Today’s post is from frequent retreat presenters, Susan Boruff and Kathy Anderson. Let’s take a moment to read this inspiring reflection that includes an important reminder from scripture, a short lesson on how to practice it and then a breathing meditation exercise at the end. Thank you for sharing, Susan and Kathy!

Exactly As You Are

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” Rumi

“So God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Genesis 1:27,31

Uncertainty is the theme of our culture these days. When times are uncertain, we need to rely on Truth.

August Turak, in his book, Brother John, tells about the monks at Mepkin Abbey, a Cistercian monastery outside of Charleston, SC. August is a regular “pilgrim” at Mepkin Abbey and while on retreat there, he became fascinated with Brother John. He says, “Brother John was fascinating precisely because I intuited that to live as he did, to have his quiet peace and effortless love, had nothing to do with being a monk and was available to us all.”

I agree.

Is your life based on the values of the gospel? 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment.”

Or is your life based on fear? Is fear holding you back? Is fear or shame driving your behavior?

I would like to share the following story.

“You are exactly what God had in mind when you were created. You are exactly what God had in mind when you were created!” As you are now. Let this sink in…….

This is the message that Jesuit priest, Fr. Greg Boyles, would tell gang members in his ministry in the heart of Los Angeles’ gang neighborhoods. He said when this sinks in, no bullet could pierce this truth. In his book, Tattoos on the Heart, he explained “But much stands in the way of this liberating truth. You need to dismantle shame and disgrace, coaxing out the truth in people who’ve grown comfortable in believing its opposite.”

The gang members Fr. Boyles is referring to had very troubled and impoverished upbringings. That is why these kids would become part of a gang, it became their family, it was part of their survival.

We all have the will to survive, it is how our brain is wired. Part of our human nature includes our survival instincts, that we might call our animal instincts, which include our desire to protect, to take charge, to fit in, to flee or fight, to survive…to maintain life!

The part of the brain which houses this survival mechanism is called the Limbic System. It houses the flight, fight or freeze response, it is the seat of our negative emotions and the storage house of our memories.

It is where our inner wounds are stored. Most of our wounds come from our conditioning, our upbringing. Most of our wounds are about our own survival.

We all have inner wounds that need to be excavated and purified. The purification process is to detach or let go of the false beliefs that come with that wound. This process happens in silence because it is in silence that you hear God’s invitation to let go and pay attention to His voice, the Truth. (Matthew 10:27). His message is: you are whole and complete as you are and that you are loved as you are. That is His only message, but we don’t want to believe that. The world communicates a very different message. The voice of the world says you are not enough, you are not sufficient, you are damaged, you need more, etc.

Remember, you become what you focus on. What is fired together in the brain, is wired together. This is called The Hebbian Principle.

Practice:

What message from the world do you choose to focus on that is preventing you from having a full, complete relationship with God? What thoughts, emotions, beliefs, memories are you holding onto? Write down your answers and share it with someone you trust.

Father Christian, from Mepkin Abbey, says in regard to our wounds, “acknowledging the fact, refusing to run away from it, and deciding to deal with it is the beginning of the only authentic life there is. All evil begins with a lie. The biggest evil comes from the biggest lies, and the biggest lies are the ones we tell ourselves. And we lie to ourselves because we’re afraid to take ourselves on.” (From Brother John)

We take ourselves on in silence, before our Great God who knows what we need before we ask and who only has one message to communicate:

“You are exactly what I had in mind when I created you. And you are very good.”

Remember to be gentle and kind to yourself on your journey to quiet peace and effortless love.

Now, you are invited to “take yourself on” in silence with Kathy’s guided meditation.

“I am wonderfully made.”

You are invited to find a quiet place to sit with your back straight, which opens up your chest and opens up your heart to receive. The meditation is 11 minutes.

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