Silence, stillness, solitude

From yesterday: How does a person become brave, or strong, or whatever, such that they can withstand all of the junk life throws at them?

The first attempt to answer this question had to do with establishing a system of loving support and accountability.

The second has to do with finding the confidence to believe that you have a place in this world, that you belong, and that you are worthy of love and respect. This kind of confidence tells us that we have the right to ask those who we are in community with to uphold our dignity. It allows us to set boundaries when our dignity and sense of self are either challenged or at risk.

Where does this confidence come from?

Well, this may be similar to the kind of strength Paul describes in Philippians that comes from God. Again, we ask, how to find it, or access it? I hope others are willing to jump in with their opinions in the comment section because I do not have the perfect or most complete answer to that question, but I believe it starts with the willingness to spend time in silence, stillness, and solitude.

We need to give ourselves the gift of space from distraction, noise, and negativity to simply sit and reflect on our lives and see what rises to the surface. This does not always feel like a gift. If you’re not used to time alone, it can be highly uncomfortable. It feels like something that must be escaped. But, that’s a feeling to resist, and it’s one that is easily overcome with practice. It’s in (healthy) disengagement that we find God and can learn to relax with ourselves and draw comfort from knowing that we are placed here so we can thrive, not so that we can be destroyed. It’s this perspective that allows us the strength, the perspective, the wisdom, and the discernment to discover our true needs and what is “ours to do” in meeting them.

What else does it take to be brave in the face of adversity? Let us know your thoughts.

How to be brave

How does a person become brave, or strong, or whatever, such that they can withstand all of the junk life throws at them? Well, the simple answer based on the past few days is that this is the kind of strength God offers us through faith. I believe that, I really do. But sometimes we still need a little help learning how to access that strength, right?

The first piece is we need a firm grounding in several key relationships where people both allow us to be ourselves and offer us strict accountability when we are not abiding by our chosen “way of seeing.” (Remember, we talk about faith as a “certain way of being based on a certain way of seeing.”).

We need other people in our lives for God to work through. This isn’t to say that God exclusively works through other people, or that He could not just work on us individually, but it helps to offer him multiple opportunities to go to work in our lives. That is one important role others play.

Sometimes in my life I have been the recipient of hardship and not been able to withstand it. I was alone. Other times, the opposite. I was surrounded. Being brave doesn’t mean having more inner resolve, necessarily, though we often think that. It can mean having exterior resolve- we can borrow from the resolve of those who love us.

A Prayer for Wednesday

Last week we talked about change, bravery, trust, receiving feedback and the skill set of relational reciprocity.  Can we pause to admit that change is not easy?  Can we agree with Brene’ that it often requires us to challenge long held perspectives and rules which our family system has propagated for generations? 

 

In their book Rooted In God’s Love, Dale and Juanita Ryan speak to this very topic (pp.134-135) and offer a prayer, here it is:

 

Lord, it isn’t just me

that I am trying to change.

I am up against

generations of dysfunction.

An empty way of life

has dominated my family for a long time.

It has been passed down to me.

No wonder it seems so hard to change.

I need your help, Lord.

Help me to find hope

in your understanding of my struggle.

Help me to find hope in your gift of redemption.

AMEN

 

I pray this for you; I ask you to pray this for me.  Together, we carry on. 

On Being Brave

Recently I received an email criticizing me for a particular course we were offering in our community.  This person evidently is on our mailing list.  It felt great.  Not the criticism, no, I do NOT like to be criticized but it turns out I have other feelings as well about criticism and THAT is what felt great.

 

In Brene’ Brown’s book Braving the Wilderness she opens up about her own fears and uncertainties.  In particular, when her research teaches her that she will “challenge long-held beliefs or ideas” (p.3), she confesses to self-doubt and fear.  Her plan of action, an antidote really, for this kind of personal freakout, is to “search for inspiration from the brave innovators and disrupters whose courage feels contagious.  I read and watch everything by them or about them that I can get my hands on...I do this so that when I need them, when I’m living in my fera, they come to sit with me and cheer me on.” (p.3)  For me, Brene is one of MY go-to peeps for times like these.

 

So it was GREAT when I received the email while I was studying Braving.  Brene has all sorts of amazing vocab and stories to help us figure out how to be brave especially in the midst of criticism.  Read her book.  It is so good!  What I love the most about her work is that she teaches me that brave does NOT equal fearlessness.  It doesn’t have to mean we are instantly calm and kind and cool in the face of criticism. 

 

Brave as illustrated by Brown means that we keep plugging away; we learn stuff; we develop strategies that allow us to practice bravery even when we feel like a chicken.  She harps, quite eloquently, on this thing called vulnerability and it is working for her.  So I will continue to follow her lead.

 

Along the way, I have a couple phrases of my own that I have incorporated, and tomorrow we will talk about one of them.  In the meantime, let me ask you:  how do you feel when a stranger criticizes you, your work, and/or your character?

PS.  Here’s hoping you totally cannot relate to criticism from strangers!!