Basic spirituality requires discipline. Prayer, fasting, meditation, solitude, silence, and even a strong yoga practice are all ways people from various faiths seek to accomplish spiritual growth. The principle behind these disciplines is the same: when we strip the trapping of the outside world from our view, we are left with Truth, Reality, and where we stand in context to the both of them.
This week I drove from Dallas to Denver on a work trip in a Chevy Sonic rented for me. A spartan car and a drive I had made several times before did nothing to entice me, but I was surprised at how unexpectedly refreshing this drive was. I have made the connection between long drives and my spiritual growth several times, but I always forget to make good on my realizations. I'll come back from a particularly formational trip and say, "I'm doing one of these once a month," but it doesn't happen. The next month I'll say, "not every month, who has that kind of gas money?"
Just me and my thoughts. No scarier proposition exists. I'd rather spend hours watching the same episode of Sportscenter or listening to monotonous talk on NPR than have to face the traps my mind might craft for me. Turning my brain off is the safe option, it's the option with the least possibility of failure, the option that never leads me to make any decisions.
Spurred by something I heard on the radio, I began to think about the culture in which I live and whether my generation has any idea what true vulnerability looks like. We say we do, we post everything about ourselves on Facebook or twitter, but really all we are doing is crafting a new mask we want the world to see. Facebook is just the latest in a long list of false realities. No one looks bad there, no one posts their actual problems there, and no one grows there. We cover our scars, moles, and blemishes and forget they exist.
Twenty-eight hours in a car by yourself can rip your mask off. The disciplines necessary for a vibrant spirituality are antithetical to the masks we wear. When you face the face you've kept under your mask for so long you've forgotten it's appearance, you begin to grow. Disciplines make this a regular occurrence just as the drive to Denver and back was a stab to the gut of my pretend self. How many more of me are there? How many masks have I worn to make people think certain ways about me? How many times have I been fooled by someone else's mask?
Well, I'm still not deleting my Facebook account, because how else would I see things I don't care about from people I don't remember meeting?
We have to be committed to balance.
I'm recommitting myself to practicing spiritual disciplines because it is the only way I know how to come face to face with the consuming fire of God. Through disciplines we become like the woman in Mark 5 who saw the opportunity to be healed and made it happen by grabbing at Jesus' robe. We become proactive partners in the work God is already doing in our lives.
I'm also going to start writing and thinking a lot more about vulnerability and what it means to share our experiences, pains, and victories with one another because I think our scars are to be shared, our stories are to be told, and our masks are to be broken.