Form: Shaping Spirituality: Re-Form

In this series I have touched on a way of spiritual formation. First there is inform which we all are born into. Then as we grow most of us naturally move into preform. A great number of people remain at this stage and are not able/willing to do take the next step and die to self in order to conform to spiritual disciplines. This post will touch on what happens in the next stage: reform.

When you go to a gym and conform your workout to the suggestions of the trainer, you begin to feel differently. Whereas you may have really liked to work your biceps, the trainer forces you to also work your triceps. This feels differently. When we conform our lives to spiritual disciplines we also begin to feel differently. We may be very comfortable with prayer, but when our spiritual guide asks us to sit in silence for periods of time - it feels weird. If is a muscle we have not worked out before. Soon, the novelty of being in silence feels really quite great. It is something that we integrate into our "workout" and now feel like it is something that we will always do.

Until something throws us out of our routine. We go on vacation, we visit family, we have a death in our lives, a child is sick, we are sick, there is a three day weekend - anything that throws off the rhythm we have established in our "spiritual workout". Because the new routine of our "spiritual workout" has not had a chance to grow deep roots in our lives, we can quickly forget to continue these new disciplines. After a day or so, we rationalize away why we have not engaged these disciplines and then we wake up and then feel guilty that we have not "worked out" in sometime and then these new disciplines wither away.

This cycle of integrating our new "workout" into our lives and then it dropping out of our lives is the stage of spiritual formation I call Reforming. Like a potter who works and reworks clay, our lives are being reworked to a new shape. Let us be clear here, in the potter metaphor, you and I are not the potter we are the clay and the spiritual disciplines become the potter's wheel. If the wheel is not spinning, then the clay will just sit there and there is only so much the potter can do. The potter is able to work and reform the clay without the wheel, but the clay is limited in what shapes it can take.

Being reformed is the hardest part of spiritual formation. It is harder than conforming to new disciplines it is harder than dying to self. It is the hardest because it is ongoing. There is constant upkeep to ensure the wheel is still spinning.

And many of us just don't have that sort of discipline. However, if we are persistent, we will move into the next stage of spiritual formation - transform.