Today’s blog explores the universal human search for connection. Who am I in relation to the people around me? Who or where is my tribe? Who are the people who will love and accept me for who I am and honor my gifts?
Over the past two weeks, I found myself overcome with an inner tension, restlessness and frustration. In this state of tension, I began indulging behaviors that I had hoped would ease the tension, instead, they only made matters worse. As my tension escalated and began approaching critical mass, I sent a desperate text to a friend, “I’m just trying to find out where I fit!” And then it hit me…….the cause of my tension was the unresolved life-long search for where I fit in – a search that is not mine alone, but belongs to every one of us who long to be known for who we truly are and unconditionally loved for it.
The Universal Search
As a species, we are pack animals. Like wolves, we function better when we live in collaboration and cooperation. Beyond simple survival, within a loving, supportive, collaborative community, we thrive. We feel the nurturing and support that we need to connect with our gifts, cultivate them and find fulfillment in the vocation of sharing these gifts in service to the community. For some, this sense of healthy and supportive connection comes through family, church, school, work, clubs, etc.
Tension within the tribe
Many find that as they grow and mature in their awareness of their truest selves and how they are called to be that in the world, this drive creates conflict within the tribe. Every community has rules, and sometimes the truths we come to know about ourselves no longer fit the rules of the community. Then we are faced with a decision, honor our truth and break from the tribe, find a way to make our truth fit the rules of the tribe or forsake our truth all together. None of these decisions are right or wrong and all will result in some kind of pain, but sometimes the force of our truth is so great that we have no choice but to make the most difficult decision which is to break with the tribe.
Breaking with Tribe
When the force of our truth is so great and we find that in order to really be the person God created us to be, we sometimes have to leave the comfort of the community where we at one time seemed to fit in. This is often an excruciatingly painful break, leaving us feeling as if one of our vital organs (usually the heart) has been removed. We feel empty, lost, like a boat adrift without rudder, oar or sail. It is a treacherous time of emptiness and loss. Moving through this departure, we have to grieve….and we have to experience all the stages of that grief – anger, depression, sadness, bargaining and denial. And depending on the depth of connection previously felt in the tribe, this grieving can take years, or even a lifetime.
The Pilgrimage to ourselves
Separating from the tribe for the sake of our truth, however, is sometimes the only way we can be truly free to respond to God’s call for us in our lives and to freely and openly share the gifts God has given us. When we have the courage to leave the tribe behind, we begin the God-driven path of pilgrimage. Pilgrimage is a journey through the wilderness to a far and distant land. The goal of a pilgrimage is two-fold: finding God and finding Self. On a pilgrimage, we leave everything behind except that which we need for survival….or better yet, we leave everything behind and trust in the generosity of strangers for getting our needs met. Sometimes on a pilgrimage we have a map, a pathway to follow, but even with a map, we have no idea where we are going, how we are going to get there or how long it will take. While on the pilgrimage, we are confronted with all of our fears, unhealed wounds, unfulfilled longings, unmet needs, hidden attachments. The purpose of this “life review” is so that we can acknowledge them (name the demon) and give them release. Once freed of all the inner obstacles to knowing God and knowing Self, the quiet voice of our deepest truth begins to speak. The guiding hand of the Divine gently directs us along the course and we are eventually brought to our destination.
How do we know we’re there?
The trick about the destination, however, is that it is continually revealing itself and there is no finish line or banner that says, “YOU’RE HERE!” The destination shows up in quiet, subtle glimpses of a felt sense of contentment, fulfillment, peace – a feeling of being home. For me, it showed up at the close of the week as I set down my sword and picked up my pen. Instead of fighting my old fights or beating my head against the wall trying to fit in, I wrote to my pain. I wrote to my loneliness. I wrote to my search for tribe. I picked up manuscript and completed the final edits. I explored resources for writers. I posted a new page on my website offering mentoring support for other writers. And then…..I went to dinner with a friend and took in an evening of live music where I got to see dear friends, other artistically minded souls, indulging their highest gifts. And as I listened to the rhythmic beat of the bodhran, I knew that I was home.
copyright 2013 Lauri Lumby