The End of Yourself.

Monday, May 1, 2017

I was listening to a podcast recently from one of my fave's Rob Bell, on "The Good News about Nothing."
I listened to it twice as #1.  I'm still struggling with finding faith/God/church, so will grab on where I can, with the things that challenge conventional wisdom, and #2.  It resonated so deeply with me.
I've experienced the type of loss he discusses (not just the death of a loved one,)
but rather "an emptying of the self and a death of all the things I so carefully and strategically attached my self-worth and value to."
THAT loss.
I was listening while I was out on the trails with Lucy and stopped dead in my tracks.
I thought, "Yeah.  I know what that's like."
I forget this is a common human experience and when I hear someone else explain what I have come to know in THEIR words, I have to smile.  Because, yeah.  I too GOT to experience that, as painful as it was.
But it changed my life.
{I wrote about it here and here .  Start with the last one first.  There was a lot of life in between those two posts as well, if you want to read more.)
But yes.
This I can talk about.
I don't know much, but I know about coming to the end of yourself without actually dying.  And by "self," I mean the self you have created.  The self you THINK you are or that you should be.
Humbly coming down off your high horse to the level of acceptance and understanding needed to move forward in life more freely, graciously and with more compassion for yourself and others.
(And don't get it twisted.  I still have to practice this daily.)
I haven't mastered this nor know if I ever will.  But I'm awake to it now.
If or when you arrive to this empty space and sit with it in all your discomfort for a time, you realize there's SO.MUCH.MORE to see.
Past your doubts, fears, judgments, projections, perceptions of all things is the TRUTH of who you are.
An inner power and knowing as expansive as the skies above.
You can't get to this until you drop everything you've carried with you and accept WHO and where you are now.
And that is where I began.  
I do believe for many hard-headed, stubborn types like myself, it takes complete devastation, trauma or even great loss to be reawakened this way.  A giant disruption, if you will, to life as you have known it.
It's the hard and painful way, for sure.  
For me, that is what was required to really teach me and open my eyes to not just how I was living and viewing the world, but how to PROCEED in it with more humility and less fear.

When there is literally no place else to go and nothing left to do, realizing that despite the scenario you find yourself in, no one but YOU is to blame for your response, you have no choice but to bow your head, completely put your hands up in surrender and let go to what is.  To face YOURSELF.  It's terrifying and by far the most liberating thing you could ever do.

I bring this up again in writing here, because I have some distance from it now.  More clarity and understanding.
I am beyond grateful for the lessons, experiences, shift in perspective and the beautiful connections this "undoing" in my life has brought and continues to bring.
For the intellectual and spiritual maturity it has gifted me and continues to teach me each day.
As Rob Bell encouraged and confirmed in this podcast,
"You hit the wall?  Excellent.
You lose control?  Awesome.
You've reached the place of death.  And from THIS space, if you accept the invitation, can a new life be birthed."

One of my greatest and most cherished mentors, David, would laugh heartily in is "Kiwi" accent in response to me, on yet another call, griping about how lost and alone and miserable I felt.  "Oh Liz!  I'm SO HAPPY for you!!!  Truly I am!  What a wonderful place to be!!!"  And he was genuinely excited and enthusiastic about my either overly-anxious or depleted state of the day, because this, "THIS, your worst day, will become your BEST day."  Because THIS is what will teach you to find and USE that inner voice that has been in you all along.  
you will come to see what you are capable of and build a confidence like you've never had before.
And so I did.
In between resting, reading, trying to eat really well, being kind to myself and my children the best I could, life was narrowed down each day to ONLY what I was willing and able to do in the moment so my body could heal.
With each footstep, I had no choice but to resist the urge to fix or fight against it all and put my faith in something bigger.  I called it God.  That made it simple.  But I've come to wonder if maybe God and my right inner voice are one and the same?

Either way, I'm learning to trust both.  God and myself.

I learned how often we're in so much denial about our lives, how easily we betray ourselves and yet it doesn't even register because we've become so immune to doing it.  It was unbelievably lonely and isolating to go against the conditioning of my upbringing, but the way I'd lived my life up to that point.  It led me to walk away from certain friendships, institutions that drained and expected more from me than I was willing or able to give.  It asked me to drop the ego-fueled identities I'd clung desperately to to make a name for myself; being an entrepreneur, an artist, a teacher and instead it forced me to set all these things down until I could either resurface with more authentic intentions or quit all together. 
I had to be okay being seen at my most vulnerable and learn to love myself regardless, and understand that asking for help is not weakness, but one of our greatest gifts and strengths.  

How often everything in me, physically and spiritually, felt tethered to the house, to my bed, the couch, to the lack of motivation and energy.  A complete 180 from the vitality, curiosity and drive that had always been my daily force.
A walk around the block was a HUGE endeavor.  I know it sounds ridiculous, and unless you've been there, it's hard to explain or even imagine.  But it literally was all I could handle.  
Yet I KNEW healing from this, living a life ALONGSIDE fear and sadness, was going to require I keep moving.  Not passively, but in an ACTIVE practice.

Oh, how treacherous the miles felt.  To take those small steps forward but also walk through the mental concepts I'd built my life on and step OUT of the small world I had created in my mind and held myself hostage to.

I heard this at church the other day, "How often we need to act CONTRARY to our feelings.  Feelings are fluid.  And fear will always be there.  But FAITH is an ACTION you can take.  Our actions can either FUEL our feelings or help us to step outside of them and just trust."  
Yes, how often I had and HAVE to do that. . .choose an action that doesn't FEEL natural but is necessary for my growth and purpose and has invariably, given meaning and motivation to my life again.  How often, daily still, I have to remind myself our bodies were meant to MOVE and our thoughts of the moment should be given far less credence than the natural energy and wisdom that lies within us.

So I've had to do that.  How walking turned in to a run. . .

Stay tuned. . .


"I begged the universe for a small beam of light but honey, you were the rising sun after a never ending night."  -Realm of The Raven Poetry


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