The way we live reflects what’s the most important: #creation #fall or #atonement –or– #Shame ridden #sinner to OK

My Christian upbringing taught me that who I am is a result of the fall. When Eve took the fruit in defiance of God’s instruction, God separated himself from us and we became shame-ridden sinners. When the fall is the most important thing, our identity passed along to us from birth is that of shame ridden sinners. This is a critical pillar of traditional Christianity because it produces reliance upon Christ who can get us from Shame-ridden sinner to OK or not shame-ridden sinner.

If the atonement is most important, our identity isn’t stuck in shame-ridden sinner. Our identity is built upon Love, forgiveness and compassion. We can move our identities from loved to transformed to transformer, owning the compassion and love that God has for us, while still recognizing our own brokenness and in fact using that brokenness as a vehicle of compassion to lift and build others…to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

I have spent most of my life in a constant battle in life with sin. The noble battle in life was fighting against and repenting of wrongs. God’s role was to look down on me and say “keep trying, and don’t mess it up this time like you keep doing. I can’t look on sin with the least degree of allowance, so I can’t accept you the way you are now.” Repentance was a transaction that cycled me between shame-ridden sinner to OK and then back to shame-ridden sinner when we repeat what we were supposed to have never done again. The other reality of that mindset is that when you’re not feeling like a shame-ridden sinner, it’s probably because you’re “wearing” some sort of mask to help you pretend you’re something you’re not.

Start with love. Live like the #atonement is the most important thing. Live like you’re at one with god no matter what. With this level of self-compassion you’re ready to move from OK to Transformed to Transformer.

Key to Ideal #parenting is discovered by Danish scientists

What was your thought when you read this title?

“I knew the Danes would discover it first”?

“I’d better read this so I can be a perfect parent when I grow up”? “Thank goodness I’m already a perfect parent”?

The North America I grew up in engrained in me that the result of my parenting is how my kids turn out. If I’m a good parent, my children will make good choices. If I’m a bad parent, my children will make poor choices. The biblical wisdom tells us “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Danish scientists didn’t discover the key (or maybe they did, but I made up the title of this post). What if we looked at parenting in a different way? What if we went into parenting with the assumption that It’s in us…that our children have goodness and compassion (the divine imprint if you prefer) inextricably wired into their bodies?

If this were the case, we’d spend a lot more time helping them get rid of what is blocking their innate goodness rather than “training” them like a pet to overcome the inevitable evil they’ll fall into. If success in life is discovering the innate goodness in ourselves and using it to help unleash this innate goodness in others, then whatever you’re doing as a parent right now is good.

I believe that my parents were doing their absolute best, every day, to raise a good child. They look back with more regrets than I think they should have about how they raised me and the things that they did or didn’t do or say. I’m certain that the way I’m parenting is messing them up in multiple ways, but…

The reality is, the way we mess up our children may be the doorway that leads them to discovering their innate goodness. It may well build a breakable shell that will crack some day and let the light in.

John Steinbeck summed it up well in East of Eden:

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”

Innate goodness is in your children.
Innate goodness is in you. Perfect parenting isn’t.

Image credit: http://www.parenting-checkpoint.com

The only species capable of “un-being” – #faith #change #mormon

Our problem as human beings is quite simple.

We often identify ourselves as the only species able to reason. We think of this as a wonderful gift. But another way of looking at it is that we are the only species capable of

un-being.

Animals, plants and dirt just ARE. They go about their existence growing, or eating grass or other animals, or just sitting there with the rest of the decaying forest floor getting wet when it rains or lowering in temperature when it freezes.

All of these species react how they react in relationship with what is around them. If they could talk and you asked them who they are, they would give the same divine response that Moses heard on the mountain: I AM.

We humans, on the other hand…

Have the ability to un-be. We can take the I AM that we are at the core and decide that we’d rather answer I AM NOT!

“There are so many things to be, ‘I AM’ really doesn’t seem all that interesting, especially if it means that I have to accept my connectedness to those OTHER people and things that I AM NOT. To build the success I’ve seen other people build, I’m better able to manage a controlled, secure and safe life by distinguishing myself, separate from THEM. As a human, I can do exactly that.”

And I do.

So what does my I AM NOT look like today?

I spent time with my family today at the baptism of a niece who just turned 8 years old. As I no longer attend church or pay tithing, I was unable to participate in the circle of family members that confirmed my niece by placing their hands on her head while my brother pronounced a blessing.

The beauty of Mormonism is that you enjoy comradery with others that share your same set of exact beliefs. It feels warm and safe and comfortable. You feel special and part of a “peculiar people” because you are distinct and separate from everyone else. You’ve taken on special commitments through sacred ceremonies that set you apart from those who are not under the same covenant obligations. Everyone dresses nice for church. Mormons are generally successful, hard working, and have beautiful, well cared for houses of worship with an abundance of income and savings to care for them. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

I AM NOT the “rebellious” son who has caused tears and dashed other family members’ dreams of being together forever in heaven.

I AM.

I AM NOT different from them and that’s why I wore my freshly laundered shirt and best suit with polished shoes to the baptism today.

I AM.

I AM NOT the one whose behaviour has resulted in the stress, anxiety and awkwardness of hundreds of people that I know and love because my decisions insult the view of the world that they KNOW to be true.

I AM.

There’s a part of me that needs to die. Maybe today is the day for me to finally let go of that part of me. Dying hurts, and what’s next is uncertain and complicated…or perhaps its not. I can take a lesson from the Animals, or plants, or frozen dirt or the divine voice on the mountain and just BE. It’s in me. It’s in us.

 

 

 

 

What do YOU do with your “What is”?

I love the messages of Glennon Doyle Melton around truth that I heard in a recent Rob Bell Podcast.

Truth is.
Truth is what is.

When I talk about truth, I’m not talking about anything but a description of what’s happening without making judgments about it. According to Glennon, we all tell our truth in one way or another.

Some of our truth-telling is done in openness.
Some in the dark.
Some in ways that are hurtful to us or hurtful to others.

We, as humans, have a need to protect ourselves. The same fight or flight response that we used millennia ago to protect ourselves and our offspring from wild beasts or thunderstorms is the same thing that kicks in when we are threatened. Any time our need to feel protected, right, in control, dominant (or whatever else makes you feel like everything is good) is threatened, we express truth in our own unique ways.

Some express truth through addiction. Some express truth through unexpressed anxiety that impacts physical and mental health. Some hide truth with food. Some express truth by trying to change what is by justification, procrastination or mental gymnastics.

Whether you’re Christian or not, the stories of Jesus are a model of truth telling.

Beyond the powerful lessons he taught about power vs. meekness and compassion vs. judgment, the most powerful thing that he modeled is going deep into our own truths. He gave us permission, by example, that when our brain’s self-protection mechanism kicks in and injects all its fear and discomfort responses, that we CAN suffer through the discomfort. The story of his resurrection tells the story that when we go into suffering, even when we don’t want to, we come out the other side transformed.

The need for the protection we sought is dead. And somehow, the resurrected self has a changed mind that is more open and able to navigate a world that is outside of their former, artificial need for protection. And often, this resurrected self has more compassion.

It’s in us. The power to face our truth without fear is given.

Call it God-given. Call it innate in our biology. Call it whatever you want, but this ability to shut down our fear response in exchange for a transformed self through discomfort or suffering….is what is.

Image Credit:

https://images.rapgenius.com/a13fec61dbe54ca85d1c0ac2eacad439.842x1000x1.jpg

Lessons from Leo: Live. Calibrate. Repeat

LEOWe’ve added two more members to the family. We picked up Leo and Oreo from Edmonton from their foster family this weekend and brought them to their new home. Leo is blind. In fact, he had his eyes removed in December so he’s fairly new to this idea of not seeing. Watching him has been an amazing experience…

There are two ways that Leo navigates his world, one is by following close behind his brother when he walks. He trots along confidently knowing that in imitating his brother, he’s following a safe path that will protect him from bumps, puddles and other obstacles. The second way was incredible to witness. Shortly after coming home, Leo found his “spot” on a comfy dog couch in our family room. As I sat and observed Leo in a rare quiet moment in our home, I noticed a pattern in what he did. Leo would get up from his couch and slowly move about the room, bumping his nose into a couch, then a chair, then a wall or a fireplace. Then, after a minute or so, he would walk back towards the sofa and once again, situate himself there. After a few minutes he would get up and repeat this cycle several times, each time going back to re-center, re-generate and re-calibrate on his couch.

We navigate life either by safe imitation, or by a cycle of going into life, prepared to bump into stuff, and then coming back to our centre to re-calibrate. Whatever sofa it is that reminds us of who we are should be visited during bumpy visits to life (daily). There’s a strong desire inside to bring form to what we experience when we go back to rest in our place of regenerating.