Essay is done.
Not too bad for a last minute kind of thing.
I think the conclusion is pretty shoddy – sort of tacky, but oh well. It made me think through a fair bit of stuff and explore a lot of the old.
In discovering what my 5 Principles of Living are, I have explored my past experience, the struggles that I’ve had in life and how I have responded. There are areas in my life where I have recognised I have fallen short and have purposefully set out to grow from them. Values that I hold through Christianity and these periods of growth highlight the framework of who I am and point me in a definite direction of finding my Principles of Living.
The resulting list:
-Faithfulness and communication with God
-Respect and compassion
Faithfulness and Communication with God
This principle of living, Faithfulness and communication with God is the principle that I place most priority on. As, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deut. 6:5) Is the first Biblical commandment, I would like to think that this is true for myself.
Evidence of this in my own life has been my continual growth process of recognising that God should be the most important. My journey from a 10 year old not particularly wanting to join in with my sister’s ‘Bible club’ and my fierce independence in ‘finding’ God on my own been has illustrated Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” where God has placed incidents throughout my life where I could do no less than rely on him. An example of this in the past week, where I struggled in needing to talk to someone and God not only provided encouragement in several forms but literally set up the situation where I could talk to this person, a circumstance that would not normally occur.
A large part of seeing God work in my own life has been through prayer. More recently I have had valued times of getting up on a Saturday morning and simply setting out to ‘do breakfast’ with God. This is my personal illustration of Mark 1:35 “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” And although it is neither very early, nor dark, I have taken myself aside and set apart time for God other than my normal late evening, often rushed effort.
Through weekly, even daily examples of the small (sometimes large) things that God shows me, “[I] know therefore that the Lord [my] God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” (Deut. 7:9)
In looking at Patience as a principle of living, it is best to consider the issue of change, which has been significant in my life, as I have lived in multiple cultures. Satisfaction with who I am where I am has been a battle fought on and off. I’ve repeatedly used a change of scenery as leverage for altering myself. The desire to amend who I am, has inhibited me through racing ahead of the moment and forgetting to live in the now. I have grappled with wanting myself, and my responses to differ, becoming increasingly impatient with waiting for the future to happen. James 1:2-4 has become significant in my life,
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
I have always been an impatient person an it appears that patience and perseverance are not standards in my life but rather areas that I have difficulty with, however I believe that God has instilled patience as a principle that I am continually called to live up to.
Psalm 130:6 says, “My soul waits for the Lord and in his word I put my hope, more than the watchmen wait for the dawn.” I know that there is hope tied to waiting, where I once thought that change was the story of my life; looking back I would prefer to call it patience.
I have long understood that, “Whatever you listen to and experience the most will shape what you believe and what you do.” (Lookadoo, 2001: 23) which is why I have identified Mastery as a principle of living.
Romans 12:1-2 defines why mastery or, self-discipline/control is an important factor in my life,
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Identifying that my stubbornness can be reinterpreted as a quality has been eye opening. A practical example and a small attempt at this was a week that I took without music. It was difficult and I nearly gave up numerous times. Aside from some vague idea as to why, I had no reason to go through with it. Afterwards I discovered that the week was to, “Get some headspace, to stop letting songs do the thinking for me and make an effort to connect with God differently.” (Beimers, 2005)
Mastery is biblical, it is defined as self-control – a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:23. And encouraged in Ephesians 4:22-24,
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
For me, this principle of living requires determination through small challenges and results in affecting the way I think, live and act.
I have always placed immense value upon purity. As a principle of living, I want to be able to look back on this area (purity in relationships) as one that I have not drastically marred.
“Chastity [purity] is more than what you don’t do, it’s what how you live your life. You believe in respect and dignity. You give love a chance. You do believe that sex is wonderful and powerful. You want to share that gift with your soul mate for a lifetime.” (Smith, n.d.)
My reasons fall back to Ephesians 5:3, ”But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” And to Song of Solomon 2:7 “…do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.”
Practicality draws back to my decision to save sex until marriage, and the desire not to be someone who plays with relationships recklessly. I have never admired girls who go through boyfriends frequently and attempt to find their worth this way.
I want God to be completely in control of this area of my life, and be obedient in this, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Prov. 4:23) I trust him completely to bring the right person into my life at the right time because, “It is a safe thing to trust Him to fulfill the desire which He creates” (Carmichael, 1987: 106)
Respect and Compassion
After a fair amount of deliberation in pinpointing a fifth important principle, I came up with Respect and compassion. This is an area in which I fall far short in, but has been very significant in the past few years. My involvement in the leadership of a Christian youth website www.gush.com.au and the resultant need to deal with others fairly, has challenged my bias for being exceptionally strong in voicing my own opinion and my low level tolerance on the other ‘stupid ideas’ that people can present. Dealing with conflict between others and being a third party led me to frequently consider Galatians 5:13-15 (see appendix).
A request (to God) for compassion in the beginning of the year resulted in multiple situations in the following weeks that demanded no less than complete attention in that area. Living out Colossians 3:12-14,
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. … over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
In a specific situation, (and generally), compassion has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Continual affirmation of a girl who is going through an exceptionally difficult life affecting circumstance, is a choice I have to make repeatedly as there is the opportunity to let slide that relationship and leave her work through things on her own.
Some might say that compassion is a feeling, for me it is coupled with choice. I do not find it easy, but in living out that choice I hope to make compassion every bit a feeling and a part of who I am.
Although there are many things that I would like to say are personal standards, these five stand out as those that greatly affect the way I live. In choosing principles and looking at the circumstances that have helped shape who I am, faithfulness, mastery, patience, compassion and purity are relevant to who I am now and rather than change the list as I change, I would like it to grow as I grow.