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

Transformed by the Father’s Love

fatherchildSome people grew up in families where their parents were able to convey enough love, acceptance and wisdom that the children grew up to be relatively functional adults. Other families, like mine, came from a heritage of victimhood and rather than growing up empowered, we entered the world of adulthood feeling like orphans. From there on, we either spiralled down the path of being a chronic victim or chose the path of awakening to who we truly are in God.

Both options are painful. While the path of victimhood is destructively painful, the path of awakening is productively painful.

If it’s going to hurt anyway, why not make it count?

For many years now I’ve been on a journey of being re-parented by Abba (Father God). Having my biological, mentally ill father living with me has made this a very interesting process. We have both lived like orphans; believing that we will never really be taken care of. Often, when I start to make progress in my healing and create stronger boundaries, I trigger the orphan in my father and he quickly becomes extremely defensive and verbally lashes at me. He has no ability to empathize and the conversation always morphs into him spotlighting all the ways that he is a victim of me. This is followed by him literally listing off how I am financially indebted to him. It’s twisted, but it follows a rhythmic pattern we’ve shared since I was too young to remember. Not being entirely healed of my own victim, I often react to this rejection instantly.

My father and I went down this road again recently, but something was different this time. I still reacted inside. However, instead of firing right back at him, a new sense of self-awareness woke up in me and I just turned around and retreated to my room. I now know exactly how to enter into that place of complete abandon into Abba’s Love. It’s the place I’ve yearned for and worked a life time to find. It’s not that I didn’t find it when I was younger, it’s just that I never knew how I got there, so I couldn’t find my way back intentionally. Things have changed.

In the scriptures Jesus taught that to follow him we must be willing to ‘hate’ our mother and father. There’s a lot written about what that means exactly and whether it’s just symbolic language. For me, entering into the true Love of God has required me to release all attachments I have to needing the love of my parents. I used to project the deficiencies of my parents onto my relationship with Abba. In time, and with much inner healing, most of that has transformed for me. Just one thing remained…

I heard a teaching by Arthur Burk explaining that some people actually need to heal a wound of being abandoned by God. What?! No way. I’ve been abandoned by a lot of people in my life, but never by God!

That’s been my story and I stuck to it for many, many years. Then one day something triggered me deeply and I descended right down into the black hole of complete and utter despair that I felt way too often as a child. I was reminded how I cried out to Abba to pick me up and hold me…and sometimes He never came. If you’ve been there, you’ll know it’s one of the worst pains you’ll feel in this life.

Undeniably, I have felt abandoned by Abba.

It wasn’t until I could admit that this was true that I finally found (and remembered) my path straight to the Father’s heart. The Love of Abba is so radically different than anything I’ve ever know with my earthly parents that the comparison between the two has just stopped all together for me.

Now I know how to return to Love and it has completely empowered me to make some big changes that I never had the confidence to implement before.

Thank You Abba for Your complete and unending Love.

Rhythmic

Fearless Authenticity

basejumpWe were talking about Sunday school experiences in our childhood. One person contributed that he didn’t spend much time in Sunday school because he was often kicked out. There’s nothing like somebody else’s story to help trigger memories of your own…

As a child, I was kicked out of everything: school, music groups, kids clubs, Sunday school. You name it. The reason? I lived out of my truth regardless the cost. In Christian school we were awarded a ‘character trait’ poster at the end of every year. I got ones like ‘fearless’ and ‘thorough’. I can still remember the sound of the entire audience laughing when they called mine out. I guess you could say I had a reputation.  Nonetheless, the price was high in the 80’s when corporeal punishment still existed in schools and churches. A much worse fate awaited me at home. (trigger warning)

I grew up in a family where babies were beaten for crying or waking up at the wrong times and children were dragged out of their beds in the middle of the night for violent reasons. For me the solution was simple, learn to dissociate from the body and live my truth anyway. The result was a lot of hiding under the basement stairs and spending time in the forest. It was in those places where I would meet Jesus and experience Holy Spirit in ways that were more real than anything I encountered in the physical world.

As the years progressed, I learned to live with the incongruency of outer compliance because I finally caught on that my chances of survival were greater if I kept my soul hidden. I’ve never disconnected from Holy Spirit. Jesus has always been a faithful companion and guide. The pure, unconditional love and intimacy I’ve experienced with the Father is not worthy of words.

My biggest challenge in adulthood has been returning back to that place of complete and wild abandon in my spirit. It’s there. I feel it in the forest, on my mountain bike or with people I trust deeply. But much of the time I withhold. A lot. I don’t want to be perceived as rebellious or a heretic or worse. I am not fearless like I once was.

The western world, with all its controlling institutions, has not made space for people like myself…and perhaps you also. Maybe you’ve felt it though; a growing dissatisfaction amongst the intuitive masses. Many of us are no longer content with just wandering in the forests or hiding behind our blogs.

It’s not easy going into the places that make me feel uncomfortable, the places where I’m constantly confronted by the battle between my ego and my spirit. While I’m fairly good at helping others with their issues, I really don’t know how to share my true self with people that live out of a different paradigm than I do.

The path I’m on is certainly not easy, but the way for my children is somewhat easier. My kids have always had the freedom to live from their truth in my home. It might seem unconventional and it’s definitely anti-institutional, but we’ve made it a priority that they always lead with their human spirits and tune into Holy Spirit. Their egos come up with some pretty interesting stuff too, but how can you learn to distinguish between the two if you aren’t given the freedom to make mistakes in a safe environment?

Holy Spirit works in weird ways that I’m quick to judge as ‘wrong’, especially in other people’s lives. Keeping my mouth shut and allowing Spirit to do its thing in others, and even more so in myself, is a lesson I’m doomed to repeat. God grant us grace to love and forgive ourselves that we might be empowered to do the same for others.

Sound

Tethered to Love

heart-treeOne of the best things in life is when a scent transports me back to a comforting memory. I especially savor the moments when I’m whisked into a holy instant of unconditional love and acceptance. Do you know what I mean? I hope you do. It’s that place where time is suspended and the soul is lovingly held in the arms of the Divine. It’s where I’m not good or bad, just completely loved. It’s amazing to think that a smell can do all that!

Sometimes, though, an odour provokes a primal response in me so overwhelming that I get sucked into a black hole of hopelessness and despair. Feelings of anger and rage begin to surface and memories that I try to avoid show up uninvited. What do I do?! Do I feel deeply or do I run away and slam the door on a healing opportunity?

For years I’ve been the queen of distraction when this comes up for me. I read, do the dishes, take a shower. I’m very good at shifting my state of mind into a more positive place, which is a good skill, but not when it’s used as a form of avoidance.

I’ve finally learned to allow myself to descend into that black hole, aware that I’m tethered to the infinite love of my Divine Parent. I can allow the hurt and rage to purge itself knowing I can’t get stuck because I have a lifeline back to Love.

Now, I didn’t always know or believe this and there was a time when I would get stuck in the black hole. I needed real, live people in the form of counselors or healers to join me and teach me how to tether myself back to Love. If you find yourself in this position, then please know you are exactly where you are meant to be on this journey. Allow yourself to be guided and nurtured by others as you heal and grow.

Wherever you find yourself today, may you be blessed to always find your way back to Love.

Scent

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

Why You Should Stop Trying To Save People

think-colorfulIt’s sneaky the way filters clog up on machines. You can’t usually see them without first taking things apart, but it’s important to notice the signs of a blockage before the system starts to fail.

The mind is a filter for a machine called the ‘body’. Malfunctions of the body are like the engine light in your car turning on; they’re a warning. The crazy thing is that rather than clean or change the filter, we’ve been trained to believe that we just need to throw some more chunks  (like medicine or maybe surgery) into it and everything will be ok. Really?

Lately I’ve found that my mind-filter is getting clogged with a gunky belief system about obligations. Growing up Christian, I’ve become a professional at depriving myself of blessings, joy and abundance in the name of service to others. What I hadn’t truly considered until now is that every single person on the earth has access to the same infinite, never-ending, Eternal Resources that I do. The scriptures are plain and clear about that.

The Holy Spirit speaks to everyone, regardless if they’re Christian or not. Everyone, on some level, ‘knows’ that God exists. The infinite, all-powerful God of the Universe didn’t assign me the role of being the Holy Spirit in someone else’s life, but oh, how my ego likes to think it did!

For example, I still feel like I need to save my sick, dying father, a man who has chronically shut himself off from Holy Guidance. Consider the insanity of this; if Holy Spirit hasn’t been able to get through to this man, what makes me think I can?!

As my body begins to show wear and tear under this heavy burden, I feel compelled to rinse the filter of my mind so that I can come back to my senses! Literally…my senses. Have you ever noticed that when you’re living out of false duty and not your spirit that you begin blocking out what your senses are trying to communicate to you?

Headaches, sore joints, lethargy, lowered immune system, fear and anxiety are screaming at me to “do something!!” and I’ve not been listening. The filter is slowly, insidiously, getting more and more clogged.

NO! We are not asked to sacrifice our blessings and health so that someone else can be well. God is infinitely abundant and there is more than enough for everyone. We can’t make choices for others. Thinking that we can somehow change or save other people is vain, manipulative and misguided. Wash that gunk out of your filter right now!

Let Holy Spirit do the work in others.

Let Holy Spirit do the work in YOU!

Filter

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.