Saturday, April 30, 2011

In a Strange Land

I dreamed I was a visitor in a strange land.

It was a place of beautiful jungles and waterfalls, of unexpected wonders and things I had never seen before.


I had a guide and he began to tell me all about the place, how to get along and do well.

Then he told me about the snakes. He said that there were many in this new land.

I felt a chill. I am so terrified of snakes.

He told me "The snakes here are different. When you come upon them they don't just slither away, they stand up on their tails - so high that their eyes are level with your own and you can see their fangs clearly and their tongues flickering."

I paled and wanted to run.

"There is no problem" he said " This is just the way things work here. If you look straight back into their eyes, standing tall, they will understand you wish to pass and then they will turn, lie down, and slither away."

"But this feels unbearable to me!" I cried "I love this beautiful land but I am so frightened of the snakes! I don't know if my legs will hold me. I know that I will want to turn and run every time I see a snake!"

My guide gently taught me some more of the ways of the snake:

"This running in terror is the most dangerous thing you can do" he spoke " This gives the snake power and makes them able to attack you. As soon as you turn and run they can chase you and bite you. The only way through the wonders of this beautiful jungle is to look the snakes in the eye."

I awoke, pondering how I often I turn and run from my fears. Instead of standing tall, staying in my body and facing the things I fear the most; I panic, I run, I give my fear power over me and my direction.

God's beauty surrounds me always - but in a week full of fears realised and many more approaching its easy to loose sight of this. I can not feel the beauty unless I am willing to let my fear overwhelm me.  In order to move freely and drink in the wonder of the world, I must look my fear in the eye, to know it and taste, and finally watch it dissolve.

Illustration by Eloisa

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Humility - Like Learning to Breathe

In this life I never learnt to breathe. I learnt to please and all the pleasing crushed the air out of me instead of letting it in. I had bronchitis and asthma often as a child and still there are many days when a stifling lack of breath, a wheeze, has me reaching for an inhaler.

I understand it now, this not having learnt breath. It’s about the moments I couldn’t bear. I could never stop to be in the moments of my life. I was always scurrying to the next one, I was always afraid to stop moving, to stop pleasing and appeasing. My joyous instants were fraught with the fear of the one that may follow it. I never grew up learning to just inhale, exhale through the painful times, the scary instants and as I grew I learnt to chase them down with booze or anger or running away into the next ‘adventure’.

Humility, to me, feels like learning to breathe. It is finding space to feel, to allow the entire me to be present. And in this allowing me, it suddenly seems like there is room to breathe, to breathe into the moments that hurt. This new breathing makes space for me, in spite of the pressures to conform to others. It is breathing in and out through the put- downs and the push-arounds that once made me shrink myself. And as I do this there is a growing softness that feels like the rigidity is gradually draining out of me through a slow leak in my shoe.

God knows how hard this place has been for me to find. Like a caged animal I have fought myself, fought to keep running, to keep from feeling. I have screamed a silent scream of anguish caused only by my rebellion. How could I have known that this space, this living humbly, is the most precious and expansive awakening? I could not have guessed that it feels so gently nurturing and beautifully consuming.

Humility to me is not bashing a pillow, or sobbing my heart out. It is a state, a way of living, that I may embody.

Humility commences with my willingness to feel and results in me embracing everything and somewhere in the vital space in between there comes a birthing of true love and compassion.

This new filling of my lungs has also expanded how I see myself, how I see others. God has shown me our brokenness and our beauty simultaneously. There is new space in my heart; the dust covers are being tossed off disused and neglected furnishings, such as patience, giving and kindness.

I find myself surrounded suddenly by brothers and sisters, not strangers or friends. I feel a tender (and still tentative) unfurling of innocent desire towards my mate. I catch myself crying at the bright blue sky bursting with pure white cotton ball clouds. I find joy in the little things and am overwhelmed by gratitude for the great gifts God showers on my every day. I know now that humility is the soil in which our connection to all others must germinate. It is the fertile ground to which God may come and cultivate a place in our hearts.

And while I know I am still so imperfectly proud so often, this yielding to humility is like a new trend in my heart that I never want to go out of fashion.
In my stutters and starts, in this learning to breathe, I have glimpsed God. And I find myself laughing, because He’s been here all along. He’s there at every breath – it’s only me that kept running, running, running from myself, the labour of it crushing my chest and stifling every gasp for air. I left no space to know Him, to let Him fill me up, to have Him patch up all those gaping wounds I smothered and stifled and suffocated, denying them air to breathe.

All that trying to live in the ‘now’ was wasted while I, myself, stifled the very intake of air that would ground me in it. And all the old meditation, the reframing, the “its all good”s seem cheap in the face of what I feel now. The minutes are longer and richer. I am present for the first time in so long. My gratitude grows not through making the best of things, or minimising the pains of my life. It springs forth as I begin to welcome all emotions, resting in the knowledge that they help me remember my own story, my own self once squashed and discarded. My heart swells in thankfulness as I see that God is teaching me Truth and Love again. How can I not be grateful to a God who has designed laws that engineer every experience, so that I may have an opportunity in each moment to grow towards Him, to become whole again? How can I not appreciate a universe designed to teach me everything about Love once I submit to the simplest thing – my fully feeling self - something so vital and simple that once I stop fighting it seems just like breathing.

As I learn again to breathe and I make space for God to fill my lungs, to enter deep into me. And often now, as I exhale, a sweet new scent, that whispers something of love, liberation and contentment, wafts under my nostrils. Possibility and promise smell like nectar from an exotic fruit.

I give thanks for all things; I give thanks for every God gifted breath.

A Note to Those Reading:

I still have so much to learn and I know that sometime soon, I will realise that where I am now, this new type of breath, is only a glimmer of the humility I will need to truly know my Father.  This offering stems only from my desire to share with you the deeper peace I am finding through staying with my emotions, through desiring to know myself and see myself, not through the eyes of the world, but through the eyes of the One who loves the most. He loves me, its true, and in the light of His Grace I am so humbled by how much I still have to learn and grow. Thank-you today for reading my simple words. I am blessed to share this journey with you.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

My Struggle to Surrender - Part II

Back in December I wrote a post about surrender - specifically My Struggle to Surrender - and I promised to get back to you about what I was learning and working on. So much has happened since then and it feels like December was a year ago rather than just three and half months. Recently I have begun to write about surrender in a whole new way and I want to share that here soon. Before I do that I thought it may be worth posting the writing I had all but finished back in December as Part Two to the original surrender post.

You may remember that I was reflecting on the space of surrender - the allowance of all of my emotions, all of the time....

I could pick up the pace, I could go to the place where I let my emotions lead, where I let myself become a teary mess for days at a time, I could surrender. This is the most rapid way to change and grow. I know intellectually that this is the better way and yet I don’t trust God enough that I will survive the tumble over the cliff; I don’t believe that I can do it.

Yeshua is helping me so much with this issue and I want to share with you some of my discoveries about my blocks and the tools that are helping me with this issue.

The Things I do to Avoid Surrender

Usually I do one of two things. The first thing I call ‘Toughing it out’. This is where I tell myself things like: ‘well I just have to feel this, this is the only way to grow, I’m just being an idiot, God made me to be able to do this, I’m just going to push on’ I try to force myself over the edge. I get all rigid and try to survive it all rather than feel it all. And, no surprises here, I don’t end up feeling very much at all.

The second thing I do – lets call it ‘Sulking it out’ – is more like ‘I can’t do this on my own, AJ can I have a cuddle?, I think I’ll have a cup of tea, maybe some chocolate, I just want to watch a nice movie’ i.e. I become needy, I seek comfort, I feel I will be able to cope if I just feel a little better.

In both cases I am avoiding my true grief, I am avoiding the place of surrender, of overwhelm. I am either ‘toughing it out’ and shutting down my vulnerability or I am ‘sulking it out’ and looking for external things to help me avoid my feelings.

Fear Stops Surrender

I know intellectually that experiencing my pain will lead to healing and growth. So why am I so afraid??

I must have a false belief about what it will be to surrender emotionally. So lets call this belief or set of beliefs my ‘block’, the thing that blocks me feeling everything all of the time. The belief must be false because God created me to be able to cope with all of my emotions.

So what are my biggest fears and false beliefs about surrender?

  1. I can’t cope with the emotion
  2. I will be completely out of control if I surrender to this emotion
  3. I will feel crazy, I will look crazy to others, others will laugh at me, or condescend to me

These huge beliefs inside of me have their origins in things I learned in childhood through my early experiences and the way my parents viewed emotions.

Its no surprise, given the state of our world, that my parents themselves have fear of their own emotions. In my childhood they treated themselves most of the time in the way I usually resort to i.e. they ‘toughed it out’. Instead of having a good cry, they taught me to get on with life and that it was foolish to spend too much time feeling sorrow or grief. So I learnt that I could feel grief for a little while but after that I was feeling sorry for myself.

I also come from a family where ‘making fun’ of others or paying a person out for their idiosyncrasies is considered good natured and normal. This is the culture in one side of my extended family. Cruel sentiments, condescension and ridicule were often dressed up as ‘having a joke’. As a kid I was labelled a ‘drama queen’ because I was so expressive and often emotional. Growing up that made me feel ashamed of my emotions, I learned to not be so ‘sensitive’ and I become a ‘joker’ too. As an adult I now have the belief that if I’m overly emotional I will be made fun of or condescended to.

Also, my parents, because they feel afraid of their own sorrow, find it hard to allow it in their children. They felt completely powerless and distressed if I was inconsolably sad as a child. They hugged and ‘comforted’ me at the first sign of tears. So little me, instead of getting the message, ‘Its OK to have a good cry, you can handle it and in fact you will feel a whole lot better when you do. Just come and see us when you’re done’ came to believe ‘Crying is scary, I need someone with me, I can’t cope with my emotions

So, all of these early messages about emotion, have resulted in me have never having had the experience of just submitting to big emotions and the entire process is now shrouded in fear. I now feel weak, crazy, out of control and like I can’t cope when I have large emotions.

So what do I do?

Understanding all of these early messages helps me see my blocks a little more clearly.

I can feel frustrated that my parents didn’t encourage my tears but that doesn’t get me anywhere. They have their own fears and blocks to work through and blaming them and being a victim still doesn’t release the blocks that are now a part of me.

However connecting to the pain of these early memories and releasing it, reduces and eliminates my fear of those things happening again. If I have grieved being judged for being expressive and emotional I will no longer fear it. I will have worked through the emotion and know that feeling myself is worth it and if people try to make me feel small for crying it won’t effect me.

I can also enlist the help of my intellect to help me begin to challenge the false beliefs. One of the problems I have and see many people having is that we tend to ‘live in’ the emotion; we keep resisting the feeling of it and instead tell it to ourselves as a truth. I can remind myself that the feeling ‘I can’t cope’ is not the Truth, it is JUST AN EMOTION.

In fact the only way I am going to release this block is to stop believing it is the truth. The Truth is actually that;
-        God created me to cope with all of my emotions.
-        That when I feel everything I am actually most connected to myself and therefore the most in control.
-        That its not crazy to feel the emotions that are already there inside of me

When I live in the feeling ‘I can’t cope’ I actually use it as a way to control my feelings, the other alternative is to experience ‘I can’t cope’ as an expression of grief. This is the key to releasing the block.

For example yesterday when I was writing my first ever blog post I was full of fear. I was sitting at the computer typing away and every now and then I would be hit by huge feelings of terror of exposure and rejection and I would begin to feel ‘I can’t cope’. At that point I would go rigid, get up from the computer and go and do something else. My experience of ‘I can’t cope’ was almost angry; I was telling it to myself as a truth and it was a way to control my feelings.

If I had been releasing my block, I would have been typing away, felt overwhelmed and softened. I would have sat and sobbed out all of the feelings of ‘I’m just not up to this, this is all too much, I feel like I can’t cope’. My block would have been released from me as an expression of grief.


Have a great week everyone. I'll be back sometime to finish my musing on surrender!

These days Yeshua and I are enjoying the beginning of learning teams, listening and watching as some of you express and step into desire and we're busy planning trips in the coming months. The autumn days are full of spectacular light and I'm feeling a quiet joy at just being together and loving God.

Blessings to you,


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Welcoming Sorrow, Honouring Self

About a week ago I had a series of realisations. Like a mini power point presentation in my soul, every couple of hours ponderings in my heart, snippets of discussions with Yeshua or pages I had read would coalesce and God would download another whopping ‘Truth Slide’ for my soul to tremble at.

Below is the list of my ‘Truth Slides’. I can’t programme html to save myself so they appear as numbered points but if you can imagine God gave them to me in this really cool cascading flow chart, every couple of hours the next slide would appear and I could feel how it snugly related to the previous one.

1. I have never really loved anyone. I have always been in addictions in close relationships.

(Do you sort of get to feel why I needed a couple of hours before the next slide?)

2. I am in almost complete denial of my true self. I have squashed my true self and all of my feelings into    a tiny ball in a dark corner of my soul. Every now and then when she tries to appear I stamp on her to make her more squished and tiny. My true self is full of sorrow

3. My inauthentic self, created to get approval and avoid my sadness is not content, confident or able to love authentically because she is created through addiction. She is needy by nature.

4. If I want to know and accept my true self I must be willing to accept her sorrow. She is full of pain. I want to reject pain but now I realise that pain is a large part of the real me. I can’t know me unless I let my grief be present and tell its story. In order to know myself I must open my arms and welcome pain.

5. Allowing my sorrow will not only connect me with my true self but it will bring about my healing. Even in my sorrow I will be able to love and give authentically because I will have reached an authentic place within myself.

6. My authentic self knows and desires her Soulmate (my inauthentic self stresses about not desiring or knowing – this is just an effect emotion) My authentic self knows what she wants and what is good for her.

In the wake of the God engineered slide show in my soul I have this to say.

We tell ourselves that the adult, invented self is strong and the protector, that the child within is weak and needs protection. In fact it is the child within that holds the wisdom, she is the one connected with her emotions, the emotions that make us sensitive to what is good, safe and wise for our well-being and happiness. Our denial of the painful feelings, created when we were harmed, suppressed, bullied or disrespected as children, desensitises us to the passion, creativity, surety, desire and heart-trust that is innate to our fully feeling selves.

We must welcome our pains in order to know our desires. We have been taught to trust our minds and rationality (and look where it’s got us: sick, divorced, overweight, discontented, dissatisfied, unsure, cynical and mistrusting). If we can find the scrunched up part inside that holds our true self, full of pain; if we can sit with it and ask it to expand, to stretch out into the fullness of our being we will feel its pain and loneliness. We will feel its fears and losses but we also will for the first time in so long be feeling our true selves and there is so much power in a person connected to themselves. This feeling creature that we were created to be, is also aware and connected to everything around it. It feels nature, it feels others, it allows its own feelings and as a result it knows what it wants! If we desire Love and God from this space the potentials for peace, joy and fulfilment are no longer even potentials – they become realities.

The key for me is to begin to view my pain as something different to ‘bad’, ‘the unpleasant part’, the ‘please can I get it over and done with’ thing that I have to do. I want to love me and that means loving my pain because it is a part of me right now. In fact it tells my story, by allowing my pain I am honouring my story, I am coming to know the complete me. By judging and avoiding my pain I am judging the largest part of me (largest for now). I am saying to the real me ‘you are unpleasant’, ‘I wish you weren’t there’, ‘you make my life hard and miserable’.

The starker truth I have come to face is that I, the manufactured me, have made my life unpleasant and miserable and the more I fight the real me, the more miserable I become. I have blamed ‘real me – full of pain’ for unhappiness only to realise now that allowing ‘real me – full of pain’ unlocks my joy and even during the feeling of my pain she, the real me, has the capacity to love, to make decisions, to create and connect with others.

We must change our attitudes to pain. We must desire not only God but ourselves – and if our true selves come clad in pain, abuse, loss or fear we must welcome them and let their grief tell our story, for ultimately they will become our greatest teachers, they will instruct us in love. They have lived so long without it, they have felt the absence of it so acutely that, when we allow them, our darker feelings will give us knowing and make us hyper-aware of what it loving and what is not.

God, of course, will be our constant companion but at present so many of us invite Him from our inauthentic selves. We say “God, come sit for a while, come for tea and I’ll show you my best self, we won’t talk about that scrunched up part of me in the distant, dark corner down the hall because, frankly, she bothers me. I wish you would just clear her out of here, take her off my hands.”

And all God can do is smile gently and try to have us hear His response “But my beloved, this part is you and I love her so much. My Arms of Love long to embrace her.”