The Journey Outward Again, Stage 5 and 6
Stage 5 is
“the journey outward” where our “focus is outward, but from a new, grounded centre of ourselves” (133). At this stage, “we surrender to God’s will to fully direct our lives, but with our eyes wide open, aware but unafraid of the consequences” (133). We possess a new-found confidence that God loves us fully, just as we are. “There is a human tendency to think that if God really knew us God would not love us… At stage 5 we grow into the full awareness that God truly loves us even though we are never fully whole. God loves us in our humanness” (134).
With newfound inward resources, we “venture outside our self-interests to others” (133). We are weak, but whole. Aware of our faults, we are confident that God will work through us.
Wholeness looks a lot like weakness at this stage. Wholeness does not make us stronger; it allows God to work through our weaknesses. Wholeness means being very aware of our faults but not letting them trip us… God can use us most in our brokenness, a truth that was very hard to accept until the Wall experience. (135)
To those still at earlier stages, we appear impractical, inefficient, and out of touch.
Frequently, we appear to be impractical and out of touch with reality. The way the world functions around us, people who are other directed, whole, selfless, and called by God are counterculture. When we love people despite their having failed miserably in our society for whatever reason, we are called naïve; when we stay with the grieving, we are considered caretakers; when we give money away, we are considered poor managers; when we yield, we are considered noncompetitive; when we let go, we are considered weak. We just do not fit with the realistic expectations of a world that is out to be productive and to win. Even the productive Christians at earlier stages in the journey think we at stage 5 have lost our edge…
At stage 5 we are not as oriented toward productivity with outward signs or products. Consequently, we appear less productive and slightly isolated. We are in fact quite active. But we have a tendency to do things behind the scenes or on a one-to-one basis. We never realize that we are hardly noticed. This style can be very confusing and even frustrating for those who want us to be leaders in the more traditional way. (144-145)
Stage 6 is
“the life of love”
where God’s love is demonstrated through us “to others in the world more clearly and consistently than we ever thought possible” (152). By losing ourselves, we find ourselves. God’s presence is experienced in all relationships.
Our times alone with God come during the quiet times away as well as in the everyday, unceasing conversations. We have little ambition for being well known, rich, successful, noteworthy, goal-oriented, or “spiritual”… We are Spirit-filled but in a quiet, unassuming way. (153)
We love with great compassion modeled after God’s love. We live with less and delight in doing menial tasks.
At stage 6 we can reach far beyond our own capacity and love our fellow human beings with deep compassion, because we know that all come from and are loved by God. As Jesus was compassionate even in Gethsemane, at his trial, and on the cross, so we are compassionate under extreme hardship…
At stage 6 we become aware that the more of God we have, the less of everything else we need. We do not renounce material possession. We simply learn to need them less; we become detached from things and people as props or bolstering devices…
We are full of surprises because we are so free, so full of God, and so whole. We can say or do preposterous things because we are not afraid of death. We can deliberately give up our lives, materially, physically, mentally, and emotionally for the service of others without feeling afraid of the deep loss. (154-155, 156)
Our expression of love is selfless rather than needy. We love without the need to be loved in return. We passionately love others in a dispassionate (disinterested, detached) way. We are not egocentric (self-centred), but theocentric (God-centred), christocentric (Christ-centred), and eccentric (others-centred). We love others, not for our sake, but for their own sake; not with our goodness in mind, but with their goodness in mind.
Having shed the false self – a self rooted in possessions, accomplishments, and human acceptance – we embrace our true self, that of being eternally and fully loved by God.