Friday, February 29, 2008

Awareness--Always the Beginning

I can no longer remain as I once was. I can no longer live in the shadows. I have become too big for this box.

This was part of my inaugural post on this blog nearly two years ago. I had just come out for the very first time.

Much has happened in the intervening time. I did not post again until just recently. I have grown so much. I have experienced so much. I have transformed, yet I find myself with this same sentiment at a completely different crossroads.

An interesting phenomenon has occurred in my soul and I stand again at the precipice of a deep yet narrow divide between comfort zone and stability. Over the last two years, I have worked to develop authenticity. It has been a challenge, after decades of wandering in the shadow lands, creating facades and impressions, instead of relationship and fellowship.

As I have embraced truth for myself and become the person God created me to be, I realize that the matrix is so much more developed than even I had imagined, and I am much further embedded in the web of my own illusions than I care to admit--or that I am conscious to admit.
However, I am aware now. And that is the beginning. Awareness is always the beginning. It's the 'red' pill that shows us what really is. And when we realize that ceasing to struggle is the power to be, then life becomes more than we had ever dreamed it could be.

And in so many ways, I am meeting myself for the very first time. The real me. The me that wants to paint, though I haven't since I was a child. The me who thinks it would be fun to be a confection chef because I like to make cookies and brownies. The me that I never allowed to be because I was so enamored with the me that I had created.

And so, how deep will the rabbit hole go? And where will it lead? Questions that I no longer need answers to...sometimes.
A shift has occurred in my psyche. The answers are unimportant because the outcome is irrelevant. My commitment is not to the results but to the process. By embracing this constant, I trust--without doubt--that I will arrive at my destination.
"There is no spoon!"

Letting Go -- The Freedom to Be

What If...?
What about the relationship that doesn't end up the way you would like it to?
What should you do if the person you love doesn't have the same feelings?
What if you're not in the same place in life?
What if he is older?
What if you're younger?
What if she's more experienced than you are?
What if he's more attractive than you are?
What if she is smarter or more settled?

What is the key to bridging the gaps between the differences between any two people? The power of allowing is the answer.

Freedom in Allowance
Allowing a person to simply "be" is the first step toward authentic relationship in any area of life, but what does this mean and how is it applied practically?

Michael Kelly says it this way: "Acceptance means being a benevolent witness to a person's journey, rather than an emotionally manipulative or dictatorial force in it." That's all any of us are really--witnesses of one another's journeys.

Benevolence in this instance, speaks of the kindness of allowing--of refusing to assert control over another person's free will. The most beautiful expression of this "allowing" is a conscious, personal disconnection from the outcome of any given situation within the relationship.

By choosing to disassociate my identity from the results of another's thoughts or actions, I allow him or her to grow and to follow his or her own path. I have become a "benevolent" witness--an observer of another's being.

You and I cannot be responsible to live one another's lives. The extent to which we attempt to impose our ideas, thoughts, and prejudices on the life of another person determines the level of stress and frustration we experience in the relationship.

Allow. Choose to release internal resistance to the circumstances of the relationship. Only then will you be free to really be in the relationship.

Monday, February 25, 2008

What Do You Want?

"Mom," I called out. No response.

"Mom!" Again. Nothing.

"Mother!" More emphatic this time.

Finally, "Judy! Your child is trying to talk to you!"

My mom's head snapped up from the task before here. Now, fully attentive. "What do you want?"

My lips began to quiver. "Your son is eating your plant." Sniff. "I tried to call you, but you weren't paying attention."

NOTE: This story is true. (My mom's real name isn't Judy, though). My baby brother really was eating the plant.

Life's Requisition: What Do You Want?
What do you want? Has Life ever asked you this question?

"I wish I had a house!"

"I wish I had a better job!"

"I wish my 'soulmate' would show up?"

"When? When? When?"

Your heart's desire is always before you and me. We just cannot see it. In order to obtain that which we desire most, we must let go of what we do not want. You see, what we desire is always there in front of us.

Huh? Let me explain.

Your Blindspots
I have a friend who wants to find a girlfriend more than anything. She's lonely, and tired of waiting. She wants God's best and is still willing to wait, but it has become a burden. She's so lonely and yearns for companionship. She's depressed and discouraged.

Sadly, like so many of us, my friend has a blind spot. She is focused on the desire for what she wants, that she doesn't know what it is she really wants. Over the last year or so, I have seen several wonderful people enter her life. They develop close friendships. She gives her heart to each relationship by encouraging them and edifying them in their walk with God.

She's there to lend an ear when they need to vent. It doesn't matter the time of day or night that they call, she's always available for her hurting friends. And she is gifted. God has blessed her with incredible talents of discernment and she is able to offer practical, godly advice to those who are struggling through life.

Again and again, I've seen those to whom she ministers benefit from her guidance. I've seen them grow and mature. I've seen them flourish as they seek after God. As the relationships grow, many of these people seek to give back to my friend. They long to encourage her as she has encouraged them. They start to draw closer.

And that's when it happens. My friend inadvertently withdraws. She is suddenly not as available, while always insisting that she's there for them "whenever you need me." Friendships that were once warm and a safe haven, become filled with brief, every "once in a while" encounters, characterized by cliche-laden interchanges.

"Hey. How are you?"

"Fine. You?"


"What're you up to?"

"Nothin much. What's new?"

"Not much."

Silence (often painful).

"Ok, well, um...ok, I guess I'll talk to you later."

"Ok. Call any time."

What Do You See?
Maybe you recognize this pattern in some of your relationships. It's uncomfortable to think about and really look for our blindspots. But don't run from them. Seek them out and resolve the underlying issues.

Whatever fear it is (intimacy, hurt, betrayal, vulnerability) that causes you to turn away, will restrain you from what you truly desire (intimacy, relationship, love, acceptance).

Recognizing your blind spots and determining what it is that has caused them is the only sure path toward obtaining a clear and unobstructed view of what you truly want.

This is a difficult and rigorous process for most of us, but the payout is worth the effort. For as you eliminate the blind spots of your personality, character and habit patterns, you often find that what you truly desire is right in front of you.

NOTE: The story of my "friend" recounted in this post is a composite to make a point.

This Little Light of Mine: Eternal Life

I've been reading Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. A friend recommended it last week. It's a great read, and really challenging. It gives voice to alot of the feelings I've had for a long time, as a child of God.

In one of the passages I recently read, Shane describes going to work with the Sisters of Charity and Mother Teresa in Calcutta. After serving for a year with them in the streets of Calcutta and the leper colonies, he returned to the States realizing that the United States was his mission field.

A reporter asked him if Mother Teresa's spirit would live on (she had just died). Shane replied with the following statement that I found profound.

To be honest, Mother Teresa died a long time ago, when she gave her life to Jesus. The joy and compassion and love that the world finds so magnetic are only Jesus, and that is eternal.

Alive, I'm Christ's messenger; dead, I'm his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can't lose. -Phil. 1:21 (The Message)

Have you died "a long time ago?" Have I? I pray that the world will be drawn to Christ in me. This is eternal. This is eternal life's purpose. "Give me Jesus!"

Let it Shine! Let it Shine! Let it Shine!

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Less-Traveled Path

Asking Questions About Sexual Ethics
Ok, a friend recently asked me a question in regards to the "sex before marriage" issue.

I wanted to pose the same question to you, my readers, and hopefully get you thinking.

His question was, "so do you and 'significant other' have any boundaries or guidelines?"

So, I'm asking you. Do you have specific rules you adhere to when it comes to sex/physical affection before marriage?

For example, do you actually have a list of "I won't do X and Y, but Z is ok?" If you have such rules, what is the basis of them?

Have you actually thought through the "whys" of your convictions regarding this issue? If so, what did you learn about yourself as you asked these questions?

Do you develop sexual ethics to help you determine what is right? (For example, respect for yourself and your partner, honesty with yourself and God, accountability to your commitments, etc)

If you have such a personal ethic code what have you based it on? Do you take into account your experiences when processing and addressing this issue?

I know they are alot of questions, but they are some of those that were spawned in my mind after talking to my friend and they're ones that I'm revisiting within the context of a relationship now...and that has obviously helped to inform my thinking.

The Tension between Value-based Living and Regulation
Recently, the same friend asked me, "so, do you have any answers?"

Tough question.

For me, a healthy, yet sometimes uncomfortable tension has developed between the 'rules' or 'boundaries' I would set for myself and the desire to live by a more fundamental ethical code. This idea for me is rooted in the philosophy of Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In this book, Mr. Covey emphasizes that the basis of our lives (in business and relationship) should be fundamental principles that do not change with circumstances.

For example, authenticity is always healthy. Honesty can be damaging at times. Now, I'm not playing semantics in relativity with you. And I'm not stating that you should become a liar when honesty doesn't work for you.

What I am stating is that respect for self and others, authenticity, and compassion are some of the fundamental qualities that do not change with circumstance. There is value in living according to an unchanging value system.

The Less-Traveled Path
The primary value that I see is that living by a strong value system spawns the exercise of courage and the growth of character. When you and I decide to live with authenticity, we learn not to compromise. When we embrace compassion, we honor others, yet still act with courage to take action when a strong word or strong action is the compassionate thing to do.

The second benefit I see is the suppression of ego and personal pride. In order to be truly authentic, respect myself and others and honor them, I must choose not to do what is easy or pleasant, but what is right (for self and others). It's a difficult path to tread sometimes, but it's the less-traveled path.

Why Relationship?

I mentioned that I've been reading The Seven Levels of Intimacy lately. In it, the author's main thesis is what he calls the purpose for relationship. Consequently, I've been doing alot of thinking about the relationships in my own life. And I want to ask my readers some of the questions that I've been thinking about.

Why Relationship?
What is the purpose of relationship for you? Is this purpose different in your primary relationship versus your secondary relationships or acquaintances?

In The Seven Levels, the author maintains the premise that relationships should help each participant become the "best-version" of himself or herself. This principle really resonates with me based on my experience in relationships--business, work, home, primary, secondary and acquantainces.

But it is really just a model (as the author asserts). The reality of the relationship is between the two people involved. An amazing thing happens when you join into relationship with another person with a shared guiding purpose (such as becoming your best-version selves), you are able to synergize and grow at phenomenal rates. It's not always easy; but it is fun, and it is motivating. This type of relationship drives you and brings vitality and excitement to your life.

So really, the landscape of any relationship is up to you to determine. Alot of times, we pattern our relationships after the relationships of others. This this can be helpful for low-impact, low-energy acquaintances, etc. However, when it comes to primary relationships---no matter what part of your life the involve---I find that it is important to choose wisely. This isn't easy. It takes respect for yourself first of all. And this part is the part that is most difficult to me. Sometimes respecting myself means saying, "this friendship does not help me become the best version of myself that I want to be." Even more difficult, is realizing that the primary romantic relationship in which one is involved is toxic. Although the understanding that the relationship is poisen is clear, the emotions of the relationship often cause us to devalue ourselves by staying in them too long.

Now I'm not advocating that you dump all your friends and loved ones because they don't meet your standard. But most of us know when a relationship is not right for us...we just have trouble exercising the courage to make the right decision. The more you experience courage and exercise your will to embrace it, the easier it becomes and the less likely you are to settle for a disrespectful substitute to the best.

By making strong choices about our relationships we empower our lives and the lives of others--whether that means drawing them further into our lives, or letting them loose of our own expectations. The terrain of any relationship is determined by the two people involved in the relationship. This is especially empowering when you find yourself in an unusual or potentially difficult relationship.

A Personal Example
For example, my significant other and I are in a long-distance relationship (LDR). By long- distance, we're talking about 1,500-1,800 miles between us. We are able to communicate using technology to our advantage, but it is still very difficult to maintain a relationship under these circumstances.

Fortunately, we are constantly communicating about what our relationship means to each of us. We are continuously defining our relationship for the two of us, and we often remind one another that we are empowered to make the "rules" for our relationship. We can create it any way we want. We do not have to follow someone else's pattern.

Through this process, we have been able to build and nurture a life-giving relationship that in turn guides our own individual growth. We have been nurtured by each other and by the relationship itself. We have learned to love and be loved, which is much easier than it seems at first.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Who Am I? Getting to Know the Blogger I know this is an anonymous blog (in the sense that I haven't revealed my name or many facts about me personally). But I do want to allow you to get to know me a bit over the course of writing this blog.

A few nights ago, I was chatting with a friend and he recommended a book. I looked for it at our local library, but couldn't find it in the catalog. Imagine my surprise when I stopped after work yesterday at my local library branch and the book practically "jumped" off the shelf at me! (It turns out I'd mis-spelled 'irresistible'.

I normally go to another branch near my house, but I stopped at this one to pick some DVDs up. I decided to browse a bit and get familiar with it. It's a very small branch, so within about 15 minutes, I was able to walk through the entire building. That fact is what makes it strange to me: that the book that my friend had just recommended would appear where I just happened to stop after work. (Cosmic Hint, I guess)

So...during this conversation with my friend, I was noting my almost bazaar diversity of reading interests. I admit...I'm a recovering book addict. (Ok, I'm not's more like indulgent). I've banned myself from entering Barnes and Noble or Borders unless I have a gift card in my hand. Otherwise, I spend to much money. My "replacement" habit is to go to the public library...but that's even worse, and there's no charge. (Unless you count the nearly 40% that the government takes so religiously from my paycheck.)

I think I have Reading Attention Deficit (RAD). I have a copy-paper-case box full of "to read" books from my personal library. And right now, if I look around my bedroom, I have a biography of Cissy Houston (Whitney's mom), A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, The Son of a Preacher Man by Jay Bakker (son of Jim and Tammy Faye), Unlikely Angel, Choice Theory (psychology), Reagan in His Own Hand (the writings of Ronald Reagan, a book for "Dummies" on web design (of which I know nothing), and a book in Spanish by Isabel Allende.

A few years ago, I heard that if you read a book a week, the knowledge you gain is equivalent to an advanced degree. My attention span when it comes to reading is so short, though, that I don't think I've gotten one class-worth of reading done for any one subject!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Happy Valentine's and More Sex Talk

Happy Valentine's Day!
Hope you all had a good Valentine's day. Although, among most of my single friends, this day is despised. I have mixed feelings. I'm doing the LDR (long distance relationship) thing, so it's really hard to be separate on a day like Valentine's. But I am thankful for the relationship that God's entrusted to me for this time in my life.

When I got home from work yesterday, there was a bright red FTD box. My sweetie sent me flowers. I know, it's romantic and a bit sappy, but I love them. I really like when we were together recently, I mentioned that. And my sweatheart paid attention. So here is a pic of my orchids. It's not terribly clear, cuz it was taken with my phone.

More About Sex
Well, you guys have been bugging me (those of you who know the face behind the wizard's curtain) for more on the sex post I did a little bit ago.

I've been lax in getting this posted, because I have limited access to a computer and that's where I do my posting and most of my research. I still want to look into this subject at length, but I want to post some things I've been thinking about just to stimulate your own thought process.

I'd written a beautiful post several days ago, and just as I was going to upload it, the computer glitched and I lost it...darn! And it was really brilliant too.

SIGH - So you'll have to do with this second post...which, I'm sure will not be nearly as brilliant!

In Bible college I had a professor who was one of the best instructors that I've ever had. Have you ever been in a situation when God brings someone into your life for a finite amount of time to teach you something. Dr. "Jones" was one of those people.

In my degree, we were discussing a potentially controversial topic, and he did something that I will never forget. It was one of those life-changing experiences and the best lecture I've ever sat in.

For two class periods, he read every scripture in the Bible that pertained to this issue. He made no commentary, but asked us to then take these verses and formulate our own thoughts on the subject.

It is in this same vein that I am going to post some thoughts today...just to ask you to start thinking for yourself. I am going to quote some sources that you may (or may not) agree with. Either way, I ask you to open your mind and heart and seek God's face on this topic.

Unlike my professor, I will actually share my commentary along the way. We probably won't agree, but I pray that each of us will draw closer to the Savior for having asked questions and knocked at His door.

Some Thoughts
When we discuss the sex before marriage issue, it's primarily to argue morality. But I've come across something that challenged my view. You see, I grew up like some of you--in a conservative, evangelistic, Christian home. We were weaned in the church. And for me, sex was always a moral issue. And the emphasis was usually negative.

I came across a link recently on the Soulforce website. It's an essay called Homosexuality and the Bible by Walter Wink. The essay is extensive and handles a variety of issues.

When I came across the following quote, my response was "HUH?!?"

The crux of the matter, it seems to me, is simply that the Bible has no sexual ethic. There is no Biblical sex ethic.

After reading it a couple of more times, I continued reading. I won't quote more of the essay here, because I want to encourage you to click through and read what he has to say. I had not thought of this perspective before.

I always assumed that of course the Bible had a sexual ethic. But as I've wrestled with this issue, I've come up against some tough questions. How do we balance holiness and sexuality? Is sex morally right or wrong? Is morality or immorality defined by the situation (i.e. marriage or commitment)? Yikes! The implications of answering that question too deeply is a bit scary! What about experience? How do cultural norms and shifts in society play into this topic?

It's easy to just say "society's going to hell and it's all evil till Jesus comes". But to truly ask the tough questions and live "in" the world but not be "of" the world, requires that we set aside these pat answers and cliches.

What do you think? What has been your experience? Share with me by commenting or e-mailing me. I'd like to share some of your thoughts here on this blog as I journey this path. I'll try to answer some of these questions for myself, and will share my answers with you as I uncover them.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My "Wondrous Imperfections and Limitations"

I'm reading The Seven Levels of Intimacy by Matthew Kelly. As I was reading last night, I came across an insightful quote.

Strive to become the-best-version-of-yourself and strive to have a great
relationship, but make allowances in your planning and goal setting for the wondrous imperfections and limitations of the human person.

The phrase "wondrous imperfections" struck me. Have you stopped to think about your own "wondrous imperfections and limitations"? Do you really consider them "wondrous"? I don't know that I have or do. It's something that has made me stop to think. Why would my imperfections and limitations be wondrous? Aren't we conditioned from childhood to marginalize our weaknesses and minimize our limitations?

Sometimes a truth resonates with our heart or spirit before it resonates logically. I had this experience when reading this passage. I felt the truth inside before I recognized it.

This is the truth that I realized: My imperfections are wondrous and my limitations should be recognized. I must make allowances for both because of a simple reason. I need other people and they need me. Without our limitations and without our imperfections, we would not need each other for relationship, for love or for any other reason. There would be no drive to connect, to be understood or to be heard. There would be no authenticity and no intimacy.

So I celebrate my imperfections and make space for my limitations. Why? Because it brings so much joy to my life when I can rely on my lover and family. When I see their strengths complimenting my weaknesses, I am blessed and my life is enriched. So make allowances for your imperfections so that others can flourish. Your limitations are wondrous.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


It's one of our favorite topics to discuss, so I'm letting you know that I'll be delving in to this topic soon. I'm going to continue blogging about relationships. I'm actually in the middle of a larger project on this subject, and I'm going to include some of those musings as well.

But recently, a friend challenged me in the area of sex. So, I'm going to cover it. I know you may not agree with my ideas or stance, but I'm going to try to be as honest as possible as I really look into this issue more carefully.

I hope that if nothing more, my thoughts will challenge you to look at your own beliefs regarding sex. Through the discussion, I pray that I will draw closer to Christ and that I will be able to grow and be more authentic.

Keep your eyes peeled (or pealed)! :)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Relationship: Looking for Acceptance

How do others gain the power to control us? Why do we surrender our self-determination and allow ourselves to be manipulated? The short answer is this: we are seeking the acceptance of others.

Just as controlling our relationships is an elusive endeavor, gaining the acceptance of others is futile; and the reason for this is simple. You and I are the storytellers of our lives. Our reality is made up of the pictures that we create for ourselves and the stories that we tell about those pictures. This is clearly evident in the realm of relationship.

Each person to whom I relate creates an image of me and constructs stories about my abilities, my gifts and my achievements. I can never please anyone else, because I will never match their image.

In the same way, we imagine ourselves and dream stories about who we are and what we can or cannot accomplish. Only you can be the story teller of your life. You are the only one who can express yourself, because you see the picture on the inside and you know the story.

Allowing anyone else to tell your story is an abdication of your personal responsibility. Telling your own story will always be more powerful than trying to fulfill someone's image of you.

So be courageous about telling your story! Remember that you alone can be the storyteller of your life. Each story is unique and each story must be heard. It's not just for you, but for those who are waiting to hear, to see and to be inspired by your life's story.