4 Books For The Spiritually-Curious Seeking Inspiration In The New Year

4 Books For The Spiritually-Curious Seeking Inspiration In The New Year

Welcome in new perspectives about spirituality and religion from renowned spiritual leaders.

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If you've heard anything about the "Spiritual - But Not Religious" trend and are curious about what place spirituality and religion might have in your life, you're certainly not alone. From negative experiences with religion growing up, confusion about what "spirituality" means, and mixed messages from the mass media and politics, it's no wonder that millennials are associated with leaving religion and looking towards what some call a more "individualized" form of spirituality. Spirituality means something different to every person, and many identify with certain parts of some religions but might feel less inclined to participate in the actual structure of religion (ie. attending church services). The following five books are from renowned spiritual leaders and might provide you with some more insight into how you approach spirituality and religion. Ultimately, these books get at the big questions about what makes life meaningful - and that's truly what unites all world religions.

1. "Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh" 

Sarah Blake

Well-known Vietnamese Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh's most inspirational words have been compiled in this easily digestible, one-page-a-day book. Each page is simple yet profound in its ability to share wisdom from the Buddha and mindfulness practices that you can implement into your life. This book is perfect for those who aren't big on reading or get bogged down by dense chapters.

2. "The Places That Scare You: A Guide To Fearlessness in Difficult Times" by Pema Chödrön

Sarah Blake

Pema Chödrön is an American Buddhist nun who writes about dealing with challenges and difficulties through Buddhist principles. Her approach is gentle, nurturing, and honest. Explore topics like practical tools for meditation, connecting with your heart, and staying open to experiencing the present moment.

3. "Wisdom Walk" by Sage Bennet

Sarah Blake

Sage Bennet is an ordained minister and Professor of Philosophy at Santa Monica College. Her book is essential for those that would like to learn more about the rituals and practices of other religions, in addition to implementing these practices in your own life. Bennet explores Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism, and more with deep respect and integrity.

4. "The Book of Awakening" by Mark Nepo

Sarah Blake

Mark Nepo's book is another one-page-a-day read, but each day offers a short quote or passage followed by one to two pages of additional insight and ends with a simple meditation or breathing practice. If you want to learn how to meditate specifically on topics like vulnerability, resilience, surrender, or pain, then Nepo's accessible approach may speak to you.

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When God Says, “Not Right Now.”

“God give me faith to wait and not manipulate. To trust You fully, no matter how my circumstances may appear." — Lynn Cowell

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One of the most frustrating yet beautiful things is when God tells us “no" or “not right now."

At the time, you may have agony or desperation for this one thing to work out in your life, but it slips away from you. You may ask God why. Why does He want you to be unhappy? Why does He want to take away your dreams?

At the time, you cannot see how much God truly is working in your life, but He is. In my life, every time that I was disappointed that a plan or dream didn't work out, I was devastated. I didn't want to be in a position where I was challenged and tested. I wanted all the blessings to flow and to fulfill what I thought was my plan in life. But that's exactly what it was: my plan.

I did not see at the time that that is not what God intended for me and that He actually had far greater plans than I did for myself. He needed to mold me into who I am supposed to be today. Along the way I have met the most amazing people that have had a huge impact on my life, have gone through the most amazing experiences with God, and I wouldn't trade going through all the trials because it has truly made me into the woman I am today.

“What God does in us while we wait is as important as what we are waiting for." – John Ortberg

God is continually, endlessly, working in our lives.

We may not see it, but He is. We may blame God for all the things that are going wrong in our lives, but we never see that in the end, we were supposed to go through the low valleys to get to the high, amazing, and beautiful mountains in our lives.

I truly believe that it's when you're at the bottom of the darkest pit in your life that you can actually see the light of God shining brightly upon you. During these times, pray to Him to lead you to understanding that this is all a part of His plan for you.

It hurts God to see that His child is suffering, but in order to carve out just the person that you are supposed to be, you must go through challenges. Where you are today is no accident. God is using the challenge you are in to shape you and prepare you for the place He wants you tomorrow. When it comes to God's plan, timing is absolutely everything.

Looking back on all the events that I had to endure before getting to where I am now, I know that I had to go through the trials in order to be just who I am today, which is happier than I have ever been because I know God and His plan for me. Waiting is the most difficult job of hope, but you must remain faithful and know that God is guiding you.

“When I wait, you strengthen my heart." Psalm 27:14

When you are waiting for God's righteous plan, don't lose faith in His goodness. He only wants the best for you, and in the end, you will look back and see just how much He truly was working in your life. Be patient and the blessings will flow.

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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How To Trust When You Feel Reluctant

How my sweet niece taught me the ropes of trust.

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What does it exactly mean to "trust"? I'm not too sure. I think that trust has so many different levels, and manifests differently given the scenario. The general definition is something like this.

The firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength in something or someone.

Which makes sense, but how trust materializes can be a really interesting, malleable thing. Yesterday, I was sitting on my couch staring out the window, all curled up in a blanket. I heard a little knock at the door, my niece and her Mimi poked their heads in. Little girl had just woken up from her nap, and Mimi was seeing if I might want to get some snuggles.

Oh, I just couldn't help but love her even more with those sleepy, little, quiet eyes and slow movements. Mimi placed her in my arms, but when she did, I could see some tension move into that little one's shoulders. She was a little more rigid. Still sitting with me, but stiff, not quite sure if I was safe. Then, she looked up at me and studied my face for a few small moments. She gave me her sweet smile and then she snuggled her shoulders and leaned in. There it was, trust in the sweetest of ways.

We were both just tucked in for 10 minutes or so, exchanging peeking smiles, and looking at each other's hands and fingers. All the while, my little niece was reminding me of myself.

Just 15 minutes before she came in, I was feeling that same stiffness in my shoulders, the tension of the day and my agenda. A rigid discomfort, and unsureness of where I was. I felt questions rising up in me. I was sitting in what I knew was right at the moment, but stiffly. Just like my little niece, still sitting and accepting the situation, but not eagerly.

It's a bummer, but I think I actually do this pretty often. I will accept the current that I'm swimming in and agree, yes, I'm in the right lane, but I'm not exactly embracing it. In this world, flavors change and we are called to adapt. That adaptation doesn't always come within a flicker or a blink. We might do so a little reluctantly, hesitantly, and cautiously. My niece taught me something so dear and so beloved yesterday. She taught me the exact answer of what to do when that stiffness starts to crumble your trust.

She reminded herself who was holding her. She studied my face and recalled where she had seen it before. And then she determined me safe.

Bring on the snuggles.

I found myself taking my nieces advice, and practicing this same remembrance. I needed to behold the face of my Father and study it, seek it. I had to remind myself of whose I am and where I am, how carefully I am held, how beloved I am, and how His Truth is the only certainty that I need.

"You have said, 'Seek My face.' My heart says to you, 'Your face, Lord, do I seek.'" (Psalm 27:8)

We must remind ourselves of those moments we came to know Him better, a wrinkle of His face, or a tender commonality that we've seen in His kindness. Take note of each encounter, and hold the things you learn as treasure with full trust and assurance. Allow yourself to really weigh into Him. Give every piece of yourself, because in His truth are the delights of trust, of reassurance, of quietness, and peace.

My little niece reminded me that far greater than anything can we behold on earth, is beholding Jesus' face.

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