Posted in About Lauri, Authentic Freedom, Being Human, Lessons, The Seven Deadly Compulsions

Teacher, Teach Thyself. Lessons about Money

Below is an excerpt from this week’s Authentic Freedom Academy Weekly Empowerment Newsletter. If you are interested in learning more or subscribing, click HERE. 

 

Teacher Teach Thyself!

I’m going in a little bit different direction with this week’s empowerment newsletter. Instead, I stand before you naked and vulnerable and confess to you a lesson that I learned (and am apparently still learning) TODAY through this week’s gospel reading. The lesson for me is about money and the first of the seven spiritual fears as outlined in Authentic Freedom – the fear that there is not enough.

A little background. Since stepping out on my own, beyond the Institutional Church into the secular world – offering what the Church traditionally offers….or rather what they SHOULD be offering – I have offered a sliding fee scale. I have set a suggested fee for my programs and services and asked people to “pay what they are able.” I have done this because I believe this is what Jesus would have done. (Actually, Jesus seemed to offer what he did freely…..but in this culture, I’m not sure this is possible. I do need to eat, pay rent, put clothes on my children’s backs). I have offered this sliding fee scale believing that if I provide for others, God would provide for me. Admittedly, the results have been mixed. I have always had what I needed to survive, AND I have had to be very creative with finances and trusted on the generosity of family and friends to make this all work (and believe me, “making this work” is a subjective measurement!). For me personally, this has been a rollercoaster journey of trying to trust, being afraid, feeling as if I am being supported and shaking my fist at God when finances look grim….which they often do.

moneygodpixabay

From the client and student side of this kind of arrangement, again, the response has been mixed. Many, who are financially able, are happy to pay my full fees, because they value themselves, they value the work we do together and they are willing to do the work. The majority are not able to pay my full fees, but do pay what they are able and are happy to do so…again, because they value themselves, the work, etc. With these folks, a) and b), I am humbled and honored to work. I am grateful for their ability to pay because I know they are being honest and sincere in their part of the exchange….AND I know they are truly paying what they are able….perhaps even making sacrifices elsewhere so that they can pay to support themselves.

Then there are the freeloaders. Those who ask for a reduced fee, when they don’t really need it. Those who I know have the funds, and who then offer me a ridiculously low exchange – as if they believe I should be doing this work for free or that they are entitled in some way to special treatment. Those who beg for a lower fee, or ask to be given a “scholarship” and then tell me about all the other ways they are spending their money on things that are not a necessity. To my ego, this is maddening, disappointing and insulting. And to the part of me who worries about how she is going to pay the bills, this is terrifying.

So what to do? Some have told me to “get a real job.” Others have suggested I dilute my time and energies with part time work to supplement my pay. Whoo whoo people have told me to “think the right thoughts and the money will be there.” Others have suggested I get tough around my money policies – again, setting higher fees, boundaries around payment, etc. All of this geared toward “success” and “reward” in the material world. Believe me, I have tried all of the above and every time I do, I fall FLAT on my face. I try to set boundaries and instead end up putting my own foot in my mouth by going after the wrong person. The “real jobs” elude me – even those for which I am perfectly qualified and know all the right people. I couldn’t think any more “right thoughts” if my life depended on it. I’ve tried the part-time thing and what I discovered is that after doing the soul-sucking part time work, I have nothing left to give to my clients, classes, writing, etc. and my business ends up drying up and floating away into nothing. Again, all of these efforts, as it turns out, are geared toward “securing” success and reward as they are defined in the material world.

jesus

Jesus taught something different:

“When you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”  Luke 14: 14

The answer to my quandary about what do to, is to DO NOTHING. All this time, I’ve been looking for the “fair exchange” in the material realm. In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus reminds us, it is not in “this world” where we shall have our reward. Instead, it is in the other world that is not defined by human measures – the “kingdom of God” that Jesus taught was within.

I don’t exactly have that all figured out yet, what that means, or how I might experience this, but my sense is that it has something to do with:

  • Offering my services freely and openly to those who need them.
  • Gratefully accepting whatever is offered in the way of payment.
  • Checking my ego at the door when my fears are triggered by money (or lack thereof).
  • No longer defining my value in monetary terms or in worldly measures of “success” (like whether or not I got a big-house publishing contract or have an email mailing list of 30,000).
  • No longer believing it is my job to set an example for others about money and self-value (especially if money has nothing to do with our value….it is just another lie we’ve been telling ourselves).
  • Simply letting go of the money thing as the central focus of my life and turning my attention instead to the Divine within, trusting I (the Big I) will take care of me. (YIKES!)

This is scary stuff! Trusting that all my needs will be met as I turn my attention inward, in connection with that which some might call God? Trusting that all my needs will be met as I minister to all those who are in need of and who might benefit from my services? Trusting all my needs will be met no matter who or how people are able to pay? Trusting all my needs will be met when the reward is not outside of me but is within? Again, this is scary stuff. And when I face this fear (more than any of the other Authentic Freedom fears), I ask myself, “Why did I write that dang book?” Because now I have to LIVE IT! YIKES!

AuthenticFreedomcover

As I have said, and learned a million times, “Authentic Freedom” is not for the faint of heart! But if I’m going to teach this material, I’d dang well better live it!

So, there you have it! I’ll keep you posted as to how this all turns out. In the meantime, I invite you to reflect on this fear and its place in your own life? Where are you fearful that there won’t be enough? How central of a role do thoughts about money play in your life? How are you measuring success in material terms? How is your own sense of value defined by money? This is deep and tough stuff….especially in a culture whose refrain has become “Show me the money.” Let me know how you work this thing out!

Humbly yours,

Lauri

To learn more about our weekly Empowerment Newsletter, click HERE. 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Jesus, temptation, The Seven Deadly Compulsions

Tempted to Misuse or Hide our Greatness

In anticipation of Ash Wednesday and the upcoming journey of Lent, I am sharing a copy of this week’s Authentic Freedom Empowerment Newsletter. If you find this to be a supportive and inspiring resource for your own journey of self-development, consider subscribing.  For only $20.00 per month, you receive a weekly resource for supporting your journey toward wholeness.  If you are interested, subscribe HERE. 

Authentic Freedom Academy

Weekly Empowerment Newsletter

Jesustempted by the devil

February 14, 2016. First Sunday in Lent

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, One does not live on bread alone.” Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. The devil said to him, “I shall give to you all this power and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It is written: You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.” Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you, and: With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus said to him in reply, “It also says, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.

Luke 4: 1-13

 

Additional Readings:

Dt 26: 4-10

Ps 91: 1-2, 10-15

Rom 10: 8-13

 

First Sunday of Lent – Temptation

This Sunday’s gospel is the familiar story of Jesus’ temptation in the desert. What is often forgotten in the telling of this story is that the temptation in the desert takes place immediately following Jesus’ baptism through which Jesus was fully awakened to his Diving calling and the gifts that he had been given to live out that call:

“You are my beloved son, and with you I am well pleased.”

How did Jesus respond to these words? The translation from Luke’s gospel says that Jesus was led to the desert. In Mark’s gospel, “he fled.” I tend to believe it was more the latter than the former. How would you feel if a voice came out of the sky and announced your magnificence and the Divine calling (responsibility) that went along with that magnificence?

The truth is that like Jesus, we more frequently run from our gifts and our Divine calling than toward them. If we are wise, as Jesus was, we acknowledge the fear that arises in the face of our calling, and then we take the time to figure out what the Divine calling means for us and how we are being called to use our gifts.

And like Jesus, we will be tempted. Specifically, we will be tempted to abuse the powers that we have been given for the sake of our own pride and vanity, than how they are meant to be used which is in service to the Divine and for the benefit of others.

Our job is to hear the call as it arises within us from God, to take time out to discern how we are being invited to live that out and to then face the inner voices that will tempt us to ignore or deny our gifts, or alternatively, to use our gifts for our own vainglory instead of for the honor of the Divine and for the benefit of others.

How have you been tempted to either ignore/deny your Divine calling and the use of your gifts?

When have you been tempted to use your gifts for the sake of your own pride, fame, wealth, power, etc. instead of for the sake of others?

 

Spiritual Practice:

You are invited to spend time with this week’s scripture using the practice of Imagination/Contemplation, or as I like to call it, “Daydreaming as Prayer.”

  1. Read through the scripture passage slowly and prayerfully, looking for a character that stands out to you. Perhaps it is Jesus, Satan, an unnamed observer or even an inanimate object.
  2. After you have chosen your character (or object), re-read the story from their perspective.
  3. Then, using your imagination, place yourself within the narrative as the character of your choosing. Imagine the story unfolding in your mind as if you are that character. Imagine every detail – what you are wearing, what the weather is like, the scene around you, the time of day. Envision the landscape and the other characters in the story in detail. Do not censor anything that comes up for you in the imagining of the story. Allow it to go where it needs to go.
  4. As the story is unfolding in your imagination, pay attention to the thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc. that are arising in you as the story is unfolding.
  5. After the story has come to its natural conclusion in your mind, write it down. Record all that took place, being open to additional details which may emerge in your writing. Again, do not censor anything that comes up for you.
  6. After you have written your story, read it. As you are reading, reflect on how the story, as it unfolded in your imagination, is reflective of something going on in your own journey? As what your higher self might be communicating to you in the way this story unfolded in your imagination.

 

 

Authentic Freedom

In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus was tempted by three of the deadly compulsions of the Authentic Freedom protocol:

Gluttony

Lust (for power)

Pride

As the inner adversary (Satan) tempted Jesus with these worldly measurements of power and success, Jesus was able to turn away from them because he recognized the inner fears that might cause him to use his powers for his own sake instead of in honor of God and for the benefit of the world, he then found a way to move through those fears.

How and where have you been tempted by worldly measures of power and success? How might you employ Authentic Freedom to help you overcome these temptations when they arise in the future?

If you found this to be meaningful, consider subscribing to the weekly Authentic Freedom Empowerment Newsletter.  For only $20.00 per month.  Subscribe HERE. 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Jesus, sin, The Seven Deadly Compulsions, Virtual Church

Did Jesus Die for Our Sins?

In anticipation of Palm Sunday and Holy Week, enjoy this excerpt from this week’s Agape’ Meditation Newsletter, supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church.  Learn more about the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church and how to subscribe HERE. 

jesuschristsuperstar-cross

Dying for our Sins

It has been said that Jesus died for our sins. This is true, not as an atonement, or as a payment for our sins, but for the sake of sin itself. Sin is that which arises out of our perceived separation from God. “Original sin” as it is spoken of in the Christian tradition is the perceived separation from God. Unlike other humans before him, Jesus came to understand that this separation from God is not real, but is simply a false perception created so that one might have a human experience. Jesus also understood that this perceived separation is the cause of human suffering. Jesus discovered that his (and our) original nature is not in fact separation from God, but Oneness with God. After Jesus came to understand this Oneness within himself and found the comfort, healing, peacefulness and love inherent in this state of Oneness, he sought to teach it to others.

The problem was that there were those who benefitted from a humanity wallowing in the fear of this perceived separation. People who have forgotten their Oneness with God are afraid and anxious and will either seek to have control over others as a way of trying to escape these feelings of powerlessness or will allow themselves to be controlled by others because of their fear. In Jesus’ time, those who were threatened by the healing promised by Jesus in recalling their Oneness with God, were the government and religious officials who were in positions of power and who benefitted because of people’s fears.

When challenged by those in power about the truth that he had come to know in his Oneness with God, Jesus had a choice. He could have recanted his truth and agreed that it was the Romans or the High Priests who were right, or he could have stood by his truth. Jesus stood by his truth (“I AM”…One with God). It was for the sake of this truth that he was willing to die. This is how we can say that Jesus died for (the sake of) our sins.

Posted in Authentic Freedom, sin, Spiritual Practices, The Seven Deadly Compulsions, Virtual Church

The Deadly Compulsion of Sloth – Virtual Church Supplement

The theme of this week’s Authentic Freedom Virtual Church meditation newsletter is the spiritual compulsion of sloth.  When engaging in sloth, we refuse to use the brain God gave us to reason, discern and exercise truth.  Learn more below:

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Twenty-sixth Sunday Ordinary Time

 

Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter

Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service

 

 

Scripture Reading:

 

R/ (6a) Remember your mercies, O Lord. Your ways, O LORD, make known to me; teach me your paths, guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior. R/ Remember your mercies, O Lord. Remember that your compassion, O LORD, and your love are from of old. The sins of my youth and my frailties remember not; in your kindness remember me, because of your goodness, O LORD. R/ Remember your mercies, O Lord. Good and upright is the LORD; thus he shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice, and teaches the humble his way. R/ Remember your mercies, O Lord.

 

Ps 25: 4-5, 8-9, 10, 14

 

Additional Readings:

 

Ez 18: 25-28

Phil 2: 1-11

Mt 21: 28-32

 

God is our Teacher

 

If we desire a life of peace and contentment where we experience meaning and our life has a sense of purpose, then we need go no further than to God. God is our teacher when we allow ourselves to turn from our own desires to control, to think we know the answers and to strive after what we want. God, on the other hand, knows what we need and knows the path that would be in our highest good – that which leads us to meaning, purpose and fulfillment. The answers are not in our minds, but are in the intimate connection between ourselves and God.

 

When are you tempted to believe you know what is best for you.

 

When are you tempted to strive after what you want instead of asking God for what you need?

 

Where are you turning to God for guidance and direction in your life?

 

 

 

 

Spiritual Practices – Turning to God for Answers

 

Lectio-Divina is a spiritual practice through which we allow ourselves to be open to God’s nourishment, support, guidance and inspiration in our lives. You are invited to apply Lectio-Divina to the above scripture as a way of opening yourself to God.

 

READ the above scripture slowly and prayerfully, looking for a word that jumps out at you. Receive that word or phrase as God’s guidance for you today.

 

MEDITATE on that word or phrase. Chew on it. Take it in. Reflect on what God might be saying to you through this word or phrase.

 

RESPOND to God’s guidance. Through either speaking or writing, express your thoughts and feelings about God’s guidance.

 

BE WITH your meditation experience. Either rest in silence and allow the meditation experience to find a deeper root within you, or carry it with you as you go about your day, allowing it to further inform your life.

 

 

 

Authentic Freedom

 

Sloth is the spiritual compulsion through which we refuse to use the brain God gave us to reason, discern and exercise truth. Sloth arises out of the fear that we do not know our truth or our path and that we do not have access to knowledge of this truth. Sloth causes us to defer to outside perceived authorities/institutions for decisions in our lives and through sloth we are disempowered. Authentic Freedom reminds us that God alone is the foremost source of authority and that we have access to knowledge of our truth and our path through our intimate connection with God. To access knowledge of our truth and our path, we need only turn to God. believe what God is revealing to us, and then act accordingly. The key is remembering that God reveals our truth to us in the time that is in our highest good….and remembering that God’s time is not always our time.

 

Where are you tempted to defer to outside perceived authorities for guidance and direction?

 

When you do turn to God for guidance, what prevents you from acting on that guidance?

 

How can you risk believing what God is revealing to you for the sake of contentment and joy in your life?

 

 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, sin, Spiritual Practices, temptation, The Seven Deadly Compulsions, Virtual Church

Get Behind Me Satan – Meditation Supplement

Agape Meditation Newsletter – Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church service for Sunday, August 31, 2014

 

Scripture Reading:

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct.”

MT 16: 21-17

 

Additional Readings:

Jer 20: 7-9

Ps 63: 2-9

Rom 12: 1-2

 

Get Behind Me Satan!

Satan is a Hebrew word which means adversary or obstacle. In the Hebrew tradition, Satan is most commonly thought of as existing within us as the inner fears and egoic attachments that try to keep us from the path that God intends for us. In the Christian tradition, Satan is most commonly associated as a personified, external source of temptation – the devil. Whether we perceive Satan as within us or outside of us, the experience is the same – something arising which triggers our fears or flatters our ego so that we are tempted to stray from the path of our highest good, the path God intends for us. In this week’s gospel, Peter acts as the adversary, tempting Jesus to stray from his path. Jesus recognizes in Peter’s words, his own fear of death and the temptation to stray from the path of his truth. Jesus then reminds us that God’s way is not always our way and that we are to trust that what God ordains is in our highest good, even if the path or the outcome seems grim.

 How do you recognize the adversary at work in your own life?

Where are you tempted to avoid the path God has laid out for you by judging it as negative?

 RobertDeNiroAngeHeart

Spiritual Practices – Recognizing Satan

The first step in avoiding temptation is recognizing its presence. The adversary triggers our fear, our unhealed wounds and tempts us through fame, power, and material wealth. The job of the adversary is to tempt us from the path of our highest good and to imprison us in fear and constriction. The adversary flatters us with delusions of grandeur and tempts us into believing we know what is better for us than God does. A good place to begin to recognize the adversary is through knowledge of the seven core spiritual fears:

  • There is not enough (money, safety, power, control, love, sex, things, fame, etc. etc. etc.)
  • I have nothing significant to contribute
  • I cannot (be and live as my truth)
  • I am not loved
  • I am not free to express my truth
  • I do not know (my truth, my path)
  • I am alone (or I can do it alone)

In the coming week, pay attention to when one (or several) of these fears is triggered. Recognize that it is Satan at work, trying to keep you from your path. Then use Jesus’ words to name the adversary and to actively set aside its temptation:

Get behind me Satan!

 

Authentic Freedom

The most important virtue to cultivate is humility, for it is in being humble that all of the other virtues come to fruition – temperance, fortitude, mercy, love, generosity, and zeal. In cultivating humility, we acknowledge that we are nothing without God and that God knows, better than we do, what is best for us. In living humbly, we surrender our lives to God and to the path of our highest good that only God can know. In living humbly, we trust that even the challenges in our lives and the things that do not seem to be working for the good….are. In humility, we trust that God is working all of our life experiences for the good. Humility compels us to turn to God for guidance and direction and allows us to set aside our own ego attachments, wishes and desires to God’s guidance – no matter how challenging the path might appear. Humility leads to spiritual obedience which leads to the freedom God intends for us.

How are you cultivating the virtue of humility?

 

Posted in Agape Project, Authentic Freedom, Being Human, Spiritual Practices, The Seven Deadly Compulsions, Virtual Church

Weeds and Wheat – Virtual Church Meditation Supplement

Please find below the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church meditation supplement for Sunday, July 20, 2014.  The theme this week is embracing the weeds in our garden – how to see our perceived weakness, imperfections, humanness as vehicles for healing and growth.  Only in being human can we truly be a source of support for others in their own journey toward love.

 Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter

Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service

Fleur_de_Lis_Tattoo_by_ladyserenity2002

Scripture Reading:

Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

Matthew 13: 24-30

 

Additional Readings: 

Wis 12: 13, 16-19

Ps 86: 5-6, 9-10, 15-16

Rom 8: 26-27

 

Weeds and Wheat

We are the seeds of wheat that God has planted on the earth. The weeds are the fears that arise out of us as a natural consequence of choosing the human condition. In choosing the human condition, we chose to temporarily experience ourselves as separate from God and it is this perceived separation that that causes us fear. Fear, then, causes us to act in non-loving ways towards ourselves and others, resulting in the compulsions and “sins” of humanity.

We are often tempted to judge our fears and condemn ourselves for these perceived imperfections. Today’s gospel reminds us the value of allowing the imperfections to remain. Like wildflowers that are planted with seeds of rye, we need the weeds to help us to grow. Spiritually, we are strengthened by coming to know our fears and by turning toward God as a source of support for transcending and moving through our fears. As is true of all things that grow, we need the resistance of the weeds to help us move toward our spiritual maturity where we remember our Oneness with God, within ourselves, with each other and with all of creation.

Where are you tempted to judge or condemn yourself for your humanness?

 

How can you become the witness of your fears instead of the judge? How does this allow you to move through your fears instead of staying in them through resistance?

 

Spiritual Practices – Examen

Examen is traditionally the practice of reflecting on all the ways in which we have “sinned” or turned away from God. In this adaptation of an Ignatian (St. Ignatius of Loyola) practice, we explore the ways in which our imperfections and perceived failures have helped us to grow.

  1. Set aside 15-20 minutes for this practice.
  2. Sit quietly for a few moments in preparation.
  3. As you sit quietly, allow your mind to turn toward all the things about yourself you are tempted to judge as imperfect, compulsive or even sinful.
  4. In the fashion of brainstorming, make a list of the things about yourself you judge as negative or imperfect. Write them on a sheet of paper, allowing the writing to help other ideas come forth.
  5. Stop writing when nothing else comes forth from your mind.
  6. Go back and read the list you just wrote.
  7. Choose one item on the list and reflect on how this perceived imperfection has helped you to grow spiritually:
  • How has this imperfection caused you to turn toward God for help/healing?
  • How have you grown through your attempts to heal/resolve this imperfection?
  • How have your learned humility through this imperfection?

 

Authentic Freedom

As a recovering perfectionist, I have grown from condemning my perfectionist to seeing it as a vehicle through which God has invited me to heal and grow. I am now more aware of my temptation to judge myself and others too harshly, I am able to embrace the high standards I have set for myself and others while allowing myself to be more relaxed and less critical of my own humanness as well as the humanness of others. Learning to be accepting of my own humanness has allowed me to be a better source of love and support for others.

Authentic Freedom reminds us that each of us are uniquely gifted in the way we are called to reveal God’s love in the world and that often, the most important way in which we are called to be God’s love is through our fears, our compulsions and our perceived imperfections. Being a “wounded healer” allows us to have empathy and compassion for others in the face of the human condition. Accepting the “weeds” in our own garden, help us to grow so that we can be a support for others as they are trying to grow.

What are the weeds in your garden and how are you called to see the gift in what you are otherwise tempted to judge as negative?

Posted in Authentic Freedom, church, Spiritual Practices, The Seven Deadly Compulsions, Virtual Church

Agape’ Meditation Newsletter – Virtual Church supplement

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Second Sunday of Easter

 

Scripture Reading:

They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Acts 2: 42-47

 

Additional Readings:

1 Pt 1: 3-9

Ps 118: 2-4, 13-15, 22-24

JN 20: 19-31

 

Social and Economic Justice

This week’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles demonstrates the way in which the first generation of Christians chose to respond to the Jesus message. In Jesus’ teachings on love and justice, the early Christians heard the call to provide for the needs of all in common and those with more freely shared what they had so that those with less could also thrive. In heeding Jesus’ call, the early Christians provided an example of social and economic justice that radically differed from the model that had been set forth by the society in which they had been raised where wealth was honored as a blessing in acknowledgement of a virtuous life and poverty as a punishment for sin. Instead, all people were viewed as children of God and equally sacred and that wealth had been given to some to share so that all may be provided for.

How does our Western culture reflect the preference of materialism over justice?

How are you living Jesus’ call to social and economic justice?

lesmis

 

Spiritual Practice:

This week, you are invited to engage in the practice of Examen – a process through which we reflect on our behaviors in light of the scriptural message. Over the course of the next week, reflect on the following questions:

  1. Where are you tempted to buy into the Western cultural paradigm that says that happiness and fulfillment come through money, power, fame, wealth and the accumulation of things?
  2. Where do you find yourself acquiring more than you need to survive and thrive?
  3. Where do you find yourself wasting valuable resources or forgetting to recycle and reuse?
  4. Where do you entertain fears around money?
  5. Where are you tempted to worry about what others think because of the kind of house you live in, clothes you wear, job you have or car you drive?
  6. Where are you tempted to indulge in the Western paradigm by giving your time or energy to movies, tv shows, commercials, magazines, books, that promote lifestyles based in riches, excessive wealth, and power?
  7. Where are you tempted to buy the “Big name” and “more expensive” product when you can get the same or better for less?
  8. Where are you giving your time, talent, resources to support those who have less?
  9. Where are you giving your time, talent, resources to support programs that help those who have less?
  10. Where are you giving of your excess so that those who have less might have more?

 

Authentic Freedom

In Authentic Freedom we talk about the fear “there is not enough” as the cause of materialism. When we live in the fear that there is not enough – money, love, time, fame, power, success, things, etc. the non-loving behavior that arises out of this fear is gluttony. When indulging in gluttony, we take more than what we need or we deprive ourselves of the things we need to survive. When through prayer and the reception of grace, we are healed of the fear that there is not enough, our gluttonous behaviors cease and we are able to experience a life of temperance. In this week’s reading, the early Christians were able to overcome the fear that there is not enough and lived temperance to the point of ensuring social and economic justice for all members of their community.

Where do you struggle with the fear, “there is not enough?”

How do you see this fear as driving behaviors of acquisition or deprivation?  

How can you invite God to heal you of this fear? 

How might your behaviors change if you were no longer afraid?

 

 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, End of the World Prophecies, Inspiration, Spiritual Practices, The Divine, The Seven Deadly Compulsions, world changes

Waking Up in the New World

Today’s blog is for EVERYONE.  The world is changing, the universe is changing, the sun’s poles are flipping, and in the midst of all this change, we get to decide…….old world or new world?  The choice is up to us.  Today’s blog explores the consequence(s) of staying in the old world and the Why and How we might choose the new world instead.

"Wake up!  Wake up!"
“Wake up! Wake up!”

Old World

The old world is the world that the human species has been living in for the past 5000 or so years.  It is a world rooted in patriarchy which elevates the masculine principle while demonizing the feminine.  It is a hierarchical world in which decisions are made from the top down by those in power, and usually in not very loving ways.  The old world is one that manipulates through fear and intimidation.  Power, control and wealth are TAKEN by the few while the rest suffer in silence, made mute by their feelings of powerlessness.  The old world is one in which the seven deadly compulsions reign – gluttony, lust (power-over), wrath, envy, greed, sloth and pride and where “success” comes through ceaseless striving, manipulation and force.  Unless you exist within the (less than) 1%, the old world feels constricting, painful, fearful, limiting, and your life is therefore defined by feelings of anxiety, depression, frustration, impatience and longing.

New World

The new world, on the other hand, is the complete opposite of what we have known for the past 5000+ years.  The new world is rooted in love, known by peace and lived out in harmonious cooperation.  The new world is neither patriarchal nor matriarchal, but is instead rooted in egalitarianism – where masculine and feminine (and everything in between) are valued as unique and equal.  Decisions are made through collaboration and arrived at through consensus and are made to meet the higher good of the all.  In the new world, each and every person is valued as uniquely creative expressions of the Divine and are honored for their own unique giftedness and empowered to contribute their part in the betterment of the world.  In the new world, all that we have used to separate will fall away and all will be honored as sacred and unique.

Continuing to Choose the Old World

Because we have been gifted with the power of freewill, we may continue to choose the old world.  We can continue to choose anxiety, constriction, longing, impatience, frustration and for many….failure.  For some, this will indeed be their path.  For those who were placed on this planet to envision and help support the creation of the new world however, continuing to choose the old world will only lead to their demise. If you have been gifted with a vision of the new world and feel called to help make it happen (lightworkers, wayshowers, starseeds, indigo children, crystal children, rainbow children, galactic federation of light, ascension, kundalini), the Universe will conspire in your favor to make this happen.  If you have been gifted with the vision of a new world – and feel called to help make it real and if you are facing your own demise or coming against one obstacle after another after another, your relationships are a sea of conflict,  or you are seeing the world you have tried to create crumbling in your hands, there is a reason for this.  The harder things get for you, be assured that the more the Universe is trying to wake you up to your vision and your call.  As such, if the world you are living in is filled with conflict, struggle and catastrophe, you might want to reexamine your choices.  Perhaps you have been unwittingly choosing the old world instead of the new.

Choosing the Old or Living in the New?

The hardest thing in the world is choosing the NEW world because all we have known and been taught is how to choose the old.   Old habits die hard.  Choosing the old world or living in the new are distinguished from each other in  a number of ways.

The old world is:

  • ruled by the ego
  • where decisions are made in fear
  • known by a constant inner state of anxiety
  • characterized by striving and pushing to “make things happen”
  • known by the quest for power and control
  • where people feel limited, constricted, ignored, insignificant, unsatisfied
  • defined by separation – gender, orientation, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, race, etc.
  • rife with conflict, struggle, suffering, discord, etc.

the new world is:

  • ruled by the Divine within
  • known where decisions are not made but arise naturally out of our connection with the Divine
  • where life is allowed to happen and to unfold in a gentle, effortless way
  • known in generous sharing and equal participation
  • where people experience a life that is fulfilling, rewarding, sustaining, abundant, life-giving, joyful, peaceful and loving
  • defined by oneness

Living in the new world is made possible when we commit ourselves to the following:

  • A disciplined spiritual practice (which I define rather widely) through which we take time aside to be quiet, listen for and be open to hearing and believing the voice of the Divine within us.
  • Disciplined attention to and healing of one’s own fears, compulsions, projections, etc.
  • Management of our shadow.  When we confront our own demons, we stop projecting them on to others.
  • Exploration of our own unique giftedness, followed by the cultivation and generous sharing of these gifts in an environment where are gifts are readily and enthusiastically received and where we experience the abundant fruits of our labors.
  • In a nutshell – disciplined attention to our own journey of spiritual, emotional, mental and physical growth.
  • And finally…..LOVE.  Loving ourselves first so that we may then reflect love to others, igniting in them the spark of wanting to remember the love that they are and setting them on the journey as outlined above.

Choosing the New World

Choosing the new world is not an easy task, primarily because in choosing love we have to overcome 5000+ years of conditioning, not to mention our own fears and inner resistance.  However, if we have been gifted with a vision of the new world, along with the call to make it happen, we don’t really have a choice – unless, however, we want to continue to live in misery.  Please note, that this is true not only for individuals, but also for institutions which have also been gifted with this vision and this call.  The call is the same – “Wake up, Wake up”  It is time to awaken to your call and time to bring forth the new world.

Posted in addictions, codependency, guilt, shame, The Seven Deadly Compulsions

Partners of Sex Addicts Part II

Today’s blog is the final of a four-part series on sex addiction.  Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s blog focused on identifying sex addiction and understanding some of its possible causes.  Thursday’s began the discussion on how partners of sex addicts are effected by the addiction and today’s blog continues that discussion, exploring possible resources for assisting partners of sex addicts in their own journey of healing. 

Co-Addiction?

Many experts in the field of sex addiction refer to the relationship between a sex addict and their partner as co-addiction.  Drawing from 12-step recovery programs, the partner of a sex addict is held accountable for their role in enabling the addiction through denial, preoccupation, enabling or rescuing, taking excessive responsibility, and trying to (or wishing they could) control the addict’s behaviors.  In order for one to identify sexual addiction in their partner, they also have to acknowledge their own role in the cycle of addiction.  Denial is perhaps the greatest obstacle to the addict and their partner in stopping the cycle of addiction.  For the partner of the addict, excessive responsibility is perhaps the second obstacle.  Partners of addicts come to believe that the dissatisfaction, restlessness and irritability of the addict is somehow their fault and often work to try to “make the addict happy” by engaging in sexual activities that make them uncomfortable or looking the other way when the addict seeks to satisfy their need through pornography, excessive masturbation, sex-sites, other partners, etc.  For those who choose to remain in a relationship with a sex addict (who is still engaging in addictive behaviors), unraveling themselves from their role as enabler is critical.  In order to keep one’s self safe, the partner of a sex addict must stop taking responsibility, feeling guilty for the addict’s unhappiness and for excusing their sexual acting out.  If the addict remains in denial and refuses treatment for their addiction, the partner may eventually determine that the relationship is no longer viable and may decide to leave.  (For more on working together to recover from sex addiction, please read, Mending a Shattered Heart, edited by Stefanie Carnes, PhD.

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For those who leave

For those who choose to leave a relationship with a sex addict, acknowledging their co-addictive behavior will be an important step in healing from the co-addictive relationship and for establishing a ground upon which healthy intimacy may one day be possible.  In the beginning stages of having left a sex addict, however, I believe that attention first needs to be given to grief * and shame**. First, the partner needs strategies, room and time to grieve the loss of the relationship they at one time hoped to have with the addict (before they knew of the addiction).  What also needs to be addressed is the deep well of shame experienced by a partner of a sex addict.  Shame from having been in the relationship in the first place.  Shame over their co-addictive behaviors (denial, bargaining, over responsibility, etc.).  Shame from all the ways in which they were told they failed the addict.  Then somewhere along the line, the partner of a sex addict needs to pick up all the shreds of their own desire and sexual self-confidence which were destroyed in the course of the relationship and put those back together.  In grieving the loss of the hoped-for relationship, healing the deep well of shame, reassembling one’s self-confidence and desire, and addressing any co-addictive behaviors provides the foundation upon which the former partner of a sex addict may enter into a meaningful, healthy and intimate love relationship – the kind that was, sadly, not possible with the addict.

* To learn more about the grieving process, click HERE. 

** To learn more about releasing shame, click HERE.

If you are a partner of a sex addict, please seek out help and support through counseling, psychotherapy or a local 12-Step group well versed in the subtleties of sex addiction. For additional support, check out Mending a Shattered Heart – a Guide for Partners of Sex Addicts, edited by Stefanie Carnes, PhD.

 

Posted in addictions, Body/Mind/Spirit connection, guilt, Healing, shame, sin, The Seven Deadly Compulsions

Sex Addiction – Causes and Compassion

In yesterday’s blog, we explored the subject of sexual addiction and ways to identify this behavior in ourselves or our loved ones so that we might seek out help.  In today’s blog, we will examine some of the possible causes of sex addiction, specifically the deeper emotional and spiritual wounds what are ultimately seeking healing.

Causes of Sexual Addiction

As is the case with other addictions, there are no cut and dried formulas in their cause.  There are, however, some reported similarities between sex addicts which warrant examination:

  • Sex addicts often come from dysfunctional families
  • Many report a past history of having been physically, verbally or emotionally abused
  • 82% of sex addicts reported having been sexually abused as children
  • 80% reported substance abuse as present within their family of origin
  • Many report parents as distant, uncaring and rigid
  • It is theorized that abnormalities in brain chemistry may predispose a person to addictive behaviors, including sex addiction

(Source:  Herkov, M. (extracted 2013). What causes sexual addiction? www.psychcentral.com.)

Behavior modification

As discussed in yesterday’s blog, sex addiction is recognized in compulsive, uncontrollable behaviors most often driven by anxiety.  Addiction language speaks of this anxiety as the “emotional trigger.”    Learning effective methods for dealing with this anxiety or confronting the specific emotional trigger goes a long way in supporting recovery and healing in sex addicts and allows the addict to create new and healthier ways of responding to these triggers.  It has been my experience, however, that in many (if not most) cases, the addictive behavior ultimately has nothing to do with the behavior itself (ie: fantasizing, masturbation, use of pornography, etc.), and simple behavior modification, while necessary, is not enough to facilitate long-term recovery, and more importantly, does not help the addict learn how to cultivate and enjoy healthy, loving, intimacy. For as long as they are indulging their addiction, sex addicts are incapable of experiencing or participating in true intimacy.

Sex Addiction and Need

Instead, sex addiction has much more to do with deeper, unhealed spiritual and emotional wounds that are seeking to be made known so that they may be healed.  Sex addiction, contrary to the belief of many addicts (and their partners), is not about love or intimacy.  Sex addiction isn’t even really about sex.  Sex addiction is about seeking the remedy to a deep, inner, often unnamed pain.  As mentioned above, many sex addicts report having been emotionally, mentally, verbally, physically and even sexually abused as children.  For sex addicts, sexual behaviors (including fantasizing) allowed them to disassociate from the on-going trauma and provided temporary relief from the pain.  In order to facilitate enduring recovery, the addict needs to acknowledge this pain and identify the needs that were left unmet in their childhood.  Some of these needs might include:

  • The need to feel safe and that their needs for food, clothing, and shelter were being met
  • The need to feel of value and as if they had something significant to contribute
  • The need to feel supported in being and living as their most authentic self
  • The need to feel unconditionally loved
  • The need to feel free to express their needs and their truth
  • The need to know their truth and their path
  • The need to feel as if they were not alone

As the addict works on healing these deeper unmet needs and unacknowledged childhood wounds,  learns strategies for getting these needs met and tending to themselves in adulthood, while developing healthy interventions for managing anxiety, the addictive behaviors become less and less necessary.  Addressing these deeper wounds then provides the foundation upon which the addict can begin to cultivate what they have been missing all along – healthy, loving intimacy.

If you believe that you or your partner is suffering from sex addiction, please seek help and support through counseling, psychotherapy or 12-step recovery groups tailored to the needs of sex addicts.

To learn more about sex addiction, check out Out of the Shadowsby Patrick J. Carnes, PhD.

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