I am a Jonah. I’ve been a runner most of life. You’d think Asthma would have slowed me down, but I’ve always kept my track shoes primed and ready for an exit. I’m darn skilled with an exit plan. We moved thirteen times before I graduated from high school, so I’m well trained.
I imagine most of us at some time or another have been some kind of Jonah, taking off in our own direction despite what’s best for us and despite true north flashing the way home. I sure have taken many a detour, not always intentionally, but blindly boarded ships heading in the wrong direction until I awoke from my confusion and received tutelage in the belly of my own whale!
It would be nice if I could read a story like Jonah and not have to live it, but truth be told, I learn from life experience. I usually have to “live it to learn it.” I have to be so wrapped up in seaweed; ready to surrender, before I can come up for air, stand beachside, soggy but liberated with a new handful of gold.
Some of you might be thinking,
“Boy, she’s come through a lot, but why is she always talking about this inner work? Doesn’t she know that will kill her business? Why did she stop dead in her tracks during that expensive mastermind, chirping about incongruence? Or why is she always focusing on authenticity, vulnerability, getting clear of shame and finding your true Creator made identity? What a buzz kill! Give me that fast ship heading to blitz town!”
In which case I would say,
“Did you miss the part where Jonah was heading in the opposite direction from where God told him to go and was intercepted by an appointment with a whale?”
Been there done that!
I am convinced the reason we so often get stuck in life is because of shame. Shame is not often identified, or recognized, hidden underneath the recesses of our well-armored and perfected shields that work hard to deflect our fear of not being enough. Shame is a dirty word we’d rather skip over. We’d rather numb shame’s association, so we can avoid further threat of exposure even though it causes us to live at half-mast.
Shame has repeatedly taken me down, kept me in hiding, appeasing or defending even though I didn’t recognize that I danced with shame. The fact is we all do! I had almost convinced myself that I was as strong as my shields of protection expressed. I had it down until it bit me in the butt and my inauthenticity erupted in an unsettled incongruence, a deep soul thirst that no cloak of “spirituality” do-gooding, or meeting attendance couldn’t fix.
Raised by a mom with mental illness and an absent father, I’ve acquired some strong survival techniques. Losing my dear younger brother who took his own life at twenty-five serves as a constant reminder that though things might look tidy on the outside, they rarely are.
As some of you know I just returned from a creative retreat in Nashville. I have attended many creative retreats and women’s events over the years. I even host my own workshops and retreats, but something made this one different. That’s what I hope to communicate in this post.
I, like an eager and hopeful little girl looking for the pony in the stall of manure have continued to search for my “community” and “tribe”, even though many a women’s retreat have felt like forcing myself into a small shoe box when I feel more like a pair of boots.
I find life often speaks allegorically. One of my own personal parables began to surface about five or six years ago when I was traveling to Los Angeles to lead a workshop and was surprisingly upgraded to first class on my flight.
I confess I am a repeat offender when it comes to misuse of verbiage. I’m one that causes the grammar police to cringe reading my posts on Facebook. Does that stop me? Heck no!
Years ago dining with a pastor and group of his friends I casually threw out the word Gonad! Can you believe it? Yes I did! Suddenly silence rolled over the group of alarmed parishioners. Of course when I got home my husband explained that the slang I used to reference an idiotic person technically was defining male anatomy rarely mentioned in church!
Another time I spoke of my shoe fetish and was informed by yet another pastor/friend that the word fetish was not relevant to shoes, because it referred to sorcery and sexual fixations.
You’d think those two encounters alone would have stopped me in my tracks and sparked an immediate case of laryngitis, but boldly I continue to speak and write. The truth is you just don’t know what you don’t know!
Sometimes I feel the need to guard my heart turf. You know those days when an aspect of life feels unsafe and the warning signal starts flashing to enlist the boarder patrol?
I have triggers. We all do. Many of us grew up in a home with an unstable parent and went on to experience a culture of instability. What wouldn’t set off triggers?
I’ve learned to help my trigger-reactive heart through dangerous landmines. I’ve come to understand that my triggers are in place to protect me. They signal a perceived threat. Sometimes the threat may only be imagined, reminding me of a previous experience. That is when I get the opportunity to reevaluate my reaction and response in the here and now, choosing to reframe outdated Intel. Other times I may sense the real need to protect myself from intruders breaching my boarders.
This is never a neat and tidy operation, because our hearts are not machines. However, getting comfortable with untidiness helps us befriend our heart rather than betray it.