ThisWinterWoman

  • New blog post on ThisWinterWoman.com “Now Faith Is: learning to be comfortable with no knowing”
  • Hundreds of years of pilgrims seeking. I'm in Italy, visiting churches small and large. This one was set at the top of "Castle's Walk" and built in the 17th century. .
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#italy #cinqueterre #monterossoalmare #religion #christianity #feminismandfaith #catholic #catholicchurches #beauty #feminism #women #courage #convent #cappucini
  • I saw this painting for the first time when I was in middle school. It scared me. Not because the image itself was scary, but because it was the first time I had seen a self-portrait of a woman. Up to that point I had only seen women perfected in art, put on a pedestal, idealized. Frida Kahlo had the audacity to paint herself, just as she was- flawed, broken, suffering. She validated her pain by making it worthy of the canvas. .
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  • May we all live poetic and beautiful lives and forever see the poetry of the everyday ❤️
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  • New Post- "Contemplation and Activism: Love never fails" now on ThisWinterWoman.com
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  • Be still and know 
Be still
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  • "Only tender-hearted, loving compassion has the authority to name who we are, not our guilt & shame, and not our virtuous attainment. There is no identity than the the identity found in the invincible love that gives itself away" - James Finley
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#contemplativeprayer #contemplation #religion #thomasmerton #faith  #church #feminism #truth #god #gospel #comteplativelife #catholic #stteresaofavila #catholicism #feminismandreligion #thiswinterwoman #stjohnofthecross #santamonica #jamesfinley #santamonicacatholic

Re-Imaging God

 Welcome!

If this is your first time here, it may help to read my introduction and my most recent post introducing Re-Imaging. I’ve been applying the process Tony Robbins uses at the Unleash the Power Within conference to Re-Image harmful limiting beliefs in both my life and my faith.

 


 

In my last post I described how I worked to Re-Image a belief I had carried as an identity for decades. A simple, off-hand remark my father once said to me, and then repeated often when I’d let him down.

“You half-ass everything”

This comment, it still haunts me. A few weeks ago I finally managed to sweep in our bedroom, but left the pile of dust and the broom (and, let’s be honest- so much hair) sitting in the corner… for about a week. When my husband noticed and laughed about it, my initial reaction was to respond with some self-deprecating humor “yea, I just can’t finish anything, huh?!”

But instead I told myself- That’s bullshit. I’m an extremely passionate person and there are a million more important things pulling my attention away from finishing that task and I’ll get to it when I get to it.

It may sound silly, but this has been life changing. It is giving me a new lense through which to see myself. The old idea of my constant failing has been turned into a point of pride. I am beginning to see this part of my personality not as something I should be apologizing for but something to be proud of. I’m Re-Imaging it. I’m passionate, and my attention gets pulled in different directions and I love that about myself.

But I’ve needed to Re-Image portions of my faith as well. The truth is, I relate to spirituality as an academic pursuit and not as emotional experience. I have deep faith wounds which has caused me to keep my faith boxed into something I think about, and rarely something I feel.  Rational over relational. Brain over heart.

So I’m going to take you through my personal process of Re-Imaging a piece of my faith that has haunted me.

 

Step One: Identify what you need to Re-Image

This story is forcing me to be even more vulnerable and open. But here it goes. I have a deep and constant fear that something or everything will go wrong. Whenever life seems too good- just wait, because something bad will happen and mess it all up. I met my husband when I was 16, and I knew right away.  But I was so convinced that something would go wrong that for the first few months I resisted taking pictures with him because I didn’t want to have the pain of looking back on those photos.  Even now, every cell in my body fights against hope. “I’m not getting my hopes up” – because I’m sure I’ll be let down and it will be easier to handle if I hadn’t hoped for it to be a certain way.  I didn’t get excited for my wedding because I was preparing for rain, or catastrophe, or heartbreak. If things are going too well, if there isn’t something to be worried about- I’ll create the worry. When I was younger, I walked around terrified and convinced I would be assaulted because I thought God would want to use me to “minister”  to victims of assault and the only way that would work is if I had experienced it myself.  Sick, right?

The first part of the Re-Imaging process is clearly identifying in one sentence or two the limiting belief that needs to be Re-Imaged:

 

“When things are going well, something bad is going to happen. God brings and allows tragedy.”

 

In my mind, God uses tragedy to teach a lesson or to prepare you. God uses trials to draw people closer to Godself. I am waiting for something bad to happen to me or someone I love, because God wants me to learn something from it. Now that I feel financially stable and secure, I fear God will create a catastrophic event in an effort to focus more on God. In my view: God brings and allows tragedy to befall those who have faith in an attempt to either re-focus the individual or to teach a lesson.

I may be the only one who suffers from this view of The Divine, and I really hope that I am. But I don’t think the church realizes the damage they can do when they tell people things like:

 

“If God brings you to it, He will lead you through it”

“God never gives you more than you can handle”

“If God closes one door, He’ll open a window”

“Your faith is being tested”

“You can do all things through Christ”

“God must have needed another angel”

“This is part of God’s Plan”

 

I’m in the process of Re-Imaging this. I easily engage academically and theoretically with faith. But putting my heart into it means trust, and I do not trust that things will work out. I’ve been taught that God is not a God who leaves a beautiful life untouched by tragedy.

 

Step Two:  What impact has this belief had on your life?

The second piece is exploring how this has impacted my life. In case I didn’t make this clear enough in the previous few paragraphs I’ll sum it up: the belief that God brings tragedy and allows has grossly misinterpreted what faith should be in my life, and had stopped me from enjoying the gifts that life brings.  This is such a hard step. It is staring at a wound, picking at it, not letting it heal yet, because it would never really heal correctly anyway. Like having to re-set a broken bone. Yes, it is painful, maybe even as painful as the first break, but if you don’t do it, you’ll never walk straight again.

“When you choose to walk through the depths…you will come out the other side, knowing you were taken there by a Source larger than yourself. Surely this is what it means to be saved” – Richard Rohr

I am choosing to walk through the depths of this, I am confronting it even when it is embarrassing and it hurts. And I am putting it all out there for you, hoping it helps your faith journey in some way.

 

Step Three: Re-Image and Re-Image and Re-Image

The final step is to Re-Image. Over and over and over again. What does your sacred text say is the Truth? What has your experience shown you to be True? What is the deep Truth of your soul- the Truth that speaks to the deepest part of your heart that you keep hidden. Whenever you find yourself listening to that false belief, you consciously remind yourself of your Re-Imaged Truth. Personally, it helps me to add a bit of vulgarity to shock my brain.

 

“When things are going well, something bad is going to happen. God brings and allows tragedy.”

You know what? Thats bullshit.

 

The Truth is…

Psalm 27:10- Though mother and father forsake me the Lord will hold me close

Psalm 86:15- But You, O Lord, are a God who protects and is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness and truth.

Genesis 16:13- “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

 

It was not part of God’s plan for my father to lose his job and his family.

It was not part of God’s plan for me to find myself in an emotionally abusive relationship at 15.

It was not part of God’s plan for my parents to lose themselves and forget their children along the way.

It was not part of God’s plan for my brother-in-law to die.

 

The Truth is… that I’ve always been okay. I’ve been surrounded by love my whole life. My siblings and I have been forged through fire. We have survived and continue to live lives full of love. I’ve been cocooned in love and support and friendship.  The Truth is that although tragedy does come and there is pain, my experience has shown me that God comforts and heals wounds. God does not create them. I’ve been Re-Imaging this belief and striving to see this Divine Love in each act of love in my life.

 

 

 

 

The Truth is…

God is in my Grandmother’s hello

And in Marlo’s hugs

God is in tea with Linda

And in the sigh of love

The truth is that the Source of all life is running down any road to find me

 

Re-Imaging is a long process, I don’t think you’re ever “done”. In my case, until I really know and trust in how much I am loved, I’ll always end up with fear. I am in the process of re-training my brain. And more importantly, I am retraining my heart.

So that’s how I am Re-Imaging God right now. I’m working through language and imagery. I’m adding sacred practices and expanding my view of Divinity. And I’m digging deeper into my faith wounds and stitches this faith back together one stitch at a time.

 

 

What about you? How are you Re-Imaging God in your life?

 


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