Ego trips & realness

image
I can’t get enough of this recent line of questioning by Bishop Palmer at Portland’s General Conference of the United Methodist Church:

“Do our relationships lack the kind of depth that engenders real growth, change and transformation? Is it too hard for us to get real with one another because we lack the spiritual and emotional infrastructure to thrive in the midst of realness?”

His words kept ricocheting in that part of the brain that goes “hmmm, hmmmm” over and over when mentally chewing on a thought. The context of his remarks were intended for world leaders and voting delegates of the Methodist faith. But when he first posed these questions in his address, my head went straight to the precious & active relationships in my own life.

A good chunk of valuable relationships could be more real, and made so I think with my increased inner stamina. There have been a ton of times including in my marriage where a chance to be honest would be skimmed over or rebelled against completely.

…Not sure why except it seems to have something to do with all the raw, vulnerable feelings that owning the truth churns up.

My husband sometimes will justly say “Hey you’re grumpy.” And then I get my back up and defensive at his truth telling. Why the heck why? Is it a strange hidden ego trip floating around inside….that “lacks spiritual & emotional infrastructure” to hear truths on how I affect him?

If so, that looks like some juicy rebellion against self-acceptance right there….that ignoble affliction called ‘holier-than-thou’ ….which is a little sad, but fixable (fingers crossed).

Sometimes the truth in realness gashes self perception I guess! But when healing sets, what felt like a stinging void is now a hopeful chamber inside, a carved seat of cherubic protection that’s more willing to let others in.

 

 

Rebounding from scorn: a quick memory

image

We didn’t see scorn coming…

Years ago at a conference, our chummy DC contingent of friends strolled a town south by southwestern sun. Conversation bulged with laughter and rainbows of perspective.

An uninvited passerby neared our group, his kindness bricked far beneath. He then flared a one-word insult in sneer + racial hate.

“For real?!” …our slim response blended with surprise and then disregard.

Strolling began anew with collective mood well-cobbled in mirth and free spirits.

A little moment at a monestary

image

A monk community lived nearby and worshipped at a precious chapel. Visitors would gather for silent meditation retreats on campus. At prayer one morning, I thought the space was empty & all to myself. My eyes however hadn’t adjusted to the tender light.

A few pews over knelt a man from 1980s history, LtCol Oliver North of Iran-Contra struggles. I recall  feeling ashamed for wanting the small chapel to be fully mine.

A prayer for courage

image

Hello God,

This inner wavy energy sometimes feels so strong, full of rapid quakes. The quaking makes me very nervous. Will you help me I pray, to be humble and open to you…humble and quiet enough to listen to your voice within these strange quakes inside?

Will you help me to receive your courage? I give thanks to you for any inner cues – no matter how swirled it feels or abstract or uneasy. May I view such moments as a chance to practice the seeking of your voice.

Those inner currents surely are apart of your loving spirit that’s carving out space for your guidance. I want to trust this.  I do not want to resist. Maybe the nervousness is something I too can smile upon and gently ‘let be.’

Thank you so much for listening and for your patience and cradling strength. I am grateful for your courage, all dimensions of it, both the known & the unrecognized.

Amen.

Intertwined

image

Where does compassion for others (or even for one’s self) really come from?

Answering this has been an interesting self study involving some ego bruising realizations. Many years ago at the start of adult life and building a path, I envisioned living out a sense of purpose in service for others, a longing to help “make the world a better place.” Then somewhere down the line, my ego unleashed its insecurity on a much more conscious and wounded level.

Something about “making the world a better place” no longer rang true, it was an empty way to frame my life’s productivity. I’m not sure how else to describe it.

It was as if a mental release valve popped off one year and out burst tons of confused or lacking definitions of real internal wellness. I realized my intended trajectory of a life’s work “based on service to others” had finally revealed a very unhealthy subconscious habit….what could be called a severe self-acceptance  deficit.

I had come to see that my well intended path toward helping the world had a very harsh condition attached to it (unbeknownst to my self awareness for years)… that being: this gift of life was deemed worthy only IF it was caring or serving the neediness of this world. As in, this heart deserved to beat only to place others’ needs ahead of my own. Any offerings of compassion or service or tenderness to others equated to some inner sense of value. But all those offers of care outwardly did not equate to extending a sense of care inwardly.  So after years of working from this deeply buried but active premise — the mental and spiritual energy just gave out, burning to ash any desire to benefit other people. That absense of both inward compassion and tenderness left a big ole hole inside where self-respect needed to replant.

Since then, it’s been a more humbling and conscious (still bumpy) path toward a new outlook: compassion intertwines with respect, for self and others, like a branch with its blooms.