typically think we are.

"Non-anxious" speaks of our internal realities, of the ways that a God-secured identity releases us from the pride and fear of which anxieties are inevitably a prime indicator.

"Presence" speaks of outward expression, how I "am" towards others as well as how I behave towards them.

I find this phrase articulating an attractive, well-integrated life. Jesus is, of course, the exemplar of a God-defined, non-anxious presence... but how would our witness, worship and work be transformed if we were each of us and all of us becoming God-defined, non-anxious presences? People might actually want to come/come back to church!

(Yes, that last sentence should have said "give the gospel a fresh hearing" rather than speaking of coming/going to church!)

John M. said...

Serenity Prayer:

Most of us have heard the "Serenity Prayer", but it turns out that traditional recovery programs use only the first four lines. Many have not heard the whole prayer. The Celebrate Recovery Program out of Saddleback uses the entire prayer. I think it is pertinet to our discussion:

"Prayer for Serenity"
"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next."
-- Reinald Niebuhr


Men and women in recovery are encouraged to pray this prayer daily. Not a bad idea for us all.

just joe said...

i've noticed a definite correlation between my blood pressure and anxiety and/or stress. It becomes particularly notable near the end of the semester, when deadlines are approaching or when something changes in Debbie's medical condition.

Last winter I often had to go out into my back yard and take a nap in a hammock as a way of bringing my bp down. There was something about the outdoor sounds of birds and the wind that has a calming affect on me. My bp would occasionally drop as much as 10 points or more.

by-the-way, I put up a new post about a book and an on-line "strengths" evaluation. Y'all can comment or just benefit from the info.

Brian: one philosophy of blogging is to post something every few days (like twice a week) and let people either comment or not. If no one comments, you just move on to the next item.

Robert said...

Yo All

Belated Thanksgiving blessings...

I will jump in...just finished a 13 day trip including a stop to be with Brian and company.

All I know is...when I bring up being a "God defined non-anxious presence"...everybody says..."I want that!" Folks internal "Amen" goes off. BTW...that is one perfect description of my elder brother Jesus.