mindingmybiz

This blog is my shared process in working towards integrating self-awareness with all other aspects of life, while on my way to becoming more authentic and whole.

Archive for the tag “christian living”

Self Check-In

synchronicity-2Whenever I’ve been unclear and ambivalent about how to proceed in any given situation, especially relationally, I’ve often gone outward to seek guidance.  It has proven to be useful and beneficial, but it can also keep me dependent on external sources of wisdom while stunting my own development of discernment.

I’ve been confused about where to go for guidance when facing a crossroads.  Do I go inside myself because I know myself best, or do I seek wisdom and guidance from others because they have a more objective perspective?  I’ve often thought it was an either/or approach, yet I’m realizing I don’t have just one “right” option.  Wisdom and discernment often come through BOTH avenues; inside and outside of myself, from trusting myself AND trusting others who’ve earned my trust.  Wisdom can be imported from external sources, or it can be imported from my own internal sources of wisdom within.  god as I understand it is the source of all wisdom, and discerning Hhs voice is what I am after.  He does speak to me from within, for he dwells within my inner-spirit.  It’s just a matter of unveiling his voice, which is often unconventional.

My current ambition involves the practice of going within myself, first.  Whenever possible, I do a self check-in, using the tools of Dr. Dan Siegel’s acronym of SIFT.

Sensations
Images
Feelings
Thoughts

-SIFT.

If I still feel confused and ambivalent, I have the option of going to others I trust.  They can be friends, a therapist, family members, recovery fellow-travelers, a pastor, books, podcasts, blogs, etc.  These are some of the options I have when trying to discern where God is lovingly guiding me.  When I do seek out external sources of guidance, I am still the one who is ultimately discerning what feedback resonates and what does not.  Using the SIFT tools while receiving feedback is always an option I can take.  They empower me in helping me wake up and make a conscious choice, weighing what is going on inside of me AND the feedback I’ve heard from others.   The process of discernment often involves a conscious and intentional dialogue within me and with trusted others.  It is not a monologue, at least for me.

Ultimately, I am the one who must live with the decisions I make for my own life.  How I discern applying my value-system with its certain expectations, limitations and boundaries will evoke judgement from others and within, always.  But it is my life I am trying to live out, not somebody else’s, so fearing the judgment is a major distraction in gaining discernment.  The truth is, everybody judges everybody, myself included.  So, then what?

Love frees me because it feeds me.  It frees me from fearing the inevitable judgment that is part of living life on earth.  Judgement will come, as surely as gravity pulls me back down to the ground after I jump.  Checking in with myself from a place of love and being fed, in the midst of judgments are what will keep me centered.  Love feeds me, judgment robs me.

Jesus is my Center.  He dwells within me.  He showed me explicitly on the cross how to judge myself aright – as loved, and as worthy to die for.   When I am love-hungry I’m ripe for Jesus’ love to enter in, yet I’m also vulnerable to fearing judgments and internalizing (feeding off) them.  This is what robs me of living life to the fullest extent.  Jesus came to give life, not take it.

“The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance.” -John 10:10

Self check-ins based in love, not fear are the way for me to go.  Interchanging judgment with punishment in the verse below helps me get this, because judgment sure can feel like punishment to me, just as chewing on food that I crave, but not being able to swallow it.

“Love will never invoke fear.  Perfect love expels fear, particularly the fear of punishment.  The one who fears punishment has not been completed through love.”  – 1 John 4:18

 

 

I Don’t Wanna Cry

crybaby“Now, O women, hear the word of the Lord;
open your ears to the words of his mouth.
Teach your daughters how to wail; teach one another a lament.  Death has climbed in through our windows and has entered our fortresses; it has cut off the children from the streets and the young men from the public squares.”
– Jeremiah 9:20-21

We -women, are instructed specifically to teach our daughters how to wail?  What?  -Not just to cook, clean, do laundry and make beds?   -Nope, to wail and lament; to be emotional. 

Where there is brokenness, where there is death that cuts off life…what are we to do?  Be silent?  Go bake a cake?  -Nope.  Teach our daughters how to wail and lament.  Is wailing feminine?  Are wailing women attractive though?  What will the men think?  It might repel the men who want nothing to do with a woman who expresses her emotions so openly!  Only crying that’s under restraint sounds somewhat acceptable, in much of our American culture.  I’ve had a low tolerance level for other people’s emotions being expressed, over and above what I’m individually comfortable with expressing myself.  Wailing isn’t common or well-accepted in American society, outside of having entertainment value, at least in my experience and observation.

What’s an effective way to teach our daughters (or children) anything?  – Openly role modeling it.  Allowing them backstage passes behind the curtain, and into our hearts by giving them access to see grief being safely (not beautifully) expressed in real life, by doing it yourself.

My initial reaction is of judgment and fear.  -It’s unsafe!  -People need to control themselves!

I’ve believed that emotions are not something to outwardly be welcomed, they are something to be tamed.  There’s some truth to that.  Emotions do need to be tamed.

But the emotions needing to be tamed are usually needing to be tamed because they’ve been repressed, denied or stuffed so much that they’re about to start boiling over.  

Mama’s can cry in front of their daughters.  Really, it’s OK.  When it comes to strong emotions; feel and deal.  Don’t stuff, to look tough.  Women of character are not women who lack emotional expression.  Women of character; godly character – can wail –per God.

Most of us women that do not allow ourselves to grieve, but instead repress were probably shown that by our own mothers in how they coped with the hard stuff in life.  And they from their mothers, and theirs, and so on and so forth….and it can be traced all the way back to Eve.  Poor Eve, she still gets blamed for stuff…

Jesus wailed.  Jesus lamented, openly.  I’ve heard in sermons before that he cried so loudly, people who weren’t nearby could hear him when Lazarus died.  The presence of strong emotions being expressed, especially of fear, anger and sadness make many of us Americans feel uneasy.  What’s up with that?  My suspicion is that it’s a result of a toxic partnership between two odorless contaminants: fear and shame.  Jesus didn’t allow fear or shame to steer him or else we’d be in a LOT of trouble…

“Jesus wept.” -John 11:35
“Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb.”  -John 11:38

“A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.”  -Luke 6:40

Wail and lament when there is brokenness…

Do not repress pain to cover it up using a deceptive mask in an attempt to maintain the facade that we are strong by hiding our emotions.  The worst thing to do is hide my pain from myself.  That is not self-control, it is denial that’s locked in fear and toxic shame.

Take time out, to wail and lament…p.r.n.

Jesus Follower or Christian GroupThink Follower?

Image

I so admire my weekly spiritual teacher (aka pastor).  He explicitly affirmed me identifying with the notion of being resistant to identifying myself as a Christian, especially to people who do not identify themselves as “Christians”.  -Inconceivable!  I dig it.

I can’t know what cognitive and somatic associations get conjured up for you when hearing the label “Christian” but I know what mine are, and it isn’t much of anything I want to be associated with regarding my spirituality and the way I want to live that out.

I consciously seek personal and in-depth contact with God, as I understand God.  My understanding of God is primarily interpreted and informed through the life of Jesus, shown in the new testament of the bible, not Christian groupthink.

My understanding of God is in active recovery from a complicitly abusive religious system which interprets me, God and others through a shame and intimidation based system, in the name of Christianity.

When I read certain bible verses, I often find myself needing to rephrase the statements, due to them being inappropriately applied and interpreted over me by a complicitly abusive religious system.  It’s a system that has used certain bible verses to accomplish changing my thoughts and behaviors through using shame and spiritual intimidation.

I am also at-risk for doing this not only to myself, but to others as well – no more denial.  That is why I want and need spiritual teachers who GET this, AND to be involved within a community of others who do as well.

When it comes to what I extract from bible verses, words are extremely important, and ameliorating Christian-jargon takes conscious effort, but I have found it to be very enlightening.

An example taken from “The Voice” version of Colossians 4:5-6

“Be wise when you engage with those outside of the faith community; make the most of every moment and every encounter.  When you speak the word, speak it gracefully (as if seasoned with salt), so you will know how to respond to everyone rightly.”

My personal interpretation (everyone has one) is this:

Be mindful when I engage with those who for whatever reason, do not associate within Christian circles, make the most of every moment and encounter you find yourself in.  I am not called to force these moments and encounters,  just to notice them.  When I use my words to talk, do it gracefully and season (not drench) it with salt.  Salt is what gives it flavor, which is my authentic-self and personality.  Grace doesn’t mean being pretentiously nice, because that tastes bad.  Seasoning with salt is being mindful that my call to authenticity is not a license to be insensitive and presumptuous towards others.  The combination of grace and salt, will position me to respond to everyone rightly, through transparency and humility.  Rightly doesn’t mean having the “one right” or “better” answer.  It is right, to admit that there are many answers I do not have for others.  It is right, when I have direct experience with the issue at hand, to share my experience of how I see my decision to follow Jesus shaping my circumstances and myself.  When I do not have direct experience or am largely unaware/ignorant of the issue someone is experiencing or sharing with me about, I can respond with sincerity and compassion saying, “I don’t really know.”  THAT is responding rightly.

Jesus Follower or Christian GroupThink Follower?  There is a difference.

 

 

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