This year I am focused on living in the Spirit. My aim is to pay close and constant attention to the spiritual signals I receive and to “obey flawlessly” — a phrase I adopted from John Pontius. I am well aware that I am full of flaw-full obedience every day, but my commitment is to obey the Spirit of the Lord as precisely as I can determine His will and direction. I have joined a few “spirit sisters” in this quest, and our communal experience has been enlightening, and in a fundamental way, quite surprising. Continue reading
It doesn’t matter if you’re eighteen, twenty-eight,
forty-five, or seventy-three, the truth is at every age, there are simply Things We Don’t Know We Don’t Know.
We learn a great deal from personal experience and through the experiences of others, but no matter how wise we are, we still have blind spots in our awareness. And sometimes those blind spots play a major role in the decisions we make, for better or worse.
One of my blind spots has been understanding the difference between hope and expectation, and how these two characteristics affect how we love others and respect their agency. Continue reading
When I think of long journeys, I imagine a silver train slinking through the Russian landscape at twilight or a lone backpacker traipsing through the rainforest. I never imagined the journey I have been on for the last thirty days. One I had been preparing for a long time, but was unaware of it. I did not have any bags to pack. They had been packed already. No new shoes to purchase, because this journey was done in bare feet. I did have to buy a ticket, but I never had to leave my home. For the last thirty days, I have participated in the “I love my body diet.” It was a journey in finding love for myself again. Its an odd name, since there is no food involved, just a daily assigned exercise to increase awareness about oneself and a group of women who talk every day over social media about their experiences. Many of us posted videos as well. I have NEVER experienced close feelings with a group so fast. We were vulnerable and open and supported one another through this process.
The exercises were exploratory. Here are some examples. “Write 25 things you love about yourself.” or “See yourself in everyone. You are me and I am you. This is what you want to be thinking today. Look at others and see yourself in them. Let them be a mirror to you and discover where you are inside. See if there is something you can learn from each person you come in contact with today.” Or this exercise, “Write a love letter to your body. Tell your body all the things you want to experience with it. Let it feel your love through your words.” Many had a hard time with this one. “Stand in front of your husband naked and say, “I love my body” as many times as you can.” There was always something new to do that forced me to take a hard look at my thoughts and feelings.
One of the first exercises I did was a process of finding value statements for my body. However, to come to that it was required that you write down the things that you dislike about your body and your feelings toward it. I just looked back on that for the first time today. “I am short-waisted, short, short-limbed with arms like a quarterback. I look like an apple on sticks. I don’t like my double chin and wrinkles around my eyes. I have boobs that are way too large. My skin is dry, flaky, bumpy and my hair is thin. Things I resemble: T-Rex, Captain Kirk, Dolly Parton, Snookie, Queen Elizabeth in her older years.” As I read these phrases thirty days later, they do not even resemble my feelings any longer.
This is part of what I wrote yesterday when we had to go through each of our body parts and write what messages they have for us. Notice the difference:
“Hair- Keep working with me. I won’t let you down. The right hairstyle for your personality and face will come. Be bold. Don’t be afraid. Skin – Thank you for always being willing to learn life lessons from me. Eyes – Be awake – open – open – open to all possibilities. Arms – Please stop putting me down. Never again. We are strong and have carried much. Be grateful. Love me. Knees – Get on me more! We were made to worship and be humble. Ankles – We are free. Never wobbly, never wavering, no bondage. Feet – We are tiny, careworn, but wisdom-filled. Walking in the Lord’s paths of righteousness. We will carry you to your destiny.” My last body message was “I send love to all my body and all my parts. I send strength and a message of deep respect, awe, care, and compassion. I send forgiveness and gratitude.”
As all good journeys, this one has changed me. I brought home a great souvenir. I never realized before now that I had always thought of my body and spirit as enemies. One was always trying to pull the other in its direction. If my body felt heavy and encumbered, so did my spirit. If my spirit was sad, my body ate. Now I view them as best friends. They work together as one toward bettering myself. They house each other – a Russian nesting doll of love.
Have you had a similar journey? What life lessons did you learn?
Are you needing to take the same journey? Do you love your body?
If you would like more information, the creator of #ilovemybodydiet, Jennifer Lamprey, can be contacted on facebook or at http://jenniferlamprey.com/product/i-love-my-body-diet/
I’ve been to a wedding celebration. The bride and groom were delighted in each other, and obviously oblivious to most of what was going on around them. They held hands during speeches, whispered to each other, had that unconscious radar tracking and alignment to wherever their beloved happened to be if not in arms reach, and a stunned awareness that they were finally married.
It was beautiful to see, such hope and passion and excitement sizzling between them. The bride and groom danced, fingers Morse-coding messages against hips, lips, faces, the first couple yet again to discover the hum of passion and sparking delight.
It was also beautiful to see the seasoned couples at my table, each laughing and murmuring to each other as we swapped jokes and conversation between announcements and courses. The full, smiling attention of a wife to her husband as he gave a speech, the gentle clasp of hands under the table after a joke, the sharing of dessert, a wife repeating unheard words into a whiskered, tilted ear.
There was the roaring, emerging flame of a love recently created and newly sanctified before us, and the enduring, patient embers of experienced passion gathered around to celebrate and bear witness. I warmed myself, the bride and groom leaving bright spots of joy before my eyes, while the sincere heat of the settled couples soaked deeper in, warm air stirring up ashes as I returned home.
You can’t have a conversation with the empty half of your bed. You can pretend, but it’s not the same as having a hand available to hold at three o’clock on the morning, just a finger’s stretch away. I remember the fire and sparkle of new passion, the way a first kiss becomes a language in a story yet untold. It’s a giddy time, tripping along heart beats and held breaths, all excitement and discovery, but it’s the embers that I miss.
The embers, those ruby throated coals, which have danced and thrilled before in the flash and burn of passion and delight, when all is youth and beauty, lace and enthusiasm, and have survived to catch a breath. The breath and tumble that comes with kids, or career, or both, with the frantic, shuddering bellows of watching a parent die, or burying a loved one, and holding on to each other and your breath in the same terrible moment. The embers, looking dark but billowing heat, grown from putting the lid on the toothpaste for the seven thousandth time, and distracted conversations, and pillowed laughter at midnight and arguments in the car. Embers that grow as thick and deep as lava, from loving another impossible, incredible, bizarre individual every single day even when and especially when they drive you crazy and they – for some deep, fathomless reasons – love you back even when you’re your real cracked and fragile self.
There’s the obvious, dizzying flash of heat, the sizzle, the unsteady grab for balance and air of early love and attraction, but the sustained, deliberate power of established, active passion and mutual compassion leaves it as dust. In each of us there is a light that cannot be hid, a desire for warmth that never goes out. May we all ignite, burn and coalesce into enduring, sincere passion.
What does passion mean to you? What words do you use to compare new/old love and passion? What do you do to appreciate (stroke) and build (stoke) your passions?
We are starting new quarterly themes on the blog. This October-December we will be featuring pieces by several of our staffers on Passions. Do you have something to share on the topic ? Submit a guest post and maybe we can share your passions too.
In anticipation of our theme I wrote out in stream of consciousness fashion what first comes to my mind when I think of the broad concept of “passion.”
Here are my results:
Passion is when I crave something – crave to be involved with it, consume it, handle it, watch it, learn from it, get lost in it, become more fully human and more thoroughly eternal through it, and/or think differently because of it.
When I am passionate about something my voice may rise in giddiness or exhilaration. Or it may deepen in a primal protectiveness (“Don’t mess with me, I know what I’m talking about regarding this”). It can become a low, rumbling, imperative growl (channeling Aslan.) (Or Katy Perry). Continue reading