Rumi says it well: “If you are not here with us in good faith, you are doing terrible damage.” The worst damage is to yourself. Good faith is essential. You have to live your life in good faith. It is the primary requirement for life that truly is life. You have to keep faith with yourself. In order to be here with us in good faith and in order to keep faith with yourself, your heart has to be in it. You have to care about what you are doing. It has to have value for you. The way to heart is the way of heart. If your heart isn’t in finding what has heart for you, we can’t help you. The search for heart cannot be some idle pastime until something better comes along. It can’t be some lark, some stroll in the park. You can’t be just hanging out with us for a while and be helped. If you are not here with us in good faith, we can’t help you. If you don’t care about you, about the life that is yours to live, we can’t help you.
We cannot do your caring for you. If you don’t care about you to the point of doing whatever it takes to ground yourself in what has heart for you and live out of your heart in all that you do, we can’t do much for you. It comes down to the fundamental realization: You are up to you. It is all up to you.
This is a turning point in our understanding of how life works. We save ourselves. We have, of course, heard all our lives that Christ saves us by dying in our place and appeasing God the Father Almighty who is bent on sending us to everlasting hell because of our sins that have offended him greatly. I’m changing that. I’m saying that you can say Christ saves us, but he saves us by dying in the service of what was truly important and thereby demonstrating to us that the way of salvation is a sacrificial death to all that we thought was important in order that we might live on the basis of what we are coming to understand is truly important. Sin, in my view, is being wrong about what is important. Life is being right about what is important. The progress of the spiritual journey is moving from being wrong about what is important to being right about what is important. And we do not hand over easily what we thought was important. It is like death.
No one can decide what is important to us for us. No one can tell us what is important and make it so. No one can live our life for us. At some point, we have to wake up in our lives just as they are, likely at the bottom of some wall, in some gutter, with some failed hope, or dream, or expectation, and, for some reason beyond our capacity to understand or explain—call it grace—we look ourselves in the eye, stand on our own feet, square ourselves up to how it is with us, and commit ourselves to living what remains of our life as well as anyone living, or dead, or yet to be born could live what remains of our life. At that point, we decide that it matters how we live our life and put our heart into living what remains of our life as well as our life can be lived. It is at that point that we can help you.
We help you with encouragement, understanding, compassionate presence, and by reminding you of the grounding belief, conviction, that it matters how we live our lives, and of the sacrifices that are necessary in order to live that life. Life is sacrificial. We have to make the sacrifices required to reconcile ourselves with, to square ourselves up to, the way things are, how it is with us, what we have to work with, what our choices, options, possibilities, restrictions and limits are. We have to make the sacrifices necessary to square ourselves up with how it is.
Necessary sacrifice always has to do with handing over how we wish things were, with how we would like things to be. We have to hand over, sacrifice, how we wish and want things to be, the life we wish were ours, in the service of the life that is actually our life to live. This is the spiritual task. It is called growing up. In making the necessary sacrifices, we grow up. Growing up consists of three things, lightening up, listening up, and squaring up.
Lightening up means letting go of the things that are killing us to hold on to. Listening up means listening to all that is being said to us by the events and circumstances, our physical symptoms, and the people in our lives. Squaring up means coming to terms with the life that has been our life up to this point, with the tools, the resources, the options, choices, and possibilities that are ours to work with, and with the life that may yet be ours to live from this point on. We start over again with the grounding belief that it matters how we live our lives.
It is ironic that we lose heart at the bottom of some wall, in some gutter, where our dreams have been disappointed, our plans have been laid waste, our hopes and expectations have been dashed, and nothing remains of the world we wished would be our world. And, yet, we also find heart at the bottom of that same wall, in that same gutter, when we square ourselves up to how things are, stand on our feet, embrace the life that is yet our life to live and live it, committing ourselves to the life that can yet be, no matter how far it is from the life we wish could be, anyway, nevertheless, even so!