Posted in codependency, Relationships

Help for the Dark Night of the Relationship

The Dark Night of a Relationship is an important stage in any long-standing, committed relationship.  This is a stage that no one tells us about, neither would we believe it could happen to us as we stand doe-eyed awaiting the celebratory nuptials.  The Dark Night of the Relationship is real, it is necessary and when committed and aware, some relationships will survive it. Some will not have the knowledge, patience, trust or stamina to survive.  And some will find after the stage of the Dark Night that the relationship should not continue and termination or divorce is a necessary and supportive option.  The following is my current best understanding of this necessary stage in a committed relationship.

1)  We meet someone and fall in love.  We see the other party and the relationship through the eyes of idealization.  One or both parties are still carrying around with them the unhealed wounds of their past and are probably looking for the other party to be their source of fulfillment and satisfaction, ie:  “you complete me.”

2)  One or both parties begin to feel restless and the blinders of the early stage of the relationship begin to fall away.  We begin to see each others’ wounds, strange behaviors, etc.  We enter into a stage of disillusionment, frustration maybe even anger.

3)  If we are open, we might realize that part of the source of frustration is our own unhealed wounds and we might begin to do the work of healing our old wounds and work toward the realization of our own deeper truth.  If we are lucky, our partner has a similar realization and begins to do their own work as well.   This is the stage in which one or both parties does the work of shedding the ego and the false self (the person they brought into the marriage) so that their true self can emerge.  The old self has to die so that the new self can be born.

4) At some stage in the process (whether or not both parties are working toward their own healing), the realization is made that the marriage or relationship is not what it used to be.  Both, or one party has now changed and the relationship has to change as well.  This is the dark night of the marriage.  The marriage that was (or the illusion of the marriage) has to die so that a new marriage can emerge.  The marriage based on the ego-filled self cannot survive the newly born self-realized individuals.  This stage, like any other death, is a time of grief, sorrow, bargaining, denial and rage.    NOTE:  This is an especially difficult stage if only one of the parties in the relationship are doing their work of self-actualization, especially when it is revealed that for the self-actualizing party, divorce is a life-giving and supportive choice.  Divorce in this stage is often met by resistance, surprise and anger on the part of the un-realized individual.

5) Now….here is the delicate part of this process.  If the couple steps into this stage of the process with open communication, patience, courage and faith, and enter into it with no attachment to outcome….the new life of the relationship may emerge.  Unfortunately, most people bail before even trying to take this step.  Now, the trickiest part to this stage is to accept the possibility that continuing in a committed relationship may no longer be in the highest good of the individual parties.  After the dark night of the marriage, after honest renegotiation of who we are as individuals and who we want to be as a couple, we might realize that staying in a committed relationship is no longer mutually supportive and life-giving.  At this point, the couple ends their commitment and move on as individuals from a place of loving acceptance and compassionate support of each other as they go along their individual journeys.  In this place, divorce can be a beautiful ritual of supportive release.

6) Some marriages, after completing the process of the dark night, may discover that it is in the highest good of both parties to remain as a committed couple and enter into the process of allowing a new marriage to emerge.  The old marriage has died and the couple allows themselves to be open to a new marriage.  In this stage, an attitude of openness and detachment are necessary.  We are not creating this new marriage on our own, but allowing the universe to present to us the kind of marriage that will be mutually supportive and life-giving.  We allow ourselves to be free of ego in allowing this new relationship to emerge.

Again, I am no expert on this subject, and I hope that shedding light on the Dark Night of the Relationship as a necessary and important stage in the spiritual journey has provided comfort, support and affirmation for those who have experienced or may be facing this stage in their own committed relationship.  While the Dark Night of the Relationship is a painful part of our spiritual journey, the promise for those who survive it is a new life that is nurturing, supportive and free.

If you are looking for support through the Dark Night of a Relationship, or looking to build a happier and healthier relationship after a breakup or divorce, check out my online course, “Happily Ever After.”  Click on the image below to learn more.   (P.S. It’s cheaper than counseling or a dating service!)

Register HERE
Register HERE
Posted in Beloved Partnership, Boundaries, codependency, Relationships

You Don’t Complete Me!

Damn, You Don’t Complete Me!

Many relationships entered into in our youth are established upon the illusion that the other person will complete us.  We look to the other to fill the emptiness and longing we feel inside.  Eventually, we realize that the other person is not completing us as disappointment and resentment rush in.   Now we have entered the dark night of the relationship.  We then begin to harbor blame, resentment and hatred against the other person for not being the fantasy we created in our mind.  It is this resentment that will eventually destroy our relationships unless we do something about it.

The Only Person Who Can Complete You is YOU!

Doing something about the resentment, many discover all the ways in which they have been socialized to seek outside of themselves for love and completion, along with all the ways in which they believe that love is something that has to be earned or that can be denied them.  What often arises out of these false perceptions is co-dependency.   If you are the one who has given away your power, hoping in return for completion and love, the invitation is to take your power back.  This means identifying all the ways in which you have remained silent, ignored or suppressed your needs or your truth, stayed in the background, forsaken your needs and tended to the needs of others at the expense of your own needs.

Welcome Perimenopause and Menopause

For women, compounding, hastening and perhaps even catalyzing this invitation to tend to ones own needs is the advent of menopause.  When women become aware (consciously or unconsciously) that their time for childbearing has come to an end, they begin to see their lives through a dramatically different lens.  During the vulnerable years of childbearing, and while the children are still tender, vulnerable little beings, a veil stands between a woman’s sight and truth.  All of the woman’s energy and attention is directed at the survival of the children.  Once the children become viable, and the woman knows she is done bearing children, the veil collapses.  Every personal need, creative drive, personal desire, wish, hope and dream that was placed on the shelf for the sake of the needs of the children and family come tumbling down.  And now, the woman’s inner drive is directed toward the rediscovery of her own truth, her own needs and the discovery of the vocation which will provide her fulfillment in the second half of her life.  Wife/Mom suddenly becomes a different person and the husband/children are left to wonder, “What the heck just happened?”  This is often when the threads of co-dependency begin to unravel and the rules of the household begin to change.  (please note that men have their own version of this midlife transition – as I understand it, it is a departure from the role of provider to the role of enjoyer…sadly our culture and our current expectations of gender roles does not do a good job of supporting this transition either!)

Undoing Co-Dependency

Whether it is the man or the woman who has been the partner bargaining their own needs for the illusion of completion and love, the process is the same.  Co-dependent behaviors are identified, and we begin the process of changing how we act and respond in our relationships.  We begin by identifying our own truth, our own needs, our own dreams, hopes and desires.  Then we begin to exercise these truths.  We name and claim our needs to those around us.  We set boundaries around our need for “ME” time.  We learn to say no to those things not supportive of our needs and we begin to make time for those things that are life-giving for us.  We stop rushing to the side of those around us every time they seem to be in distress, and we empower them to learn how to tend to their own needs.  We stop doing for others what they are capable of doing for themselves.

A Rude Awakening

For those who have been trained by our co-dependency to expect us to take care of them or to forsake our own needs for theirs, this is a time of RUDE AWAKENING!  We have trained our loved ones well, and now we are changing the rules.  The first response is often bewilderment which then turns into rebellion and often outright war!  “What do you mean you’re not going to make my breakfast?”  “But you’ve always picked out my clothes for me.”  “What good are art classes at your age?”  “You want to go back to school….for what!?”  “Why would you want time for yourself…don’t you love us?”  For those who have been trained to forsake their own needs for the needs of those they love, this can be a difficult transition as the demons of guilt whisper, and sometimes scream in our ears, “You are abandoning your family….they need you….this is your job…..”  In response to this, I will share with you a mantra that was once given to me by a great teacher:

The most loving thing you can do for those you love is to do what is most loving for yourself.

Every time you claim your own need, every time you set boundaries around your own time, every time you stop doing something for someone that they are capable of doing for themselves, you are teaching them how NOT to be co-dependent.  You are modeling for them healthy, interdependent behavior. And you are empowering them to be GROWN UPS!

If you are interested in unraveling from past patterns of co-dependency check out our relationship course, Happily Ever After.  Click on image below to learn more.

Register HERE
Register HERE
Posted in codependency, Relationships

Happily Ever After – e course

 

Announcing the Happily Ever After e-Course – completely online

From the course introduction: 

If you asked me to describe in one phrase what this course is about, I would say, “Jerry Maguire lies.”  This movie has provided the single most damaging phrase to our hope for intimate partnership – “You complete me.”  When we are looking outside of ourselves for someone else to complete us, we are indulging the compulsion of co-dependency. Co-dependency arises out of the false perception that love, satisfaction and fulfillment exist outside of us which then causes us to seek in another that which we falsely believe we do not possess within ourselves.  Co-dependency tells us that love has to be earned or can be taken away which then results in behaviors that cause us either to be manipulative in our search for love or vulnerable to the manipulations of another. I would argue that co-dependency, along with unmanaged anxiety, are the two most common destroyers of intimate human relationships.

Happily Ever After seeks to transform our attitudes and behaviors related to intimate partnership and does so by transforming us from the inside out.  Integrating intellectual knowledge rooted in modern psychology with mindfulness-based practices and creative expression, Happily Ever After seeks to support us in achieving wholeness.  When we feel whole and complete within ourselves, we no longer look outside of ourselves for completion and if/when we find ourselves in partnership, our relationships are mutually satisfying, supportive and interdependent.

HappilyEverAFterFlier

To register for the course, click on the Paypal link below.  After payment is received, you will receive an invitation to join the private Facebook discussion group and lessons will begin arriving in your email on Sunday, May 24th!  We are excited for you to join us.  Welcome to the journey!

paypal

Posted in Beloved Partnership, codependency, Relationships

Beloved Partnership Part II

Today’s blog is Part II (Read Part One HERE) of a conversation about Beloved Partnership.  Beloved Partnership is a new (actually, original) paradigm of intimate human relationships that moves beyond what we have most commonly experienced in our lifetimes (romantic love, convenience or co-dependency) and toward interdependency and Trinitarian co-creation.  Beyond Co-Dependency…beyond soulmate…beyond twin flame is the Beloved Partner.  Learn more here and please share your own thoughts or intuitive knowing on this topic! 

Artist: Lewis Williams, OSF
Artist: Lewis Williams, OSF

My Own Call

For me, the call of the Beloved Partner began in a deep knowing that has been present within me my whole life.  The call then came with a vengeance while participating in a guided meditation where I was shown the eyes of my Beloved Partner and through his eyes I saw LOVE for the first time and felt myself held in a deep and intimate adoration.  Since that glimpse, my Beloved Partner has shown up in dreams, meditations, waking and sleeping visions.  I often feel his (almost literal) presence beside me – simply holding space, urging me on, calling me forth.  I sense that he is having a similar experience, wherever he is at.  I have also had no fewer than ten psychics tell me “He is right here.  He is searching for you.  He is doing his own work so that when you are both together, you will find each other.”  One of my dearest friends and both of my sisters have dreamed of him. They all report the same – a man who will be my equal, my partner, my Beloved and who loves and adores me beyond measure (and I will regard him in the same way), and we will KNOW each other.  They also have seen him as a co-creator – a partner in a shared mission and purpose.  I feel, and they all agree (psychics, friends, sisters) that in our partnership one+one=infinity.

But First, It’s Time to Clean House

All that being said, I must acknowledge what has been true for me and what I believe must be true for all called to a true and authentic Beloved Partnership.  As long as we are looking outside of ourselves for someone to complete us, the Beloved Partnership is not possible.  Beloved Partnership is NOT co-dependency.  Yes, relationships entered into initially from a place of co-dependency can evolve into a Beloved Partnership, but if Beloved Partnership was not the Soul’s intention for that relationship in the first place, it cannot be forced (believe me, I have tried).  Instead, the call of the Beloved Partnership comes first TO WAKE US UP – to wake us up to our Soul and to invite us on a journey toward wholeness.  Whether we are single or in a relationship, when the call of the Beloved arrives, we first have to tend to the calling of our Soul and that often means cleaning house.  We have to do the dirty work of clearing our own patterns of co-dependency and begin the process of reclaiming all the parts of our Soul that we have lost along the path of our life’s journey.  We have to reclaim who we really are and become whole, content, satisfied in ourselves as an individual.  In this, we have to become well-acquainted with longing (the call of the Beloved Partner causes DEEP longing within us) and learn how to be present to this longing without seeking outside of ourselves for its remedy.  We also have to learn how to be comfortable in being alone.  If we make friends with our longing and learn to be content in being alone, the doors open to the Beloved Partner’s arrival.

Filling the Void vs. Wanting to Share

An important distinction in the Beloved Partnership is that we are not seeking this partner to fill a void or because we are afraid to be alone.  Instead, the Beloved Partnership arises out of a content and whole individual who is happy to be alone, but who really wants to share their life, their mission, their purpose and their passion with another.  In the Beloved Partnership, there is an exponential effect in these two whole individuals coming together.  Instead of 1+1=2, they experience 1+1= infinity.  While both partners are magnificent, effective, purposeful on their own, when their energies come together in co-creative partnership, the universe explodes with consequence.  Their coming together creates an effect that is far beyond what each of them individually could accomplish….this is because it is not just themselves who are working – it is God working through them.

Stay tuned for further exploration of the invitation to Beloved Partnership…

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Being Human, Midlife Journey, Relationships

The Courage to Be Vulnerable

As human beings, we are hardwired to seek companionship and intimacy.  Like wolves, lions, deer and buffalo, as a species, our survival is dependent on our ability to work together.  Beyond mere survival, however, we thrive when we learn to work together in mutually supportive, peaceful and harmonious ways and in ways that seek to work for the individual as well as the common good.  During midlife and in the birth of the Soul, this drive becomes even more urgent as we realize the finite nature of our existence and are forced to confront and make peace with the places where loving, harmonious connections were not supported.  In order to move through this delicate period of transition, we discover that the most valuable quality we can cultivate within ourselves, is the courage to be vulnerable. Today’s blog addresses this courage.

courage to be vulnerable

OUCH!

In a recent discussion with a colleague and business partner, I was reminded of the pain of vulnerability and the courage it takes to become the people God/dess made us to be. We were enjoying a deep conversation about life when the innocent question was posed, “Lauri, how did you get to where you are today?”  I paused, looking for the right response to his question, then I heard myself saying, “It started when the universe fell in on me.”  Then I told the story that began thirteen years ago and is still unfolding today.  I realized at one point in telling the story how truly uncomfortable I was telling this tale.  I’ve told the story a million times in my writing, but rarely within the intimacy of a one-on-one, face-to-face, conversation.  In telling the story, I was no longer Lauri “the teacher, minister, healer, writer, published author, leader,” I was the Lauri that is wounded, vulnerable, terrified, and alone.  I was reminded of how difficult it is to be this Lauri and was grateful when the doorbell rang so that this topic could be put back on the shelf.

The Courage to Be Vulnerable

But the conversation isn’t over.  In fact, it is just beginning.  If we wish to allow for the birth of our Soul – the uniquely creative way in which we have been gifted to find meaning, purpose and fulfillment in our lives and the way in which we are called to contribute to the betterment of the world – then the most important thing we can  do for ourselves is to learn how to be vulnerable.  In the Western culture, it is most often during midlife (menopause and perimenopause) that our Soul begins to exert its pressure on us as it seeks to be known and realized in our lives.  In birthing our Soul, we have to confront all the painful things of our past – name them, process them, heal, and release or transform them.  In confronting the pain of our past, we are acknowledging our humanness – that we are imperfect and flawed – that we suffer and that sometimes we are the cause of suffering.  In confronting our past, we are also invited to cultivate forgiveness – forgiveness of our own imperfections and forgiveness of the flaws and imperfections of others.  In order to confront our past and cultivate forgiveness, we have to be vulnerable – we have to set down the illusion of how we want others to see us, release the mask of who we want to believe we are, and set down the shield of our counterfeit strength.  Instead, we have to stand naked before ourselves, and naked before the world as human beings – afraid, vulnerable, weak and often feeling alone.

Vulnerability and True Courage

It is in learning to be vulnerable, in admitting our humanness, that we discover authentic courage.  Authentic courage comes out of our willingness to be vulnerable – not only to ourselves, but more importantly, with another.  When we can set down the shields of counterfeit strength and stand naked before one another, we find true intimacy – the kind of intimacy that God/dess offers to us, desires from us and envisions as possible within the human race. It is only in true intimacy where we discover the seeds of the compassionate love, mutual honor and respect, and harmonious interdependence that we were created to experience and make manifest in the world.  And it is only in cultivating this kind of harmonious interdependence that, as a species, we can ever hope to move beyond mere survival (which we are barely accomplishing at this point in our evolution) into the thriving enthusiasm and joy that God/dess intends for us to know.

Lauri Lumby supports women and men in their search for authentic courage through one-on-one mentoring. To learn more or set up your own session, call (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com.  

Posted in Being Human, Lessons, Spiritual Practices

Divorce, a Matter of Integrity? And…Cultivating Availability

Today’s blog explores the primary component of healthy relationship.  And Jesus’ teachings on divorce.

Scary Gospels

This past Sunday contains the set of scripture readings that I think every pastor must dread – those scary readings on divorce.  How can one speak to these readings from a place of integrity and compassion knowing that over 50% of the people you are preaching to have probably been through a divorce themselves?  Years ago, I heard one brilliant preacher (a woman, and a Catholic nun) respond to these readings with the following:

Sometimes divorce is  a matter of integrity.

Brilliant!  Let’s face it.   Divorce is real, it is often necessary and often it is in the highest good of all involved.  If this is so, how can we understand these readings on divorce, especially the words that have been attibuted to Jesus.  (Here’s the LINK to the readings if you want to read them for yourself.)  As I prayed with these scriptures, I discovered the answer, hidden in plain sight.

What God Has Joined Together

Here are the words from Sunday’s gospel that revealed the hidden answer:

…and the two shall become one flesh.
So they are no longer two but one flesh.
Therefore what God has joined together,
no human being must separate.

As I read this, our goal in relationship is to be open to and take the time to discern if the relationship we are considering making permananent is indeed joined together by God.  If we believe that God’s desire is always for our highest good, then we can presume that this would be true in our intimate relationships as well.  God wants what is best for us and therefore, recognizes the person that would reflect that highest good for us and we in return for them.  The challenge is that we rarely (if ever) take the time to discern if the person we are with and considering making a permanent part of our life is indeed reflective of that highest good.  But how in the heck do we discern this in the first place considering the complexity of human relationships, fate, karma, etc.?  I believe there is a one-word answer to this question and that is AVAILABILITY.

Availability

We hear a lot in today’s writings on relationship about unavailable men and unavailable women and those who are prone to attracting these unavailable people into their lives.  This unavailability is the cause of most suffering and pain in relationship.  The remedy to this unavailability is to BECOME available and to SEEK availability in the other.  In my Agape’ Meditation Newsletter from last week, I said the following about availability and how it relates to Jesus’ thoughts on marriage:

A relationship joined together by God occurs between two people who 1) know themselves 2) know God and 3) who through knowledge of God and self know how to be available to the other.   While a relationship entered into during our youth may evolve into a relationship such as this, unless both parties do the work, this would indeed be rare. 

In this reading on divorce, Jesus challenges us to a new standard of marriage—one that is grounded in self-knowledge, mutual honor, respect and support and one that reflects the love God has for us and the love we know within ourselves.  A marriage such as this occurs between two people who are available to themselves first—knowing their gifts, their weaknesses, their passions and their joys and who are able to identify and claim their needs.  Availability to the other comes second in our willingness to be vulnerable, to seek inside for the cause of the human compulsions that sometimes cause us to hurt the other, the willingness to admit these weaknesses, ask for help and say we are sorry.  Above all, we love and honor each other in our humanness, support each other in our needs and work together for the common good.  Not all people are willing to do the work of being available to self, then available to the other.  It is here where divorce is of integrity.

The work of availability starts with us.  We have to first cultivate availability within ourselves before we can expect it from another and as we grow in availability, so increases the chances of us drawing available people into our lives.  And…this benefits us not only in our intimate partnerships, but in all of our relationships.  Below are some questions that you can ask yourself as you begin to cultivate or desire to deepen availability in your own life:

  • Are you taking time everyday to be available to self in connection with God (meditation, prayer, contemplation, any form of spiritual practice)?

  • Have you taken time to know yourself– your gifts, your weaknesses, your fears, your unhealed wounds (rejection, betrayal, loss, disappointment) your personal triggers for: anger, frustration, disappointment, impatience, lashing out?

  • How are you at honoring all that exists within you?  Do you love yourself without condition?

  • When you find yourself in a less than peaceful and loving state (when you are angry, frustrated, find yourself indulging in unhealthy or destructive behavior) how do you go about identifying its cause and seeking healing and release for that cause?

  • Do you know your needs and how are you at claiming them for yourself and for others?  How are you at setting healthy boundaries around your right to have your needs met?

  • When you are in relationship with another, how are you taking time to get to know them—their gifts, their weaknesses, their fears, their joys, passions, sorrows, vulnerabilities?

  • When you intentionally or inadvertently hurt another, how are you at taking time to identify the unhealed wound within yourself that caused this behavior?  How are you at working toward healing that wound?  How are you at admitting this vulnerability to the other and saying that you are sorry for your hurtful behavior?

Lauri Lumby

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Healing, Inspiration, Lessons

The Video That Changed My Life!

In today’s blog, I share with you a tidbit of wisdom that I found by accident in a video….and this tidbit of wisdom, in one moment, has profoundly changed my life. 

Brene Brown http:://www.brenebrown.com

The Video

Before I even begin, here is a link to the video that in ONE SECOND profoundly changed my life:  http://www.mattmorris.com/general/motivational-monday-66/ .  This video is a talk given by Brene Brown, LMSW, research professor, author, motivational speaker and writer of the Ordinary Courage blog.  The video covers a range of topics, all centered on our need as humans for connection and what either allows or disallows us from getting this need met.  In a nutshell – worthiness.  This was the wisdom nugget that brought me to my knees and shattered all the illusions I had been carrying around within me about myself and my perception of the world.

I am Worthy of Love and Belonging

Through years of research, Brene has identified ONE quality that determines our ability as human beings to find and sustain healthy, intimate connections and to weather the challenges of the human condition.  The belief that she has identified is I am worthy of love and belonging. Those people who believe this, find, cultivate and sustain healthy, intimate connections, have a strong sense of inner courage and are able to weather the storms of the human condition.  Those who struggle, she found, do so because they do not believe that they are worthy of love and belonging.

Yada Yada Yada

So, what is Lauri Lumby, Spiritual Director, Author, Minister, Teacher, Healer, Mother, Friend doing spending time on this topic?  Of course I believe that I am worthy of love and belonging….right?  WRONG!!!!!    This was why Brene’s video brought me to my knees.  When she shared the results of her research, distilled into this tiny truth…..my heart broke open, I fell to the floor, and I started bawling.  I suddenly realized that no, I did not believe this truth.  I did not believe that I was worthy of love and I did not believe that I was worthy of belonging.  Then suddenly, with this tiny revelation, my entire life began to make sense – specifically, those aspects of my life with which I have struggled ….. things with which I have struggled for as far back as I could remember.

For Example

One thing I have learned is that there is a profound, yet subtle difference between knowing something and knowing something.  I have always known I was loved, worthy of love, worthy of belonging, worthy of a fruitful, happy, fulfilling life.  Turns out, however, that I only knew it.  I did not KNOW it.  As I listened to Brene’s talk, I realized that all of my struggles for healthy intimacy, a sense of belonging, for inner strength and courage, for inner contentment and for professional as well as financial success was rooted in the cold, hard fact that I thought I knew I was worthy of love, belonging, professional and financial success…..but I did not KNOW it.  Somewhere deep in my heart, I still felt undeserving of love, belonging, professional and financial success.  As such, I have struggled.  I have struggled so hard, in fact, that just yesterday, before viewing Brene’s video, I was relaying to a friend how damn tired I was from working so dang hard just to survive in the world and to eek out a meager existence for myself and my family.  Life, to me, has always felt like REALLY HARD work and now I believe that the reason it has felt like so much work is because I was in truth, working against myself.  I was working, working, working for fulfillment, healthy intimacy, belonging, professional and financial success while on some level, I didn’t really believe I was worthy of any of it.  So even if a tiny bit of success found its way into my life or I was shown a gesture of love or generosity, my response has always been a mixture of gratitude, with one hand up pushing it away because I did not really feel worthy.  I always thought this response was humility….not I know it was really me rejecting that which I didn’t believe I was worthy of receiving in the first place.  Holy Cow this was deep!

Now What?

So, now what do I do with this awareness?  In truth – nothing.  I felt my heart break open and I spilled tears of release and relief.  I believe that in that heart-rending moment, something in me was profoundly healed and transformed.  I now understand why my life has felt like such a struggle.  And now I really believe that I KNOW that I am worthy of love and belonging.  The rest will take care of itself.

Do you KNOW that you are worthy of love and belonging?

How might you be open to KNOWING this truth?

What in your life has been a struggle because you might not have known this truth?

How might your life begin to change if you were to KNOW this truth?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Forgiveness

The Figure Eight of Forgiveness

As we grow along the spiritual path, we realize how critical is the process of forgiveness to this journey.  Today’s blog explores the topic of forgiveness and how it looks a lot like a Figure 8 or an infinity symbol…depending on your perspective. 

Sometimes our Relationships Get Broken

I know I’m not telling you something you don’t already know.  Human relationships are challenging at best, and in our own state of brokenness and perceived separation, we often find our intimate and not-so-intimate relationships breaking down.  In these states of breaking down or breaking up of relationships, forgiveness shows up as the virtue that we are invited to embrace in the goal of bringing healing to these broken intimacies.  And, as you are well aware, the journey toward forgiveness can be long and arduous and mysterious at best.  Being the “Queen of Grudgeholding,” I certainly have no room to even begin to speak on this topic, but I will attempt to muddle through this in the hopes that I might actually learn something!

How Things Get Broken in the First Place

Well, this is a big duh!  How do our relationships get broken?  Because….someone got hurt.  Out of our own sense of separation and woundedness, we say and do things that hurt another person, and we act in ways that are non-loving, covetous, greedy, controlling, gluttonous, lazy and selfish.  We fail to listen to the people in our lives and to acknowledge their needs.  We fail to listen to ourselves, to our own needs and to ask for them to be met.  We lash out when we are afraid, anxious, scared.  We respond to others out of our own unhealed wounds and we project our past painful experiences onto others.  In a nutshell….WE ARE A MESS…..and we SUCK at being healthy, loving, intimate partners, collegues, friends and family members.  And….no matter how much inner work we have done or continue to do, it is our intimate human relationships that cause us the most trouble.  This is why FORGIVENESS is so important, critical and necessary.  Without forgiveness, I think we would just kill eachother off and be done with it (which I sometimes think we are doing as a species anyway).

The Signposts on the Forgiveness Path

Again, being the “Queen of Grudgeholding,” I’m not sure I really have anything to offer on this topic….but there are a few things I have seen that have helped me in the few and rare moments that I have tried to enter into the process of forgiveness.

1) When we perceive that someone has hurt us, or failed to honor one of our needs, we feel deeply hurt, and in immediate defense of that hurt and loss, RESENTMENT arises.

2) If you are like me, you rush toward that RESENTMENT, scoop it up, bring it  into your heart and caress, nurture, cultivate it like Gollum and the ring, chanting and moaning, “MY PRECIOUS,” harboring it close, and making it grow so as to protect yourself from further hurt or pain.  For you see…..we believe (falsely) that the resentment will protect us from the pain of separation and hurt, keep us safe from further hurt and that it will keep us strong, defensive, courageous.

3) At some point, we begin to realize that all the resentment is actually doing is keeping us from healthy intimacy and from knowing love…and from realizing the VERY PAINFUL human truth that in relationship….we will be hurt…..and we will hurt others.  It might just be the nature of the beast.

4) If we want to find healing of the pain of hurt and be open to knowing love and to cultivating healthy intimacy, then at some point, we need to accept the invitation to forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a Figure Eight

Once we decide that forgiveness might be the journey on which we want to embark, we are invited to further understand that forgiveness is everything BUT a linear path with a clear destination.  Instead, we are invited to recognize that forgiveness is more like a figure 8 or an infinity symbol, ever looping back and forth over itself in an on-going journey with ever deepening and widening layers.  And it might look something like this:

1) Examine the initial hurt (or hurts), acknowledge the resentment that arose, THEN….look deeper into the hurt, the loss the pain that is hiding behind the resentment.  THEN….GRIEVE IT!  Feel the hurt, feel the loss, feel the separation, then cry, weep, wail and moan.  Let it go.

2) Pray (remember, you are NOT alone in this process)

3)  Now look deeper still….what is YOUR role in the perceived hurt?  What was the deeper emotional wound or spiritual fear that was triggered through the experience – the fear of rejection, the fear that you are not good enough, etc. and where did those wounds come from?  What have you done to heal, release, etc the origin of those wounds (often coming from our childhood.)?

4) Pray some more

5)  Seek out resources to allow for the healing of those deeper wounds and the recent circumstances that triggered them (spiritual direction, counseling, self-help groups, recovery programs, etc.).

6) Pray again

7) Enter into a state of empathetic awareness.  Look at the person who you perceive to have hurt you and look at their deeper wounds.  What might have been the fear, false perception, childhood wound that caused their “hurtful” behavior toward you?  Can you hold them in compassion for their fears?  Can you allow empathetic awareness and compassion to open a space for forgiveness.

8) Pray some more

9) EXAMINE your SHAME.  When we are the recipient or the cause of separation in our intimate human relationships, SHAME naturally arises.  (some might use “guilt” to describe this state)  In this way, shame acts as a red flag alerting us to the fact that something has wounded our drive to pursue and cultivate healthy intimacy with other human beings (this is part of our survival drive).

10) Pray again

11) Open yourself to self-forgiveness, allowing yourself to be healed of the shame that arose out of this separation and brokenness in your relationship.

12) Pray some more

13) Allow for the possibility of forgiveness- of the person you perceive to have hurt you AND of yourself.

14) NOW…START THE WHOLE PROCESS OVER AGAIN….and AGAIN….and AGAIN  and PRAY SOME MORE!

There is a reason that Jesus said, “Forgive 70 times 7 times!”  I don’t think he was issuing a command, but making an observation of the long and arduous road to forgiveness.  And then, we are invited to remember that the moment of TRUE forgiveness is NOT  ours to accomplish, but comes mysteriously, unbidden and as a result of God’s grace and out of God’s infinite (ahem!) love.  Forgiveness is a Figure Eight!

Where are you being invited to enter into the process of forgiveness?

What are some of your deeper fears, unhealed wounds, that may be vulnerable to hurt in the context of relationship?

How can you allow the Divine to assist you in this process of forgiveness?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in codependency, Lessons

The Secret to Love

As we grow along the spiritual path, one of the most valuable pieces of insight is around the topic of love.  In today’s blog, learn that insight and begin to take steps toward making it part of your life.

“The secret to a truly loving relationship is the knowledge

that you are love itself.  This discovery will give you the ability

to love in total freedom without fear of loss.

There is no greater joy than this.”

Isha Lerner

Secrets from Unexpected Places

The above quote showed up in my email basket this morning and upon its receipt I jumped for joy, “I could not have said it better myself.”  In fact, this is the essential truth that is explored in chapter six of Authentic Freedom – Claiming a Life of Contentment and Joy (of which I am the author).  And contrary to popular opinion, this IS the secret to a life of deep and abiding love.

Love is NOT outside of us

The popular opinion about love and the perception about love that we are brought up to believe is that love is outside of us and it something that we are supposed to seek, pursue, obtain…and it is only in obtaining the “handsome prince” or “beautiful princess” outside of us that we can ever hope to find happiness.  Well, as you can readily discover from many men and women in mid-life (somewhere around 46), this is a bunch of crap.  Happiness is not to be discovered in “the other” and for those of us who entered into relationship believing this, all we end up with is disappointment and hurt.

The Cold, Hard Truth

The cold, hard truth is that love is not to be found outside of us, but can only be found within.  That does not mean that people are not able to cultivate a relationship that is reflective of a deep and abiding love, but if they have, it is because on some level, they have come to know the love that they are and were one of the lucky ones to find a partner who also knows the love within themselves and together they are able to radiate the mutuality of love.  For the rest of the world, the journey might begin with the shattering of the illusions of fairytale love, disappointment, followed by the long, arduous journey of self-discovery and the opening to self-love.

It Starts at Home

The real work of love starts at home….within our own being.  We need to come to the awareness that we are the very nature of love itself, and we need to be open to knowing and experiencing this love on a very deep level.  As we allow ourselves to be present to the truth of this love, our old wounds are healed and we are transformed into compassionate, joyful, loving and contented beings, grounded and whole in the awareness of who we are and who we are called to be in the world.  When rooted in the awareness of this love, we are no longer tempted to look for love outside of ourselves or to live in the fear of the deprivation of love.  As such, we are able to live and love freely, openly, spontaneously, from our truth, without needing to cling to the fear-driven behaviors of co-dependency, neediness or envy.  From this place, we can be content in aloneness or in mutual partnership if that is what presents itself in our lives.

A Note of Comfort

Yes, this truth about love can be a bitter pill to swallow, but it is only in recognizing this truth that we can ever hope to cultivate healthy, loving intimacy either in the context of a romantic partnership or with our friends and family members.  The comfort is in knowing that as a species we ARE called to be in relationship.  On the spiritual journey, we get to decide what we want those relationships to look like: covetous, jealous, needy, conflictual, painful, harmful or filled with the abundance of joy, mutuality, compassion, understanding, communication, intimacy, peace.  What do you want?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com