Spiritual Formation Essay

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The term “spiritual formation” can mean diverse things to different people. For me as a Christian, spiritual formation is the process by which God forms a person into His image. The goal of formation, as expressed by Ashbrook (2009), is “a Love Relationship with God…to live fully and freely in His love, and to respond by loving Him as well” (p. 26). Many experiences, both positive and negative, shape an individual’s relationship with God. The journey of formation will be distinctive, and often enigmatic except in hindsight, for each individual. My journey, filled with pain and insight, is no less unique and mysterious.
Early formative experiences in a person’s life, both the helpful and hurtful, are often the most influential; my own life is no exception. My father grew up with an abusive, alcoholic stepfather who would come home drunk several times a week and beat him. The violence escalated to the point that, at age 16, my father had to leave home and move in with his older sister. Thankfully, my father did not drink and was not physically abusive to me. My mother, on the other hand, was severely bi-polar. In and out of psychiatric hospitals, my
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From war veterans to disaster survivors, to child abuse victims, the signs are universal: along with fear and shame, they experience a loss of self, a numbing of emotions, reorganized perceptions and imagination, and an inability to leave the trauma in the past. All of these symptoms have sabotaged my relationships, including my relationship with God, my vocational pursuits, and indeed, my life. Finally, a few years ago, God began to show me how He sees me, which is who He created me to be and who I truly am. I began to discover my identity, to relate to other people and to God more authentically, and to perceive reality more accurately (at least I think…). Instead of just trying to survive, as victims of trauma do, I have direction for my
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