I’ll do it myself!

As we grow, there comes a point in our young lives that we in some way express, I’ll do it myself!

Fast forward, years, perhaps decades, that turning point often becomes a key aspect of our current identity. There are both pros and cons to the identity linked to “I’ll do it myself” in our current culture, independence is celebrated; individuality expected and supported.

Neither right nor wrong, our current culture often pushes us into a corner which shames us into expressing our rugged individualism. This inner story we tell ourselves can be one of the large stumbling blocks on our spiritual journey.

Identity speaks more to our relationship to the inner story we tell ourselves, perhaps how we relate to our ego or the various personas that make up our ego… but let’s not get caught up in our intellects too long… bottom line, our identy/s (ego, persona, etc.) helps ground us and guide us through this seemingly ungrounded and challenging world.

In these times of uncertainty, our identities can become both a place to go for relief but also a prison that keeps us locked in. A way you can explore whether your identifications have you grounded or locked away is by looking within at how you identify yourself. Take a look at the identity wheel below and highlight the top 4-5 ways you identify yourself of you think others identify you.

I tried to locate the originator of this model but did not, if anyone knows, please let me know so I might give credit where due.

Now that you’ve identified your top 4 or 5, narrow it down to your top one or two. Once you’ve done that, cross one of your top ones off the list. As you do, note how you feel.

Ask yourself what you would be without that identity. Explore within to notice what thoughts and emotions emerge. You’re likely noticing your deep attachments to the inner story you’ve been telling yourself about who you are. Further you may be noticing a glimpse of some new freedom as you notice that you are much more than the story which identify with so closely.

If you’d like to explore this further, I’d be glad to hear from you.

Are you on the right track?

Short answer, yes.

Now let’s dig into that a bit. Often our inability to ‘see’ we’re on the right track keeps us from realizing we indeed are. Our modern society markets so many things to us , and in such a way that we often are overwhelmed by choices. Sometimes when we finally choose a direction or make a decision, we begin to question if it is or was the right one.

Our struggling does not actually knock us off the right track but rather keeps us from accepting what is on our right track as a part of our life’s Love lesson.

Let me be careful to offer that although “life’s Love lesson” may sound friendly, enlightening and ultimately supportive… when the “triple L’s” show up in your life, they will often appear as insurmountable problems, challenges or fears.

What to do…

Recognize your own unique path. Accept that it is your path to navigate for better or for worse. Accepting the reality of where you are on the path is helpful even it is difficult to do. It may not feel like it often… or ever, but trust me, you are beloved and you have special gifts that you and the world needs.

So how do we discover these gifts? How do we live out our uniqueness in a way, knowing we are on the right track?

Be still.

Be still.

Notice what you notice right now. This will only take a minute. What you’re noticing may be within you; it may be around you; may be a memory; a plan; an emotion; a desire; just pay attention to what is there for you now.

Now observe it, feel it, sense it.

Breath. And again.

Slowly notice what it is, and ever so gently inquire, why am I noticing this? What, if anything, am I to do with this noticing?

Take your time. No hurry. You’ll never get through all those emails waiting for you anyway!

As you’re able bring the question back to you’re attention, “am I on the right track” and ask how does this noticing inform me about my wondering? Is there something for me to do with whatever I’m noticing or seeing?

Often our question will bring interactions or people to mind which are there to guide us as well. In the garden, Jesus struggled in prayer, asking God to “take the cup from him” if possible as his best friends slept. Needless to say he asked them to pray with him, to “stand guard” but they kept sleeping as he struggled to give up his agenda to the greater agenda laid out before him.

Within each of us, a similar battle rages. We balance our own agendas with a bigger or Sacred agenda which both challenges us and scares us. Over time we recognize that our fear drives us toward others for help and support and yet our closest “friends”, including our inner friends, “sleep”. They don’t help us know what to do and they at best frustrate our efforts to hear the truth. And often when they do awaken, they overreact because they don’t know how to react. Fear drives many actions and inactions.

All our efforts to get our internal world “in-line” to know if we’re heading the right way on the right track comes down to one thing… our willingness to accept the path, the track we are on and where it is heading. We often don’t like it or want it,  bravely into the dark often feeling terribly alone. As we are able our response to that sense of alone can be to welcome it, “I don’t know why you’ve come to make me feel so alone.” knowing only one thing for sure… Love is here with us, even when we don’t sense it.

Will the real Kinsman Redeemer, please stand up.

I am so grateful that a friend suggest I watch Rev. Dan Meyer ‘s sermon recorded on June 7, 2020 for Christ Church in Oak Brook, IL. Dan highlighted many of the various views and facts about racism in the U.S. today.

Seems like I’ve been doing a lot of on-line stuff lately so I began, admittedly rather dutifully, wondering what I might fast forward through to get to the main points. Turns out, I’m glad I had some time to really listen because as he spoke, my eyes were opened anew.

Don’t get me wrong, Dan’s sermon and delivery definitely and admittedly came from a point of privilege and he was clear to even frame it as such. As with most of us who come from privilege, we hope that someway, somehow, revolution in our thinking and acting around racism can come about peacefully. I pray each day for peace, but am also mindful that it took a gruesome murder in MN and a “hanging” nearly 2000 years ago to wake some of us up. I pray we don’t hit the privileged snooze button again.

Dan discussed Black Lives Matter and his own inner processing of all that is going on. I was grateful to hear him struggling out loud, in a most articulate way. When he mentioned Black Lives Matter in an affirmative tone, I was hopeful. He went on to deconstruct the political baggage that has been loaded onto Black Lives Matter. I was grateful.

Further he shared the idea that we are called to look in the mirror, to “remove the log in our own eye so we can see.”

Turns out, some logs are heavy. They are hard to manage let alone remove, on our own. Imagine the size of the logs that come from decades old, perhaps century old trees.

In his closing he referred back to the idea of the Kinsman Redeemer from the book of Ruth in the Bible. It is a beautiful idea to be sure. In essence the Kinsman Redeemer is someone deep into one culture who helps an outsider assimilate into that culture. The Kinsman Redeemer could almost be considered a cultural mentor or coach.

What came to me so clearly as I viewed and listened to Dan’s splinter… is that my log, is my nearly subconscious and definitely immediate move to cast myself into the role of the Kinsman Redeemer.

Thank you for helping me remove that log from my eye. The other inner move that occurred for those of you still with me, is as this log was being removed, I noticed a level of frustration that I was placing on Dan’s splinter. As God opened me more to this new view I struggled for quite a while not to make Dan’s splinter the main problem. Often I find when God is doing a new thing with me (or others), fear will arrive and we quickly try to get away from fear through a number of inner and outer escape strategies. This time, I would not succumb to “running away” to projection by God’s Grace.

So if I’m not the Kinsman Redeemer, who is in our current society?

That became an easy answer for me: “the least of these.” Yes, we’ve all heard “the last shall be first”, but it’s really hard to give up the role of the hero or wanna be hero. Then the beatitudes came rushing in as the Spiritual leadership we so desperately need in this difficult, yet hopeful time. The Kinsman Leadership role belongs to: the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted. That’s a good list that points us toward “on earth as it is in heaven.”

Yes, them, us. It would seem we need to more and more make an effort to see the world, our culture, our country, ourselves and God through their eyes, until we become more like them, more like Christ.

Also in Dan’s closing he provided some guidance in the form of an acronym on how we might proceed. Using the same letters, I ask for guidance as I humbly PLEA for guidance and healing.

Pray for new eyes to see as God sees (very dangerous prayer).

Lose the kinsman redeemer super hero costume and role.

Envelope myself in Christ’s deep humility.

Ask for forgiveness, knowing, confidently that we are beloved.

We the people…

It struck me today how quickly we run through the beginning of our constitution as we read “we the people… “

To me, it is an all inclusive phrase, every person is included in “we”. Yet at the time it was written, and persisting still to this day, the all-inclusive “we” I hear is not always heard and quite candidly was not intended by most if not all of the founders.

I heard a great quote today from a friend. She said “words can be redeemed.” I would like to offer that we redeem the words “we the people” by saying what we mean by “we the people” in the US in 2020. The we is much more than what Jefferson, Adams and even Franklin intended. They continue to invite us to grow beyond, to inspire to be better. Perhaps Jefferson might lament about the good ole days but Adams and Franklin certainly would not… we don’t know.

We do know that each of us has been endowed by our creator. And Paul, Jesus and Abraham each point to the Divine within each of us. Paul outright says “don’t you know that you are the temple of the Spirit?” Yes, within each of us is hidden the Presence, the Love, the Light of the most Holy.

And so today let me implore you to help make the “we” aspirational again. That’s what the founders intended, aspirational ideas to form a more perfect union.

Let’s redeem “We the people” so that no one ever has to wonder again if they’re included as one of the “we”.

Don’t you know, you are the church?

So, I’m going to rant a bit as Paul did in his letter to the Corinthians “Don’t you know!…” yes he said Don’t you know, “Don’t you know know your bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” The Spirit is in you! Yes, there, in y.o.u., the whole time, without question, received from God, need I go on?

I can almost hear Paul saying, “What about – your bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, do you not understand?” It may come as a shock for you but it does begin to help you understand how you will never be late for church again, ever! You will be eternally on time!

This Holy Spirit “inside us” thing is highlighted by Jesus in Luke 17 when he is asked by some religious folks, so where is this “Kingdom of God” you keep talking about? And he says, “you can look far and wide, you can go searching, out there… (but don’t be fooled – okay, he didn’t really say this but it’s fun to think he might have), the Kingdom of God is… within you.” In some translations, it says, in your midst. In Aramaic, it basically means right here, in you, and around you, right now!

So, the next time anyone tries to point you to a place of worship and they’re not pointing at you, or themselves, you might want to help them with their directions.

Love is here, why wait, stop seeking and be here now.