My way or the highway

Last night I was teaching a class on conflict management and asked the group about their super powers.  In particular, I wanted to know what unique super power each of them possessed that they could abuse in such a way as to reduce their connection with other people.

I got crickets. After a couple of minutes of silence, my husband chimed in and volunteered to share MY super power.  Seriously.  According to my husband, my superpower is my tendency to perhaps, just maybe, exaggerate the danger of a situation to such ridiculous heights that the possibility that there is any danger present AT ALL is missed. He is right.  It is my superpower.  After he gets out of the dog house for talking about my power rather than his, I might tell him so!  Evidently...this super power can be a lot to live with!  For years my husband traveled weekly for his job, usually flying.  I rarely flew on a commercial airline and when we fly together, I make his experience a living hell...according to him.

It begins days before we travel.  I write all our children love notes, just in case I never see them again and dispatch these off in early morning emails on the day of the flight.  I insist that Pete and I consider our footwear carefully in case we need to exit the plane in haste with the cockpit on fire.  (Who wants to burn the bottoms of their feet?)  When we select our seats, we need to be within two rows of an exit to give us our best survival rate.  No window seats for us, what if the window broke in mid-flight? (Who is laughing now? Google Southwest Airlines.)  I would get really irritated if he didn’t read the inflight instructions and watch the instructions given by the steward.  For a man accustomed to calm travel every week, this is overkill.

Here is what a healthier me can do.  I can make the same choices for me and stop managing my anxiety by controlling his perspective.  We will be flying this weekend!  Wish me luck!

P.S.  Update:  without prompting, my husband, knowing my flying fears, paid EXTRA for us to sit in an exit row.  Some cynical types may think the guys was going for extra leg room; I choose to believe he did it because he loves me and thinks I am cute.

A Power Greater than All of Us

Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. 
Braving The Wilderness, p. 45



In a recent sermon Scott talked about how he heard a lecture by John Goldingay.  Dr. Goldingay was responding to a question asking him about what he would say to the American church as parting wisdom (he is leaving his position in the U.S. and returning to England, so it was within the context of honoring his tenure and marking a life transition for him).


One of the things he said went something like this:  We need to get back to understanding that doing God’s work (some say "building the Kingdom" or "Kingdom Work") is really God’s work to do, and we have accidentally gotten in the habit of thinking that he is counting on us to do it all.  His challenge is so refreshing. Instead of whipping his listeners up into a frenzy of renewed effort to evangelize the lost and save the world, he is saying - hey, God has got this. Calm yourselves.  Do your small part and that is good enough.


It is a lovely sentiment and Brene gives it a nod when she says “we are...connected to each other by a power greater than all of us”.  


A power greater than us is at work.  If we believe that than I suspect we can accept our limitations, our opportunities to sacrifice, our moments of doing one small next right thing with more peace and joy.  We can celebrate, maybe a small yippee, even when we are suffering because we can remember that we are in good hands.

Inextricably Linked

Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion.  
Braving The Wilderness, p. 45



We are all inextricably connected…When we find ourselves believing in the law of scarcity (there is not enough to go around) and striving to compete for love and attention (our primal need is to be known and loved) it is easy to miss the connection we have to each other.  


We are missing that A LOT lately.  We call people snowflakes, which in theory sounds lovely since we are drawn to the beauty and uniqueness of each individual flake as they fall from the sky providing us with school cancellations and an excuse to sit by a cozy fire.  But that’s not what it means. Snowflake is a term we use to describe others who seem to take offense at beliefs or statements that don’t match their own.


Here’s the problem - this does not take into account how inextricably linked we are!  Is it true that some folks are too sensitive? Maybe. But is it also true that many of us are insensitive to how our language and beliefs are truly offensive to others?  Absolutely. Have we considered that maybe someone we are calling a Snowflake is really a person who is calling us out and challenging us in a good way to consider how we need to become more self-aware?  If we could see the spiritual connection would we still speak so disparagingly of another?


Millenials.  They get called names all the time.  Articles are written that tells them that they will never be as successful as their parents, they won’t live as long, they are not...enough.  We are told that they have had it too soft. If that is true, shouldn’t we be having a discussion about the parents of millenials? Either way, what culture deliberately and aggressively denigrates their offspring?  These young adults are our future. I do not know what the heck people are talking about because every one of these kids that I know personally are engaged in carrying about our world and its people. If we realized our connection, perhaps even the damage we have caused by not being the adults some of our young folks needed when they were children, would we still speak so dismissively of any of them, much less an entire generation?


There are countless examples I could give to illustrate how out of touch we are with this precept that we are all inextricably connected.  But for today, try to think about the reality that we are indeed connected to people and the environment and the spiritual realm. Maya Angelou said, “Words are things.  You must be careful, careful about calling people out of their names, using racial pejoratives and sexual pejoratives and all that ignorance. Don’t do that. Someday we’ll be able to measure the power of words.  I think they are things. They get on the walls. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, and your clothes, and finally in to you.” We are inextricably linked; wake up!

Need for Candor

We have a widower friend, a great big gregarious guy who has always loved people and parties.  Charming and curious, he has been an asset to any community he joined - and he joined A LOT of communities.  When his wife died, it soon became apparent that he had lost a profound intimate connection that soon began to diminish his sociability.  Always the diplomat, he soon became rather dogmatic. A guy known for bringing people together during disagreement stopped picking up on the cues that there was disagreement among the group members.  It appeared as if his listening skills were slipping; I even wondered if his hearing was impaired.



One evening after a particularly awkward meeting, his daughter approached me and shared her concerns.  Her read on the situation is that for decades the ride HOME from an event was more often than not a debrief.  Her mother would ask questions, point out interactions, clarify others’ positions. Before meetings, my friend said her mom would often “coach” her dad.  She would provide valuable reviews of previous meetings, point out potential people problems and often “cast a vision” for what might be accomplished if “someone” were to take a gentle lead on an issue.  In other words, this effective leader was in part effective because he had a wise, attuned, introverted wife who helped him maximize his social consciousness and leadership skills, straighten his tie and make sure his fly was zipped.  This is the work of intimacy.


Her theory made perfect sense.  This is an example of a guy who had a good sense of “self”, paired with a highly effective intimate relationship, and a broad commitment to serving his community.  When he lost the ability to have that one-on-one connection for deepening his own understanding of issues, his social interaction was suffering. Ultimately his daughter found some practical ways to step in and help with the one-on-one time; soon he was better able to function as a community leader.  This is a real life example of how ALL of us need all three venues of love in order to be balanced AND for our communities to remain vibrant.

A prayer for your recovery journey

Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than

To be comforted –

To understand, than to be understood –

To love, than to be loved.

For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.

It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.

It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life.




May you find a way to comfort, understand, love, set ego aside, and forgive today.  In so doing, may God grant you mercy.  



In Brown’s introduction to her book Rising Strong she says, “I define wholehearted living as engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness.  It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.  It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am brave and worthy of love and belonging.”  (p.xix)


My friend with the serial adultery issue was the first to acknowledge that her adultery didn’t fit with her core values.  She is a pastor in a large church.  She teaches a course on ethics at the local community college.  She would be mortified if her daughter found out her dirty little secret. In spite of all that acknowledgement, she seemed very reluctant to actually DO anything different.  What was she missing?  Here are some things we can shoot for that might help us walk a path of personal growth, and we can perhaps use them to guide our own insights about what is “missing” in our search for transformation:






Change is more likely to happen when we utilize courage, compassion and connection to do our work.  Sadly, I often hear parents lament over their children’s problems.  Having three of my own I have done my fair share of lamenting too.  But I’ve never seen it hurt a situation for those of us who love a struggling person – whether child, spouse, parent or third cousin twice removed – to do our own work of recovery.


I hope you have some dreams about what a wholehearted life would look like for you personally.  What foundational actions might you need to take to get the ball rolling in the right direction?  What small first right steps need to be in place so that you can move toward your wholehearted, whole hog life?  Can you find courage, compassion and connection in your own life?  What might have to change in order to access these 3 c’s?