Saturday, July 19, 2008

Truth or Consequences

Remember that old TV show that broadcast out of New Mexico? That title reminds me of what I wanted to title this post, Changes and Consequences. Thought the old TV title might "grab" you.

Paul has been writing on his blog, vtmbottomline, about his old school/new school thinking on some subjects. One subject is the role of women in the church.

My reality check for today is to say I so agree with him and what he is saying. It's been a lifetime for me of coming to this viewpoint. I'm definitely an egalitarian. And I apply my way of thinking to every area of my life, not just the church.

In the past I've taught the total opposite and was all caught up in roles and a certain legalistic interpretation of scripture. I would often proof-text some verses, and in hindsight I see that I was making that verse say what I needed it to say.

I became aware of this change-point in my life when Paul had his first heart attack and bypass surgery. It was a scary time. I had built my life so much around him and "under" him that I remember that first night at the hospital thinking that if he died, half of me would be in the grave. What would I do? 

Although as I look back now, this change had started many years before this hospital stay. I just wasn't as aware of what was happening, and it became very clear at that point.

That whole thought process of being dependent seemed to be so wrong, and it started my serious thinking about what I had believed, accepted, and taught. Nothing like a near-death experience to wake you up or make you aware of how much you, yourself, are changing and have changed.

From that point I became aware of changes I was already making in varying degrees:
  • Thinking for myself
  • Making my own decisions
  • Taking much more responsibility for my own life
  • Quit blaming him for my problems
  • Changing many of my ways of thinking and acting
As I have the time and opportunity, I plan to write more posts on some of my experiences and how some of these changes came about and the consequences resulting from the changes.

That's all for now.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Do I Like Me?

Usually our thoughts go something like, "I wonder if others like me." I'm old enough (and wise enough ??) to know that if I don't like myself, others will find it difficult to like me. Usually that's because relating to others with the hope that they will like me makes one "leak" that "I'm needy," and that usually drives others away. I've learned if I like myself, I "leak" that. One of the things I've learned for sure: We all leak who we really are.

In John Powell's book, Happiness Is An Inside Job, the chapters are ten practices, and
Practice 1 is "We must accept ourselves as we are."

And at the beginning of each chapter he writes a summary, a looking forward to, what he will write in detail within the chapter. Here's the summary for the first chapter:

We tend to hold on to things, including ideas. 
We are reluctant to give up ideas like who I am. 

Yet giving up some old ideas is essential to growing. 
I must learn how to let go of the static image of who I think I am. 

If I am to grow, I must get unhooked from my past. I must come to realize that I am the one and only me, a person in process--always and forever learning, changing, growing. 

The only important reality is who I am right now. I am not who I used to be. I am not yet who I will be. And above all I must know this: I am who I am supposed to be, and I am fully equipped to do whatever it is I am supposed to be doing with my life.

This sounds like some of that ya-da, ya-da stuff; you know yeah, yeah, we've heard this many times before, that self-acceptance stuff. But, for some reason, this really hits me as not the same ole', same ole'. Not sure if it's because I'm so familiar with the whole book or because I'm old enough to see and know the real thing when it crosses my path. I also like Powell's use of everyday language and not religious code talk that so often makes the writer sound spiritual, but too often also turns off many readers.

May I "chase a rabbit here?" But first, surely everyone knows what "chase a rabbit" means, right? Just in case: it means I'm going to go off subject here just a little and write/talk about something else. But, sometimes that rabbit is "juicy" and worth the rabbit-chase. 

The rabbit: I read once that all the religious talk and all the religious rules that legalists tend to put on others produces one of two kinds: those who hear and then gladly accept all the rules and become proud that they can do this, or those who hear and know that they can't and don't want to keep all those rules and say, "I'm out of here." Results: Pharisees or rebels. The first time I read that, it gave me pause. Then I thought, that is so true! Too often people who talk or write in the religious-coded language are those who come across as not so real, at least to folks like me. I think I thought of this because the religious-talking crowd are the ones who tend to put the shoulds on others.

Anyway, Powell's short summary of the practice of self-acceptance is one of those summaries that was definitely one of the change-points in my life a few years ago. Worth sharing. May not mean much to others, but when something really grabs you and really means something to you personally, you just want to share and you hope others see it as you do. But obviously that doesn't always happen. Again, just sharing.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Happiness Is an Inside Job

The title of this post is also the title of a book by John Powell. It's one of my favorite books, and it's one that I credit with having a major influence on the changes in my life.

Recently I read this quote:
"He who has so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition will waste his life in fruitless efforts and multiply the grief which he purposes to remove." ~Samuel Johnson~

How many of us realize that our own happiness is our responsibility. We often blame our mate, our circumstances, our job, our church, and/or our friends for our lack of happiness. But, if happiness is really an inside job, then that means we have the key to our own happiness.

How revolutionary is that?

My absolutely favorite quote in Powell's book is, "Growth begins where blaming ends." So if I quit blaming others for my unhappiness, perhaps I can begin learning how to enjoy the happiness that's mine from the inside out.

I think I'll write about this concept in my next few posts.
Fun ideas to think about.