on healing

 

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These are my very real, honest thoughts straight from my journal. My intention is not to hurt anyone by sharing my heart; but rather to share what I used to believe and have struggled to let go of, and how I am moving into new territory of learning to rest in the mystery of God and His mercy, grace and love for me…and you.

“Healing does not mean going back to the way things were before, but rather allowing what is now to move us closer to God.” Ram Dass

I don’t ever want to go back…

to the intense shame • to the cage of religion • to the belief that God will lock me out of Heaven if I don’t get my act together • to relationships that kept me in bondage • to treating my daughter like a project rather than a uniquely created-by-God individual • to a church service being a chore rather than something I get to do • to cutting people out of my life who don’t believe in the same way • to trying to please everyone to the point of exhaustion, frustration and resentment • to believing that one man who stands on a pulpit every weekend is the voice of God • to thinking that people who have never walked a mile in my shoes have the answers for my life • to thinking that every difficult thing that happens to me is God’s punishment • to being so crazy busy with church work that I don’t have time to “Be still and Know He is God” • to thinking I have to be someone else in order for God to love me • to not allowing myself to feel the pain just so I can make everyone else comfortable • to telling others what they “should” be “doing” to be faithful followers rather than letting the Good News drive their love and service • to exclusively reading Christian books, listening to Christian music, and learning from Christian teachers • to being a platform builder for others’ agendas • to thinking people get sick and die because their faith wasn’t strong enough • to thinking people struggle financially because they don’t give enough • to thinking there’s a “right” way to pray • to thinking if I or someone else struggles with depression that we are not “saved” • to thinking that my own Creator can’t stand to look at me (see Psalm 139) • to wearing a mask so I can pretend I’m “holier than thou” and so I don’t “ruin my witness” • to trying to “evangelise” rather than love people where they are • to thinking my church is better than yours • to feeling guilty for resting • to thinking I’m less-than because I’m not married • to viewing God as perpetually angry and punitive • to not using my voice to speak up against teachings that are hurting God’s children • to thinking others are more righteous and deserving of His love (Romans 3:10) • to thinking suicide is the answer when I can’t seem to get my life straightened out •

Do Not Be Ashamed

I heard this poem in a Tara Brach talk titled Be All That You Are. I love it so much!!

Do Not Be Ashamed

You will be walking some night
in the comfortable dark of your yard
and suddenly a great light will shine
round about you, and behind you
will be a wall you never saw before.
It will be clear to you suddenly
that you were about to escape,
and that you are guilty: you misread
the complex instructions, you are not
a member, you lost your card
or never had one. And you will know
that they have been there all along,
their eyes on your letters and books,
their hands in your pockets,
their ears wired to your bed.
Though you have done nothing shameful,
they will want you to be ashamed.
They will want you to kneel and weep
and say you should have been like them.
And once you say you are ashamed,
reading the page they hold out to you,
then such light as you have made
in your history will leave you.
They will no longer need to pursue you.
You will pursue them, begging forgiveness.
They will not forgive you.
There is no power against them.
It is only candor that is aloof from them,
only an inward clarity, unashamed,
that they cannot reach. Be ready.
When their light has picked you out
and their questions are asked, say to them:
“I am not ashamed.” A sure horizon
will come around you. The heron will begin
his evening flight from the hilltop.

– Wendell Berry

Buh-Bye False Self

I haven’t been posting much lately, even though I’ve been journaling a lot. Today I just felt like I have to post a little tidbit of what I’m learning or I may explode.

Those of you who have been reading my blog the past few years know that I went through a severe season of suicidal depression about four years ago. This post is a reflection about what I am still learning from that season and how my life is changing as a result of that. 

“Tear off thy masks, the church was not meant to be a masquerade.” Spurgeon

Even though the depression I went through felt like it was never going to end (and I do still have occasional bouts), I now realize it was an accelerated season of the death of my false self. I also am now aware, with my limited understanding, that God was dragging me kicking and screaming out of a system that kept handing me more masks. The real me was dying inside that system and I could no longer pretend that I was cutting it.

Even after the depression, I tried to go back to ‘business as usual” while sharing my depression testimony in the realm of Evangelical Christianity, but the Lord kept tugging at my heart reminding me gently and sometimes not so gently that I didn’t go through that “necessary suffering” for no reason. 

I have been reading the Richard Rohr book Immortal Diamond: The Search for Your True Self, and it has been confirming for me insights that I have gained in these post-depression years. This is my third Rohr book, and by far my favorite. I read this section last night over and over and the tears were flowing…

“Our True Self remains untouched for most of us, because any direct experience of God or explicit union with God was blocked, denied, and largely declared impossible. It always had to be mediated by a Bible, priest, minister, church, or sacrament, and very often the mediators, and the defending of their mediations, became the primary message itself. Most sermons reminded us quickly of our unworthiness before first telling us of our inherent worthiness. Many were then so deep in a black hole of low self-image that they had no way to climb back out. There was no foundation to build on, and all they could see was their weakness and incapacity. We have had no solid or objective foundation on which to build human personhood, and everybody was sent on their own—in total free fall. It did not need to be this way.”

It hit me hard because I realize I had for years placed my life in the hands of other fallible humans and a system that was crushing my soul, rather than resting in the freedom of Christ

I was so close to ending my life four years ago, but God was saving my real life, my true self. 

Buh-bye

 

 

 

 

 

Accepting Powerlessness

I have been writing a lot about spiritual abuse, legalism, recovery, denial, feelings, etc., so I’ll be posting some original stuff soon hopefully.

This is actually tomorrow’s meditation, but so good I just had to share today.

Accepting Powerlessness

Since I’ve been a child, I’ve been in an antagonistic relationship with an important emotional part of myself: my feelings. I have consistently tried to ignore, repress, or force my feelings away. I have tried to create unnatural feelings or force away feelings that were present.

I’ve denied I was angry, when in fact I was furious. I have told myself there must be something wrong with me for feeling angry, when anger was a reasonable and logical response to the situation.

I have told myself things didn’t hurt, when they hurt very much. I have told myself stories such as “That person didn’t mean to hurt me.” . . . “He or she doesn’t know any better.” . . . “I need to be more understanding.” The problem was that I had already been too understanding of the other person and not understanding and compassionate enough with myself.

It has not just been the large feelings I have been at war with; I have been battling the whole emotional aspect of myself. I have tried to use spiritual energy, mental energy, and even physical exertion to not feel what I need to feel to be healthy and alive.

I didn’t succeed at my attempts to control emotions. Emotional control has been a survival behavior for me. I can thank that behavior for helping me get through many years and situations where I didn’t have any better options. But I have learned a healthier behavior – accepting my feelings.

We are meant to feel. Part of our dysfunction is trying to deny or change that. Part of our recovery means learning to go with the flow of what we’re feeling and what our feelings are trying to tell us.

We are responsible for our behaviors, but we do not have to control our feelings. We can let them happen. We can learn to embrace, enjoy, and experience – feel – the emotional part of ourselves.

Today, I will stop trying to force and control my emotions. Instead, I will give power and freedom to the emotional part of myself.

From The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie ©1990, Hazelden Foundation.

Your Stage Mask

The following is an excerpt from Richard Rohr’s book Falling Upward.

Your stage mask is not bad, evil, or necessarily egocentric; it is just not “true.” It is manufactured and sustained unconsciously by your mind; but it can and will die, as all fictions must die. Persona and shadow are correlative terms.

Your shadow is what you refuse to see about yourself, and what you do not want others to see. The more you have cultivated and protected a chosen persona, the more shadow work you will need to do. Be especially careful therefore of any idealized role or self-image, like that of minister, mother, doctor, nice person, professor, moral believer, or president of this or that. These are huge personas to live up to, and they trap many people in lifelong delusion. The more you are attached to and unaware of such a protected self-image, the more shadow self you will very likely have. Conversely, the more you live out of your shadow self, the less capable you are of recognizing the persona you are trying to protect and project. It is like a double blindness keeping you from seeing—and being—your best and deepest self. As Jesus put it, “If the lamp within you is, in fact, darkness, what darkness there will be” (Matthew 6:23).

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0470907754/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1468845286&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_FMwebp_QL65&keywords=richard+rohr+falling+upward

 

Who Knows Best?

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I love today’s Language of Letting Go Thought for the Day soooo much, I just had to share it here.

Who Knows Best?

Others do not know what’s best for us.

We do not know what’s best for others.

It is our job to determine what’s best for ourselves.

“I know what you need.” . . . “I know what you should do.” . . . “Now listen, this is what I think you should be working on right now.”

These are audacious statements, beliefs that take us away from how we operate on a spiritual plane of life. Each of us is given the ability to be able to discern and detect our own path, on a daily basis. This is not always easy. We may have to struggle to reach that quiet, still place.

Giving advice, making decisions for others, mapping out their strategy, is not our job. Nor is it their job to direct us. Even if we have a clean contract with someone to help us – such as in a sponsorship relationship – we cannot trust that others always know what is best for us. We are responsible for listening to the information that comes to us. We are responsible for asking for guidance and direction. But it is our responsibility to sift and sort through information, and then listen to ourselves about what is best for us. Nobody can know that but ourselves.

A great gift we can give to others is to be able to trust in them – that they have their own source of guidance and wisdom, that they have the ability to discern what is best for them and the right to find that path by making mistakes and learning.

To trust ourselves to be able to discover – through that same imperfect process of struggle, trial, and error – is a great gift we can give ourselves.

Today, I will remember that we are each given the gift of being able to discover what is best for ourselves. God, help me trust that gift.

-Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go

http://www.hazeldenbettyford.org/recovery/thought-for-the-day/the-language-of-letting-go

 

Dear Bible Study Teacher,

I put you on a pedestal.

I wanted to please you at all costs. I wanted you to acknowledge I was spiritually growing at optimal pace, even if I knew you would only be acknowledging a mask. Your opinion of me became more important than God’s.

You said you struggled, but it was hard to believe it was true. You always looked so put together, so stoic, so ready to handle any challenge life threw at you. I thought you had a special Bible study teacher armor that your students could never have…until they reached Bible study teacher status.

I thought you had the tools to fix me – that if I just reached out to you all would be well soon. I hung on your every word.

I scanned your face for traces of praise. When you asked for my help, my ego would soar.

You represented the epitome of holiness for me. I wanted to be like you.

It wasn’t till I suffered great pain and loss that I saw that all the things I once thought were true about you were an illusion.

Though it was painful to let go, to finally see the truth…there is only one savior, and I see it’s not you.

There’s no denying I learned from you, and you helped me in many ways I didn’t deserve. I know what you do is far from easy – teaching God’s word to hurting women in hopes that the Gospel message shines through.

I’m so sorry I put you on a pedestal. That I placed that heavy burden upon you. I finally see that you’re human, and that I’m free to be human too.

Please note: I have been through many Bible studies in my lifetime and I have encountered several online Bible studies as well. If you are a Bible study teacher, please don’t let this post discourage you from what you have been gifted to do. It is not specifically about you. I am just aware of my capacity to be drawn to worship people who seem to have a wisdom about God’s word, and I recognize the danger in that. This could apply to pastors as well. 

Christ alone