We live in a scarcity culture. It thrives on tricking us into believing and then embodying lies: There is not enough to go around—not enough money, not enough love, not enough success, not enough happiness, not enough pleasure, not enough joy, not enough time, not enough…
We are taught to believe that we are not enough. Women especially are taught this. We learn to breathe in desperation and taught it is our true nature, even though it suffocates and slowly kills us. We learn to survive by not being enough. It is the only way we know how to be.
What do we do when we glimpse another way? When the light finally breaks in and we see?
I am learning how important it is to share that “new reality” with another person so they can also see—beholding it together helps to make it real.
This past weekend, I spent time with two very different communities. One was a gathering of Episcopalians who are working to discern and discover new ways of being church—ways that are truer to the heart of what it means to follow Jesus. The other was a group of women seeking to reclaim (or discover for the first time) their true selves through connecting to the source of their divine power within their feminine bodies.
To an outsider these groups and their intended purposes for gathering might seem completely divergent. But there are so many common themes, so many common desires, not least of which is a deep desire to connect to a source that is greater than themselves - and this divine source is Infinite Abundance.
People shared story after story about connecting to this Divine Abundance and through this witnessing of one another’s liberation, those who were witness experienced their own setting free.
While we spend so much of our time dwelling in fear, this Divine Source is at our fingertips, closer than our very breath, living and moving inside of each of us and in the currents between all of us.
One possible reason we so easily believe the lie that we are not enough is because we are terrified of our “too-much-ness.”
As Marianne Williams writes in A Return to Love:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
The gift these communities gave to their participants was the space to share all that is being felt, experienced, struggled with and sought after - AND to witness to the new creations each person is co-creating herself to be. She is co-creating her Truest Self with God and with her community.
Whether it is in communities that call themselves church, or in groups of women who call themselves sisters, every time a person has the chance to share her story in a group where she can be witnessed, heard, loved and held, she can remember that she is enough and more than enough, because she is connected to the Source of all that is.
How do we learn to see a new, truer reality that the Divine lives in each one of us? How do we unlearn years, lifetimes, of conditioning that have taught us not to trust in who we really are? How do we tap into abundance so we can create even more?
One way is through witnessing and affirming each other’s too-much-ness, the source of overflowing creativity and joy that is the heart of our true nature. If it feels like too much, find a community to share it with—digest it! Let the joy flow out of you and into others so you can make room for even more. We must train ourselves to tap into our own power, the power of God that is within us. We cannot serve the world by denying who we truly are. The power we need to change the world lies within each one of us. Recognizing that power in each of us, helps to set us all free.
Sara Shisler Goff is priest, writer, artist, activist, human being, and co-founder of @theslateproject.
The dirt covered snow melts away as the sun reflects on it. The ground gives way to new life as Spring beckons forth. Leaves returning to the trees, grass beginning to peak through the melting snow, the sound of birds returning from their winter migration, water puddles for children to gleefully play in. Growing up, this was also the time of the year when baby calves would be born. All of these returning signs reminding us all that a new season of life is once again dawning.
As the seasons change, new life proclaims that light not darkness and life not death have the ultimate word. So as the sun rises on Easter morning and shouts of “alleluia” permeate the air, the resurrection of Jesus opens the sky to the glory of new life. In the words of Clarence W. Hall, “Easter says you can put death in the grave, but it won’t stay there.” In other words, Jesus’ life, death, and ultimately resurrection change the world.
Jesus’ death transforms the world. It rouses a deaf world to the brokenness that is set before it. Jesus’ death opens our eyes and ears to see those who are in need in this broken fractured world. Jesus’ death beckons us to “love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us” even when that is easier said than done. Jesus’ death calls us to “do justice, love kindness and mercy and walk humbly with our God.” (Micah 6:8 NRSV)
In our Easter shouts of “Alleluia,” we proclaim our trust in the promise of this one who God sent into the world for each of us. “For God so loved the world that God sent God’s one and only son into the world for each of us (John 3:16)” God sent God’s son not to condemn the world, but to save it.
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.” (John 3:16-17; The Message)
This amazing scandalous redeeming love springs forth with the promise of life eternal as we proclaim “Christ is risen; He is risen indeed. Alleluia!”
Tara Ulrich (@diakonia78) is a single ELCA Lutheran girl called to the ministry of Word and Service who loves the prairies of ND! Jesus-Follower/Author/Sister/Friend. She blogs at prayingontheprairie.blogspot.com
Show me your bible and I’ll show you an anthology of pain, struggle, death, rape, heartbreak, loneliness, example after example of the absolute worst of humanity. Show me your newspaper and I’ll point out the same. Where is the God of our faith during seasons of desperation? Where was He when the US bombed Syria, when civilians, children, are being slaughtered in the street? Is He with the missing girls of DC? Did He comfort the many trans women as they lay dying by the hands of unknown assailants across the US? Does He stop by the homes of those affected by lead in their water or calm the fears of those dependent upon the Affordable Health Care Act to live, who worry that at any moment their medicine or treatment could be out of reach? And what of the artist? The poet, the musician, the painter, who depends upon the national endowment to sustain their life’s purpose and add beauty to the world we live in; does He hear their whispered prayers?
Are you there God? It’s me, Stevi. Angry, sad, hurt, confused, scared me.
Show me your bible and I will show you the story of Hagar; the story of a servant girl who was forced by her mistress to sleep with her master, became angry with her mistress and subsequently mistreated by the same. She is so like me. Doing her duty and fulfilling a purpose she never asked for, and did so even when she was in a delicate and vulnerable state. No wonder she was mad at Sarai. Sarai who was not yet Sarah the revered mother of old, no, she was Sarai the impatient. She was Sarai the oppressor, the abuser, the user, the sly, the slick, who else would come up with that kind of scheme? Sarai the desperate, that’s who. And Hagar hated her for it. We don’t know much about Hagar either. We don’t know if she was a slave due to a debt or if she was sold by her own family. We don’t know if she came from a lineage of slaves or was a foreigner kidnapped and sold to Sarai. What we do know is that she didn’t have a choice in her pregnancy. And when Sarai mistreated her, she ran off.
But then an Angel appeared. The angel told her of Ishmael, which means God Hears, who was to come forth from her womb. God had heard of her misery and sent an angel to intercede. She still had to return to the mess she was running from, for her destiny was forever linked to it. (Sound familiar?) She had to submit to bring forth the wild man, the father of descendants too numerous to count. She had to return so that she could gain what was hers.
So now, show me your bible and I’ll show you a collection of stories about redemption, passion, love, forgiveness, power, and hope. Show me your newspaper and I’ll show opportunities to live out our destiny as the children of God. Show me a mirror and I’ll show you Hagar in the reflection. Living in a world I often want to run from, knowing my destiny is tied to it. And God does see me, hear me, is indeed with those who suffer, who die, who cry, who are wounded and weary. And because He so loved this world, His creation, that He would give his own life, God has called us to the fight too. He has called us, His beloved, to share his message in the midst of the mess. He is the God who sees, and knows, and loves, then and now. I have seen the one who sees me, El Roi, and He is with us, even until the end of the age.
Stevi is a lover of God and people, a wife, mother, and writer, not necessarily in that order. You can catch her musings on facebook, twitter, and at dearstevi.wordpress.com.