I once worked for a hospital management firm whose president was a Mormon or Latter-Day Saint believer. He brought the famous author, teacher and Mormon Bishop Stephen Covey to speak at our annual management conference in Portland, Oregon. As we gazed at the awesome Mount Rainier glistening white in the distance we heard the author of the bestseller, 7-Habits of Highly Effective People, talk about our strength and perseverance when faced with difficult circumstances and people. I wish that I had kept the transcript of his talk, but I do remember vividly, as does my wife who also attended, the idea of avoiding “aura suckers.” These are people who take and do not give. They are the ones who look at the dark and not the light. They complain and grumble about everything and argue about anything. Do you have some or know some of these people in your life? I suspect we all do.
Covey talked of having a very strong sense of your priorities or “first things first.” He spoke of being centered in faith and not being easily distracted by the whims and rantings of others. Clearly aura suckers will bring you down. Their intent is not to build up but to have company in their misery. This place or pit is dangerous and will steal all of your energy. Once joined these aura suckers will attach and take all they can get, leaving you with a sense of having been used or more strongly abused or even raped. Typically they do not have a sense of boundaries, but will overflow into yours without warning or with great purpose.
Typically aura suckers are very needy and sad people who feel the world is not appreciative of them and their talents. They feel or are unloved, primarily because their perspective will repulse others, unless captured in their webs of woe.
So, now do you recognize someone in your life like this? I think that I once had some of these bad attributes of negativity and darkness. My good wife of now 46+ years strongly admonished me about 18 years ago that they must go or she would. This was one of the turning points in my life as I began to turn over the bright side of the leaf with God’s help. I had not known how much my childhood in an alcoholic family had rubbed off and tarnished views of life.
It was during this same period that we reevaluated a number of our friendships that seemed to be toxic and moved away from them. It seemed that this periodic review and cleansing of negative or even toxic relationships is a healthy exercise that will not return void, but bring light and healing. Covey would call this part of the “principle of balanced self-renewal.”
I believe that all of us need to look critically at ourselves on a regular basis to find things as Covey says that might dull our saw. We need to find people and practices that “sharpen our saw.” There are people and practices, even work that exhausts us and enervates like an aura sucker. We need to be connected to those things and people who energize us. We need to build endurance, strength and flexibility in our lives. For me this comes from spiritual disciplines. I recently taught a large men’s group with guys from a dozen churches about gaining strength from the Lord. The theme verse from Nehemiah 8:10 was, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” We need to draw on those things that lift us up and inspire us. For me the following is a list of interrelated and mutually reinforcing spiritual disciplines that I have intentionally been doing in my life to help persevere.
· Daily devotional time
· Daily aerobic exercise, coupled with Scripture recitation and praise singing
· Daily confession and repentance
· Praying for God’s guidance
· Meditation on God’s word, the Bible
· Meeting with an accountability brother regularly
· Silence and solitude
· Weekly Bible study
· Writing Christian essays
· Blogging Christian essays and sermons
· Reading spiritual books
· Serving as hospital chaplain
This list of spiritual disciplines and their work in me is inside-out. They work together toward my personal victory through the light of God over the darkness. “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience” as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, French philosopher and priest said in the mid-20th century. This is a journey of discovery and challenge through enlightenment and suffering. There is truth in Scripture as an anchor in the storms of life. The One who gave us this truth will hold even as the world churns and has lost its bearings. Don’t let it suck the energy from your soul and spirit.