External, Internal and Eternal Life

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  How many lives do we live?  Most of us would say we  have one life.  But I believe that I am living three lives simultaneously…External, Internal and Eternal.  Let me explain.

We all have an external self…the one the world can see.  At first glance, people will judge us by our physical bodies.  Are we beautiful? Well proportioned? Without scar or blemish?  Can we run fast, or play sports well, or climb a mountain?  Are we disabled and need assistance with our activities of daily living?  While physical appearance may seem important, it shows only part of who we are in relation to others.

Some of us wear our internal emotions on our external sleeves.  Such is the joy of being an extrovert.  My family and friends know pretty much how I am feeling at any given moment. What you see is usually what you get.

But that still isn’t the entirety of my being.  There are also areas of my life that I don’t often talk about.  I call that my internal life.  To get past the superficial, I have to know you pretty well and trust you completely before I will begin to share the deepest parts of myself.  Actually, that is very wise.  It often keeps us from being hurt or even betrayed.

If I decide to share my internal self, that means that I will allow others to get to know me beyond the superficial.  I may share stories about my upbringing, or talk about my values, or describe my passions and what I hold dear.  Sometimes that is in a personal, one on one relationship.  Other times, it is in a group setting such as a book club, writers group, bible study, or any group where people support one another.

And then there is my eternal self, the one I believe will live forever.  From the moment I was conceived in my mother’s womb, I believe that I began life eternal life with my Creator and that life will be everlasting.  That is based on my Christian faith and my personal beliefs.  Indeed, this is a Mystery that really cannot be explained, only experienced…and it goes to the core of who I am.

There have been quite a few people over the years that I have trusted with my external, internal and eternal life, but only when a great bond of trust had been formed.  In my vocation as a parish priest, chaplain, and retreat leader, I have also had the privilege of people gaining enough trust in their relationship with me enough to share all of themselves with me to share their deepest selves…external, internal and eternal.

As I move farther away from parish ministry and chaplaincy work, I am delving deeper into social media as a way to connect with others on a spiritual level, Sometimes I wonder how deeply I will be able to connect with others perhaps without every being with them in person.

I have had glimpses into this through my limited experience with social media.  I have been amazed that I have connected with others, beyond the superficial, through Facebook and more recently through my blog.

My goal is to connect with others in such a way that we both can grow spiritually through our sharing on social media.  Here’s how it is working so far.  When I feel a connection with someone through a Facebook page or website, I will often send them a personal message and see how they respond.  Often this leads to more sharing, perhaps through a Skype visit or Face time meeting.  In a few instances, it has led to meeting them in person.

That leads me to thinking about my goal for this blog, which is still in formation mode.

Recently, I was part of a class on social media where we were given a model of how to increase our followers on Facebook, websites and blogs.  We were told that if we really worked the system, we  might be able to increase our follows to 10,000!  Yikes!!!

That hardly goes along with my pastoral model of ministry.  I never wanted to be pastor of a mega church where I was the leader of leaders but didn’t really have interactions with parishioners.  So, if I am honest,  I would like to have a more pastoral size following…perhaps someday reaching two to three hundred people.  That feels about right to me.

I would like us to have a place to share some of our thoughts on the external, internal, and eternal lives we are leading.  Would you like to be part of such a group?  Than maybe this blog is for you.  Blessings, Mary Anne+

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2 thoughts on “External, Internal and Eternal Life

  1. Bev Wilson says:

    Hi Mary Anne: I enjoy reading your writing – it flows beautifully – which I appreciate. I am tired of slogging through dense blogs – I just won’t do it anymore. Thank you for this one.

    I find I tend to share the internal and external quickly in some situations (we both do my husband and I) especially when we have sense of call to tell some of our story with our adopted daughter. This certainly does run the risk of sharing tender internal pieces that aren’t always understood or not handled well – and that has happened many times. But we do take that risk, trusting God with protection of our sensitive spirits and protection of our daughter. We had been asked to speak 3 times in Asia about our story of adoption and her disabilities and what life has been like for us and for her. These have been amazing experiences across religions and fath and in a context where shame is attached to disabilities, it seems we have brought great comfort in being open about our story. We tell ‘our story’ often one one as well and it has been a broken and difficult one full of grief – even to today. Our girl is 27. In these various contexts we tell the external story of long infertility years, her miraculous adoption and the devastation of her birth which we attended, the internal one of joy, pain, humour, fear, sweetness, despair and how that has impacted our eternal story. However, in keeping with your comments – in other areas of life, although we are open people we do take care of how far we walk into a relationship in an effort of self-care as pastors.

    I have appreciated being able to get to know you a bit through Abbey of the Arts, and facebook. I am amazed how this acutally works, but I have begun to tend some lovely friendships through the Abbey and Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks.

    Thanks again. Blessings on your writing.

    bev.

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