Need a little hope this year? Don't look under the tree.

Do you ever feel hopeless? It can happen when you hear or read the news. It can happen when you look at your bank account. It can happen sitting in traffic driving to a job that you hate. It can happen when think about what is next in your life and realize that there is a gap between what you want and the constraints in your life. You find it difficult to consider that things will get better. The thought of anything improving feels like wishful thinking. And you would love to have some hope.

Last week I talked about Reframing Christmas. I wrote, "I want to help make the season sacred for you - regardless of your religous beliefs or where you place your self on the spiritual spectrum. I’m not just going for sacred but also for truthful and honest and authentic. I want you embrace the mystery of this season and sit with all of it. And at the end of December, look back satsified you reclaimed the holidays. One way I am focusing on bringing the sacred into my life this year is by reclaiming advent. You are probably familiar with advent calendars. They are a big deal. I read an article on calendars that go beyond chocolate. Read it here. Clearly retailers have figured out advent sells! You can get just about anything money can buy in an advent calendar.

But advent traditionally was about reminding us that there are things in life that money can't buy. Things like hope, peace, joy and love. This week on Reframe Your Life I explore hope. You can hear the whole episode here.

Since I recorded the episode I have been thinking about the difference between saying, "I hope things work out" and "I have hope things will work out." Charles Snyder and his associates have researched hope. His work is called Hope Theory and he says if you have hope you have the will and determination that your goals will be achieved and a set of strategies at your disposal to reach your goals. What I understand about hope is that it can be learned. You believe you'll be able to reach your goal and you have a way or a plan to get there. I think your will, determination and belief that you'll reach your goal can come from faith or spirituality. It's definitely worth considering. Do you have hope? How do you understand hope?

Tomorrow is the first Sunday in advent. I have a few people in my life going through difficult times. I know from experience that sometimes when life gets difficult and when we are experiencing pain and suffering, we can lose sight of hope. We don't see a way through the darkness. So, I've decided to light a candle and hold space for them this weekend. It's my way of reclaiming advent. My hope isn't magical thinking that everything will turn out great. It's rooted in knowing that there is a way through the pain in life.

Why you can't be honest

Did you watch the US Open when the umpire accused Serena Williams of cheating. And she lost it? She was demanding an apology. Clearly she is a woman who values honesty. And being questioned about her integrity made her rage.

I was so impressed with the way she defended herself, demanding that he apologize.

So many of us back down when it comes to being honest.

I know I have - and at times I still find it difficult to speak my truth. I have been so conditioned to worry about what other people think...and not wanting to offend others that the real me doesn’t always show up.

I now thinkg that as long as we keep hiding who we are, what we really believe, what our opinions are, what we want, how we feel and what we think from ourselves, we are never going to be able to bring our authentic selves to the table and use our gifts to heal the world.

And yet, we continue to choose cognitive dissonance over being authentic and true to ourselves.

John O’Donohue writes in The Trap of False Belonging, “We learn to fit in, shrink down, minimize our truth. We want to please others and not rock the boat. We cancel or hide our true selves.

It’s time to get honest with yourself. For your own mental health

So how do we start reclaiming our truth?

The first step is to WAKE UP.

In Dance of the Dissident Daughter, Sue Monk Kidd refers this to being in a Deep Sleep. She says,

“A woman in Deep Sleep is one who goes about in an unconscious state. She seems unaware or unfazed by the truth of her own female life, the truth about women in general, the way women and the feminine have been wounded, devalued, and limited within culture, churches, and families. She cannot see the wound or feel the pain. She has never acknowledged, much less confronted, sexism within the church, biblical interpretations, or Christian doctrine. Okay, so women have been largely missing from positions of church power, we’ve been silenced and relegated to positions of subordination by biblical interpretations and doctrine, and God has been represented to us as exclusively male. So what? The woman in Deep Sleep is oblivious to the psychological and spiritual impact this has had on her. Or maybe she has some awareness of it all but keeps it sequestered nicely in her head, rarely allowing it to move down into her heart or into the politics of her spirituality.”

And then, we need to SPEAK UP

Monk Kidd writes, “I began to reflect on the ways I’d withheld my opinions, muzzled disconcerting truths, refrained from expressing my true feelings, squelched my riskier ideas, or thwarted my creativity. When I did that, I was living out the script of the Silent Woman. Being a Silent Woman is not about being quiet and reticent, it’s about stifling our truth. Our real truth.”

We are living in a time where women are speaking up. Poet Muriel Rukeyser writes, “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? / The world would split open.”

One of the reasons I have held back in speaking my truth is I know how it might impact other people. And I am going to do a podcast episode on this topic. How do you speak your truth even when you know that other people will disagree with you and it will impact your relationships?

As women we are conditioned to be accomodating. In personality tests like the MBTI women often show a preference for Feeling. Or in the Big 5 What that means is we may put harmony above truth. We avoid conflict. We are afraid of not being liked and we certainly don’t want to be labelled ‘bitch’.

Another reason you may avoid seeking or expressing your truth is because you don’t want to act on it. Martha Beck wrote in Leaving the Saints,

“Knowing my own truth made me responsible for choosing a course of action based on that truth, even it it meant breaking with traditions and institutions.”

I often say I can’t go back to church any more - specifically as a pastor’s wife because I refuse to play the game now. I struggled with the spiritual abuse that came from being in that role. There were times I was honest - including kicking someone out of our house, much to the shock of our other guests, because I just couldn’t sit and listen to his pig headed comments any longer. And that was when I was playing nice!

Are you telling yourself the truth? Do you know what you really believe about things in your life? Are you taking time to sort them out or are you deferring to other people to tell you what you think and believe? And if you know what you believe are you aligned with that truth in your life?

It takes a lot of work and it is an ongoing process. We are constantly learning more about ourselves as we mature. And as you start getting honest it can feel like things are unravelling.

It’s OK...you are waking up...and speaking up...and ultimately that is going to bring healing in your life. The truth will set you free. But freedom isn’t always easy to claim and to walk in...we keep ourselves in bondage often because we are afraid to trust ourselves.

Books/articles/resources mentioned in this week's episode:

(Note: some of these are affiliate links)

Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd

MBTI - I am accredited to administer this assessment.

Article on the Worlds Most Scientific Personality Test being sexist.

Leaving the Saints by Martha Beck

Rising Strong by Brene Brown

I've been intentional about choosing this time of year to launch my new course. I want to invite you to do a deep dive into your spiritual story. I've been working on Reframe Your Faith for several months.

Finally! A guide to Reframe Your Faith

Last year during my wilderness training program I had the opportunity to sit one night by the fire with the founder of an organization called Canadian Bushcraft, a Native-owned school, focusing on subjects that include wilderness survival, traditional Indigenous skills, and land stewardship. He was teaching us about storytelling.

One of the things I learned that night was that traditionally storytelling is a winter past-time. The seasons dictate the way of life and winter is a time for drawing near the fire and sharing stories. The wind is blowing outside as I write this and the weather app has sent a frost advisory notification but I am warm and toasty inside and full of anticipation for this next season. I'm reading more. I'm enjoying deep conversations with friends. I feel the pull of the changing season to slow down. Are you feeling it as well?

I've been intentional about choosing this time of year to launch my new course. I want to invite you to do a deep dive into your spiritual story. I've been working on Reframe Your Faith for several months. I'm launching it officially today. Can I get an 'amen'?

This course is for you if any of these apply:

  • You are disillusioned with church and organized religion

  • You have been hurt and/or abused by the church or a religious organization

  • You left because of the way women are treated

  • You are done with patriarchy

  • You are tired of participating in dysfunctional systems

  • You want to address questions and doubts

    AND

You still long for an authentic way to connect spiritually with the things that are deep within you.

You may have internalized messages that have you questioning your own ability to discern what is right for you. I believe that there is a season to tear down. A season to question. A season to deconstruct. And I also believe there is a season to rebuild. A time to reclaim the truth. A season to find authentic relationships that support us in our journey.

Reframe Your Faith is a six week journey in discovering how you can have a vibrant and healthy spirituality. I'll be sending out another email later this week about the course. I have encountered so many people in my life who have walked away from religion (and having heard their stories I think they made the right choice) but they still long for peace, joy and a way to connect spiritually in their daily lives. I get it!

Please check out this course.

You can listen to my podcast episode this week for more details on the content of the course and why I created it and how it will help you. Listen on iTunes here or download it at Reframe Your Life . It should be available anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Speaking of podcasts... I had the opportunity to be on Calm and Cozy - The Insomnia Podcast this week. If sleep is an issue for you check out sleep coach Beth Wyatt at her website. And you can listen to me talk about Five Spiritual Rituals to Help You Sleep Better right here.

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If you know anyone who has been hurt by their participation in religious organizations, has expressed questions or doubts about spiritual practices and long to have the resilience and peace that comes from deep connection in their life - please share this with them. And if finances are an issue - please send me an email. I would hate for that to be a barrrier to you finding the truth that will set you free.