Don’t Waste The Pain

“Revolution might sound a little dramatic, but in this world, choosing authenticity and worthiness is an absolute act of resistance. Choosing to live and love with our whole hearts is an act of defiance. You’re going to confuse, piss off, and terrify lots of people— including yourself. One minute you’ll pray that the transformation stops, and the next minute you’ll pray that it never ends. You’ll also wonder how you can feel so brave and so afraid at the same time. At least that’s how I feel most of the time… brave, afraid, and very, very alive. Rising strong is the final piece of this transformation.”

– Brene Brown

I’m thinking of the young man (it could easily be a woman) in his 20’s (maybe even 30s) who is trying to get his life together after making a lot of personal mistakes.  He feels like a failure, alone, and abandoned.  He may even be angry at the world for the bag he was given.

What you’ve been through is not fair.  The upbringing was rough…it wasn’t your fault.  And yet this is what you have to come to grips with.  You’ll need a lot of support, care, and love.  There will be days when you can’t make sense of the deep pain you feel in your heart.

Your greatest choice today is to live as one who is willing to rise strong, WITH all the anxiety and stress.  The gift of strength is for you to reclaim who you long to be.  It’s unsettling, uncomfortable, and necessary.  You must remember that you are the beloved!  That is your real identity and at the core of who you are.

You’ll need community, care, and courage.  You’ll need a power bigger than you.

And as a friend once said, don’t waste the pain.  I’m not sure what exactly that means.  But I’m starting to understand that with each set of waves (of pain), there is an opportunity to keep rising, growing, and being transformed.

 

Shadow Work via Listening

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24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Spiritual growth in most religious traditions or self-help practices, is about learning to listen.   Try it for a moment.  Hit the pause right now.  What do you hear?  I hear crickets in my backyard, a distant airplane, the house creaking, a conversation I had with my sister, my kids saying “NO!”.  What did you hear?

I’m not consciously listening for the things I just mentioned.  But when I am intentional , I can hear.

Jesus the Rabbi offers a steady stream of wisdom and invites His followers to listen.  I could have used a non-Jesus quote that talks about the gift of listening.  But I’m rooted in a faith tradition that is shaping how I listen.

In effect, I’m being invited to is listen.  It’s a learned habit, a practice.  You and I have not always been good listeners.  And guess what?  We still have a ways to go.

So how do we listen?  In other parts of the Bible we’re instructed to:

  • be still
  • be in solitude away from distraction
  • be humble and learn to be a student
  • acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers

What I’m hoping we can all do is learn to listen and be attentive to God, our emotions/thoughts/inner movements, and others.  I desperately want to be a good listener.  I believe in it so much that I’ve based my career on being a listener.  So I’m listening to my own inner movements.  There are movements within that clamor for my attention.  Some are joyful and others are pitiful.

I want to incline my ear towards the One who is whispering the great Three phrases we long for:  You are my beloved, I am pleased with, You belong to Me.  I want to be attentive to these words because they give me the courage to face the other parts that scream at me:

“You blew it”

“Shame on you”

“Cut a corner…no one will find out”

“look again”

“You’re so stupid”

“You don’t need anybody”

“You’re all alone and you’ll blow it”

“You’re not good enough”

Any time I hear these words, I remove myself from either/or thinking.  I acknowledge the stress and circumstances I’m in.  I acknowledge my fears.  And I learn to hear the great Words that the Father spoke over His Son.  Those same words are for you and I today.  Claim them for yourself.  Don’t be shy about it.  You and I need them right now.

Don’t be afraid to listen to what’s happening within.  God is in the midst of your “within” and you no longer have to fear the shadows.  Befriend the shadow.  Learn to hear what it might be saying and then offer it away in the Presence of the One who exclaims:

“I love You”

The re-imaging of God and the importance of it

We must create spaces for us (and others) to kill our versions of God that are not coherent with life and scripture. In some ways, we must become atheists in order to confront ill-images of God. The Israelites did it through protest and lament (see the Exodus story and the Psalms). The hope is that once we can kill these images of God, we can find courage to see God’s redemptive goodness and have new operative images of God that convey healing and hope.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/fuller/2015/01/killing-god-finding-god/

My client arrived at her conclusion that perhaps God was not who she had always thought God was only after a period in which I helped create space for her to “destroy” God with her complaints, groans and protests. And believe me, she had lots of legitimate reasons to be angry! When God didn’t strike her dead, or abandon her, and I didn’t leave or shame her (beliefs she had internalized from her faith community and her interactions with parents), there was space for her to begin to “find” God in new and different ways. Maybe God had not rescued her from a life of trauma, maybe God had not delivered her from the consequences of that evil, but maybe, just maybe, God was still at work and maybe she could get to know this new God without throwing him away or living with a false self and false God.