Archive | June, 2011

Inner World Evangelism

29 Jun

Although I’d like to think of my inner world as a thing of beauty and mystery, inevitably I do not. Instead, I think of it as being inhabited by a ridiculously needy little girl half the time. I know that within myself there is a push/pull between revealing my inner world to the outer and that rooted in this ambivalence lies a history of traumatic consequences for simply being.

As I talked about this phenomenon with a friend today, she mentioned how important it is for us to integrate our young selves with our adult selves but that the only real way to do this is to either imagine we have a very short person in therapy and/or that we invite Jesus’ love into our inner worlds constantly. “Inner world evangelism” is what she called it.

What would it be like if I could take that child into my arms as Jesus would? What would it be like if I could just love myself without all the shame I often feel once I start peeling back the deeper layers of my life? And what would it mean to love so unabashedly and so unafraid of rejection and hurt that I could pour an expensive bottle of perfume, lavishing it onto Jesus’ feet?

Yes, I need to be evangelized. To hear the Good News. I need to bring this little girl forward to be healed. And thankfully, he is there.

Finding Our Voices

19 Jun

I find the moment an infant recognizes her own voice fascinating. I love the look of delight on her face as she squeals, realizing her own vocal chords made the noise. I also love her recognition of its power to generate a reaction from those around her. But alas, she eventually learns that her care-takers are not always going to tolerate her shrieking just for the hell of it.

While the process of finding and expressing our voices may start at a primitive age, it is one we fine tune throughout our life time. With this voice, we learn to say “yes” and “no” to things, to set boundaries and to express our inner-most truths. This is not always an easy process. Fear of rejection and admonishment often looms, getting in the way of authentic, spontaneous expression. While some of us might be wise to pause and reflect before we speak, there are just as many of us who feel inhibited to truly have a voice and impact on the world.

A number of years back when I first started really expressing myself, I found I was constantly having issues with my throat – the vehicle for expression. I would come down with chronic sore throats and at times felt this weird tingling sensation in my clavicles. It was almost as if gunk was releasing – feelings all bottled up in the neck that were finally being set free.

Whatever the process and hassle it takes to find our voices, it’s essential, allowing us to express our innate power and beauty. It also helps us speak up for others and fight against oppression and abuses.

I’ve been writing much lately and alas, I’ve got that tickle in my throat and residual congestion. Hmmmm. I wonder if I just might be finding my voice…

What is Meaning?

12 Jun

I went to a lovely graduation yesterday and found myself surprisingly sentimental as I witnessed all the parents, grandparents, spouses and friends cheer on the graduates. The teachers too, decked out in their Harry Potter garb obviously cared deeply about the students whom they had supported through the process of higher education. As with weddings and funerals, here was another one of those markers that punctuate a moment of significance.

When I got my masters, I didn’t go to the ceremony. I didn’t even send out notices. I don’t know why. It just didn’t cross my mind. By then I was living on a different coast, worrying about the next phase in the journey. Finishing seemed anti-climatic. I was done but now I had to get a job and pass tests to be licensed. And when I graduated from college, I was so bummed about leaving the comfort of the academic womb, I was reluctantly dragged to the ceremony.

Part of the celebration process is knowing what the occasion signifies. Without this, there is no meaning. So what is meaning anyway? And does one need a college or graduate degree to possess it?

I had a teacher share that there was a time in his life when his wife called him out on making academic achievement his idol. He had become so wrapped up in accomplishing that he was losing sight of something bigger. And indeed, anything in our lives can become idols. Without a doubt, our work, relationships and material possessions can suddenly eclipse God. But how do we navigate through life with a sense of purpose and meaning?

I was thinking about all of this when the day after I finished the school term, I needed to get started on a homework assignment for the next class that was about to start. And I asked myself, am I too making academics my idol or using this to fill a void?

For those of us who have had an experience of great loss, where suffering smashes to pieces erroneous notions of security, meaning and identity, our lives can veer into two possible directions: despair and madness or transcendent grace. And I realize that for me, the pursuit of wisdom and meaning will always be the life line that stabilizes me and gives me coordinates of purpose. It is not about the outcome, but about the process. The journey towards finding love and God through the Word and creative process. Without it, I don’t really have a sense of orientation.

When I finish seminary, it will mean something.