Mark Matousek is an author and the active leader of a movement to end violence toward women. But his life wasn’t always about service. As he writes in his book, When You Are Falling, Dive,
“In my late 20s, I was your typical New York City alpha male. I never asked myself any spiritual questions. It took a fatal medical diagnosis for me to realize I did not have an inner life. But I didn’t want to die like a sleepwalker stumbling off a cliff. I wanted to use the time I had left to make a spiritual inquiry. The irony was that the frightening diagnosis turned out to be a false alarm. Today I am grateful for it because it absolutely changed my life.”
We don’t have to have a crisis in our lives to begin to develop our inner lives. Do you have an inner life? Do you have a sense of self that goes beyond your job, your role as a man or a woman, family member, friend? Are you able to see yourself as more than your past?
Your Inner Life
Jesus life and teachings were all about developing our inner lives. This is what he meant by his admonition to store up treasures in heaven.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6: 19-21
Having an inner life means opening ourselves to worthship.
Our word “worship” was derived from “worthship” meaning “to give worth to something.” Your inner life is really an act of worthship; the acceptance of your own worth as the dwelling place of Spirit. We then can worship God in the temple of our own being. We honor God with our recognition of God’s presence within us. We talk with God within, we listen to God within, we love God within ourselves and within all others. Worthship is true worship.
Having an inner life means relying on the Whole (God) of ourselves, for the Whole is greater than any part. As we worship God within ourselves, we come to rely on it more and more. We rely on it for guidance, for ideas, for answers to problems, for new possibilities for expressing ourselves, because we know that the Whole is the greater part of us. It is greater than our past experiences. Greater than our fears. Greater than any limitations we’ve accepted for ourselves.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Our minds may dwell on the past as we either long for it, or hold onto past hurts. We may have fears about the future, not only for ourselves, but for our family. What is greater than these? The Whole. The omnipresence of God. God is always where you are and can be relied upon as a constant Source of abundance, love, guidance and peace. When outer things fail us, we have something that will not fail us; something with which to meet life’s problems.
“Don’t be afraid, because I’m with you;
Don’t be anxious, because I am your God.
I keep on strengthening you; I’m truly helping you.
I’m surely upholding you with my victorious right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10
Having an inner life changes everything for the better.
As we develop our inner life, our outer life becomes better too. We feel more confident, more peaceful, more loving, more present. Romans 12:2 tells us clearly, “Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
What we think of as our mind is extremely limited without the larger influence of the Divine Mind of the Whole. This human mind keeps us conformed to this world, for it is unaware of the larger Mind of the Whole. However, the more we bring our attention to God within through the quiet of meditation and by taking time to be still, the more we are changed. Our mind clears and our heart opens. We become the person we always knew we could be.
There are many benefits to having an inner life. No one can take it away from you; it’s the one thing that is really yours. But most importantly, your inner life is the doorway to the real you; your larger Self, the Whole. Having an inner life means knowing this Self as your true identity. Wonderful new possibilities for your outer life then open to you. Your inner life is your real treasure, for in having this, you have everything.