Posted in order of the magdalene, Spiritual Development, Spiritual Direction, Spiritual Formation

Coming Home

For me, as I suspect is true for all of us, the search for “home” has been a lifelong journey.  I can humbly say that I believe I have found “home” in a place within where I am at peace with myself, one with the God of my understanding, pretty clear on what my gifts are to the world, sharing those gifts to the best of my ability and creating the life rhythm and flow that supports the Home I feel within myself.

I’m still working on the rhythm and flow piece, but the rest feels pretty well-grounded.  The one piece that is not yet matching the vision that has been with me for the past 26 years (my whole life if I’m really honest) is the COMMUNITY piece.

This is where I need your help!

The overall vision of Authentic Freedom, is, and has always been, TO BE A SPIRITUAL HOME where women and men can gather as companions on this journey of self-discovery and self-actualization – being unconditional, loving support for each other as we try to find our way home – home to ourselves. This is the kind of support that can only be found in the sanctity and refuge of a safe space in which we can be ourselves, where we can share our own individual perspectives, believes and experiences without fear of judgment.  It can also only happen in a space where we can equally share our fears, our struggles and our challenges along the path.  The way can be hard and we often need each other to lift each other up!

This is the exact purpose of the membership options at Authentic Freedom, to create space in which people may gather and connect.  The social network (Plus Membership) and Teacher’s Circle (Premium), especially, lend themselves to connection.

If you have not yet joined our Social Network, please consider doing so.  It’s only $15.00 per month and if even that is outside of your budget, please email me directly lauri@authenticfreedom.love and we will figure something out.  I don’t want to turn away anyone to truly feels called to be in community with those of like mind.

Here are the detail on the membership options:
https://authenticfreedom.love/plans/membership-options/

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this email, and I look forward to building this community with you!

With love,

Lauri

copyright Lauri Ann Lumby
Posted in self-actualization, spiritual awakening, Spiritual Development, Spiritual Formation

Spiritual Development – Surviving a Freefall

I define spiritual development as: the process through which we uncover the answer to the following questions:

  • Who am I?
  • Whose am I? (Where do I find peace and belonging?)
  • What are my gifts and how am I called to use them for the sake of my own fulfillment and in service to the betterment of the world?

At the moment of our spiritual awakening, we are given the choice to pursue the path of our spiritual development. Some choose this path.  Many do not. For those who choose the path of spiritual development….with self-actualization being the ultimate outcome, they soon discover that the journey of spiritual development is as much about letting go as it is about discovery.  In order to become our most authentic selves, we have to let go of that which is not authentically ours.  As such, the journey toward self-actualization includes many tiny (and sometimes HUGE) deaths.

I have recently been met with another one of those deaths. In my own journey of self-development and self-discovery, I have grown accustomed to these many deaths, but familiarity doesn’t always make it any more tolerable.  In fact, in many ways, knowing that death is upon us is more frightening than death taking us by surprise. The current death (which in truth is just another in a long line of current dyings) I am facing is the end of what I have known as my local professional life.  On Tuesday I taught my last local class.  While this has not been a financially lucrative endeavor for quite some time, and I knew this death was coming, the reality hit me like a storm.  With nothing yet to take its place, I have nothing to look forward to, nothing to plan or plan for, nothing to DO but stare into the empty void of a new life that has not yet been revealed.  Two weeks ago I felt like I was staring into the abyss.  Having faced the end, I find I am no longer staring, I am in full-on FREE FALL.  In a free fall, there is literally NOTHING to hang on to, nothing to cling to and nowhere to find a hand or foot hold.  Instead, we are only falling….or floating….or FLYING!

spiritual development, self actualization, freefalling, freel falling, spiritual awakening, defining spiritual development,

Having done nothing but support spiritual development for the past 25 years, my own and that of others, I know what to do and how to survive a free fall.

LET GO

There is literally nothing else to do. We cannot fight it.  When falling through the abyss we cannot turn around and go back from whence we came.  Without a new world in sight, there is nothing to work toward or work for.  We cannot MAKE ourselves crawl up through the gaping void to some safe place above us.  All we can do is FALL.  But, there are ways in which we can support ourselves in the falling:

During the freefall, we grieve.

We mourn the life that we are being asked to leave behind. We deny.  We bargain.  We become depressed and paralyzed (THANK YOU Netflix for 13 seasons of Supernatural to keep me entertained when I am otherwise immobile).  We grow angry.  We gnash our teeth.  We scream and shout and wail.  We weep.  We allow our bodies to grieve what has been so that we can be healed and freed of that life and made ready for something new.

During the freefall we pray.

(or whatever your language is for that). For me, it is asking and begging for support, to know that I am not alone.  My prayer includes gratitude for all the past life has given me and the support in knowing that a letting go so enormous means something equally huge is coming to take its place.  I pray for peace.  I pray for hope.  I pray for any tiny glimpses that might help me continue on.  In addition to prayer, I double up on my daily spiritual practice.  I meditate.  I read and reflect on scripture.  I journal.  I chant (or listen to mantra).

During the freefall we sleep.

When a dying occurs, our bodies, minds, and spirits are being rewired. It requires an enormous amount of psychic energy to let go of something that has been (especially when it is somehow related to our identity….which mine is) and to be made ready for the new. Sleep supports the release of what has been and the energetic preparation for what has not yet come to be.

During the freefall we remember.

This is the place for our life review. We reflect on what has been.  Any unresolved fears/compulsion/demons from that life make an appearance so that we have one more opportunity to bring them healing and transformation ensuring we are ready to enter into the new life when it comes.

During the freefall we do nothing.

This may be the most difficult part of the freefall. There is literally NOTHING we can do to hasten the departure from what has been and the entry into something new.  All we can “do” is BE.  And in our culture, being is really hard to do (not to mention all the twisted stares we get from people when we tell them all we “did” today was watch Netflix).  Doing, however, during this stage in the freefall produces NOTHING.  It simply reminds us of how NOT life-giving our old life had become and how ready we are for something new.

How have you supported yourself during the many dyings that have happened along your path of spiritual development?

Lauri Ann Lumby, OM, OPM, MATS provides spiritual direction and counseling for those on their spiritual journey.  To schedule a private session with Lauri email  lauri@authenticfreedom.love.

Check out our online programs in support of your spiritual development HERE. 

 

Posted in church, Raised Catholic, self-actualization, Spiritual Formation

The Top Five Reasons Catholics Leave the Church

The second largest religious denomination in the United States is made up of 42.7 million non-practicing (recovering) Catholics. Being raised Catholic, working in the Church, and then making the decision myself to leave, the following is my professional and personal assessment of what makes Catholics leave.

  1. They no longer feel welcome. While we often hear from the Church, “all are welcome,” in reality, this is not entirely true. Whether it has been explicitly stated (“Only Catholics in good standing are welcome here”) or implied by specific Catholic teachings, many no longer feel welcome in the Catholic Church.  Those most likely NOT to feel welcome include those who are: divorced, gay, transsexual, women or married men called to ordained ministry.  Also included in this number are those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, who have suffered an abortion, who are poor, the mentally ill, those who are called to exercise primacy of conscience over Catholic doctrine, and those who have been sexually assaulted by members of the clergy.
  2. Their spiritual needs are not being met. The deepest longing in the human soul is to know the source and origin from whence we came and to where we will return. In theistic terms, we long to know God. In human terms, we long for peace, contentment, joy, to know that we are loved and that we belong.  This longing can only be satisfied from within and while the Church has a rich tradition of resources and tools for supporting people in this search and in satisfying this longing, very few ever come to know these tools.  If they cannot find these tools within their own church, they tend to search elsewhere.  Many Catholics are now finding these tools within Buddhism, Yoga, Native American, and Pagan spirituality.
  3. Their need for psychological growth is not being met. In order to become spiritually, emotionally and psychologically mature, human beings need to search. We need to question and challenge the faith we grew up in.  We need to explore beliefs and practices outside our faith.  In my experience, the Church does nothing to support this exploration, even going so far as to discourage it.  Those who question are condemned as being disobedient or blasphemous.  If a safe place for questioning is not provided, people will simply leave for other spaces where their natural drive toward growth is supported.
  4. Their need for meaning and fulfillment (self-actualization) is not being met. The Catholic Church does a fantastic job of preaching about spiritual gifts and our responsibility to live out those gifts in service to God and in service to the world. Unfortunately, it does nothing to support people in the discovery, cultivation or empowerment of these gifts.  Neither does it provide the resources for helping people move through the fears that might otherwise prevent them from realizing and sharing these gifts.  I suspect the unacknowledged reason for the Church not providing these resources is because it takes psychological and spiritual maturity to fulfill our Soul’s purpose….which brings me back to #’s 2 and 3 above.
  5. Hypocrisy When the religious institution to which one belongs says one thing and then does another, it becomes difficult to remain. Sadly, the Catholic Church is woefully guilty in this regard.  It says, “No sex before marriage,” while young children suffer sexual assault at the hands of an underdeveloped (and unaccountable) priesthood.  It says, “live simply” while its bishops live like kings. It says feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick while it turns a blind eye to many of those in need.  It says, “Love one another,” while it continually builds walls between those who are “saved” and those who “are not.”  I could go on and on…..but I think you get the point.

If you are one among the second largest religious denomination in the U.S. of non-practicing (recovering) Catholics, I suspect none of what I mentioned above is new to you. My hope is that in sharing this, you know that you are not alone.  In fact, you are one among a multitude and there is a home for you here.

If you are still feeling the pain of grief, guilt, anger, frustration or longing in making the decision to leave your Catholic faith, you might find comfort in my online course: Healing Our Religious Wounds. Click on the icon below to learn more.

 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Being Human, creativity, Initiation, Inspiration, Midlife Journey, Spiritual Formation

Withholding our Gifts

Today’s blog explores our own unique giftedness and our responsibility to identify, cultivate and share that gift in the world.  We are the ONLY ones who possess and can share this gift.  And when we deny this gift and withhold it from the world, the whole world loses.  Participating in soulful spiritual and personal development facilitate the birth of your Soul and help you find your life’s purpose.

MarthaGraham

Your Precious Gift

The great dancer and choreographer, Martha Graham once said:

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.  And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost.  The world will not have it.”

I love the profound truth in her observation, in her words and in her call to action.  We are each uniquely gifted and spiritually blessed to make an important contribution to the betterment of our world.  There is no one else on the planet who possesses the exact nature of our gift, therefore we are the only one who can effectively deliver this gift to the world.  When we refuse this spiritual gift, we do a disservice not only to ourselves, but to our children, our families, our friends, the entire world.  I don’t share this truth as a way of causing you shame, but as a way to point out how truly magnificent, unique, special you are in the person God/dess made you to be!  You and your gift are precious treasures that the world desperately needs.  And the world needs your gift NOW….not in some distant time light years from now….or when you finally get around to it…or when your children leave, or when life isn’t so busy, or when your husband retires, or when you retire, or when the moon is finally in Aquarius.  The time for you to explore, discover, cultivate and share your gift is NOW!!!!  So…..what are you waiting for?

The Time is Now

If you already know what your gift is and are actively sharing this gift in the world and enjoying the fruits of sharing your gift, congratulations and yay!  If you are not, (in the words of one of my teachers,) “Get off your butt and do it now!”  The good news is that you don’t have to embark upon the journey of discovering and birthing your Soul – your own unique giftedness and spiritual purpose – on your own, nor should you.  There are a million resources out there to guide you in the journey, to provide support along the way and to give you a good hard push when your resistance gets in the way.  This is where I come in with my own unique giftedness and purpose.

Midwife to your Soul

For the past thirty years, I have sought, discovered, cultivated and honed my skills as a guide in the process of birthing the Soul.  In this process, I birthed my own Soul.  In birthing my own Soul, I have found fulfillment, joy, peace, contentment along with a great sense of wonder and awe as I witness the fruits of birthing my Soul.  Authentic Freedom – the process and curriculum for birthing the Soul that I developed came out of this process, as did the current workshops on creativity and the midlife journey.  My call to be a writer came out of this search.  The desire to teach, to heal, to accompany and support arose out of this search.  As did the desire to give back.  I am also aware, as you will be, of the vibrant energy, the God-energy, that flows through me as I am sharing my gifts and I know that in truth, these gifts are not mine, but that I am simply the vessel.  As Midwife to your Soul, it is my job to help you to discover, cultivate, hone and share your gifts.  And the time for you to begin this work is NOW!  Your heart and your Soul are waiting…and so is the world.

To schedule a one-on-one mentoring session with Lauri or to schedule a workshop or retreat, please call (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com.

Posted in Inspiration, Jesus, Spiritual Formation

Jesus Out with the Bathwater?

Today’s blog explores the searching stage of spiritual development and how for many Christians, Jesus gets lost along the way…..but more importantly, why Jesus is still relevant and why we don’t need to set him aside in our quest for spiritual fulfillment.

Questioning, Asking, Challenging our childhood beliefs

I believe that the searching stage of spiritual development is absolutely critical to becoming spiritually and emotionally mature adults (and all the experts on spiritual growth like Fowler and Maslow, etc. agree with me).   The searching stage of spiritual development is when we start asking the questions, challenging dogma, doctrine, rules, wanting to find reason in mystery and wanting to believe in something that we can believe in because it resonates with me, not just because I am told to do it.  The searching stage is when we start looking both within and outside the religions of our youth for that which speaks to our heart, that which nourishes and feeds us and that which might have a bit of reason added to it.  Searching is healthy, necessary and exciting and eventually leads us to spiritual fulfillment and ultimately to our life purpose and mission.  If we don’t search, we are doomed to be a pew potato, doing what we are told and believing what we believe because someone told us to.  And for any churchs out there reading this blog, you really want your members to be more than blindly obedient – mature disciples give and serve WITHOUT being asked because it flows naturally out of who they are and who they have become.

Ripe with Opportunity, Ripe with Dangers

As the symbol of the ouroborus suggests, this time of searching is ripe with opportunities and ripe with dangers.  The opportunities are there to learn and to grow, to mature and evolve.  The dangers, however, require a stout and courageous heart.  Sometimes in the searching, we find that the religion of our youth no longer fits who we truly are.  This is only a danger, however, if we are unduly attached to our childhood religion (which many of us are) or to the approval of our tribe (parents, clergy, members of the community, etc.).  The greatest danger, however, in this searching phase of spiritual growth, however, is really the danger to the religious institutions to which we had been affiliated.  It is for this reason that most religious institutions DO NOT provide the tools, the permission, the processes by which members can effectively searched.  They are afraid that if we search, we will no longer be obedient, and that we might leave.  And people are……in droves.  (What would happen if our religious institutions actually gave us permission, tools and proceeses for the searching stage of spiritual development?  Might we be grateful for their support, openness and acceptance and find a way to make the faith of our childhood our own?????  HMMMMMM  I wonder!!!)   For men and women raised in Christian traditions, however, there is an even more catastrophic danger in this searching stage and a frequent casualty that makes me really sad.

How Jesus Got Dumped

The catastrophic danger and resulting casualty that I am referring to is the loss of Jesus.  There are so many people I know who were raised in Christian traditions, start their searching stage of spiritual development (largely without the support of their church), find fulfillment and meaning in practices from the East (yoga, zen meditation, tai chi, etc.) or in the rituals of Wicca or Native American spirituality,  and decide that Jesus is no longer relevant and might even be ridiculous.  This makes me really sad!  Why do we have to throw Jesus out with the bathwater?  Even though the religion of our youth may no longer speak to us or we have found fulfillment in other traditions and practices, that doesn’t mean that Jesus wasn’t a profound teacher, healer and spiritual leader.  Just because our religions have often twisted Jesus’ teachings to further their power agendas doesn’t mean his teachings are not relevant to our spiritual growth and development.

Bringing Jesus Back

People might think me insane, but I think it is time to bring Jesus back!  To restore him to his rightful place as teacher, healer, prophet, spiritual leader, way-shower.  Bringing Jesus back does not mean we have to believe he’s the messiah, was raised from the dead,  or even the Son of God…..it just means that we can look beyond the constructs of doctrine and institutional manipulations and see the man for who he really was – a man of purpose who tried to teach us how to love.  I know it is really cool these days to give honor to the Buddha, the Hindu dieties, Pagan gods and goddesses, (which all deserve their place of honor) but do we dare to make it cool to also give honor to Jesus?  I’m going to try it for awhile and see what happens.  Wanna join me?

How is Jesus relevant in your own journey?

What parts of the Jesus message ring as true for you?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in church, guilt, Raised Catholic

Catholic Guilt (and any other religious guilt for that matter!)

The statistics cannot be denied.  My Blog traffic has QUADRUPLED since I revisited Catholic stuff.  HMMMM  Are Catholics searching?  Hurting?  Wondering?  Longing?   Maybe.  So, today’s blog addresses the topic of Catholic Guilt – or any other guilt for that matter that is imposed upon us from outside perceived authorities (ie: religious institutions). 

(to buy this t-shirt:   http://www.zazzle.com/recovering_catholic_tshirt-235262124334621639)

Don’t Get Me Wrong

I have said it before, and I will say it again.  I LOVE my Catholic faith.  I love the spiritual traditions, the rituals, the sacraments, the art and architecture, the lives of the saints, Catholic devotionals, the rosary, Mary, I can even throw a novena or two into the pot of things that I love about my Catholic upbringing….oh yea….and the Catholic school uniforms.  LOVED my uniform!  I love the amazing nuns and religious brothers that taught us (ok, with the exception of a few), and I have great respect for many of the priests who have led the various Catholic parishes in which I claimed membership.  These are the things that allow me to continue to claim my Catholic heritage and to even admit that as a grown up, I still consider myself to be Catholic even though there are certain teachings, rules, etc. that I no longer choose to observe.  If that makes me a “Cafeteria Catholic,” then so be it.

 

What the Institution Got Wrong (in my maybe not so humble opinion)

But here’s the problem.  Somewhere along the way, the Institution of the Catholic Church missed the WHOLE point of Jesus’ message – GOD IS LOVE.  Instead, here is the image of God that Catholics are taught (and other religions with them) and here is the image that keeps us chained in the cycle of guilt imposed upon us by the Institution:

God is a judging, condemning God whose approval we have to earn and who will deny us HIS love if we do not toe the line.

Yes, we have all heard the moral platitudes:  God is loving and forgiving.  If you seek God’s forgiveness, you will be forgiven.  If you confess your sins to the priest and receive absolution, you will be freed of your sins and made ready to join God in HIS glory. 

But here’s the problem….no one really believes this, and I’m not sure the Institution wants us to.  Instead, what is presented to us is a system of rules and regulations that we are supposed to follow and only if we follow these rules (as set forth by the Institution), AND confess our sins, AND receive the sacraments, AND perform certain acts of prayer and service in order to receive indulgences (YES….indulgences are still in full force…even today), AND NEVER miss Sunday mass, AND refrain from using birth control, AND vote pro-life, AND give 10% to the Church, AND never get divorced, etc. etc. etc.   only then can we have any hope of going to heaven after we die.  But even all of this might not be enough as the threat of purgatory is forever waved in our face.  No wonder Catholics feel guilty all the time.  Once you start to seek, ask the questions, explore, make other choices, there is someone waving the flag of “hell and damnation” in your face.  “Don’t question the Church…or you will go to hell.  Father knows best.  The ONLY truth is in the Catholic Church.  You’re not welcome here if you can’t obey our rules.”

 

Guilt is the Devil

So, what does this cycle of fear and guilt do to us?  It keeps us quiet, small, blindly obedient, afraid.  It keeps us firmly locked in the beginning stages of spiritual development where we do what we are told and believe it because it is what we were told to believe.  It keeps us from using the mind that God gave us to reason, discern and exercise truth.  It keeps us from ever becoming spiritually mature adults and from becoming the empowered, self-motivated apostles that the Institution claims they want us to be.  (For more on the stages of spiritual development, see the work of James Fowler:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fowler’s_stages_of_faith_development)  Fear, intimidation and guilt are the tools used by an Institution that does not want us to seek, to ask the tough questions, to challenge, to balance theology with reason, to hold the Institution accountable.  It is for this reason (among others) that I say GUILT IS THE DEVIL.  Used in this way, guilt does nothing but keep us from the truth that God would reveal to us on a deeply intimate and personal level.  So, my answer to Catholic guilt when it shows up, trying to keep me from asking the questions, challenging perceived and assumed authority, “GET BEHIND ME SATAN,” because I know that God is love…..we are loved without condition…..abundantly, freely, generously, and that there is nothing we could ever do that could separate us from the love of God….regardless of what the Institution might want us to believe.

 

Where do you struggle with Catholic (or other) guilt?

Where do you feel called to question, search, challenge the beliefs you were brought up with?

How might God be calling you to explore the truth within your own heart?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Inspiration

When Do We Stop Looking?

The process of spiritual growth and development is ultimately about the search for contentment.  How do we find contentment and when do we stop looking?

Today’s post is inspired by a discussion I had with Heather at the local health food store (Nutrition Discount Center) regarding the benefits of raw food.  I described to her the feeling I had after enjoying my first exclusively raw foods meal.  I felt completely and utterly satisfied, and I was not hungry for many hours after the nutritious and lovingly prepared meal.  This was her response to my observations:

“When the body gets what it needs, it stops looking.

This is a PROFOUND statement and it struck me that this is true on a universal level.  When we get what we need physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, creatively, we stop looking.  This, I believe is the definition of contentment.  We are content when we no longer feel compelled to seek and can simply rest in the knowledge that all of our needs are being met.  HHHMMMMM   An interesting idea to consider.

So, for today, I invite you to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do you need physically to feel satisfied?
  • What do you need emotionally?
  • What do you need spiritually?
  • What do you need mentally?
  • What do you need creatively?

Are these needs being met?  If not, how can you be open to allowing them to be met?  Here are just a few examples of how I have been open to allowing these needs to be met within myself:

  • Physically: Planning, preparing and eating healthy meals, exercising on a regular basis
  • Emotionally:  Being open to healthy, intimate friendships and supporting the growth of these relationships
  • Mentally:  Reading books that are stimulating, interesting, entertaining, discussing these books with others of like-mind
  • Spiritually: Daily meditation and prayer
  • Creatively: Writing, writing, writing, cooking, listening to and playing music, singing,

Now it is your turn!

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Lessons

Lessons I Learned from the Seven Dwarfs

Lessons for our Spiritual Growth and Development can really come from any source.  Today I share the lessons I have learned from the Seven Dwarfs from Disney’s Snow White.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aURThUaRjCc&feature=related

 

The other day I received a writing prompt from my writing mentor, Prudence Tippins.  I was invited to write on the word “dig.”  As I sat with this word, the only thing that showed up was the Work Song from Disney’s Snow White (see link above).  In the song the seven dwarfs chant, “We’re going to dig dig dig dig … the whole day through.”  I sat with this song and asked myself the question, “What would Snow White have learned from the seven dwarfs, specifically in their job as miners?”  The following is what showed up.  Spiritual lessons show up in surprising locations!

Lessons I learned from the Seven Dwarfs, by Snow White

  • If you are afraid of the dark, bring a lantern
  • Take only one step at a time (it’s really all you can see anyway)
  • Don’t be bothered by the beasts and creepy-crawly things that hide in the shadows, the light will hold them at-bay
  • Don’t worry about what is around the corner until you get there and can shine your light upon it
  • You are safe as long as you remain in the light
  • Wear sturdy shoes and warm woolens to put off the chill
  • Pack a hearty lunch and bring something hot to drink
  • Diamonds and other gems are buried deep
  • The deeper you go, the greater the treasure
  • Bring a canary or two to test the air
  • Secret and magnificent wonders are found in the deepest and darkest places and they do not need light to survive
  • You can forge your own path
  • Your heart will guide the way

What spiritual lessons have you gathered from unexpected places?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com