Prose of a Poet

I'll Give You That 

I'll Give You That

If by Sovereign you mean 

All things are woven together 

To form something beautiful 

By the end of the story… 

 

That Sense will come of Chaos 

And something from nothing 

Invisible made visible 

By the end of the story… 

 

If by Sovereign you mean 

The end result is more anticipated 

Than dictated and immovable, seen 

By the end of the story… 

 

Then I’ll give you that. 

 

But if you’re going to say 

in that fatalistic way 

That the choices are all made 

And there’s no blooming chance 

To choose dance or no dance. 

Then I’ll take it back. 

 

The Sovereignty of the One 

In whom all breathe and are imagined 

Is the sort that plans on Love and Love Alone. 

The thing is, with that first breath 

Came a place in all creation 

Stamped upon our chest 

Image and Design to Sovereignty incline. 

 

And so… 

My person 

Island and Communal Flow 

Are both immersed in one 

And on their own. 

Sovereign as I Am - 

I am Sovereign 

At the beginning 

And at the end of the story. 

 

I’ll give you that. 

Where I live, snow doesn’t stay. It falls wet and heavy and melts. I think my favourite part of spring and fall storms is the the steady “drip, drip, drip” I hear for days after. The forest was alive with this sound last time I was there and I became enamoured with the water drops. Something usually captures my attention, and the phone came out, camera ready. I missed a lot. I caught something, but it took a consistent shot in the dark to catch the light. Why? Because you can’t control a drip. Water always obeys a million invisible factors in her flow. She runs on Nature’s timetable. They dance, I spectate, but I am drawn in to the intimacy of a moment I am invited to share. If I wait until the water drop has formed, I can’t catch it. I have to be present, I have to set the focus, get in position, and take the shot, repeatedly, sometimes catching nothing, or I will get nothing. But I want to catch that moment before Water and Gravity conspire to make the sound of the drip-drop. I want to see the world reflected in that tiny orb, and so, I make myself still. And trigger happy. Participation carries its own reward, and I capture the drop. I was not in control of Nature, she has her own rhythm, however, I owned my part in the process. I exercised Sovereignty. 

I was brought up believing that God was in complete control. I built my life, my sense of safety, my hurt and pain, my joy and triumph under that banner. I was scared. I worshipped anyway. I considered all my trials joy… for were they not of God? Friendships fragmented, work critiqued by insecure people, outlets for contribution based on marital status or gender, roles taken up or put down according to the needs of a group… and that was just me. There was pain, the putting away of my intrinsic being, the god I heard, vs. the god they heard. Then the worldview took on the World, and her unrest. Wars, famine, natural disasters, accidents, disease, things that were clearly broken, and if administered by a sovereign hand, it was a cruel one. But he gives and takes away, not so? 

He does, but not, I think, in the way I was taught to think. He gave his Mind and Spirit to humanity. Not so we would wield great power to our advantage, but, rather that we could see clearly and act wisely. In Love. He gives wisdom. He takes foolishness. Control and manipulation are set aside in favour of the participatory creativity of bringing endless possibility into manifest reality. I think this misunderstanding of sovereignty is actually one of the reasons suffering, pain and trauma are rampant in the history of the Race of Man. We surrender our personal autonomy too easily hoping the compromise will bring about our salvation, or our martyrdom, the salvation of another. 

If God is sovereign as I was raised to believe… I am Rapunzel in a tower, awaiting freedom in the perfect moment: the place where my desire and his timing intersect. I am truly a damsel in perpetual helpless distress. However, should his Sovereignty be a component of that fullness which in me dwells… I am already saved. I am already able. I have the ability to create my own escape route. I have the power of thought. The resource of true imagination. I am divinely sovereign, and consequently, responsible for that in which I choose passivity over assertion. I cannot wait for the entire path to become clear before I use the light I now possess. I cannot wait for morning in all things, some journeys begin at the behest of the moon, rather than the sun. 

I will not capture that which I desire if my waiting is done with the means safely tucked in my pocket. 

Sovereign as I Am - 

I am Sovereign 

At the beginning 

And at the end of the story.

Fall Without Fear 

I’m not sure why Fall and I are not getting along this year. I can take her photo, but I always seem to want to focus on where the Sun is, or the striking colour of yellow leaves against the sky, or the specific vibrancy of the deep red in a leaf. I can go there. Into the space of the moment… but the season In general? With her, I am at odds. 

Perhaps it isn’t her fault. Not really, anyway. It could just be that I am not ready for the months of comparable hibernation that contrasts the perpetual light and possibility of spring and summer. I have felt, of late, that my life is finally beginning. As if the child in me that never found her voice has emerged and has me searching for the wonder and beauty that is “just over there.” Little by little she is venturing out of the cages built for my safety and discovering how safe it is beyond them. 

I was made for Summer. Her heat, passion, buzz… the magical shades of all the flowers, the dance of bees, the sweetness of berries, the Life and Joy of her thunder showers. I was made for the communal vibe of the full potential of Summer’s glow. 

And yet… I discovered this in the middle of the Winter of the Soul. In the Stillness. In the pregnant pause of last Fall… in the short, dark days of December. So is it the season, or do I just not trust the soul state? 

I’ve let that marinate a bit this morning. Danced with the unease of tiny me, and unpacked her suitcase. Usually the internal tension is a bit of an unfinished conversation with the little girl inside who doesn’t know how to move forward. She knows only the tenuous tightrope of change. 

I think it is simple… I grew in summer this year. I embraced it. My heart kept time with spring as it moved into the fruitful season of abundance, and she wasn’t convinced the darkness of winter wouldn’t make the illusion implode. She didn’t trust my change to be change. I think, she mistook the season for a chinook wind. But it isn’t. 

I am safe. Well. At peace. I do find joy in the little things. I am beautifully held by Love, immersed in abundance. I am ready for my tomorrows to arrive in today. They are not surprises. They are not something to fear. They are the realm of infinite possibility. 

Fall is giving way to Winter. She always does. It is her way. But it is happy surrender, because she knows that the vibrant joy of her gold, red and purple is a passion that spills into the starry night sky of late November. It does not sleep. Rather, she nurtures in the stillness what cannot grown in the bustle of Summer’s productivity. Winter’s snowy blanket is the perfect canopy for relationships to develop intimacy in conversation. Light dances in the short hours of the Christmas season, over the ice and snow, in a brilliance that we could not endure for the long hours of Spring… for we would be over exposed. Love needs rest in order to heal the deep parts of our being. 

So, Fall, stay a bit. I need you. I need to enjoy the transition. I need to watch you colour the season of my soul into deep, memorable impressions of peace that will carry her through the stillness as she prepares for Spring’s return in the wake of Winter’s light. I need to hear you crunch under my feet, smell you as you expose the strength in the leaves, and see the fruit of your nurture come to fullness before the snow covers the evidence. We are both in this moment. So I will stay here as long as you linger, and be present. And the little girl inside? She can peek out of the shadows and breathe, and know, that we are ok. Seasons change, but the lessons learned in them stay. Trees do not begin each subsequent year from a seed. They pick up where they left off, using the rest to fuel the next stage of life. What they produce in each summer is a gift for that moment in time. It doesn’t need to be retrieved from the earth in spring, it is consumed in season by those nourished by it. Each year, they produce fruit that remains, and each year there is an increase in the abundance of it. But, not, without the season of rest. 

And into the world, go I… to listen to Fall without the fear.

the One Whose Dream We Are  

 

 

Stop beating yourself up. It isn’t that you aren’t trying. It isn’t that you don’t believe. It isn’t that you can’t meditate. It isn’t that the affirmations don’t work. It isn’t that God doesn’t hear. It isn’t that the Universe is not friendly. It is also not that you aren’t doing it right. You can be doing everything perfectly… as though you had a recipe, a formula, a program. But it can still fail to “fix” you, even though it worked for “everyone else.” It didn’t actually, you know. It’s just that they were at a different point in their journey when they found that remedy and they were ready.  Sometimes the inner child that felt unsafe just can’t sit down and “be,” and all that inner chatter or agitation, or the physical symptoms are that tiny person asking to be made safe. 

Healing is intentionally bringing to our awareness the intersection of our life experience and intrinsic identity. It is understanding that our being cannot be undone by the doings of life. Most self help books, medical or mental health treatments, and even many holistic approaches attempt to move you from where you are now to where you want to go without addressing the past. However, your present dysfunction has its roots in your past. The way your family thinks, the culture you grew up in, traumatic events that happened to you, even in the womb. When your life is deeply spiritual and connected, but you still struggle with your health, anxiety levels, random crashes or burnout, there’s a tendency to think that all of your enlightenment is counterfeit and nothing is true. This can create a bit of despondency and detachment. 

I’ve heard a few people comment that they feel that they are completely alone. If they are one to pray or meditate they feel that even God is quiet. The isolation felt in this space can make it feel like the world is caving in, and you might not make it. If you happen to be going through a reevaluation of what is true, real, or imagined in your core beliefs at the time, it can be rather chaotic. Here’s the thing: God is quiet. The Universe is peaceful. The cacophony of our own agitation obliterates the harmony of the intrinsic vibration. We often cannot use the learned behaviours of our religious culture to connect to peace because they are based on the idea of an external Saviour, or ideological prophet, or even the ways of a guru.  Someone we have to go and seek. Our Source is woven into our make up, the depth of our Being. God is in a place few of us go, within

I think a perfect illustration of this is Elijah’s experience with God in 1 Kings 19. Elijah is agitated because it looks like the world is after him. God tells him to go to the Mountain, and wait for Him. So he does. He experiences gale force winds, strong enough to move rocks; no God. He experiences and earthquake, a fire, both cataclysmic events which one might expect an All Powerful Being to show up in. Nothing… and then, a small sound, a gentle sound, and there He is. Elijah expected God to show up in a blaze of glory, but he got a whisper. If he hadn’t been quiet, he would have missed it. And at the end of the story, God sends him back prepared to be present and fulfill his purpose. 

So, if our heads are busy, life is chaos, and we feel hemmed in on all sides by impending disaster, anxiety and the physical manifestation of it dictating how well we can cope with our present, and we cannot get quiet enough to hear the whisper, what then? Look where the noise is coming from, because if it isn’t God making it, it’s quite likely that it is your inner child having a temper tantrum because they’re feeling ‘not safe, not safe at all’ and they really need attention. 

So, how to make that wee one safe enough that the past doesn’t intrude on the possibilities in your present? It seems so simple, but one can learn to self parent. Essentially, you sit down with yourself. I prefer to do this in the lap of Father, or Love… however it is your heart sees the Divine, or that which is bigger than you. When I dismantled the structured theology I grew up in and found how very inseparable I am from the One I call Father, this process became simple. I existed in that creative imagination before I appeared in a physical body, therefore, we remember together who I was before my life intersected with the other humans that were part of my early indoctrination. Essentially, God knows what seemed to have shattered in order to skew my worldview and break down the relationship between me and my Source. And, I, I have learned some things on the road to adulthood, in the process of parenting my own children, and unpacking my trauma. I have learned that I know what that little child inside needed to hear, feel, see, express or understand, and I can help her move the stories she keeps replaying from the current reel into the archives. I can let her know that she is safe, and held, and that those things are no longer able to tear at her soul, she doesn’t have to protect either emotions or spirit any longer. Lots of grown ups might have done, said, modelled or inflicted painful things on that little person, and they did the best they could. Admittedly, for many of us, the experiences are in areas that are neglectful or abusive and it is difficult to see the broken behaviour of those adults who should have loved us as the result of the wounded children they are, or were. It’s also difficult to understand the impact of our family history or culture on the genetic markers in our physiology (some ailments or syndromes do run in families, but, not, I think, because they are unavoidably genetic). 

Let yourself heal from the trauma, and you may find that many of your internal conflicts, agitation, interpersonal frustrations, or just general lack of peace might dissipate. You may just find that your mind is quiet for the first time in your life, and you are able to enjoy just “being.” So many of us have an underlying belief that we are wrong, not enough, or even unable to belong because no one really saw us as a kid. But we were not only seen, we were known well, and we still are. 

We are whole. We always have been whole. It is possible to be fully integrated so that all of our perceivably fragmented selves are working in peaceful tandem. We need our inner child… for there is our connection to wonder, delight, unwavering hope, newness, essentially the dawn of new ventures is energetically seated in their need to explore. Dreams and passions were planted in the fertile ground of our uninhibited child heart, they are explored and developed into skills and real potential as we mature. If we meander too far away from who we were in the imagination of the Maker, our life pursuits often do not serve us well long term, because we burn out or make inauthentic choices. 

And if we forgot who we were and are desperately trying to find out retroactively? We can. Our history is written on our Soul by Spirit. Our Soul is a great weaver, able to connect past, present, and future, weaving the intrinsic identity of spirit and the experience into the perfect healing journey so that we can live our most beautiful existence in tandem with our Source, free of inhibition. Our being cannot be undone by the doings of life. The Depth of who we are, just Is. Sometimes the journey of discovery into our intrinsic identity just needs a little facilitating so we can imagine alongside the One whose Dream We Are, and see things come to be. 

P.S. If you’re interested in learning how to have conversations with “little you,” It is possible to do it. There isn’t a blanket “method” so I didn’t include “steps.” However, I have been known to have conversations that have proved helpful with some who have reached out.

One is not the Other 

I don’t know anyone who revels in their sin. Honestly… I see human beings trying desperately to self medicate trauma, injury, emptiness, pain, religious indoctrination, loneliness, misunderstood identity, fear, and isolation. Don’t mistake the wounded for the evil. For one is not the other. 

Human beings were built for inclusive community. We were built for Love to manifest among us… radiate uninhibited through us. We were designed for connection, relationship, knowing, being known, operating out of our strengths to bouey up a brother with weaknesses in the area of our natural aptitude. Independence was never in the mind of the One who is One. Self sufficiency was never in the natural order of things. There is not a creature on earth that would survive outside a family, an ecosystem, an atmosphere. When one of these is decimated, it creates a need to adapt and operate outside of the inherent design for every creature. We don’t judge an animal for trying a new food supply, or migrating outside the habitat they were born into. We stand up and applaud when we find a species we thought were extinct that found a way to survive in a different corner of the wild. 

But our fellow man… the one who looks for sustenance, love, basic needs, shelter… and goes about it on a road less travelled, or by and large, avoided? This uniquely designed person bears the full weight of judgement, both religious and societal. Moreover, we seem to think it is our right to use them as the scapegoat for our own infirmities. O, Race of Man, are we really that insecure, that things must ever be labelled and boxed and categorized? 

I have moved among the masses little in comparison to many, but even I have yet to meet a soul that behaves in a way that their past is independent of. All human behaviour is based on one’s level of personal security in a given moment. If we feel unloved, we behave as one unlovely. If we fear scarcity, ostracization, elimination, invisibility, abandonment, loss, hunger, lack of any kind, we behave in dishonest, unkind, selfish ways. We all present poorly when our fears drive us. 

But, Love, in whom there is no fear to be found, brings about Life, in which no error binds us, and no internal belief has the right to hold us in a poor pattern. There is freedom to function beautifully in community within the open lap of Love. There is no need to manipulate a situation  for our own gain if the belief is that there is enough for all, including us. Society has tried to mitigate this mindset with laws, social programs, social justice movements, human rights, and charity. Religion has tried to equalize us all by belief alone… usually beginning at the assumption that we are all equally evil and requiring redemption of the most drastic measure. Neither option avails the human of the intrinsic worth that prevents misdirected mindsets. Only deep connection can do that. Only Love. 

Within Love is abundance, hope, possibility, intrinsic worth, understanding, beauty, connection, clear vision. Love is honest, and incapable of seeking harm, for others, or for self. It is also empty of judgement. This amazes me, because I grew up in a culture that confused discernment with judgement, and called it protection. One assesses, the other labels in permanent ink. It assumes that duality, or separation of good from evil is a necessary component of a holy, or spiritual life. The idea that choices can be made out of emotion… or that wounds might skew decision making capabilities doesn’t really enter the discussion. One simply appears capable of following the “good” rules, or seems to selfishly tread after the “evil” pursuits. 

Of course, rather than the Healing that Love would bring the person who is protecting their wounds, the assumption is made that one must engage in repentance and put their life “right.” But they can’t. If one is truly out of order in the exercise of life in community, it is safe to perceive that they may not have the tools to be good. No amount of being sorry can change their hearts or renew their mind. It cannot draw them up. Make them stand with confidence or view another through a lens well lit with well understood identity. Showing a person the error of their ways cannot bring about change. It can, however, make them feel depressed, defeated, uncared for, unseen, and unloved. Which, if I recall from my own bouts with the admonishment to search my own heart for wickedness at regular intervals in my early life, often leads to a secret life of all the things one feels guilty about, and a public denial of their presence. 

But repentance, which is a change of mind cannot be wallowed in, is not penance, which, however can become self flagellation. Defining ourselves by our list of iniquity, dishonours the being we are, imagined by our Maker. 

The mantra of religion has long been the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin.” It has been used to judge, label and categorize. It has been used as an excuse to avoid knowing our fellow human beings. Anything our brand of theology doesn’t want to touch can be excluded without interference from our conscience. It keeps us distant and aloof. 

But my fellow oxygen breathers… if our theology prevents horizontal connection with our neighbours or our world, it requires assessment. If the god we serve gives us the right to judge the behaviour of another outside the context of their story, our beliefs need inspection more than that person needs our external opinion. What we think at the core of our being dictates our behaviour. If a human being is behaving in a way that is inhumane, to themselves, or someone else, it is not because they are abusing their “freedom.” I put it to you, that this is the outcome of not seeing oneself through the Lens of Love. They literally see no other way out of their turmoil, and providing a map or a step by step program isn’t the answer. What worked for you may not work for them, because experience has formed different neural pathways in their brain than you have in yours. You can hand someone a recipe to bake a cake, but if they’ve never seen an oven before, they’ll never bake it. You may have to bake it with them. You may have to be with someone. Listen, understand, work within their template. You may have to Love them. You may also have to let them tweak the recipe according to their taste. There are no life formulas, there is only life lived. 

Don’t mistake the wounded for the evil. One is not the other. And you may find, that the one does not exist at all.

A Woman Had Two Children  

A woman had two children. One, could so easily see Love in all her facets, imagine God in all His wonder, and embrace a personal, caring being. The other was wounded early, utterly rejects the “Father” heart of God on the basis of her own internal scarring, and cannot see, despite the looking. In the space of this is my conundrum of the idea of hell. It has everything to do with the Loving character of a creative designer who “fathers” us all, and the nature of the humans such Love is so enthralled with. The all knowing quality of such a One is also food for thought in this discussion. Divine Father/Mother rejecting a child and subjecting them to torture because their wounds will not let them see Love clearly, and they behave defensively? You realize that is eternal conscious torment in a nutshell, do you not? Bad parenting. 

But perhaps we do not understand our own humanity? The anxiety, for example that causes a child to cry when left alone to “self-soothe,” the fear in the anger behind a temper tantrum. The broken security that causes a child to perpetually test the boundaries. Kids aren’t evil, or even selfish, they’re wondering if they are seen and heard. They’re wondering if they are worth our time. Our “discipline” is not built on teaching a child how to regulate their more obtuse and invasive emotions. It is built on feeding the fear that attachment and love are earned behaviours, not intrinsic needs, which should be filled automatically by someone secure enough to be unthreatened by our panic and fear. 

Human beings long to be held, to feel the beating of another heart. We get our sense of “ok” from others, especially when we are young, because we feel more than we are able to articulately express. Kids spend their infancy reading the room. They spend toddlerhood exploring the contribution of words and intonation to emotional climate. They understand their niche and the validity with which they take up space by our inclusion of them… not our scheduling of them. I would wager a child knows by the age of two if the grownups around them want to hear them speak or not. 

How is our spiritual, inner child any different? What creates safety for that beautiful darling? It isn’t the description of the doctrinal version of the eternity’s time out chair… off of which no one ever slides into the comforting hug of heaven. No, it is the realization that the time out chair is the Lap of Love. It is safety, peace, embrace, the place where our spirit realizes the connection to the One and we experience the fruit of such a bond. Humans have tried to come at Love from positional badness and “original sin” for long enough. Such a stance is over 2000 years past its expiry date. The person most quoted to support the notion of hell spoke more about the awareness of an intrinsic, unrestricted internal “kingdom of God” than anything else. He spoke about the need to take the time to nurture that connection until it becomes as breath to us. He even encouraged us to “read the room” of the spiritual. To be still, to get comfortable being there because it is home. Not because it should be, or can be, but because it is that place in which belonging IS reality. He said all of this was already true, and then he was crucified. If I was bowling down hell pins, that would be pins two and three. We are hardwired for spiritual connection, and the one who supposedly died to restore connection spoke enough about its intrinsic reality and its pre-existing tangible humanity, that the religious leaders conspired to have him killed because they were losing control of their people. 

Recall that the first pin, the kingpin for me, is that believing in hell paints God as a very bad dad. Which, he cannot be, or it would render him utterly untrustworthy. 

Pin four and Five? The two greatest commandments. Love: yourself, and, your neighbour as yourself. Jesus did not say convert. He never said convert. He never said preach conversion. He said LOVE. Turn first, inward, and learn to embrace the wonder of… yourself. Strange, one might have thought that it would be to look heavenward and grasp the placement in the universe based on the grovelling one might do that the feet of the Almighty. But no… Love yourself, is the greatest of two summative commandments. And then, the challenge, to love your neighbour as yourself. See both of you as Loved. Behave towards them as you do towards yourself when you are willing to value yourself as your Maker does. It’s a bit of a kick in the pants for our ideas of hell, if you ask me. Levels the spiritual playing field. Makes discipline always restorative, always just, because the thrust of it is no longer putting one in one’s place, but rather moving one towards self Love. 

And the ball that fells them all? No fear in Love. If everything that is, as Colossians suggests, made and held together inside the being of God, and God is Love without end, then what place has fear in our life narrative? None. Our relationship with our Maker is meant to be the most freeing, empowering, unconditionally loving, healing, beautiful embrace of life we experience. It is meant to be that which connects us to each other and removes the “us and them,” for in Christ, is no jew, or greek, male or female, slave or free, but rather, One collective expression of God clearly looked for and seen by one unafraid people. Unthreatened people. People who looked for you and I, and found, rather, us. Shared value, shared suffering, and shared Love that heals. 

A woman had two children. She still does. Though one finds belief easy, and the other insurmountably difficult. She fears for neither child. Not because she trusts the illusive “god out there” to make this right in his mysterious timing, but because it is right, and it has always been right. There has always been a plan for dealing with wounded humans who hurt each other… and call those perspectives and actions sin. The heart of Love reveals the intrinsic, irrevocable identity of the ones patterned after himself, who at the very core of their being are themselves, Love. When that is seen, fear is gone. Bowled down by secure being, belonging, and attachment. I’m human on wonderful purpose. So are you. Love your neighbour as yourself. A woman had two children, after all, and both of them are Loved.

Love, True Love 

I used to watch the sappy part of a movie and cry because I wanted to be loved like that. Now, I watch those parts and cry because I am so Loved. I guess I should clarify the “sappy part” because it isn’t the proposal, or the wedding that grips me, it’s the mundane exchange of Lovers written into the script. The part where she is given her favourite flowers, or he remembers the way she takes her coffee, or likes her eggs. The well placed quote from a book they shared, the allusion to a mutual memory. All of these things are such poignant moments for me, because Love that Stays is Knowing Love. It covers the full strata of the human being. It is the tangible expression of the Divine between two flesh and blood people. The unconditional acceptance is the vibrance of intentionally cultivated beauty. True Love works at knowing, and this fertilizes the growth of relationship. 

It is interesting to note that Love does not begin with knowing the other other person, but rather, knowing oneself in the context of all Life. It’s easy to do a personality quiz… there’s a million available, and many of them are very effective tools for understanding what to pursue in life. Some move into love languages and relational styles, others workplace aptitudes. Knowing about myself is useful, but it is not the depth of understanding required to love another without inhibition. That seems to be inextricably related to our early experiences with other human beings, and belief, or reasonable lack thereof, in the Divine. The perception of failure to fulfill roles in relationships can have a very detrimental affect on the validation of the authentic self, despite the legitimacy of another’s claim of our offence. We usually do a rather harsh assessment of ourselves when there has been judgement or rejection that severed a valued connection. Unfortunately, this can also create a disconnect between spirit and emotions, via soul, and our true sense of identity can be buried in the sludge of unhealed wounds. 

Much of my existence was connected to organized faith community, wherein I was taught to find my “all in Jesus” and not expect so much of the humans. Not in my family, not among my friends, not even in my marriage. It seems such a juxtaposition at my present place in the journey. On the one hand, God is love. On the other hand, the people who represent him are fallible, and expected to be so. But, Love is faithful, kind, good, long suffering, keeps no record of wrongs, rejoices in the truth, it is gentle and peaceful. Loving one’s neighbour as oneself is no blind love, it is a love that knows intimately and loves anyway. Why then, should the expectation be that love should bear no expectation of mutual care and support? 

I think it’s trauma talking, trauma that sets such a low bar for relationship standards, and trauma that has the one with arms sending the one with pain to the Jesus who seems so illusive, except, perhaps in the field of support in martyrdom. If we expect nothing from anyone, we are protected from being hurt. But, consequently, we are lonely and isolated from community, even when our body moves through a crowd. Good soldiers in the same ranks should not require their sword and shield as they march together. If being bumped is enough to set us off, then we are wounded already, and require no external enemy to battle with. 

I felt so at odds with humanity, such a lack of belonging, such an inadequacy. I knew not love, for not only did I keep a record of the wrongs done to me, but of my wrongs, chief among them, my inability to find my “all in Jesus.” How does one create meaningful connection with the tangible when the model relationship is with an external person who knows all your motivations better than you, and is believed to be all that stands between you and God’s judgement? Every thing that happened to me felt like deserved discipline, a divine learning experience. I wasn’t raised to believe in Karma, but I did, a rather immediate sort than brought impact within days or minutes of that thought, that failure to pray, that flaw in my character that didn’t allow me just to submit to another. I felt I deserved to be treated like the church of his day felt free to treat Jesus. Outcast, judged, square peg, round hole, and generally verbally flogged for questioning the traditional understanding of things. Funny though, the pharisaical attitude was purported by the very ones who preached to “follow Jesus.” Persecution was always spoken of as that which the “world” does to the “believer” but I did not find that to be so, it seemed to come when the human had to make a Love decision that coloured outside the lines. 

Love was not found to flow until I addressed my trauma. I began to see that if God is indeed Love, then, God is also patient, kind, and willing to sit awhile and work through things. Not, indeed, far off and needing to be hailed by my grovelling humility, but close, and present enough to pull me up out of it to look into Love’s beautiful eyes and catch my reflection there. It wasn’t so much that I needed to find my “all in Jesus” and, so doing, measure up, but rather, that I would understand that All of Love was poured into me, and there was no need to measure a vessel that is by default, always full of that which flows fresh and free in it’s own perfect flavour and deep notes. Love not only forgets wrongs, it affirms what is beautifully right, specifically designed with intention, and brings the fullness of joy. It illuminates the existing beauty, and calls it to rise. Parts of me that had been buried were suddenly seen for the intentional, essential component they actually are. Where I actually belong, I fit very well… when a hose is no longer kinked, the water flows to the destination rather freely. 

Humans seem to feel True Love is illusive as the point at which dawn moves into day. Those who have not found it marvel at those who have, as though it will never happen. Even outside church walls, people are told that love comes when we least expect it, and it’s a mystery with its own timing. We are taught not to chase it, and that somehow we will “just know” when it comes. And then in the next breath, we are challenged not to miss our chance. 

Seek to know yourself, and be one who desires to know others. Any relationship… romantic, friend or family, will thrive in the ecosystem of patient knowing. All human interaction is training for true love. Checking the internal wiring of our own being is a great place to start. Knowing where we were meant to shine definitely allows us to look for the specific design of another. We begin to look for strength and complimentary components in each other instead of ways in which we do not jive. Our being is worth so much more than the role another might have chosen for us, If you want to be recognized as someone’s person, you have to be yourself. 

So how did I know that my Love was my Love? Because he chose to know me. Like the Love that is All in All, there was a deliberate choice to look into my soul, and see me. An unearthing began, where before there had only been requests to bury that which did not accommodate another’s insecurities. There was no request for perfection, just honesty and authenticity. There was an undeniable rejoicing in the truth of me. And no fear. Being vulnerable in this context was a relief. We found the connection of Christ and our specific parts of the whole weaving together and making Oneness both apparent and strong. All of those things that were offensive and “corrected” by everyone else found a home in our reciprocal relationship. Is it perfect? In that it drives out fear, yes, it is perfect Love. Some days, Love has her work cut out for her. But when she is allowed free flow over wounds and circumstances too difficult to bear, her strength is revealed in perfect, flawless beauty, and how privileged we are to stare at one another in the light of her presence. How healing, how fuelling, how supportive of the dreams intrinsic to our personal existence. True Love in secure identity and endless possibility. Individuals woven into the tapestry of a beautiful “us.” He knows my flowers, my eggs, my coffee, my moods, my dreams, my fears. And I know his. And when we stumble on something that causes tension, we sit and and find out why. There is such a release in the knowing. I love that the tears come from a place of knowing, now, not a place of longing. Every strata of my being has been encompassed in Love, and I am home. Love that stays, is Knowing Love.

"...Till all Graces be in One..." 

 


“One woman is fair, yet I am well; another is wise, 

yet I am well; another virtuous, yet I am well; but till all 
graces be in one woman, one woman shall not come in 
my grace. Rich she shall be, that's certain; wise, 
or I'll none; virtuous, or I'll never cheapen her; 
fair, or I'll never look on her; mild, or come not near me;

noble, or not I for an angel; of good 
discourse, an excellent musician, and her hair shall 
be, of what colour it please God.” 

-Benedick, Much Ado About Nothing, Act II, Scene 3. 

If you’ve never sought a lover with any specific criteria in mind, this passage holds no connection for you… unless of course you have, once, fallen in love with no criteria, experienced passion, and been badly burned. Hindsight. So very clear. 

I was walking to my back gate one day, after terminating yet another relationship gone awry, and imagining the one for me, who might possess all graces, and truly capture my heart. Some find that person in their youth, or even, in the course of adulthood, without much time spent on the others. Perhaps they already knew themselves when they began dating. Or, perhaps they, as my father says, “Grew up together.” A process of coming to the same adult conclusions as one moves through their 20’s. I, however, glean so much from my mistakes that I call them learning experiences. Not, as it were, about the type of man to avoid (although that was, it seems, part of the curriculum), but, rather, about myself, who I am, what builds me up, holds my attention, allows me connection. This last go around made the search a bit more complex because I am also a mother, and she needs such specific things. 

Back to the gate. I had a list longer than the side walk, strangely, few of his qualities were specific, except that he had to value me. Not just women, but me. I wanted to be safe to be open. Unthreatening in my natural form. I love growing, learning, healing, expressing. I do small talk like a donkey on a tightrope. It always feels awkward and asinine. Why? Because I read people too well and I know that’s not what’s on their mind. I also have opinions. And I’m awful at holding them in. Might actually be physically painful. I trust my intuition, and I don’t like it over-ridden in the decision making process. Careless use of resources drives me nuts. I cook. Well. I hate eating out. I can’t stop assessing my meal and wondering if they’d just added… it might be more enjoyable. I love the little things, contentment isn’t really an issue, beauty deserves to be given a breath or two.  People are the big things, the mattery things. Clocks are the things that let you know why the punctual ones are miffed when you’re late. I love the woods, but I go there for peace and inspiration; I’ll hike, but for the journey, not the destination. I revel in my empty house, the solitude, the quiet I get to interrupt with the scratch of a pen, the tap of the keyboard, or the less subtle sound contributions of the piano. When I cook, it’s a creative outlet. I’m good at cleaning, but I don’t always get to it. My garden is medicinal. And my houseplants flower. I don’t care if they drop blossoms. It’s part of their process. I don’t care if a guest sees the dead blossoms. I don’t even hate the pop-in. I also have been known to do a little music in public, strange men have flirted with me. I am specifically me. I was also around 40 when I made this list… things are rather ingrained at that juncture. 

Dang, I can’t stay on point this morning. The GATE! What did I ask the Maker for in the morning? The person who would hold all graces, for Love is patient, and kind, not rude, without envy, gentle… Capable of being present. Returning the honour of open honesty, value growth and healing, embracing their identity as a spirit being, willing to share on that level. Healthy. Secure. And as distracted by me as I am by them. In short, I was asking for someone to be utterly besotted with me, enthralled, captivated. I wanted to be seen and loved on purpose because the person I had come to love in the process of life’s revealing was stunning to me, and I could not shut her away again. She deserves to be present and honoured. I needed someone who would call her to the surface when I was tempted to bury her because she made someone else a bit uncomfortable, or the lies in my head not yet banished would belittle her importance. 

I needed someone to look at me, and notice that ALL the graces were in ONE WOMAN, and they specifically matched the needs of his being. We need each other. We found each other too. Marvel at the exactness of our points of connection. All of the things others who could not see us found to be weaknesses are the very strength of our togetherness. We are, to each other, Home. I am more myself with him than I ever was without him. 

The graces I needed, all in one man… Kindness, love, motivation, imagination, word play humour, the ability to help me play - even when there is a work list, contentment, encouragement, commitment, vision, excellent listener, brave, passionate, fond of food (specifically mine), supportive of the artist, musician and writer that I am, spiritually grounded and open. I don’t think this list is exhaustive. My Darling is phenomenal at Loving. Specifically me. I am cherished and seen. He also had more tools than me, and knew how to use them… but isn’t threatened by that fact that I can fix the dryer on my own. 

If you are looking, don’t settle. If you are loved, but you don’t feel known by your lover, bare your soul. Take the risk to be known. If you aren’t sure enough of who you are to know what to look for, ask yourself where your deepest relationship wounds have been. Be brave, begin to heal from the wounds so that they no longer have more of your attention than the people around you. I wasn’t ready for Love until this Love. Not because I didn’t deserve it, but because I wasn’t ready to be a vessel filled, I thought I only deserved to be one poured out. Not so. And most of all, do not express to the Maker, on repeat, that which you do not want, or hate. We tend to see what we look for. Look for the One in Whom all graces have surfaced. Everything you need for balance and harmony. Look for True Love.

Wholeness  

I am whole. Complete. Intrinsically valuable. 

I am Spirit. All the way through. Body and emotions too. 

I am perfect in my manifestation. The part you see. The part I see in the mirror. The part I see when I look within. There is no flaw in me. No darkness. Only light. 

But sometimes, I don’t see these truths. They are not mine. They are abstract and unreachable. And the illusiveness of such a reality makes me feel disconnected and alone. And very, very, not enough. As though someone comes to draw from the bank of me, and the account reads “insufficient funds.” 

Why? 

I long ago left religion for Love. Church for community. I left behind structure for freedom. I changed my mind, heard what the Maker said about me. Adopted spirituality in place of liturgy. I look, in openness, for Oneness. Me with Spirit, Me with Humanity. And yet, it is as though I still draw water from a dry well. Not all the time, but enough that I wonder if this “new” wine is any better than the old. And then I remember the flavour of that wine, the bitter aftertaste, the debilitating hangover of too much of it, and I am certain I cannot go back. 

Why, if I am happy on the path I am on, do I still feel counterfeit, or unworthy of my good relationships? Is it the remnants of Dualism? Am I yet to have searched my inward thoughts in completion and let go of that which hinders so I can run? Is there a hole in theology that I cannot pass over? Why do I not feel as I am certain I am? Not a new creation? 

Oh. I think we’ve all had those thoughts during our ever deepening journey into Love, no matter where our religious and cultural place of origin was. It’s like we’re trapped in Romans 7:15… there are things I hate, I end up doing, things I want to do, I just don’t do (Keith Green paraphrase). Why, if our minds change, does our behaviour not alter? 

It is very easy to default to earlier training, and try and discipline ourselves into a healthier pattern, meditate, ground ourselves, stay in the present. Aw… how religion and culture have taught us to self help, self medicate, self actualize. And how it has forgotten the one thread of the human experience that has no formula to externally apply a step by step approach to and succeed. 

Trauma. 

What a word that is. Trauma. It’s getting a lot of press these days, but it seems it is becoming more of an excuse for bad behaviour than the key to wholeness. The experience of trauma creates holes in our psyche, disruptions in our physical well being, stunted maturity, emotional detachment… It cannot be overcome by the introduction of coping mechanisms, new thought patterns, or habits. Trauma’s sister vocabulary is Trigger. The thing which sets off that which we feel shame for, or irrational about, or even inadvertently exposed by during the course of. Our reactions and responses to the stimuli that triggers us isn’t rational. At least, not for someone of our age and outward maturity. There is also the physical manifestations; ailments and conditions that flare up when our emotions are uneven that we can’t seem to overcome. 

We were not meant to overcome the symptoms of our trauma. We were meant to be loved to wholeness so that they lose their grip on us. We were meant to integrate our trauma story into the annals of our history so that they become something that happened, not something that is relived every time we brush up against a reminder. 

I’m sure most of us have heard about the inner child. I’m not sure how many of us understand that we don’t need to confront the ones who wounded that baby to heal from our past… We have the parental authority to parent that inner darling, create safety, harmony, and love, so that the playful, joyful, amazing component of our being is free to express life’s wonder and beauty and help us to connect with each other in open and meaningful ways. The faith of a little child… open, trusting, peaceful, innocent, unsullied by the world. How much more beautiful would our external human relationships be if we were internally integrated and settled, child and adult together? 

I do not believe that we can mind over matter our path to inner peace, or physical healing. I believe we walk into the mess holistically and heal our path to inner peace. Many find what it feels like when they meditate, and so mediation becomes their happy place of connection. But what if you were so safe that you could leave the drawbridge of your castle down and still maintain healthy boundaries? It seems that many spiritual disciplines would agree that Spirit is made to rule over the emotions and body… it is the place of serenity, and the emotions and body have to follow. And, I think they do. But, imagine with me, what would happen if the body and the emotions sat down in the safe space of Spirit and became reconciled to each other as they learned their secure identity. Something as simple as anxiety. Simple is a funny word. It isn’t really, if one is prone to anxiety attacks, their body gets involved to protect the emotions in an attempt to protect the wound that lies beneath and there is one discombobulating chemical storm in the physical manifestation of “me.” Our culture hands a person substances or therapies to externally apply to the symptomatic evidence, but it does not go within. 

I think the intersection of Spirit, Emotion and Body is Soul. Soul is a weaver, an integrator. But Soul can also cordon off and protect things she was too young to process when they happened the first time. She organizes our physical reactions to emotional disruptions into inflammation in our body tissues, and when we are ready to heal from them, we become increasingly aware of the pattern. Our cognitive memory may have blocked out the trauma of the emotional interplay and our physical presence in the moment, but our body remembers the event, and the emotion triggers the contemporary response. Messy. However, Spirit can have a conversation with Soul, and take the hands of Body and Emotion, and walk back into our story, to the unfinished and unprocessed, inexplicable bits, sit down, and deal with our past. We can then shelve the story in our memory and find peace. Within peace, is rest, and in a state of rest, is where we heal. 

If we want to experience wholeness, and live uninhibited, we need to allow ourselves the freedom to become mature through integrating our being with awareness, not judgement. We need to stop basing our healing experiences on what happened to us, and replace it with discovering who we are, by understanding who we were before the trauma, generally and specifically. 

We can heal, we can be whole, and we can thrive. Our physical being can bow to Spirit and be well, but by moving through the pain and healing our emotions, not by moving past them or hitting over ride. 

I am Whole. I am Spirit. I am Perfect in my Manifestation.  And as I heal, I mature, and I make it match. Inward and outward. I am at peace.

The Crack of Dawn 

I am awake. Literally. It’s one in the morning and sleep did not come. It is as though in its place I feel the full weight of the anxiety of the last 21 months in full force. The dark outside, and that within are too much in tandem. The uncertainty of everything hit, and I wonder useless things, like what happens if my life partner leaves to go to work and doesn’t come home? What if Covid restrictions get more stringent? What if this world’s corrupt politicians keep abandoning their humanity? There’s so much despair in the end possibility. Especially if I listen to the voices that hold humanity in a separate space from her Maker. Because that message is hopeless. O, they will argue that they have hope… but is it really hope if the world goes to hell in a hand basket? Moreover, we were already given the perspective of Salvation, in the person of Jesus. So is not this standing and watching, certain “she’s gonna blow” and waiting for the rapture a little, well, a bit of an abdication of the role bestowed on us by the Maker? 

Where does this fear, trembling, and treading water frantically and screaming for rescue, fit in a world view that includes a Maker who gave us the will to choose… not just what we will do, but the very things we will imagine, create, call into being? If we can do these things in our own healing journey to maturity, why do we not embrace responsibility for our contribution to the state of the collective consciousness? Is that not a denial of our reality, a rejection of that which is in All and through All, our very Source? How is it that we see him as powerful enough to change the world in the blink of an eye, but not powerful enough to create oneness in all he gave breath to by way of his own? Why do we think that reconciliation was a post-dated cheque when every time it was mentioned, it is either present or past tense? 

Authority is a funny thing. Some mistake it for power. It isn’t. It is personally held autonomy. It is choice. If one is over me, I have put them there. I have granted them the space to make my choices for me. Some believe a role, or a title makes them an authority. Not so. For each person yields autonomy to allow one to rule over another. Society muddles the lines of this with it’s public programs and tax run systems, but that is the physical. It is not the spiritual. All throughout history, humanity has mistaken power for authority. We have looked at the weapons, the money, the force used against us, and called those who wield injustice the authority. Every now and again, allegiance wanes as someone with larger weapons moves in to free us from tyranny and replace it with another system. Gentler at first, so that it feels like freedom. But it ultimately comes with some form of debt. A price. A loss of autonomy. 

And a loss of personal autonomy seems to inevitably lead to the break down of a culture in which one has another’s back. In short, it creates disparity and greed, as fear is wont to do. And suspicion is bred where trust and unity once dwelt akin to peace. Community disintegrates in these conditions. Love is lost. 

How do we get to “us” and “them” when our Source is clearly indivisible, and we are sustained by it. Even if your paradigm includes no God, no spirit… our earth is driven by energy, seasons, symbiotic ecosystems, it revolves around the sun… is lit by the moon at night.  Our very existence is together, and our study of the world increasingly highlights the interdependence of all life upon this sphere. Interdependence points to oneness. And in oneness lies our power to take back our authority. 

We are not helpless. We are not subject to the inevitable repeat of history (there are some in the great cloud of witnesses who would say that the “end” people keep saying is coming has already taken place in a century much closer to the date Revelation was penned). Prophecy has always been peppered with “if” and “when” statements, largely because it is based on awareness. We humans tend to perish due to lack of vision… imagination, dreams, hope, unifying thoughts, pulling together, focus on commonality, actively looking for that which is good (Christ) and bringing it out in each other. This, is the action of Love. It produces unity. It doesn’t ditch diversity, rather, it puts it to work, so that we can see how we all function best together, holding each other up. 

It seems so contradictory in a world where every religion claims elite status, every culture proclaims it is superlative, every specific identity seeks itself. 

But I ask you, who believe you were made by Someone, where is it you most see this Someone manifest? Is it in the expression of your creed? Is it in those who lead your movements, religious or political? Is it on the faces of those who lobby for specific causes? Or is the most perfect expression of the One who makes us with so great a Love and Intention, who imagines the most amazing details of our individuality into pristinely recognizable discrepancy, so that you, are undeniably you, and I, myself - Is the most perfect expression of this One not in the obstinate Love of those who see that which is common, the human spirit, and love with their own personal autonomy he who is other as himself? Is that not the purest expression of the One and the surest way to place authority on the proper shoulders? 

You are unhappy in your world? You are incensed by injustice? Fear threatens to overtake your sanity? Those who rule over you have too much power? You fear for your family? Anxiety grips you and weighs you down? Clarity evades you? You feel alone in your struggle against injustice? 

Love. Return, first, gratitude to the Source from which Love came, revel in it, know the peace of it for yourself.  And then, Love your neighbour as yourself. 

It is for lack of vision the people perish… So choose to see. Where you look tends to change your perspective. All is not lost. For we are all still here. All of us. Alive. Together. That looks like hope to me. The tiny slit of light at the crack of dawn. And in this moment, it is enough to make me look for more. And possibly, to let rest pervade and whirling thoughts give way to sleep.

Borders and Boundaries 

Wouldn’t life be so simple if one could change ones circle of humans as easily as one changes beliefs. It’s true, you can leave the organizations and external structures behind when you experience a crisis of faith or belief, but connections to those with whom you have shared experiences all your life are not so easily severed. And they shouldn’t be. Family love, is by design, something that should be unconditional and stable. It should be a point of safety for children, and reliable support for parents. We were not meant for island existence. Humans are structured for community. We can’t even procreate without a pair of people coming together in some way. Evidenced by biology alone, no one arrives by stork. Parents and children exist in all cultures. 

There are moments in my own rethinking when I wondered if I shouldn’t abandon the “difficult” family relationships that were strained by my personal metamorphosis. At points, it was my children that kept me there. The frustration is real. When your theology changes, your whole world view takes a pretty substantial shift. For someone outside yourself to understand this is pretty insurmountable, especially at the beginning of your journey. Conversations are tense, and confronting dysfunction is uncomfortable. 

I think the most important realization I had was that as it was my prerogative to change, it was their right to remain the same. They don’t have to move with me. They don’t have to agree with me. They don’t even have to agree to disagree. None of that means that a relationship doesn’t need to redefine its boundaries in order to function with some degree of peace in a time of upheaval. It is merely an understanding that expecting someone else to function outside their paradigm for my comfort is not love. When it’s an organization, an institution, or a relationship involving only you and one other person, physical distance and even cutting someone off is a possibility. When it is family, and you have children, a spouse, or even close family friends in the mix, it is not enough to label things toxic and then expect them to accept your position, or deal with your absence. Leaving religion is a bit like divorce. You can leave the relationship but the person you leave is still a part of you, and if you share children, they are never really gone. The human connection doesn’t tie you to the belief, but it does keep you entwined with the people. 

Entwined, but not enmeshed. Ooo. That’s a whole subject in itself. There is overlap, like in the weave of fabric or a basket, but it’s not fused, like a nylon chord at the melting point when exposed to flame. One and independent. So you can say, same material, repurposed, no longer a part of the basket, engaged in a new role. You can also say, “here is what that looks like, for me,” but you can’t tell the other person how to make an accommodation for your absence in their framework. Believe me. I tried. I asked for some subjects to be silenced. I asked for some beliefs not to be challenged. I asked for some conversations to not be had in front of my children. I asked for some subjects to be eliminated from conversations with my children. I am aware of the trauma that asks for lines to be drawn. I have it. My kids have it. And some of my requests were very solidly backed by trigger issues. Some of them still are, and it is important to verbalize those needs so that healing can occur. 

Healing. Love. Wellness. Wholeness. Here is where your personal growth and decisions are going to need to match your expectations of others if your relationships are going to survive. If you left religion because you could not find love in the institution, or you were wounded there, and could not thrive… and I think, for most people who have, and still believe in something, that is a big part of it… then the life you live now should be a reflection of your desire to grow. Not for others to grow to accommodate where you are now, to coddle you in immaturity, or cater to your wounds and “let you be,” but for you to grow. You will not gain the support of the people in your world with blame, name calling, and a general attitude that these humans who raised you, are, due to their own indoctrination and beliefs, toxic. They did the best they could with what they had. They are still doing the best they can. Granted, there is a space in which abuse should be addressed. And some behaviour in religious circles is definitely abusive. If that is going on, there is a need for a severance. However… in the context of family, where this is not the case, and there is just a degree of fundamentalism that strains peace, there is another approach available. 

Set the boundaries. Ask them to focus on the Love of God for all if they need to mention God, and leave out the “but(s).” This can be especially helpful for grandparents who want to help your kids find faith, and feel like there is a piece of themselves they can’t share with you or your kids without it. Remember that this is their expression of spirituality. If you could control the narrative around what parts of your parents theology you want your kids to grasp, what would it be? I have a few things on my list that I want reinforced for my kids. They are loved without condition. God is a good Father, utterly trustworthy, and always loving. They are designed with purpose, uniquely and with specific gifts. They are never alone. God is one with all he made. There is unity, and oneness. We can see the beauty and ingenuity of our creator in nature. Ask for help with the positive role of relaying the common belief to your children.

If you lean more towards agnosticism, be honest with yourself about the reality that your kids might decide to believe in God at one point, and there are some positives that you would rather have them basing that decision on than the negatives that made you run from belief. Some people don’t want to use gender references in regards to God, or even see anything beyond a force. All of this is ok.

Have the discussions with your family, or close friends, about what your comfort levels are. But keep in mind, they don’t have any other language to speak about God with. This is still their paradigm. If you met a stranger and they were referencing their spirituality with you, would you expect them to use language that suited you? Would you require a vetting of vocabulary prior to their conversation with your children? Do you expect those who educate your children to explain everything they way you would? Or do you have conversations with your kids about what they learn from other people? Do you sort through your own conversations with others and decide what to let go or internalize? Or is everyone in your life, from stranger to intimate lover labelled toxic and abandoned if they don’t agree with you? 

If that is the case, then working on yourself is the first order of business, because everyone on earth does not have it in for you. Every conversation cannot be the intentional “triggering” of your trauma. Strangers can’t do that. Someone telling their story can’t do that. The thing that makes everything a “trigger” is the unaddressed  state of your own inner being. All of your relationships with humans will be unduly stressed if your own wounds need attention. 

If you have moved past that, here are some healthy suggestions to make use of the conversations that happen in relationships you don’t want to let go of, but have a tendency to get awkward from time to time. 

Learn to separate the person from the belief. Chances are you do this with strangers all the time. It’s easy to believe that someone we don’t know has the best of intentions… why would this person who raised us and protected us from burning our hands on the stove suddenly have it in for our kids because they present a differing world view? We think it’s heinous, they think it’s love. And they’re also scared that our rosy, relaxed outlook is robbing their grandkids of eternity. If something you don’t believe comes up at school, we talk to our kids about it. If we think our neighbour’s political views are wrong, we talk to our kids about it. We don’t teach the kids to think the neighbours or teachers are toxic or dangerous, we teach them to think for themselves. The same principle applies when helping kids sort through the religious views of the unavoidable people in their lives. 

I’ve used the debrief from conversations significant family or friends have had with my kids to teach them how to separate people they love from beliefs they hold. To accept that some people speak a certain way because their world view has made their focus narrow, or beliefs unbending. It’s reality that can happen to anyone, and is not limited to religion. Every time we abandon commonality and unity for the comfort of our own personal soap box, we leave space for discord and disconnection. The content of specific conversations might not even be a reflection on their holistic world view, and might reveal a certain amount of cognitive dissonance. This is a great place to begin discussions about the result of drawing isolated conclusions and forming behavioural expectations for other people based on the thoughts or interpretations of others while disengaged from context, logic, or reasoning. It can also be an opportunity to talk about how to ask intelligent questions in moments of misunderstanding, and receive answers without taking them personally. It’s part of learning critical thinking skills rather than just engaging in criticism. It creates empathy to learn how to put oneself in another's shoes. 

Fear of being misunderstood has created a wave of individuals creating borders where boundaries should exist. People are perpetually adamant in our present era, and quick to judge each other despite the cultural push for inclusion of every identity possible. Think of the recontextualization of history, some valid, some absurd, but all set in motion by a new awareness of race and gender issues. Most people look for balance, but we all dance around the politically incorrect phrases we used to use flippantly. It's changed the use of idiomatic expressions. Assumptions are made about our heart attitudes all the time over verbal slips. We have moved from being just male or female to having a myriad of gender identities and sexual preferences, all seeking specific acknowledgement and affirmation. How we respond to that creates connection or division depending on our bubble. The Covid virus started another culture war between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. The polarization is so distracting that the general populous doesn’t even see the potential loss of rights, another sub category of division and dissension. People need someone to be right or wrong. And we need to fit. We need our position justified. It’s almost a desperation because we don’t know how to go within for security so we look for external boundaries. Actually, we call them boundaries, but they are really borders, clearly marked lines one is expected not to cross at the risk of offending someone else. Enforcing protection of such lines, is the relational equivalent of a country’s border control, except trespassers are just labelled toxic and abandoned, never understood or quite heard. 

I used to think boundaries were things you announced and expected outside action on. I’m finding that to be only part of the conversation. Boundaries are internal lines we make for ourselves which we will not cross. They are the result of the assessment of our own worth and value. The expression of the needs of the self to the heart of the self. An invisible, spiritual wall, penetrable only by our granting permission. They are the result of heathy self awareness and emotional intelligence. Learning their role is part of becoming a mature human, and teaching children how to use them helps them build appropriate intimacy in their relationships so that they learn how to properly listen to, and know others. If we have poor boundaries, we tend to require borders… and sometimes people require borders to deal with our bad behaviour. Our trauma does not give us permission to run roughshod over everyone who disagrees with us. 

Good boundaries are about where I belong in the context of my relationships. I alone know my needs. I know which wounds are in need of healing.  I know which people help that process, and which people make me want to run and hide. I don’t share everything with everyone. That’s like stopping and hazard signalling in the middle of a controlled intersection and expecting people to miss you.  It’s not even that they’re habitually bad drivers if they don’t… it’s more that you parked in a bad place… they’re trained to watch for the intersection lights. 

Take yourself where you need to be, for you. If you need to heal so everything is not a trigger, get yourself into therapy. If you need to be apart from your family for a while so that you can delineate between their belief and the relationship, and see your interaction clearly, growing increasingly able to see your part in conflict (even if that has been in placing your personal boundaries in unpleasant places, constructing borders instead), than do it. Resist the urge to slap a “toxic” label on loved ones and run. That tends to box both of you into poor patterns. If you weren’t parented well, learn to parent your inner child well. You know what he or she needed to hear, You know where the lies were placed. You know where your wounds are. Heal. Nothing banishes dysfunction like healing from it. 

Let your own wellness flow into your parenting. Teach your kids about internal boundaries. Emotionally train them to separate the judgment of others from their view of self. You are having to do it in your healing process. Let them learn it with you. Teach them that growth and change is healthy. Beautiful. Teach them that relationships are worth preserving, not because you agree with people, but because you LOVE them. Teach them that when you followed Love out of the bounds of the institution you left to survive, you also began to thrive. Your boundaries are in pleasant places. Let them see it. Life is actually simple. And people are just people. Everybody thinks something about something. Even you. Border patrol is exhausting. Let your boundaries fall in pleasant places, and then thrive within them.