[box] Varied voices, divers opinions, and new insights often break us out of ruts. With that in mind, I’ve asked Brian Plachta a fellow writer, spiritual director, and coach to write this installment of my blog (see his full bio below). I know Brian’s take on spiritual formation will encourage you. Eugene[/box]
“What’s that cedar box in your living room?” I asked my aunt.
“It’s my hope chest,” Auntie responded. Her eyes lifted, filled with memories. “I store all my pretties in it—Grandma’s sterling silver, Grandpa’s wool blankets, and photo albums of loved ones.”
Come to think of it, my dad had a special box too. It was his toolbox. He filled it with handy screwdrivers, pliers, hammers, and wrenches.
And as a child, I had a toy box where I stored my baseball mitts, Tonka trucks, and Raggedy Andy.
Each of these vessels contain treasures. We place in them the things we cherish. Their touch, smell, and images bring inner peace. Comfort.
Our Spiritual Vessels
It’s the same with our spiritual lives. Our hearts are the unique vessels God has gifted us to store life-giving memories, images, hopes, and dreams.
What we place in our hearts shapes and forms us. They become an inner guide.
And we get to choose what goes into them.
It’s All About the Image
According to an article in the online magazine, Imonomy, our image of ourselves, God, and other people greatly affects our identities and belief systems. Because we retain the memory of pictures and metaphors for long periods of time, these images shape and mold us, from the choices we make every day to the stories we tell ourselves about who we are.
It’s important to step back and look at what we place in our hearts so we can hold onto the life-giving images, and replace those harmful to inner peace and growth.
In my book, Life’s Toolbox—Blueprints Included, I describe some of the spiritual tools necessary to maneuver the ups and downs of life. They include:
Our Image of God
What image of the Creator do you carry in your heart? Is your picture one of love or fear? Is God a friend, a judge, or someone else for you? If your heart were a treasure chest, what picture of the Creator would you like to store there?
The Image of Ourselves
What’s your image of your authentic self? What would you like it to be? How does the inner photograph of yourself impact how you live?
The Gift You Give Yourself
What do you place in your life’s toolbox to recharge? Do you allow yourself the gift of daily solitude to be alone with the Creator? The Divine Spirit desires to guide you and wants what’s best for you. How does the gift of quiet time each day center and ground you in God?
What books do you place in your hope chest? Which ones do you read to inspire you, provide new insights, and lead you toward inner peace and wholeness?
Who are the men and women you look up to, those you treasure in your heart? What values do they model for you? How do you integrate those virtues into your life? Is there a mentor, spiritual friend, or soulmate you hold dear who nudges you to grow? If not, can you seek one?
Our hearts and souls are the precious gifts God has given us to store spiritual treasures and claim the lives we and the Creator imagine for us—lives filled with joy, passion, love, and inner peace. As we choose and cherish life-giving tools for the journey, we gain wisdom. We learn how to navigate this thing called life.
What tools are in your Life’s Spiritual Toolbox? What images, daily practices, and people strengthen and deepen your relationship with God and your authentic self?
Fill your life with the spiritual tools that inspire you to grow, and see how inner peace, balance, and wholeness flow like Divine Water within your heart.
PS: If you’d like to discover more spiritual tools for your life’s journey, click on the link below to get a free e-copy of Life’s Toolbox. You’ll also receive the weekly Simple Wisdom for Everyday Living reflection in your email box each Monday.
—brian j placht
Brian J. Plachta holds a Masters in Pastoral Counseling, and is a certified Spiritual Director. He is a frequent workshop speaker on spirituality topics for churches, spiritual life centers and men’s conferences throughout the state of Michigan. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member at the Dominican Center at Marywood, an ecumenical spiritual life center in West Michigan. He is lawyer with the law firm of Plachta, Murphy & Associates, P.C. in Grand Rapids, Michigan.