...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Friday, April 1, 2016

Because you are loved (4)

God is not our co-dependent
We turned our lives over to the care of God as we understand God. Step #3 abridged

We sense that we can never entirely imitate his godly love. But we can break free from some of the boundaries that hold us captive. We can come closer to the light. Emilie Griffin, Small Surrenders
The thought of cheering-up God like a parent would cajole a moody child reflects an early stage of faith development. It's also a way we have of crafting God in our own image, of making the Lord of all the powers of the universe a little more manageable by projecting stuff that really belongs to us, not God.

In my journey, Step #3, which is similarly worded in most 12 Step programs, is a daily invitation to surrender to God and to let go of controlling others- and God.

Instead of what we often hear about pleasing God or God somehow needing us, the truth is that God doesn't need us to feel sorry for him or calm God down. Giver of Life doesn't need us to make the Holy One happier than God already is. "God is, in simple terms, sublimely and eternally happy to be God," wrote Rowan Williams.

Manipulative, guilt-based religion is when we hear, in essence, "If your heart is truly 'right,' you will want to please God, and we will show you the way to please the Holy One." Do we really think God loves us more because we prayed a little longer today, or God is more pleased with us because we managed to show a little kindness? Or that God will treat us better if we behave ourselves? Jesus described the difference between us and the One God: "only God is good."

Sure, I can learn to live out of God's love more completely, but there's nothing on earth I can do make God love me more than God already does. Accepting the gift of what already is would be coming closer to the light.


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Because you are loved (3)

We can't offer others what we don't have
We confuse love and pity and tend to "love" people we can "pity" and "rescue."  The ACA Laundry List
We will choose to love people who can love and be responsible for themselves. The ACA Promises

Don't talk of love. Well, I've heard the word before. Simon and Garfunkle, I Am a Rock
"Love" may have been used on us- to excuse abuse, or indifference or neglect. The adults in charge may have told us that, whatever happened, it happened for our own good, or because we were "loved."

The word took on a toxic connotation as it was associated with  harmful experiences.
Because we cannot offer love if we don't experience self-love, we sometimes settle for pity as a default. It's easier to be attracted to weaknesses because we can feel in control as rescuer. Pity puts us over others. In feeling sorry for someone, I'm often led to give relief or aid. That makes me feel better about myself. But it's not love.

When Jesus taught to love others as we love ourselves, he also provided an insight into how love functions. We will love others as we love the first person in our lives: ourselves. We cannot offer love, acting in the best interest of others, if we don't know what it means to act in our own best interest. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Because you are loved (2)

The only person we have a chance at changing is ourselves.      
First take the log out of your eye, and then you’ll see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s or sister’s eye. Jesus

We have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and it is easier for us to be concerned with others rather than ourselves; this enables us not to look too closely at our own faults, etc. from Tony A.: The 14 Traits of an Adult Child

Pleasing others is a default many clergy have learned through years of serving others. However, tying my emotional well-being to the approval of others is something I learned at a young age.

In families impacted by addiction, alcoholism, or dysfunction, a survival trait often acquired to survive is people-pleasing, or controlling others. We may have tried valiantly to change our troubled and toxic family into a loving and supportive one. And we continue that fruitless effort with those closest to us in the present.

Like the children in the movie, Boyhood, every day is lived walking on emotional egg shells. That means that hyper vigilance is the baseline reality for our bodies. Stress hormones running overtime, in fight or flight default. 
That's the physical cost of people-pleasing and the futility of controlling what we cannot, in the end, manage: the behavior and choices and addictions of others. The emotional focus also becomes other- centered, in a toxic way. Jesus spoke to this persistent focus on others, a trait shared by many, but especially apart of the adult child's experience.
How sad and ironic that "Christians" may think we are given the privilege and necessity of judging others in the name of Jesus, that the Christ himself somehow gives us that right because we go to church. Read the words: according to Jesus, one of the chief signs of  healthy spirituality is self-examination, not focusing on others.
When we release ourselves from the responsibility for others, a new freedom to be ourselves is possible. By learning to keep the focus on ourselves in the here and now, taking responsibility for our own life, we can be free from focusing on others in emotional dependence, blame, or judgment.   

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Clergy are frequently present for others, but no one can offer what we don't have.. That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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If you want a formula for making the best of the less-than-perfect and making the most of what you have been given, then begin to compare your lot to what you were before you were born, and it will empower you with wonder every time. John Claypool

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