Posted in Authentic Freedom, mental illness, Spiritual Development, Spiritual Formation, Teenage Suicide

Mass Shooting – Why it’s Easier to Look Away

Another mass shooting? More innocent children and their teachers dying?  Another mentally unstable adult with an assault rifle taking out their unhealed wounds on society and then themselves?

Mass Shooting – The New Normal?

With Wednesday’s mass shooting, we are reminded that violence against the innocent has reached epic proportions, and yet what is sadly true is that this has now become the “new normal.” Even my own children who are loving, caring, compassionate and peaceful young adults simply shrug their shoulders in response.  Yep, it is an everyday occurrence.  For our children, if it isn’t mass shootings it is their peers committing suicide.  Kids are dying.  From the perspective of our children, since nothing is being done about it, then apparently nobody cares.  As children they have no power over how the outside world responds to tragedy, so they are choosing the only response they can (in order to not lose it themselves) – which is to normalize – or rather, to shrug it off as just another example of how they are the victims in a broken world and how they are powerless to do anything about it.  This deeply saddens me.  What exactly has our world come to if teenage suicide and mass shootings are normal and when resignation is our only response?

But is it? Of course not!  But, what our children are realizing is the truth of the very deep societal sin of sloth.

Sloth is refusing the use the brain we have been given to reason, discern and exercise truth.

Instead of recognizing the violence our culture has relaxed into and doing something to change it, we look the other way. We ignore it, shrug or brush it off or project by laying blame on the mental health of the shooter or the students who “didn’t report the problem.”  UGH!  All of these responses are classic examples of sloth.  It is so much easier to look away because if we really SAW what was happening, we would HAVE to do something about it.  Sloth allows us to escape responsibility.  It’s not our problem if we refuse to see it and if we do see it, we know that working to change the system might mean (will definitely mean) changing something about ourselves.  Denial and avoidance are other faces of sloth. A classic example of sloth that might be a little closer to home is the spouse who denies their partner’s alcoholism, or the fact that they are being emotionally abused.  If we don’t see it, we don’t have to do anything about it.

Taught to Look the Other Way

Sadly, sloth is how we are conditioned to behave. This pattern of sloth begins at home in platitudes like, “Speak only when you are spoken to.”  “Don’t make waves.”  “You’re too young to know what is good for you.”  Sloth teaches us that there is an outside perceived authority who is in charge and who knows better than we do what is good for us.  Sloth also teaches us that it is our job to make the outside perceived authority happy and that in order to gain their acceptance (whether that authority be our parents, teachers, pastor, church, peers, or God “himself”) we must obey them.  Sloth teaches us that they are right and we are wrong and not to trust our own truth.  Western culture (American culture especially) has established itself on a model of fear, power and control where the masses are expected to be obedient to those in (perceived) positions of power – the outside perceived authority.

When tragedy strikes, we have been trained to look the other way. To act differently alters the entire scope of Western Society.  More than anything we want to be loved and we know that the very real consequence of seeing and speaking our truth is the withdrawal of that love.  No wonder when mass shootings happen we look the other way.

Choosing Another Response

The good news is that we do not need to continue to act in this way. Instead, we can gather our courage around us and begin to do the difficult work (which isn’t all that difficult once we get started) of OPENING OUR EYES.  We were given a mind to reason, and discern truth.  We have the power to see what is wrong in our world.  With this, we have also been given the power to change it.

mass shootings, teen suicide, mental illness, sloth, open your eyes, seeing the truth
Windows to the Soul by Catherine E. Case

Read Wednesday’s blog, School Shootings – Had Enough Yet? for instructions on how to make that change.

Authentic Freedom Academy provides programs and services which empower us to use the gifts we were given to reason, discern and exercise our truth. Learn more HERE.

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 Empowerment, Spiritual Direction, Spiritual Formation, The Seven Deadly Compulsions, Truth

Kicking Your Butt and Holding Your Hand

Back to the Mission Statement of Authentic Freedom Ministries:  Through compassionate listening and attentive presence, I partner with those longing to find meaning, purpose and connectedness in their lives. In the spiritual journey, the work is yours to do…..but you don’t have to do it alone.

We are a Slothful and Lazy People!

One of the greatest dangers in the ministerial and healing worlds is SLOTH – the refusal to use the gifts that God has given us to:

  • Reason
  • Discern
  • Exercise  TRUTH

Instead, we want a healer, teacher or minister to think for us, to tell us what to do, how to act and what to do with our lives.  This compulsion often has deadly consequences as we recall the sweatlodge incident at Angel Valley Retreat Center, hosted by James Arthur Ray or the mass suicide in 1978 at Jonestown, presided over by Reverend Jim Jones.  While these are extreme examples, they deftly illustrate how a charismatic “teacher” can create a culture of co-dependency among their followers, and how people are susceptible to this kind of influence.

To learn more about the spiritual compulsion of sloth, read Authentic Freedom – Claiming a Life of Contentment and Joy by Lauri Ann Lumby.

The Origins of Sloth

Sloth is the spiritual compulsion that comes out of the spiritual fear “I don’t know.”  Somewhere we were told and decided to believe that we do not know:

  • Our truth
  • What we want
  • What is best for us
  • Our path
  • Our purpose
  • Our gifts
  • Our needs
  • What we believe

Instead of listening for, hearing, believing and exercising the truth that naturally resides in our hearts, we choose an outside perceived authority to make decisions for us. The outside authority starts with our parents, moves out toward our ministers and church, teachers, doctors, political leaders, our boss, etc. etc. etc. It is quite natural for us to move in this direction because it is what our society tells us we should do.  “THEY” know more than we do.  “THEY” are smarter,  better equipped, have the bigger guns, went to the right schools, are the right gender, orientation, religion, etc. etc. etc. etc.  The benefit to  the outside perceived authority is they get rich, own all the stuff and have all the power.  For the one giving away their own inner authority the results (as we were reminded above) can be deadly – if not to our physical bodies…..at the very least to our Spirits.  There is a benefit to the one giving their power away, however, we never have to make a decision for ourselves and therefore, never have to take responsibility for our lives.  Anything good that happens is because we followed the right teacher and anything bad that happens is somebody else’s fault.  In the James Arthur Ray incident for example, he is the one who gets the blame for the death and injury of twenty-one people; not the people that refused to use the brain that God gave them to GET OUT of the sweatlodge when they were feeling sick.

To learn more about the spiritual compulsion of sloth, read Authentic Freedom – Claiming a Life of Contentment and Joy by Lauri Ann Lumby.

Honoring YOUR Truth

When we fall into the trap of sloth, we have forgotten that WE KNOW our truth…..and if we don’t, we at least have access to it.  Our purpose, our path, our needs, our gifts, our passions, our desires, our hopes, dreams, visions, what we need IN THIS MOMENT, all reside within us….if we take the time to listen and are open to hearing, seeing, believing and LIVING this truth.   Herein lies the problem and another example of SLOTH – we are too lazy to take the time to listen for the voice of truth that (often) is SCREAMING to be heard!  We come up with all kinds of excuses for not taking the time to listen:

  • I don’t have time
  • I don’t know how
  • I have too much to do
  • I don’t have a place to go to listen
  • I don’t have time

EXCUSES  EXCUSES  EXCUSES……we come up with a million reasons for not taking the time to reason, discern and exercise our truth.  But the number one reason we don’t is (drumroll please):

Because our truth will set us free….but first is will kick our butts!  

(Gloria Steinem)

…..and on some level, we know this.  Living in our truth requires us to step out of the fold, to stand up for ourselves, to speak our minds, to rock the boat, to upset the applecart, to go against the crowd.  When we listen to our truth we might find out:

  • I’m gay
  • Jesus isn’t my personal Lord and Savior
  • I have an addiction
  • My marriage is abusive and I need to leave
  • My wife is cheating on me
  • I hate my job and I need to find another one
  • I’m really an artist/writer/dancer/actor and I am called to explore these gifts
  • My child is using drugs
    To learn more about the spiritual compulsion of sloth, read Authentic Freedom – Claiming a Life of Contentment and Joyby Lauri Ann Lumby.
    The Good News
    The good news is that you DO NOT have to take this journey of truth alone, AND you don’t have to give up your power to do so.  Here is where I come in.  As my mission statement says, “Through compassionate listening and attentive presence, I partner with.….  I don’t tell you what to do or how to do it.  Instead, I hold the space in which your truth will feel safe enough to peek out its head, and then I listen as your ego fights against this truth, and then I give you the tools that YOU DO ON YOUR OWN to move through the ego tantrums, fears, temptations that will show up and try to keep you from your truth, and then I will hold you accountable for your work (that’s the kicking your butt part!)  All of this is done with the spirit of loving EMPOWERMENT.  It is not my job to make more clients or students, but instead to EMPOWER you to be the magnificent teacher, leader, healer that you already are….because you do know your truth…..you just might need help seeing, embracing and living it.
    Lauri Lumby
    Authentic Freedom Ministries
    http://yourspiritualtruth.com