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

Advertisements

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.