Tag Archives: Self Care

A Living Sacrifice: Biblical Principles for “Self” Care

It was on fire, but not consumed...

 

I have the privilege of routinely teaching a local or teleclass version of  A Living Sacrifice: Biblical Principles for “Self” Care.  Lay leaders and clergy from across the country have continued to shape this and bless it greatly through their own stories and wisdom.

After four years of teaching this course, I am still deeply moved by the Word’s promise and by the hope it stirs in attendees.  While the class in rooted in reflections on Romans 12 (especially vs. 1-2), the image of a “living sacrifice” or of a life aflame with love BUT NOT EXTINGUISHED have often led us to meditate on Moses and his encounter with the burning bush in Exodus 3.  Encounter with the Holy, with a new call, with a fiery vision that claimed Moses for work he could not imagine himself to be up for.  And we linger with the feeling of awe passed down through the ages: the attention-getting “I am who I am” is alive with creative Exodusing.  Then and now.  Beyond what and who we can imagine.  Alive with possibility.  A sustained and sustaining message.

This is what my clients and students want for their lives.  And what I want for mine.  Lives ablaze, lived fully and generously with grace.  Given to others and yet replenished by the enlivening Spirit.  Biblical PRINCIPLES help us to make choices which cultivate space for Divine renewal.  If this sounds like something you’d like support for in 2013, we’d love to have you join us on the “living well” journey.  Sign-up for the January 2013 class (Fridays at 8am) here.

 

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Love from the Center of Who You are…

“Love from the Center of Who You are.”   That’s Eugene Peterson’s marvelous paraphrase of Romans 12:9a in The Message. 

How do you hear this invitation in your season of life?

I hear it as a beacon of wisdom for conversations about “self” care.

My clients and I often reflect on natural connections between this great invitation and the wisdom of Don Miguel Ruiz in The Four Agreements. Indirectly, these great themes from TFA often show up on this Biblical “self” care series:

1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
4. Always do your best.

In my own life, I have discovered that if my current load of commitments, or my mindframe or approach to them, are hindrances to the above agreements, then I am in danger of damaging my “self”, relationships or commitments.

None of us are –or are called to be — PERFECT.  Yet we are invited to a quality of peace and integrity and abundance in our living and serving that I so often find sadly lacking in the realm of those of us called to serve.   Perhaps you have seen this too… there is so much suffering of anxiety, frustration, resentments and fear that accumulate if we are compulsively accruing the responsibilities we carry.  One way to relieve this suffering is to explore whether we have discerned well, or chosen freely, that which is on our plate.

My clients and students at Living Well Ministries, where I offer spiritual life coaching, are signing on to make shifts out of current unsustainable lives for the sake of “living well.”If you would like support for your reflections and actions for “self” care, we invite you to join this November teleclass. You will take away fresh insights and tools for making choices of sustainability (“a living sacrifice.”)
Registration cost of $85 includes one 30-minute coaching session. Order tickets via Eventbrite:
http://alivingsacrifice1112-efbevent.eventbrite.com/. Deadline: November 2.

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Daily Tasks & Divine Intention

Do you ever feel like you’re swimming upstream in the course of your day, your lists and your chaotic mind?

Me too!  Drowning, actually, would describe how I used to feel A LOT.  Just occasionally now.

Thanks to much practice and support for my own Living Well, I know what a different space feels like.  This space is far from perfection, but it does have more of a center and sense of discipline and power in the face of huge commitments.  In the upcoming Biblical “self” care class (Tuesdays in October), we’ll go into this in a little more depth.

Here is a hand-out I’ve designed to share with my students.  I’m glad to pass on this copy to you in hopes that it might provoke some of your own resonance and/or creative ideas.  In a nutshell, these are ways I’ve learned to GROUND myself and keep moving forward in days that could be overwhelming.  They are methods for remembering the Sacred in my day.  I pray a blessing on your own journeys to do likewise!

MOMENT MARKING:

PRACTICES FOR REORIENTING FOCUS AND FEELINGS

Lighting Candles: before or after an experience that needs blessing or boundaries… when I need to focus on a stressful assignment;  before I write out today’s ‘to do” list; when I’m turning to a task that’s late – perhaps with some guilt; before an important and vulnerable conversation; when I don’t know how to offer an intercessory prayer…

Lighting Incense:  before or after an experience that needs blessing or boundaries… all of the above apply

Playing a Favorite Song:  before/during breakfast, to start the day out right; before/during meditation; before bedtime

Rearranging Piles of Papers:   to demonstrate “enough done” for today… “I’m done” or “I’m leaving” or “this can wait” etc.  It helps to let a long slow breathe out!

Making and spending time at an “altar” space:   pausing before a display of special photos, quotes, keepsakes that embody my loyalties, blessings and intentions

Meal Blessings:  to claim not only the gratitude we associate with these, but also a boundary around conversation, for instance dedicating the time to fellowship and re-connection, rather than  problem-solving or task management.

Coffee Cup Blessings:  Intentionally not multi-tasking with the divinely-favored beverage of  choice; using the enjoyment of it to mark a “non-task” moment before I dig in to first project.

Devotional Readings:  Returning to a favorite passage or setting time aside for brief reading of a new one; naming this time (3 minutes, 5 or more) as a threshold moment that is wrapping up or beginning a new task or experience

Pausing to REALLY LOOK at Sun, Lake, Birds, etc. : Building in the time to pause on walk to el or somewhere else, sometimes the same place on the established walk; allowing this visual banquet to encourage and strengthen me with God’s providence  and wisdom.

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A Future Not Our Own

This poem-prayer, often attributed to Archbishop Oscar Romero, helps me to remember and to teach a certain kind of stillness which is not passivity, a vision which avoids being ungrounded in the present.  Oh, how we all need to be reminded of the Master Builder, to think and to pray and to walk with the One who holds the future.  My clients who are leaders of any kind, especially clergy and activists working hard to make a difference in this world, especially often need to be nourished — and CHALLENGED — by these words.  I dedicate this to them, and to the older adults whom I will serve as guest preacher this Sunday.

I learned recently that Romero never spoke these words, yet they live on as Word spoken by his life.  In my sermon for Sunday (Pentecost/Memorial Day), I hope to do justice to and with this sacred text and the words of hope in Hebrews 11-12.

Thanks to Dan Clendenin for his terrific site, Journey with Jesus, where I found this text and background.  This is an excerpt from his page:

 

In memory of Oscar Romero (1917–1980)

A Future Not Our Own

It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of
saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession
brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives include everything.

This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one
day will grow. We water the seeds already planted
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects
far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of
liberation in realizing this.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s
grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the
difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not
messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.

From Xavarian Missionaries:

Oscar A. Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, in El Salvador, was assassinated on March 24, 1980, while celebrating Mass in a small chapel in a cancer hospital where he lived. He had always been close to his people, preached a prophetic gospel, denouncing the injustice in his country and supporting the development of popular and mass organizations. He became the voice of the Salvadoran people when all other channels of expression had been crushed by the repression.

This prayer was composed by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, drafted for a homily by Card. John Dearden in Nov. 1979 for a celebration of departed priests. As a reflection on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Bishop Romero, Bishop Untener included it in a reflection titled “The mystery of the Romero Prayer.” The mystery is that the words of the prayer are attributed to Oscar Romero, but they were never spoken by him.

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A Spirituality of Subtraction

The medieval mystic Meister Eckhardt said the spiritual life has much more to do with subtraction than with addition. Yet Christians today are involved in a spirituality of addition. Consumer culture wants us to have more. God wants us to let go.

— Richard Rohr

Check out more wonderful Lenten nourishment from Rohr.

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To Love Our Neighbors as Ourselves

Here’s a real golden nugget, I think, from Emanuel Swedenborg’True Christianity:

We read that we are to love the Lord God above all things, and our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 10:27).  To love our neighbor as ourselves means not despising our neighbors in comparison with ourselves.  It means treating them justly and not judging them wrongfully.  The law of goodwill pronounced and given by the Lord himself is this:  

“Whatever you want people to do for you, do likewise for them.  This is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31,32)

This is how people who love heaven love their neighbor.  People who love the world, however, love their neighbor on a worldly basis for a worldly benefit.  People who love themselves love their neighbor in a selfish way for a selfish benefit.

Wow!  Think about the entrenched ugliness of our unresolved pain and violence in this world.  Is it not much about comparing and competing, treating folks unjustly or allowing injustice, and judging wrongfully?

I am really savoring this collection of Emanuel Swedenborg’s writings, including the parts of it that are a bit strange metaphysically.  I love to learn about innovative ideas and experiences others have had (or thought they had), and to ponder what it might reveal about God’s reality.  One does not have to be hopelessly relativist to be committed to appreciating at face value the potential gift that others are bringing.  To listen and to understand does not mean to give over all discriminating faculties!  (Unfortunately, the sort of fundamentalism and evangelicalism that formed my early life would indeed have us fearfully separate ourselves from such encounters, rather than seek in them the practice of neighborly love and intellectual humility).

I especially love to read things outside the mainstream of acceptance (or, shall I say invisible histories/herstories and even “heresy”).  It is a spiritual practice — studying the breadth and spirit of experience, testimony and communal ethics that have been born amid human grappling with the presence and expectations of God.  And, striving to encounter these things with the heart, not just the endlessly dissecting intellectual impulse.  Swedenborg called these  “sense-oriented” and I associate them with negative Ego grasping which other traditions name as our snare.

My coaching clients and students see this loving neighbors and self thing is the heart of the matter.  So, in fact did Jesus.  Swedenborg has some truly innovative ways of picturing and teaching this.  Tomorrow’s post will be especially interesting for those working on the spiritual projects of forgiveness and biblical self-care.

Maybe a Lenten practice that would be good Christian contribution to public discourse this election season:

To not despise our neighbor in comparison with ourselves.

To treat others justly.

To not judge wrongfully.

To do unto others as we’d like done unto us…

“The Law of Goodwill.”

 

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You Cannot Change the Circumstances…

“You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.” — Jim Rohn

 

This is a wonderfully life-giving and empowering reminder to me.  I do not hear it as piety but as prophetically wise, not as quietism but responsibility-taking, not as escapism but as incredible rigor.  My clients and students who are working on sustainable activism, biblical self-care,  forgiveness or coming out as gay or lesbian Christians are thriving because they are learning what they REALLY have charge of — their “energy leadership.”

This approach – quite suitable for Lent —  yokes self-examination with the tasks of transformation of circumstances.  It makes the interior life the starting point.

I join others from time to time in the critique of Western individualism and the corrosive impact it has had when taken to the extreme.  But I will not settle for a faith and a justice-calling that does not take seriously — reverentially — that resilience that can be cultivated only when we remember the limits of what we have charge of…

It is, I would go so far to say, GOOD NEWS.

What do you think?

 

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A Jesus Kind of Lent (Life)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,

for I am gentle and humble in heart,

and you will find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

–Matthew 11:28-30

 

Who could you be if you took this invite of Jesus at face value?

What could you let go of?

What long could you wait in a period of rest?

How might you distinguish the false burdens placed by the world, from the worthy yoke placed upon us by Christ?

 

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I Don’t Need to Suffer to Be of Service

The following italicized excerpt is from Micheal Neill, one of the coaching mentors I most treasure, and taken from his February 13, 2012 newsletter.

I can see that life was unfolding before I was born and will continue to do so long after I’m gone. And that while I have a role to play, I’m not the star of this particular movie. Which is a huge and blessed relief, because it means I can just relax and enjoy my life as best I know how to do.

I don’t need to suffer to be of service – in fact, over time it’s the one thing sure to stop me. Suffer long enough and you begin to shield your eyes from the suffering of others. 

In fact, the simple but paradoxical rule of thumb seems to be this:

The more I enjoy my life, the more compassion I feel for the suffering of others.

Have fun, learn heaps, and be kind – to yourself and to everyone else!

Read more at Micheal Neill’s website.

The above letter provokes me into thought, prayer and conversation about a theme that I am working out “with fear and trembling” (that’s old-fashioned King James biblical language, not literal fear).  The crux of the complicated wrestling:

How can it be that so much of Christian thought and effort seems to be attached to suffering and sacrifice?

Where is this damaging preoccupation manifest today among conservative AND liberal notions of bearing the cross?

What does it look like to prosper in joyful growth, service and community with the humility of the Gospel (laid out in the Sermon on the Mount)?

My clients, students and I are working this out together.  Because the notion that enjoying this life is a betrayal of the Gospel or necessarily a block to the outpouring of compassion and justice has damaged countless precious lives and distorted the integrity of our worshipful offerings.  The cost, in terms of Biblical self-care, is that we risk false and prideful sacrifice rather than the “living sacrifice” which we see in Romans 12.  And, that we fail to make “every thought captive to Christ” by savoring the gifts of this world: loving relationships with self and others, nature, collaborations of all kinds, music and art and all sensory embodied experiences.  Being with others’ joy and pain in graced silence.  And so much more.  And, the time to truly know all these.

Thanks for being on this journey with me, and with provocative mentors and conversations like Michael.

Peace and love,

Jacki

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Joining with God in Expressing Love for the World

The Holy One is with us in all of life. Our purpose for opening the door inward is to help us know and claim who we are so we can more completely join with God in expressing this love in every part of our external world.

— Joyce Rupp

Open the Door: A Journey to the True Self

 

“Love from the Center of Who You are” is how Paul puts it (via Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase) in Romans 12:9a.   My clients and students at Living Well Ministries are creating and recreating lives with a passion for such a life.  We look inward not in selfishness or escapism, but in order to truly feel and act from the grace which we profess to be God’s.  We boldly explore our present energy blocks, the ideas and habits which get in our way as we aspire to live generously and sustainably in this world.  We dare to look at lifestyle habits of greed, gluttony and compulsion in which we trade spaciousness and receptivity for endless tasks.  In the reality of experienced brokenness, we are learning how to rest in what Parker Palmer calls “a hidden wholeness.”

As I prepare to teach next month’s class on biblical self-care, I am reminded of Coach Cheryl Richardson’s wise challenge.  How can we be truly follow our God’s guidance if we do not make time and room to get to know and listen to our True Self?

Joyce Rupp shares this passion, and I am grateful for the privilege of sharing her work as an invitation for fellowship and discernment among a sacred group of sisters in ministry this year.  We call care so much about following our Lord in a calling to love the world. Really and materially.  It’s my hope that this is a year for all of us of deepening that “Living Well” from which we can do so with joy.

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