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Pushing Past Fear, Uncategorized

Pushing Past Fear by Trusting Your Own Spirituality

“You have to trust the inner voice that shows the way.  You know that inner voice.  You turn to it often.  But after you have heard with clarity what you are asked to do, you start raising questions, fabricating objections, and seeking everyone else’s opinion.  Thus you become entangled in countless often contradictory thoughts, feelings, and ideas and lose touch with God in you.  And you end up dependent on all the people you have gathered around you.  Only by attending constantly to the inner voice can you be converted to a new life of freedom and joy.”

– Henri Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love

For too many years, I did not trust the inner voice of love that I heard in my soul.

It was a lousy, fear driven way to live.  It was not necessary.

Here’s how I learned this truth.

While serving as pastor in 2000, I came across an article on Lectio Divina, or Sacred Reading.  Although it was a historical and orthodox practice of the church, I had never been exposed to it.  Excited by this (new to me) discovery of a time-honored spiritual practice, I shared the article with the rest of the staff.  Experiencing explosive numerical growth at the time and determined to create programs to leverage this growth, the article was summarily ignored.  We were busy building church.  So I thought, “let it slide.”

But I couldn’t let it slide.  This practice, and many others that I learned of, connected my soul to God in a way that I had never experienced before.

For the next decade, at two “prevailing churches” I kept the practices that were forming my soul quiet.  I provided the church growth product, and provided it for large groups of people.  I managed systems and processes.  I also formed small groups and communities under the radar with others who wanted to pursue these historical, contemplative practices.  Practices that today are coming back into favor.

I lived dual spiritual lives until I just couldn’t do it any more.

I had to push past my fear of not fitting in, of being wired differently, and learn to trust the inner voice of love in my soul.

The process of learning to trust that voice is never easy.  The very first step is  to decide a place and a point where you will start.

How about here?

Why not today?

I don’t ever want to simply urge you to do, well, anything.  I want to offer doable steps.

Here is an uncomplicated exercise that you can do today.  It will only take eight minutes.

This small discipline will help you to connect, or reconnect, with the voice of God in you.

  • For the first minute, just be quiet.  Allow the pace of your thoughts and your heart rate to slow.  What is going on outside of you matters less than what is going on inside you.
  • For minutes two, three and four, write whatever you would say to God if he were sitting next to you.  Don’t over-think, don’t analyze, don’t edit.  Just write it out.
  • In minute five, just be quiet. Be conscious of what it going on inside of you, specifically any areas of resistance.
  • For minutes six, seven, and eight, write what you feel God saying in reply to what you just expressed to Him.  Don’t over-think, don’t analyze, don’t edit.  Just write it out.  Trust that the God of the universe is on your side, and wants to respond to you.
  • Go ahead and complete the exercise.  I’m happy to wait for you.

Are you done?

Read what you wrote again.

Are you surprised by what just happened?

How was  the experience?

If you would share in the comments below, I would be honored. You never know how much it helps others.

Or if that feels too exposed, you can email me.  I promise that I will reply.

God helping you to push past fear and claim your own spirituality.  Who would have  thought such a thing?


About Bill Todd

Bill Todd is a spiritual director and speaker living in Franklin TN. He is patiently loved by Jody Todd, and their children Kaleigh, Hannah, and Liam.


11 thoughts on “Pushing Past Fear by Trusting Your Own Spirituality

  1. Henri Nouwen is a hero of mine (boy 3 is named Henri). I can’t remember if you introduced me to him, but I know we’ve shared for many years an affinity for his spirit. Over the last 18 months, contemplation has been a quality I’ve been intentionally increasing. Nouwen a large influence in that, of course, and learning lots right now from Thomas Merton.

    Thanks for writing this post. Even with my recent emphasis, your exercise was highly meaningful for me! I can summarize my words as: You are distant. I am anxious. Love me.

    During the subsequent silence, trying not to jump to the next step, something very interesting – I wanted to respond to myself! My judgment on myself felt like a wall of water behind glass, straining to come pouring over me for those thoughts. Tough to resist… even at this moment…

    My sense of a response was light but real. “Here I am.”

    Thanks, Bill.

    Posted by DVD | March 25, 2011, 12:40 pm
    • DVD, thanks for jumping in.

      The thing that I like most about you is your family.

      My second favorite thing is your willingness to pursue you own path to God. And then share it, even when you know it won’t be well received.

      Good on you, man.

      Posted by Bill Todd | March 27, 2011, 9:49 pm
  2. Hey, I was thinking of Merton, too as I read this. I think it’s in Thoughts in Solitude where he says, become holy is hearing God speaking His name inside you. Sounds overly mystical, maybe, but it made perfect sense to me.

    My name is going to link to my other site, Bill. I’m afraid The Fred Effect is a little tasteless to link here. But I love seeing you on TFE.

    Posted by Fred Miller | March 27, 2011, 8:06 pm
    • I am plowing through Contemplative Prayed by Merton right now. I keep putting it down because he keeps calling my number and pointing out the discontinuity in my own life.

      Link to whatever you wish. But I’m going to keep promoting TFE. That’s the place I where I connected. You allow me to feel less alone. I’m a pastor who believes that the height of American cinema is Tommy Boy. A spiritual director who can quote Artie Lang movies. (I am particularly proficient in Beer League and Dirty Work.) The battle that I am fighting is to be myself, and not fit into expectations. I’ve only been good at two things – being a bartender and being a pastor.

      I think that there are a lot of us out there. Quiet for the most part. But there are a lot of us. We should unionize and move to Wisconsin.

      Edited to add: I don’t buy the idea of “overly mystical.” I think that’s the God speaking thing.

      Posted by Bill Todd | March 27, 2011, 9:46 pm
  3. I believe bartending and pastoring are the same line of work my dear friend. I say the bar is the more authentic of the two and strangely more peaceful.

    The comment made me think of the man who came in everyday for a medium coffee – 5 creams/3 sugars. I was all of 19 and clueless, but he was interesting with a melodic voice, so I paused to listen. He lived along the highway and would make these woolen sheep in various sizes all day long. They were in his yard and would sell them for a living. Interesting.

    One night after work we stopped in the local dive and who else would be sitting at the bar – medium coffee sheep man. Oh boy was my punk ass thought – what weirdness have I stumbled into as the only seat left was next to his…to my astoundment he was sober and drinking coffee.

    You are probably confused as to why I am drinking coffee when there is beer in here he launches at me.

    Keep in mind, 19, not sure why this is happening. I did not know that random confessions would be in my future.

    He tells me how he had spent years drinking, lost a family and still the only place comfortable was his workshop and the bar. These are my people was his bit. I make the sheep because God told me too, you see Jesus is real and we are a real mess. The sheep are people in all different sizes without a clue and everytime I make one I pray that is goes to the right person and Jesus will show up.

    Can you say what? I had no idea what this man was talking about, yet he was geniune and it was frightening to my shallow self.

    That’s what the comment about bartender reminded me of and thinking that man was real close to love and I got to hear it.

    That felt good to write…

    Posted by tina | March 29, 2011, 10:44 pm
    • Glad to see you here and pitching in to the conversation.

      In all the years that we have known each other, I have never heard that story.

      It’s connects a lot of dots for me – about you.

      Nothing but love for you queen bee.

      Posted by Bill Todd | March 30, 2011, 9:51 am
      • Just my early inauguration into living well, I didn’t know it then. I am glad to see these posts, refreshing beyond the screen as I have purposely ran from christian circles, it is not from disgust or anger, I am finding the raw soul more captivating.
        The folks I sit with think I am odd and ask why I am odd. Just read a piece where jesus was gay, play used scripture well and they were baffled why I wasn’t angry. They are well read, but clearly unfamiliar, so I say jesus is dangerous to anyone, this makes you think..jesus in the u.s. Might be a gay guy from texas….odd and why? The play is banned everywhere, good stuff… Corpus christi by terrance mcnally

        Posted by T | March 30, 2011, 11:09 pm
      • Familiar with the play. The theme of the unexpected Jesus.

        Posted by Bill Todd | April 1, 2011, 7:05 am
  4. I will have to share with you when we meet what God said to me as I did this. Very encouraging and very affirmative and very, very peaceful. In essence, lay down trying to get it right and come away with me. Say good-bye to performance and the longing for success that drains your soul and say hello to rest. Come away with me my love….

    I’ve always loved this little exercise but many times just simply forget to use it!

    Posted by jan owen | April 7, 2011, 2:09 pm
    • Song of Solomon 2:10-13

      My beloved spoke and said to me,
      “Arise, my darling,
      my beautiful one, come with me.
      See! The winter is past;
      the rains are over and gone.
      Flowers appear on the earth;
      the season of singing has come,
      the cooing of doves
      is heard in our land.
      The fig tree forms its early fruit;
      the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
      Arise, come, my darling;
      my beautiful one, come with me.”

      Posted by Bill Todd | April 7, 2011, 2:33 pm

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