|None of us have endless possibilities to show that we care. We may firmly believe that we do, but it may all be in our heads as a beautiful ideal. If we are not making a real difference in the lives of others, we may be fooling ourselves. We are needing to grow in our ability to be more emotionally available to others.
As we risk being really present (sometimes against the trends of our culture) we are transformed for we also discover new parts of ourselves. Instead of repetitive, formulaic responses that will just make us dry up inside, we are energised and alive. For it is only in spending ourselves generously that we become rich, and not when we budget our self giving and eke it out sparingly.
Our conscious mind keeps very specific memories that fit into our sense of self and which sustain out behaviour now. Our childhood wounds inform us, but need not continue to control who we are currently. Jesus gave us new guidelines for how to live, yet He knows that we have been hurt by life. Thus we have made assumptions around our early experiences and created behaviours that have become controlling. We may have told ourselves that we don’t have a choice, because that’s how we’ve always been, but we need to allow our choices to be challenged by the other picture that Jesus gives us. When we tell ourselves things that steal our lives, like, “I can’t”, “I’m always too busy”, “I’m too old”, we take away hope for our future and remain stuck and fearful.
Learning a new skill will have its’ discomforts, and so too will our risking to choose new behaviours. We may simply so dislike the feelings of uncertainty that we prefer to go back to how we’ve always done things. Our fear of pain and discomfort can stop us from risking. Our background ‘voices’ that have told us lies about what’s possible, drown out God’s seemingly crazy invitation to, “Get out of the boat.”
The enemy’s strong counter winds seek to intimidate and thwart God’s best for us. Thus we so need stillness to hear the often drowned-out, still, small voice. Jesus keeps encouraging us to risk and let go of whatever keeps us from an abundant life.
We do not need to keep on with the unhelpful patterns we have learnt. Our past can inform our present as to why we do what we do, but we are not bound to endlessly repeat past patterns in our present reality.
Much of our choice comes from feelings we have around something. We tend to choose according to what is familiar, and to what makes us feel comfortable. When we feel at home with our feelings then that is usually what we choose to do. So we carry out our past feelings around something into our now. This means that our tomorrow is already decided. We aren’t moving into an empty space for our feelings have gone ahead to determine how we will be. If we do not slow down and update our past emotions, we are allowing them to shape our reality now.
We can be thankful for the good that has shaped us in our past, for through it we have gained a wealth of experience. But tomorrow is a new day, not meant to be a repeat of the hundreds of days we have already lived.
We have each developed a emotional-relational landscape. We want things to be “like that.” But the trouble is, that when we categorize and stereotype, we simply rehash what we’ve chosen before and so kill our precious new moments. We are each being invited to remain like a young child in this – for they do not allow expectations for how the moment must be to fill their present reality. They simply look, receive, react, and bless us because they are so curious and free to choose how to be in every moment.
Let us, like a child, take steps towards entering each moment with expectancy rather than pre-decided expectations, and walk open to the surprises God has in store for us.
Every day we each are faced with choices. If we take time to reflect on how we make these, we soon see that what’s deep in our hearts is affecting them. We need not be captives of our past. Our early life has indeed shaped us, but we still can change how we are choosing to follow Jesus’ way. It might seem that we have made fresh choices because we have a new job, are in a new relationship, have moved to a new country, but we might just have left one situation for another and in time see that actually the same issues are emerging.
We might still be choosing according to other peoples’ dream for us, or seeking to be acknowledged, be successful or popular. As God asked the Israelites, in each choice we are being asked to choose between life and death. We choose death if our choice is not truly in tune with who God made us to be, if it’s not enlivening to our deepest selves or in line with God’s Kingdom.
The important thing in our lives is to keep asking ourselves, “What do I really, really want to do with my ‘one wild and precious life’?” (Mary Oliver). This question helps us find our priorities for how we use our time and where we put our energies. It gets us in touch with our deepest desires, so we can start to choose more wisely from the countless options before us.
Bruegel’s painting of the blind leading the blind would be ridiculous if it was not so true. In this age of information our ears are often full with news and advice that comes at us from all sides, fighting for our attention and engagement. It is so important to stop and take a deep breath and to re-asses who and what is informing our lives. We can decide who to hear from more and who to hear from less.
So much of our awareness is shaped by pace-setters, ground-breakers, artistes and people who shock us with the new. Following, liking and linking with them can make us feel all-powerful in making choices, but where do they lead us? Where were we lead last year? Did they lead us somewhere fulfilling? Did they lead us somewhere more authentic? Maybe. Maybe not.
The risk we need to take in becoming ourselves is not following any media personality but taking a chance and following our divine artist and friend. The one who really knows us because he made us. The one who has our best interest at heart and is willing to walk through anything with us to help us become truly ourselves.
If we reflect on our habitual responses when someone hurts us, we see that each of us has developed our own ways of dealing with these. If our memory still hurts, as it did initially, we know then that we still have an open wound. Our coping patterns of rebellion or compliance, for example, have not lead us to our complete healing.
When we feel offended it is usually that something someone says or does now reminds us of painful issues from before. We feel the same feelings as we did when we initially got hurt. It may come as a surprise when we overreact, but this is because today’s issues hook yesterday’s. How we were treated before affects our beliefs about ourselves and our ways of connecting with others currently. We may, for example, have been belittled in class and now find ourselves blocked if we have to speak in public. As a child we may have been allowed no voice and were silenced and humiliated. Now we find ourselves doing what was done to us. We may be surprised when we shout to feel powerful. Someone else might have always controlled our choices and we mistrust ourselves making them now.
As we intentionally engage early memories and see the patterns that went with them, the more we will be empowered to choose what we want or do not want for our lives now. As adults it’s our job to manage our relationships and not simply to repeat what was done to us. Our ways of loving can become deeper as our relational patterns are transformed. We do not need to be victims and remain stuck in our norm.
When we struggle with our outer community it’s often reminding us of something painful in our inner community that we haven’t found healing for yet. The Holy Spirit keeps bringing people into our lives to awaken us to unhealed areas of our heart. When we co-operate with Him, He heals our wounds and makes us whole and free indeed.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.”
Although we may have said this trying to defend ourselves at school, we all know that this is not true. Many of the ongoing wounds we carry are word based. We each can recall offensive things that were aimed at us, whether they were meant to hurt or not. We remember still, when our inadequacies were exposed in some way and we either retreated or fought back, not wanting to show how much it actually hurt.
Those offensive words, often said by someone who wasn’t close to us or who didn’t understand our situation accurately, continue to fester over time. If they came at times when we were feeling vulnerable they more easily eroded our self-esteem and caused self-doubt.
Though offensive words sting, they do not need to continue to define us. Understanding the intention behind someone’s comment may help us let it go, so, if we can, we need to risk asking them to clarify why they said what they did. We help each other when we risk being more transparent and real in our relationships. We need to be very wise and loving in order to be able to speak and receive truth.
God knows and sees our weaknesses, but never reprimands us in a demeaning way. His unconditional love gives us the safe space to risk looking at our sinful patterns. He hurts too at the destructive words that have offended us. Yet He wants us to walk free, to keep our emotional accounts clean and to become safe, life giving presences for others.
Monday Night Meeting – 9 April 2018
Sergio Milandri will lead the meeting. There are typically times of input, personal reflection, and sharing in pairs (or as a group).
Date: 9 April 2018. These meetings take place on most Monday evenings.
Times: From 6:15 for 6:30 pm we’ll have a bring-and-share meal in the Sans Pareil barn. From 7:15 for 7:30 pm until 9 pm we have our core teaching, reflection, discussion and exercise times.
Coffee and tea are available.
Address: Sans Pareil, 1 Welbevind Way, Hout Bay, Cape Town.
Cost: R100 per person, paid at the door. Discounts are available if needed. No booking required.
Extras: For the meal, please bring a plate to share (not dessert) and a drink to share. Please bring a dish that doesn’t need to be heated.
Just as we have a body, we have an inner self. There are similarities between our physical and our unseen parts. If we reflect on our body and how we care for it, we can learn a lot about about how to tend to our inner ‘body’. Just as we eat well and exercise to keep healthy, so too we nurture and love our inner self.
Continue reading “Where does it hurt?” Healing our wounds in order to live more fully
Our fundamental need as people is to be seen. From the start we were fed our identity through others’ eyes. If we were seen, we came alive. If we were not seen, or were seen critically, we were damaged or wounded and felt like we were a shadow and didn’t exist. As we grew, the receptivity in another’s eyes was so important, as it launched us, shaped us, gave us a sense of who we were. Continue reading Being Seen in Full Measure