50 Shades of Ego

shadesWhen my oldest child was born my mother would look at her and say crazy stuff like, “Babies are just pure selfishness! They’re so sinful; all they can think of is themselves.” It was this mindset, based on her ‘Christian values’, that formed the standard in which she raised me. I know that’s convoluted, and I in no way wish to place blame, but it gives some context for how my formative Christian experience shaped and affirmed the false self in me.

To begin with, my egoic specialness was identified with being sinful and inherently bad. I’m almost certain my mother thought I was the spawn of Satan. As I grew older, my ego discovered that it could also be special in the church if, instead of being pure selfishness, it became outstanding Christian goodness. I became a youth leader and eventually a pastor’s wife. In the Pentecostal circles I inhabited as a young person there could be no higher spiritual achievement for a young woman than to be married to a pastor. I had arrived.

And thus, my false self’s passive need to be special symbiotically joined the church in myriad ways. Oh, the (mis)adventures we’ve had.

Today, I find myself re-entering the context of church after a sabbatical. In my time away I explored other mystical paths and integrated new perspectives into the growing expansiveness of my spiritual repertoire. I’ve spent time in communities with no defined doctrines or sacred agendas, just simple unconditional love and acceptance.

I’d somehow drawn the conclusion that upon re-entering the church I would easily assimilate my fresh understanding into church life and something new and wonderful would just kind of instantly manifest for me.

I could not have been more wrong.

As a matter of fact, had I known before hand what I was getting myself into, I don’t think I would’ve agreed to Jesus’ invitation back into ‘the fold’! That’s not to say I was tricked; I’ve been a willing participant with the freedom to leave at any time.

My biggest challenge has been that my false self or ego is still trying to fill its old role of being special within the context of church. When I attend on Sunday morning or join up with a midweek small group, ego arises in me, nuanced with various shades of judgment, anger, frustration and self-righteousness. Ugly, ugly, ugly. It’s as if a mischievous toddler just walked up to my beautifully crafted masterpiece of ‘enlightened self’ and scribbled all over it with a crayon.

Could it be that the Divine is gently proposing I rework my sanctimonious showpiece, starting with a thick coat of primer? Seems so.

Jesus, give me the courage to walk in the humility you so graciously demonstrated, to be open to the reshaping of your Spirit in me, not clinging to what I’ve created myself to be, but in the openness and vulnerability of my True Self in you. Let me be a freshly primed canvass. This time, you be the paintbrush.

“Love does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Nuance

Hidden Toxicity: Forgiving the Institutions That Hurt Us

treeWhen you think of healing and forgiveness do you think of it primarily in the context of relationships? I do. Psycho-therapeutic approaches, holistic living philosophies and the Scriptures all tend to focus on finding wholeness through the repair work we do with others. I would agree; we heal in relationship. However, I’ve recently realised that I’ve overlooked an entire area of healing in my life. I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

Having grown up in a severely abusive home and community, I’ve attributed my woundedness to the gross error and negligence of my parents, teachers and church leadership. While it’s true that people were the ones doing the hurting, there was something much bigger that created the framework in which all that pain occurred. It was what I perceived as the religious institution of the Christian church. In objectifying the church, I’ve not recognized how insidiously my unconscious bitterness, resentment and blame has been festering toward it and how this is affecting my life.

In my young experience, the Bible was used to justify inhumane actions. Attending church made you good even if your behaviour spoke differently. Religion gave adults the authority to destroy the souls of children and rob them of their creativity, passion and innocence.

So while I feel like I’ve done quite well with healing myself in the context of relationship, I’ve finally been able to see how my toxic perspective on the church has been holding me back from finding true freedom in other areas of my life. The task of forgiving the errors of a ‘thing’ rather than a person seems daunting to me. It’s not as if those structures can reciprocate my desire for reconciliation. Or can they? Or do they need to?

Social structures are the products of the minds that create them, nurture them and sustain them. And behind those minds are people. I don’t know them. I don’t know their intentions. Much of Christianity, as we know it today, was formed around decisions made 1600 years ago. Yes, I’ve explored and questioned the events that led to its origins. None of that understanding does me any good anyway. Understanding is not required for forgiveness to take place.

Forgiveness is something I do for myself. Reciprocity is not a co-requisite. Forgiveness is a shift in my state of mind from perceptions that held me back to perceptions that set me free. A frequent side-effect is that the forgivee is also set free, but this isn’t a requirement.

People make errors, individually and collectively, for reasons that we cannot truly comprehend. They play their roles and we play ours. For me the question cannot be ‘why’, but rather, ‘what now?’

‘What now?’ involves the gentle guidance of Holy Spirit and the application of Jesus’ unconditional love. Can I forgive that deeply and love that big? Yes. The only question that remains is will I?

Yes.

 

 

Recognize

Should My Ego Educate Yours?

arguingThe question was asked in church the other day, “If someone doesn’t believe in sin, how can you help them see its reality?” My stomach turned. I could feel something in me push back at that this, but I wasn’t quite sure what. As I took time to unravel it, this is what I discovered…

I’m a mediator. It’s not just my job, it’s who I am. Not that I do it perfectly, but it’s my role and my personality in this fleshly existence. I do make judgements, because it’s my egoic nature to do so, but many times I sense a check in my spirit when I have. That check is an invitation back into neutrality and openness with Holy Spirit.

One of my biggest hang-ups with church and Christians in general is this idea that it’s our moral duty to educate others on what the truth is. I’ll address that duty in a moment. First, let’s talk about what usually happens when my ego decides it should tell someone else’s ego that their perspective is wrong and mine is right. Naturally, people get defensive. As soon as you put someone on the defensive, you’ve lost the argument no matter how good or valid your points are. You might’ve proven your rightness to yourself and other like-minded individuals, but you’ve most certainly pushed the other person further away from seeing your take on the truth.

Truth is not revealed to others by egos educating egos, because our flesh-nature is completely out of touch with God and doesn’t know God. Therefore, truth isn’t revealed through opinions, arguments and apologetics. Truth can only be revealed through the Holy Spirit or that part of me that’s deeply in tune with the Spirit called my human spirit.

Here’s the paradox: your human spirit will never feel the need to educate someone on truth. It will only serve to point them to the Divine for revelation. When we walk in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control, people will naturally be guided to the Spirit when they’re around us and they’ll find their answers there. They’ll also own these revelations because they received them directly from the Source.

When I’m coaching someone or working with parties in dispute, it’s never my place to tell them why I might perceive that their ways are flawed. Trust me, I wouldn’t be very successful with that approach! My job is simply to ask questions and share positive insights that’ll help them understand themselves more deeply and that lead them to God for answers.

I Am Not the Holy Spirit (And Neither Are You)

Do you know how many times my ego has secretly thought it knew exactly what someone needed to hear from God (moral base and apologetics included) only to find out later I was completely off track?! I’m embarrassed to say. Think about how many biblical characters made what seemed like bad choices to begin with, only to have it revealed later that they were on the paths that were right for them? Jonah, David and Paul come to mind…just to name about 1% of them.

My children have probably taught me this lesson most deeply. That’s because I judge them more than anyone else, poor dears. Most people jump to the conclusion that kids can’t adequately hear from the Holy Spirit in order to make good choices for themselves. Christian parents tend to take on the fear-based role of being some sort of replacement or interpreter for the Divine in their kids’ lives, telling them how they should behave or think according to God. (Hint: anything you do out of fear is not of God.) In many cases, kids are more in tune than we are. We just don’t give them a chance to demonstrate this.

These days I try to teach my children through imparting principles and concepts, not should’s and shouldn’ts. I try not to interfere with how Spirit is leading them. This lends itself to a lot of judgement from nearly everybody because it’s not a popular child rearing method in the Western World. Fortunately, I don’t mind what people think much anymore.

The bottom line is this:  I am not the Holy Spirit. You are not the Holy Spirit. But when we are in sync with the Spirit and living out of the fruit that this life-style yields, we will always be helpful to others in the best way. You’ll know when you’re walking in righteousness because you won’t feel angry, fearful or like you have to prove a point, you’ll just feel awesome and full of unconditional love!

Replacement

Soul Flow Is the Best Way to Grow

angel-devilSince God is omnipresent there’s no place we can go to escape from Love, right? This can only mean one thing: God’s not just up in Heaven, but everywhere!

Can somebody please explain to me why we ‘invite’ God to be present in church services or say we need to find our way back to God?! If you are standing next to me I don’t need to send you an email asking you to come on over. You’re already here.

On the same token, Apostle Paul was really clear that we can’t be separated from the love of Christ. Christ is ‘present’ everywhere at all times. The only time we feel the absence of Christ is when we are not present. Oh, so the problem’s not with God then, it’s with us?

As dichotomous beings we have a flesh nature (our ego) and a spirit nature (our soul or human spirit). I’ll use these interchangeably. One is intrinsically connected to God, the other is not. Can you guess which is which? Of course you can. The scriptures teach us that all people have an internal ‘knowing’ that God exists. The trouble is, most people in this world have dissociated themselves from that part of who they are. Their human spirit is asleep and this causes a lot of problems.

If your human spirit is that part of you that is inextricably intertwined with the Holy Spirit, Jesus and God (Greek: perichoresis), then your flesh is the part of you that is not. Flesh lives in fear. Soul thrives in unconditional love. Flesh plans, strives and resists. Soul is inspired, content and allows life to flow.

When people get off the rails and feel like God isn’t present it’s because they’re living out of their flesh or ego in that moment. That’s how most of the people in our world operate and that’s exactly why it’s such a mess. Flesh makes. Soul creates. Flesh destroys. Soul builds up.

Let’s face it, you know when you’re flowing in your human spirit; you feel free, loving and connected. People make good choices and want the best for others when they are joined with God in their spirits. When we are operating out of our flesh we feel competitive, jealous and separated. We want to hurt others and believe that we lack what we need to survive and succeed in life.

This year I’m making an intention to only ‘create’ when I know I’m in the flow of connecting with God through my spirit. From experience, I know that this is a gazillion time more productive, not to mention blessed, than when I plug away at forcing stuff to happen using my ego.

What do you do to switch from being in flesh mode to soul mode? It’s worth figuring this out. Think of ways to intentionally shift when you feel yourself being sucked into the black hole of the ego. Maybe it’s listening to a song, going for walk, praying, getting out in nature or hugging someone you love. Whatever it is, do it!

Connect. Abide. Love.

Highly Sensitive

abstractartI’m a highly sensitive person. I see things other people don’t. I hear the words that aren’t spoken and I feel the emotions people try so hard to conceal. Maybe you can relate?

For me, being highly sensitive is an artifact of an extremely abusive upbringing. These intuitive skills essentially kept me alive in an environment that surely would’ve been the death of me, literally. Today I consider them to be a gift.

Well, they’re mostly a gift. I say this because one of the side effects of being highly sensitive is having a propensity to being easily overwhelmed. It’s called sensory overwhelm. Maybe you can relate?

Overwhelm

The overwhelm comes from my logical brain trying to make sense of all the information that I’m collecting in both the physical and ethyrical realms. This in itself is a faulty modality for processing information, but that’s the structure that our left-brained society has imposed on us through its institutional control of our daily lives.

Whoa – did you just hear that?! It’s true, most highly sensitive people perceive themselves as victims of ‘the system’. And they are. The reason why is because they keep going back to ‘the system’ to find healing. They can’t be faulted for that, after all, that is exactly what we’ve been propagandized to believe will ‘fix’ us.

I have yet to meet even one deeply wounded person who has found complete healing, wholeness and abundance through the ‘fixing’ structures of society be they religion, education, medicine or mental health. I do, however, know a lot of people who’ve become worse and they’ve spent good money attaining it (myself included).

So, what’s the answer? Well, for starters, you don’t need to make sense of all you are sensing! Leave it to your soul or human spirit to sort that out. It will do a magnificent job of this if you give it a creative outlet or go for a walk in nature. Most importantly, ask Holy Spirit to be Present with you in this. Holy Spirit transcends your brain altogether, keeping things simple!

Next, you have to deprogram your thought system. The human brain is a tool for the use of the mind. It’s highly pliant and compliant. As you switch out old belief systems and vigilantly apply new ones, the synapses will literally rewire themselves and eventually create entirely new ways of being. Nearly every other cell in your body dies and is replaced within a 2 year cycle. Do you know what this means? It means that you have the power to become a physically ‘new’ person!

As you restructure your mind and body you open up new and unobstructed avenues for Divine creativity to begin manifesting miracles in your life daily. Miracles are a transformation of the mind and healing is the result. The Bible has so many passages that talk about the importance of transforming your mind. It’s plain and its obvious and yet 99% of people who know this don’t apply it to their life! If churches would teach this one thing well, all other truth and healing would naturally manifest in its adherent’s lives.

The sad truth is that most churches don’t teach this well and you know why…it’s called ‘institutionalized religion’. That’s right, it’s one of those left-brained societal structures.

I go to church. I listen to the preacher. I eat the meat and spit out the bones. I walk in miracles daily and invite anyone who wishes, to join me in the Divine Art of Transformation of the Mind.

May you be blessed to be a blessing!