Prose of a Poet

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.

For the Sake of Argument  


 

Ok. I get it. We are largely polarized in Western Culture at the moment. And we all have our reasons. Some because we are educated, some because we are not educated, some because we are merely educated differently, some because we are among those who have earned the right to teach, some because experience has taught us. And some, because we are just plain scared. This applies to all areas of thought, and all strains of thought process. Every single one of us views the world through our own lens. Each person has their own convictions and rationale pertaining to belief. None of us, no matter how much we would love to claim it, came to our conclusions in an entirely unbiased, or uninfluenced bubble. And many of us are free with our thoughts.  

The trouble is, all of this shows, and we have forgotten we are human. Collectively, human. Our discourse is unfriendly, our audience without accessible body language and discernible facial contortion. We have no trouble moving out of the realm of healthy dialogue and into the country of insult, and arrogant judgment… all with the interpersonal aplomb of one who has said their piece and slammed the door for emphasis.  

Take your stance, back it with whatever you may choose to use. You are the boss of you. Absolutely entitled to your island of certainty. However, no other person is you, has your experiences, or education, or trauma. Express yourself freely, but own your bias proudly, and choose to believe the best about the others in the conversation. They too have strong beliefs and opinions. Experience has most likely swayed their perspective. And no one was ever authentically won over to another side by having their intelligence mocked, their bias belittled or their education insulted.  

Today I deleted my own comment. Not because I thought I was wrong. But because I learned from the first response to it that those who read it were looking for confirmation bias. Not perspective. Not even dialogue. Just an “Amen.”  I know, because I’ve done it myself. I want my horse to be the highest sometimes. But I’m usually not at my most generous or kind in those moments.  

We have forgotten our humanity in our social media wars. We have forgotten our right to agree to disagree. When we have an outburst that fails to reflect the dignity of another, we inevitably become what we accuse another of being. Asinine is not a virtue. It is not a quality that promotes unity and understanding. Mockery is not conducive to relational harmony. If one requires these “tools” over the course of conversation it proves only that they are insecure on a human level. That their own uncertainty has shocked them, and they are now reaching for the big guns that with either make you grab your own, or go running away.  

Strength in debate is maintaining perspective. It is evaluating why the view of another is threatening rather than taking our “hammer of truth” out. I can’t count the number of times I have heard people calling someone else weak for their inability to take criticism when that clearly wasn’t what was happening in the conversation. If your boundaries are in a healthy place, you will not speak down to another person. You will behave as though you passed kindergarten. You will ask questions before you assume anything. And, you will think before you judge.  

You will.  

And sometimes you will think “I hadn’t thought of that…” And you won’t die of shock.  

Yes, we are too easily offended these days. But I am of the strong opinion that it is because we are looking for people to identify with, rather than knowing our own identity, and living it out. We are scared of change, because we want to be certain of something. You know what? If I am behaving in a way that is actually senseless, another perspective might be useful. However, if the approach denies our mutual humanity said input it will be automatically rejected. Why? Because I have ears for love. I have ears for your story. I have a heart that wants to know and be known. And that, my friend, starts in a very basic place. Our Humanity. The love available and expressed. The dignity and respect of ALL. Doing unto others… is still, it seems, the golden rule. As unto thyself… Or do you speak that way to you? If so, we have another conversation coming.

 

Should I Stay or Should I Go? 

 

There’s been questions circulating in some of my social media groups about toxic people. When to leave, when to stay, when to run, when to shut someone out. Most of these issues come up when one party in the relationship begins to desire more. It can follow a shift in belief or theology, a personal healing breakthrough, or even a traumatic event that leaves one reevaluating how they have lived their whole lives. I don’t think anyone abandons a marriage or a friendship without thought. We are human, we reason, we weigh the pros and cons. Very often the one who physically leaves is labelled as a quitter, told they are bitter, unforgiving. That is rarely the case.  

I’ve left a few types of relationships in my life, and not one time was it because I ceased to love the group, institution, or individual I walked away from. It also wasn’t because I was bitter or angry or I’d been hurt… It was because I couldn’t heal in that place. Think about trauma for a moment. A soldier sees his brothers blown to bits on the battle field. We take him away from that environment to a peaceful place to heal. A person is in a car wreck, we don’t patch them up and put a bed on the thoroughfare for them to heal in. Someone is robbed at gunpoint in an alley, we don’t set them up in a home where the only way out is a dark backstreet, and make them work the nightshift. A kid just about drowns in the shallow end of the pool, we don’t drop them off the diving board. We can all see the ridiculous nature of those courses of treatment… and yet, people give advice to those in destructive relationships that is equally ludicrous. People in self help retreats and marriage seminars, people in pulpits and counselling offices… people not in these relationships who wouldn’t admit to having difficulty in any relationship and stand outside of the abuse that goes on in them, those people say inane things like “You will never find a better partner than the one you are with, or the one you left. The trouble wasn’t the person, you’ll be attracted to the same sort of person, because attraction is biological, the dysfunction was in the relationship. So fix that. Go back to your first spouse if they are still single.”  

Um, No. Don’t. Unless separation from your abuser had them going into therapy and working on all of their crap and trauma, on their own, definitely not. And even then… it is a new relationship. You will be trying to build a new relationship on a foundation of old trauma and patterns and the trust will have been utterly destroyed. You will have developed coping mechanisms previously so that you will not be “poking the bear” and they will know how to push all your buttons. Especially if there are kids involved, do this only at your peril. This seems extreme. Well, yes, I have a visceral response to this lunacy.  

If you are still actively attached to someone and you were mutually struggling, admitting blame for issues was going both ways. If both parties are at the same place, growing, healing, working on themselves, and that process is bringing you closer and building trust, you have a healthy relationship, even if it is something you are both working on right now. Keep it. You are building intimacy. But this idea that you hurt the one you love, so go back and do it again… No. Don’t put up your convalescent bed in the middle of the scene of your greatest trauma and expect yourself to heal.  

Relationships are messy. Because there are people involved in them. And we all seem to have trauma of some sort. I’ve dated, I’ve gotten married, and divorced, and was single for years, started dating again, and found my first love the second time around. The first “life-partner” I chose couldn’t heal from his past within the confines of our relationship, and I could not heal there either. Our trauma triggers were constantly going off and we were alienated. I wonder if we would have stayed together as long as we did if we hadn’t been so heavily indoctrinated in the belief that our marriage was more important than either of us. I kept trying to change, to be more submissive, more giving, more open, more loving, more of a biblical wife (now your’e certain of my background) …and all I did was get lost in his dysfunction. He was doing the best he could, but his childhood left him void of tools and self awareness. He couldn’t properly husband, or, later, father. I was asking too much. I didn’t leave him because I stopped loving him. I left because we were destroying each other, and our children in the process.  

And then, I put boundaries in place. And I was grossly criticized for them. But they were necessary and useful and allowed me the space I needed to start healing. I was single for a long time. There’s a point though, where alone no longer propels you forward. I actively sought out friendships with women, just to remember how to relate to other humans. And then, I sought out couples to be around… So the only man in my life wasn’t my dad. I needed to see healthy interaction. If I hadn’t done this before I started dating, I would have had to dump a lot more men on my road to “Mr. Right for Me.” I let myself be part of community, learned to say no as well as yes… and then I started dating.  

Dating, and learning about where my personal boundaries had to lie in order to have a beautiful, intimate relationship in which both of us felt loved, cherished, supported, respected, valuable, seen and heard. In short, the relationship needed to create the space in which to be known, and for both parties to engage in self discovery as we healed from our individual pasts.  

So, should I have stayed with the “toxic” person? No. And honestly, I hate that label. All of us have the potential to be toxic to someone. We can live out of our wounds instead of our secure identity and be destructive and uncaring. All of us. I know I drew from my marriage when I discussed this. The initial thought was about if it is ok to walk away at any point. You know, it isn’t about the person you are walking away from, or shutting out, or even just taking a breather from a situation to refuel and come back to. It is about you.Your wellness. Your boundaries. Your healing process. Your ability to love without judgement. Your sense of safety. Your fear. Your unhealed wounds. The person you are conflicting with or just responding poorly to repeatedly may merely be revealing a part of yourself that needs to heal.  

Over the years I have put intentional distance between myself and a few people or situations. I needed to. Some relationships I returned to with fresh perspective. Some were replaced by healthier experiences. But I always made the leaving about my own wellbeing. It was never a judgment call in which I wrote another human being off entirely. Some people you can’t walk away from to the degree you might want to for your own sanity. Parents who are aging and need your help, Ex spouses you share children with, children still living at home… And you do have to work on the relationship. But these are opportunities to establish your boundaries. To learn how to use your voice without making your personal limits be about the other person’s behaviour. Own your triggers. Own your trauma. Don’t identify with it, that’s playing the victim. Just sit with it a minute, ask yourself what you believe about yourself that is a LIE, and why reinforcing that is so effective a tool of control for the person wielding it. And then let yourself heal.  

A tool I learned in therapy, is speaking to the inner child who was wounded first, and, as the adult in loving authority, or, as the primary caregiver, tell that child what they needed to hear and didn’t,  in order to regain a healthy sense of self. For example, many of us stay in relationships that have been destroying us for a while because we don’t think we are worthy of something better… probably because we were never understood by our our parents, so we don’t think anyone ever will “get us.” Granted, for this to have the greatest degree of weight, I have found that it helps if there is a belief in a benevolent, higher power of some sort, an abstract connection to the rest of humanity via spirit, or at least, a universal source of Love, available to all. However, if we think we were not parented well, and would parent our children differently than we were parented, it is possible just to see what was awful and correct the thought. How differently would our boundaries look if this is what we had learned as a child: “Darling, you are loved, your desires and passions are beautiful. You are unique and valuable. No one else in the world can bring exactly what you bring to it. No one else can love like you, see the world like you, or be as perfectly placed in the present as you are in this moment. Please share your thoughts and dreams and perspective, because the world needs you.” I realize that’s rather general, but changing the negative self chatter in one’s own psyche drastically reduces the power another broken human has over you… because you recognize lies and expect more, and your boundaries are in much safer places.  

So, do we leave toxic relationships? Yes. But use the new boundary you create in doing so to heal from the trauma of the experience. Use the new relationships you build to create safe places for yourself and others. Use your alone time to discover yourself. Use the clash with new people to understand what it was about your own person that made that moment difficult. My mom used to say, “water off a duck’s back” when someone was unjustly cruel to me. Well, yes, it works if you’re a duck. Most of us aren’t. We’re human, and far more complex than that. Put your boundaries in pleasant places. Your boundaries… not your labels.

 

Perfect Submission 

Marriage. Submission. Authority. Biblical. Anyone triggered yet? 

Across my facebook feed, in this day alone, I have seen memes in support of “biblical gender roles,” honest questions about how to heal from trauma without having a victim mentality, and further into the fray… What does marital submission look like from a grace perspective? 

O. My. 

Can. Of. Worms. 

I was asked by my pastor, shortly after I left my husband, when I thought submission ought to end. In my churched mind, after a few years of mulling that over from the relative safety of my locked bedroom prior to abandoning marriage for safety, and subsequently arriving in his office, newly separated, I formed an answer. “When one can no longer submit and be holy.” I wasn’t wrong then. But I understand better now what I was saying. Holiness is not a clear conscience, state of sinless, I am living above reproach, publicly confessable reality. Holiness, is life, lived under the influence of Love. It is being in a state of perpetually agreeing with the Maker on your intrinsic worth, value, design and Source. It is embracing one’s oneness and wholeness, and beauty. It is being oneself entirely unhindered. Being Holy, is embracing with Bliss, one’s own unique abilities and gifts, and enjoying, with the Source of All, All. It is I Am, set apart to BE. 

Submission in any relationship is creating a mutually safe space in which both parties are perpetually reminded, not of their shortcomings, but of their long-goings. It is not about who bows to whom, but rather about how one might nurture the beautiful being they have been entrusted with into who their Maker designed them to be. It calls one up… much like God did with Adam and Eve, and reminds them that they HAVE been given all they need, and they must embrace it. It is sacrificial, but it is not languishing. It is Love that seeks to know and understand, and to become known, not accommodated. 

When I submit to God (Father, or Mother of All) it is not out of fear, but trust. I rest in that relationship, because I am confident I am known, and will not be asked to do, anything by them that I could not do as them. I trust them to nurture me in safety and abundance, open my eyes to way in which my needs are met, help me to see where I fit within the all. I am asked repeatedly what I want, and my wounds are healed by the experience of living out of them and underestimating my worth and value, not liking the result, and my own heart turning to hear what is true. It is not a relationship in which I am to anticipate harsh discipline, hard experiences, and a lack of peace, or any other thing. I am increasingly revealed as the relationship deepens, I become kinder to myself. As I submit to their view of me I experience the fruit of the spirit… the love and joy and clarity that comes with being in a state of being. 

So, what does marital submission look like? Is it a gender role hierarchy? A chain of command? No. We submit to one another out of reverence for [the] Christ [within]. As in any component of community, practically speaking, we learn the other’s personality, giftings, strengths, weaknesses. We work as a team, as equals. We function as the living beings we are and be equally courageous in our vulnerability, and allow the love we share, from the Source we share, to call the I am we are in the I am to the surface. Anything less, anything that caters to the ego of one over the value of the other, is what causes trauma. It crosses the line into the land of abuse and creates a victim. Stewardship of the heart of another human being is never about authority, its goal is always freedom. 

Marital submission, in a world where the finished work of a Maker who never stopped loving us and being with us is allowed free reign (grace life), is nothing short of Love. It doesn’t need a system, it needs communication, and a desire to manifest wholeness. It seeks healing, not accountability, unity, not uniformity. It is Christ in me, revering Christ in you, and because of this, cherishing one another.  We have all seen a bee with a flower. It always pollenates it, and the flower gives what she has to the bee. It is mutually beneficial. 

Level the playing field. Let’s begin the conversation of submission with Love and see where it takes us. I guarantee, gracious submission reveals in glorious beautiful detail, who we are, and sets us free to be that person. Within this context, no one ever gives up who they are for the sake of someone else’s ego. It is unthinkable. If it isn’t a compassionate love, it isn’t submission in the way of grace. 

So when does submission end? Never. Because it isn’t about authority. It’s about wholeness, oneness, and Love. And dang it, if Love doesn’t think we’re amazing. “Perfect Submission, all is at rest…” I know, I lifted that from a very out of context place, but you know, I think Phoebe Palmer Knapp has a better understanding of that line at present then she ever did on earth.

Influenced 

O, Darling, We aren’t going to agree! 

See, I am me, 

and you are you, 

and Life… well, 

it has not gone the same for both of us. 

And each experience 

forms our response to the next. 

And on 

And on 

And on 

until our final event - 

and then, perhaps 

we might arrive at the same conclusion 

But even then, 

I am me 

and You are you. 

And Life 

Might still not go on the same way 

For both of us. 

Today, I fell down a rabbit hole. It was fast, and panicky, and I felt… Triggered. Defensive, Aggressive. Protective. On the surface… but underneath that I felt unseen, unknown, unappreciated, overlooked, and used. Like a means to an end. For someone else. 

I got to the end of the conversation, and I felt like showering. I have learned something in the last few weeks. I don’t like being told what to do. I don’t like being lumped in as part of the norm. Not because I don’t want to be a part of the collective… but because I don’t want to become another statistic. I don’t want to be the support of the common erroneous narrative. I don’t want to succumb. 

I’m sure my family would say that I have always seen myself as the exception to the rule. I have never wanted to engage in a process simply because it was “process.” With the exception of baking cakes, an endeavour which requires consistency, if not precision (although it is always ok to spill the vanilla, in fact, I endorse this practice), to ensure one does not fall flat in the execution of the process, I feel things are potentially subjective. My mother taught us as children, the “proper” way to do things. My life has been a series of learning and unlearning. Some I have kept, others I have left. I engage logic, reason, ingenuity and assessment of my own success in the determination of future endeavours. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, they say, but what if they don’t know it is broken? That takes the willingness to try it differently and see. Necessity is still the mother of invention. Failure creates ideas. 

Ideas. O, the danger of ideas in the 2020’s. All the way through the 1900’s ideas propelled the free world. Now, they can have you ostracized in 20 seconds. Why? Because everyone knows everything and nothing. People are influenced, not educated. And those who think they aren’t influenced, usually look for someone who is educated to back their ideas. The difficulty? the educated are also influenced. It’s a mess, and we are being raised to believe that there has to be one infallible point of view. The opiate of the masses… certainty. The vulnerability of the masses? Expert uncertainty. 2021, Worldwide: the boat, is rocking. And people are grabbing everything from the mast to the air in the sails. They then pass on their certainty (drug of choice) and talk down to everyone else who grabbed on to something else. 

But what if my experience doesn’t match any of those things considered certain? What, if, I don’t want to be afraid? What, if, I want to be proactive in an alternate direction? What if I already tried what you are handing me, and I have rejected it based on the futility of its use and the void of logic? Does your expert influence trump my right to an experiential analysis and alternate education? 

Enough about that. Here’s what I noticed in my verbal sparring today. It wasn’t sparring. I said what I thought, and then someone’s fear took up the gauntlet. In the vacuum of a social media interaction, I was completely misunderstood, and then bludgeoned, not for the thoughts I expressed, but for the perception of my character according to a stranger. I pointed out the irony of my experience, and the reality that it caused me to question the norm, and I was scorned. I knew from the get go, that I wasn’t going to change their mind, but I wanted to be understood. 

Nope. This person was influenced beyond their intelligence and, quite possibly, education. I suppose there is judgment in that statement as well, but hear me: if an alternate experience to yours causes you to scorn another human being, you are not going to influence them. You are not going to champion your cause, you are going to inevitably make yourself look asinine. Educated, intelligent people ask more questions than they answer. They seek, not the comfort of their own supported ideologies, but to know the people who hold opinions. 

I miss discussions. Not presumptive conversations, but opportunities to learn from someone else, who is not delving into the hypothetical, but has experience, working knowledge, understanding. These people grow, change, and in the process of interaction, propel me forward. Education has made them open to the wonder, and possibility that all things are not known, rather than validating their insecurity and making them arrogant. 

All of the staunch beliefs we hold should be subject to the scrutiny of context. Politics, religion, morality, perpetuation of cultural norms, approach to health and medicine. If you were born thinking one thing, and can hear nothing else, you are seeing only that the light of the sun, and missing the nuance of the sunrise, or the sunset, the music of the wind, the weight of the clouds. If you live and die in the narrow vision, you have not experienced life. Fear has determined your experience. 

I realized I was afraid of being unknown, and that made me cast some beautiful pearls before swine. It is mine to be secure in the knowledge of myself, only. It is also mine to attempt to know another with whom I seem to disagree. Facts are, Facts.  But how we interpret them is strongly altered by our life experience. Next time you want to squash the insolent bug who disagrees with your expert, ask yourself why you reached for your verbal fly swatter. If it is because you want to be known and understood on the basis of your being, and you want your experience validated… ask more questions than you give answers. Put boundaries around yourself instead of sanctions on them. You don’t have to agree, but it shouldn’t determine whether or not the human in me can meet and greet the human in you. 

You, after all, know how you came to believe what you believe: personality combined with experience provided perspective, exposure to knowledge (education), and the allowance of free thought determines your ability to process. Some people were never given this freedom. Some people never wanted this freedom. And some people become innovators and scientists, changing the world forever, not because they were educated, but because they thought. For themselves. 

You can hate me if you want. But don’t disdain me until you get to know me. But be careful… once you know me, and compassion triumphs over judgement, you might understand me until you like me, and then, you’ll have a friend to discuss things with, and we both might grow. 

Or, keep being influenced. It’s up to you.