Tuesdays at 6PM
Held at 417 Cashier Lake Road in the Canoe Club in Downtown Cashiers
Beginning August 18th
Email Barbara to Register: BBanks@WholeHeartLife.com
Email Barbara to Register: BBanks@WholeHeartLife.com
During one particular season in my life, I took lots of family photos. I was diligent about making scrapbook photo albums for each year. I created pages and pages about the activities and events in our family’s life. But inevitably, I would have single, random photos that didn’t go with an event, yet still had something to say. I couldn’t leave them out, but there was no obvious place to put them. Finally, I made a page called “This & That” so these precious pictures would have their spot.
This is how I see this final blog on WHO YOU ARE: here are important, precious, random quotes, musings, and thoughts that didn’t make the pages of the previous posts. May they be a reminder of what was previously said and take you further in discovering your HEART and WHO YOU ARE.
1. Remember there are two parts to who you are: Human and Spiritual. Richard Rohr said this in one of his daily devotions. Something to think about:
Catherine of Siena in her Dialogues pictures the spiritual life as a large tree:
In other words, says Catherine, love does not happen without patience, self-knowledge, and discernment. Today we have little encouragement toward honest self-knowledge or training in spiritual discernment from our churches. We prefer the seeming clarity of black-and-white laws. By nature, most of us are not very patient. All of which means love is not going to be very common. We need St. Catherine’s tree again.
2. Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. –Aristotle
Self Knowledge–understanding who we are, taking a really good look at what we are doing and how we are being–is important. One of the defining characteristics of being human is our ability to be conscious—to be aware, to be mindful. Therefore, being conscious of our self is vitally important to become who we truly are. The most difficult phase of life is not when no one understands you; It is when you don’t understand yourself. –unknown
3. Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive. –Howard Thurman
I didn’t get into this too much in the past posts, but another aspect of WHO YOU ARE is what brings you alive. The things that you love to do. The things that you get lost in. The things that make you feel icredibly joy-filled. The things that stir your heart to action and accomplishment. These are your passions and determine your PURPOSE. And they have been given to you for a reason. Each of us has been given gifts, talents, activities or causes that we have a desire to do. You were made to do those thing and to do those things in a way no one else would. Here are some ways to figure some of those out:
4. Your TRUE SELF is really spiritual.
When all else fades away in our life—titles, roles, status—what we are left with is our TRUE SPIRIT SELF. From the biblical perspective, here are a few things the bible says about WHO WE ARE:
Here is what we can conclude about WHO WE ARE spiritually from above:
5. I acknowledge and do not deny that you love me before I existed, and that you love me unspeakably much, as one gone mad over your creature. — Saint Catherine of Siena
God is crazy-mad in love with us. Are you crazy in love with God? Are you crazy in love with you? Are you crazy in love with others? Do you believe you are capable of this? If we allow God’s love to reflect through us, we can be crazy lovers…even back to our self which is so vital to being who you truly are.
6. Love transforms one into what one loves. We looked at this quote in a previous post. Here is another thought on this quote:
If we transform into what we love, then who are we becoming? What do you love? If it is anything other than God than you probably won’t become WHO YOU ARE as the crazy loving being that God intended you to be. We are meant to love. But very easily, we can end up loving the wrong things. Idols, for example, are things that can take our love from God. They come in many forms–money, work, our body, a person, drugs, alcohol, porn, food. When we use these things to define our identity, for fulfillment, or to meet our need for love, acceptance, significance or belonging, we create an idol. Our God-given gifts (talents and strengths) and passions (activities you get lost in or make your spirit soar) can also become idols. Be ever mindful. As long as what you love is an extension of love and NOT a source for love, then wholeheartedly pursue it.
7. Now how can those who do not know their own sinfulness recognize and correct it in others? They are neither able nor willing to go against themselves. –St. Catherine
WRECKED has recently become a popular slang word. People say, “she wrecked me,” or “that movie wrecked me.” What they are talking about is the mind blowing, perception changing, overwhelming positive or negative effect that something had over them. The dictionary definition of the word is to ruin, damage, or destroy.
Be brave and let God’s love WRECK YOU—in both definitions! Be willing to ‘go against yourself’ and see how you are being due to thoughts and lies you believe about WHO YOU ARE. Who are you trying to be? How are you protecting yourself and your image? What unloving behaviors are you engaging in out of fear? Recognizing and owning our unloving ways is painful. But if we allow this self awareness, we can destroy the image that is trying to make us something we are not. God’s love also can wreck us because it is mind blowing, a perception changer, and can have an overwhelmingly positive effect on us. I dare say that most of us are still wrestling with (1) how can God love us when we are so unloving and sinful, and (2) trying to grasp God’s love through the story of Jesus and his resurrection. Both of those have no shortage of mind blowing, life changing power. If we allow ourselves to receive God’s love it will destroy AND repair us. Dying to self and becoming a new creation happen when we allow God to wreck us. Only the descent into the hell of self-knowledge can pave the way to godliness. –Immanuel Kant
8. In Self Love, there is always the danger of self hate. In self hate, there is always the possibility of self love.” –Tina Ng
Only in attempting great love for others, God or our self can we see our failings—how unloving we can be. However, it is in these moments when we have the opportunity to love the most. How ironic! Our tendency is to go into denial, justify our behavior, blame others, berate our self, give up, or fall into despair and self pity. If we can, in those moments, love our selves we honor WHO WE ARE. Oswald Chamber says when we realize or receive conviction about our unloving ways (or someone else’s), it is God’s call to intercession, never faultfinding. Intercession has no judgment, ridicule and criticism in it; instead it is characterized by acceptance and compassion. If you spent as much time loving yourself as you do at running from or hating yourself, who do you think you’d be or become?
9. Sometimes I pretend to be normal, but it gets boring, so I go back to being me. –Unknown
This makes me chuckle because what is ‘normal’? We allow many things (family, society, friends, church, etc) to tell us what is normal, and, if we don’t live up to that, we pretend. We can end up living a false, unauthentic version of WHO WE ARE. This is hurtful to our self, God, and others! We are meant to be exactly who and what we are in our glorious, precious, messiness! Loving your self is JUST BEING YOU! When you get to heaven God will not judge you for not being like your ultimate mentor or spiritual hero, God may judge you for not being YOU! Loving myself is bringing every part of myself out into the light to be seen and accepted…by me! –unknown
10. Lastly, I want to share an inspiring music video to end this blog series! Don’t let other people’s words or your circumstances define who you are.
I’d love to hear your heart. Leave a comment or share a thought on what you’ve discovered about WHO YOU ARE.
Last week’s post discussed some of the ways we might behave when we believe two lies:
The truth of the matter is that God IS love and Love does NOT hurt. Unloving behaviors hurt. Who we are in our core is LOVE, and we are beings capable of great love.
Believing that God hurts leads us to believe that we are all hurtful beings, and we then engage in fear-based, self-protective behavior that is rooted in fear. We begin to avoid the connection, intimacy and love that we’re made for and that we long for. In order to break this cycle, we need to recognize that feeling unfulfilled is more a reaction of fear (natural instinct and conditioning from past unloving encounters) than a choice to love (our true spiritual essence).
Becoming aware of our false beliefs and acknowledging the behaviors we engage in to protect ourselves isn’t always pleasant. It takes a great deal of introspection, self-knowledge, willingness, and time. And let’s not forget COURAGE! In areas of your life where you feel unrest, anxiety, anger, pain, sadness, or unfulfillment, you are very likely participating in fear instead of love. To honestly examine your behaviors – to dig into your beliefs and uncover the causes of your actions – takes a great deal of bravery. So if you are still reading and following these blogs, I want to give you a whole-hearted cheer…a big WHOOP! You are already being brave, so keep going!
As I promised last week, I want to give you a practical, do-able spiritual practice that will transform you into what you will love. Here it is: start and practice loving yourself every day at every moment no matter how you are being or what you are doing. Love yourself and you will transform into something you love!
Some of you might be thinking that sounds awfully selfish and self-indulgent. I used to think so, too. And this same reaction occurs in my WHOOP groups when I tell them, “for the next 5 weeks you are going to concentrate on YOU and loving yourself!” We are often taught that loving ourselves is a form of conceit and self-absorption. We might also think that self-love goes against the selflessness that Jesus teaches by his example. But I have learned that loving myself is a form of honoring God, and that it also honors others.
Here are some truths I’ve learned about the link between loving myself and loving others:
God’s love and self-love is a sweet dance between us and God. You can’t seem to have one without the other.
If you love you, you love God.
If you love God, you love you because He is part of WHO YOU ARE.
If you dishonor yourself, you are dishonoring God.
If you dishonor God, you are dishonoring yourself.
If you are not connecting with yourself, then you are not connecting with God.
The transforming that occurs is God’s love to us, through us and given back to our self. (You might need to read that one a few times to let it sink in!) Practice some self love and see what starts to happen in your life.
These can be big and small things. They can cost money or not. They can be actual activities or a way you want to be.
Read more fun books
Take a bath
Listen to music and sing
Drink more water
Brush my teeth
Make my bed in the morning
Have fresh flowers in the house
Don’t go to bed mad
Take family vacations every year
Go on lunch date with girlfriend
Cook a new recipe
Schedule Date nights
Tell the truth in love
Go for a walk
Take an art class
Buy new pajamas
Keep my morning time sacred
Breath before responding when feeling angry
Take responsibility for any behavior I did that might have been hurtful and apologize
Remember to take some healthy snacks in the car so I don’t eat something unhealthy
I’d love to hear your heart. Leave me a comment or tell me a few ways you plan to love yourself this week.
If we look at experiences that have caused us heartache and gut wrenching pain, through feelings of rejection, abandonment or grief, we would logically conclude that LOVE HURTS. Ask anyone who is in a recent break up, a divorce, a betrayal or a loss and they will tell you love hurts. I googled “love hurts”. The images that accompanied that search were painful to look through. I can relate with the pain in the images from my own past breakups, betrayals, and losses. It hurts to lose what was or what could have been. Love certainly seems to hurt.
This is so true. I have hurt others because I didn’t know how to love. Others have hurt me because they didn’t know how to love. In small ways it might have looked like being late, assuming instead of asking, being forgetful or not returning a text. In large ways it may have looked like breaking a promise, refusing to apologize, lying, holding a grudge or feeling justified to not extend my love. It’s true, not knowing how to love or be loved hurts.
Reading a few comments to Tony’s post, this one caught my eye, “It seems there are lot of people out there who don’t know how to love.” In His calm small voice I heard God whisper to me, “It breaks my heart that people are hurting others and themselves because they don’t know how to love. They are not understanding or believing WHO THEY ARE.” I’ m certain there would be a lot more of us loving and living whole heartedly if we understood and believed who we are!
If love hurts and God is love, does God hurt? Looking at the Old Testament in the bible we could certainly find cases where it appears God acts in unloving ways and thus love hurts. It appears that He is some kind of punisher waiting for us to break His law only to hurt us for doing so. If we believe love hurts or that God hurts, how could one ever love and trust God? But we have to read the whole book! The bible is a giant love story to us from God. Here are a couple points from this love story:
Everything that God did before Jesus came seems to be God’s way of helping us see how disconnected, unloving, fearful and untrusting of God we are, so that when He brought about this intimate, saving, transforming union, we might understand how much He LOVES US. Knowing WHO YOU ARE is knowing who God is. God is a heaping, huge, still trying to take it all in, hunk of love! Which means so are we.
We are in love and love is in us. If we believe love hurts what does that say about us? Are we just a bunch of hurting and hurtful people? YES, but not because of love, but because we don’t know how to love and we are not understanding and believing who we are and what we are capable of…and that hurts.
What we believe we will live out. If we believe love hurts or that God is hurtful, we will bring forth our natural human instinct to protect ourselves. This natural instinct can be reinforced and heightened by the environment we grew up in and experiences we’ve had. In human form if we believe love hurts we’ll become untrusting and guard ourselves against others. Spiritually, if we believe God Hurts, we will not trust God and we won’t believe that everything He is doing is for a good purpose or that He has a good purpose for us. Everything that goes wrong or is painful in our life, we will think that God is punishing us or teaching us a harsh lesson. In addition we inflict pain upon ourself, to escape the hurt of feeling unloved and unworthy by others, God or our self.
Here is a list of what may happen when we believe love hurts or God hurts. This is not an exhaustive list. All of these are out of fear and protection:
I’ll admit, I didn’t need a book to list the above consequences of believing that love hurts or that God hurts. I’ve performed most of those fear based, protective behaviors outwardly and, if not outwardly, definitely in my mind. Only if we were loved completely as we needed by everyone we know and have known, would we escape the consequences of protective fear. We all have exhibited or acted upon those unloving behaviors in some form or fashion for very good reasons. Don’t berate yourself if you identify with some of the behaviors on the list. It is not pleasant to become mindful of our unloving ways but it is essential to living a whole hearted life. If you are seriously asking yourself question number 4, I know it will not be fun or easy. Let me give you some hope.
First, we are created in the likeness of God. (Gen 1:27; Gen 5:1), which means we are love and we are capable of great love for others, God, and our self. We are not naturally hurtful, unloving people. We are very much God-Like! We may have a natural instinct to protect our self, but who you are as a God created, loving being can become more of your “doing” and “being” with awareness and practice. Look at these quotes and let them sink in:
Second, sometimes I like to take GOD and LOVE and substitute them for each other when I come across a saying or scripture I like. Sometimes it gives me more clarity and truth about who God is. If you recall from last week’s post, knowing God is imperative to knowing and understanding WHO YOU ARE. It doesn’t always work perfectly, but it can be enlightening.
Lastly, love does cast out all fear. Love does transform. Next week I’m going to talk about how that works in a very practical way. I’ll talk about how to bring your spiritual loving being into your human living. Stay tuned!
I’d love to hear your heart. Leave a comment or share one way you are going to “GOD” this week!