Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Transcending Shame, Embracing Love

I have been teaching for a little over seven months now. The most incredible thing about this, besides how fast time has passed, is how teaching continues to be a humbling daily devotional practice and a mirror for journey I walk outside the studio room. Being a teacher, in any sense of the word, means first and foremost that you never stop being a student, and I've found that my lessons come from everywhere. Some days are harder than others; those days usually become the most beautiful. That's why I truly value my moments of doubt, because the days where all I can do is pray are the days that profound transformation can happen and divine love can come in.

Some things that have come up a lot of me lately are shame and fear. This journey is not all sunshine and rainbows; I discover thick layers of darkness, too. My lesson has been to explore that with love and curiosity, and begin to understand where those feelings come from. It's only through understanding and SEEING that I can pull back another layer. Literally transcending shame, and embracing love. While I'm not necessarily being specific I know and I trust that you know what I'm talking about when I talk about shame. It can be anything. It can be something we’ve said, something we’ve done (or not done). It can be your body; are you comfortable in your skin? It is something that is very present in our lives, in our relationships, maybe even our relationship with the universe/nature/Spirit/God/whatever sense of Bigness or Moreness you grapple with.

There's a saying that goes: Shame stops being shame when it is no longer a secret. Maybe it's a secret we keep from ourselves. Maybe it's a skeleton in that closet that we're afraid to look at. So the invitation, not the requirement, but the invitation, is to greet the shame, understand where it comes from, and maybe, just maybe, begin to let it go.

I am going to go out on a limb here (and you are welcome to walk out with me or not): we are holy Beings. So here’s my question: if you truly, 100% believed that every single day, how would you live your life? What relationships would you foster, which would you let go of? What job would you seek? What daily habits would you set into place to care for the soul's vessel, the body, your mind, and your heart?

I know my day-to-day life would look very different if I truly believed and trusted this. How we treat ourselves is just as important as how we treat others. If we neglect to meet our needs, we betray ourselves; and we betray ourselves on a daily basis. That's it. We've harmed a human Being; it's just the human being we looking at in the mirror.

I say this not as a judgment, not as the pointing finger that says “shame on you!” because where would that leave us? We haven't gone anywhere. If we continue to feel afraid and ashamed of looking in the mirror to see our brokenness, we delay healing. We delay forgiveness. I cannot find forgiveness for my self-betrayal from you; and truly, we cannot find it anywhere we look. We will not find it with our family. We will not find it in our partners—pieces of it, surely, because that is a part of the healing process, but not all of it. Not that total release, that freedom.

Why is it so hard to find forgiveness? Maybe we don't believe we deserve it; part of me must not believe, because I have not forgiven myself. What happens when we forgive? We let go of the past. We may remember it, we may honor it, but we've moved on. It is no longer a part of us in this moment. We have replaced it with something new.

So why? I really want it for you, I believe you deserve it, I believe you deserve freedom and love. I believe that the best way for you to serve this world is to be creative, vibrant, and unashamedly beautiful. Where is that desire for myself? Why is it so hard to find?

There is nothing TO find. We cannot find what we already have. The issue is not that we have betrayed Anyone or Anything, but that we believe we have. We believe wholeheartedly in our brokenness. We believe in our shame, in our guilt, we believe in being small. Why do we believe this?

Well, it could be a lot of things, and only you can begin to unveil it for yourself. One possibility is this: we inherit a lot of stuff from our family and most of it is not material.

Recently I realized my pattern of avoiding anger was not something unique to me and my life. My fear of conflict and seeing it through with love was a family pattern. I saw it in my generation, my parents' generation, my grandparents' generation. So here is a marvelous opportunity! I can choose to continue the family path; that is certainly an option. Or, I can choose to transcend it. I can choose not to claim it as my own. When I feel anger, I can state what's on my heart without shame or fear of rejection, set my boundaries, and do this all with love.

Sometimes we inherit a sense of brokenness, of shame for who we are, from our family. It may not be conscious, it may not be intentional, but we are born into this huge mansion full of stuff, thoughts, feelings, assumptions that are not ours. But again, this is not a blame game. Blame does nothing but displace shame; it’s like taking the stuff from that mansion and having a garage sale to pass off the stuff we chose to own onto someone else. Can we choose another route: this brokenness stops with me.

This has been my daily prayer lately, and I share it with you to allow you take in what you resonates with you and leave behind what doesn’t:

“I see the face of brokenness that I have lived with for many years. I see that face around my mother's eyes, around my grandfather's crooked smile. I create a life from grace and love. I do not seek forgiveness, because I am forgiveness. I do not seek love, because I am love. I choose to release the shamed heart, freeing both it and myself. I am a child of Love, created from pure intention. In my essence I am whole, because if I break I do not break apart, but I break open. May this be my legacy.”