"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Let Your Light Shine

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Let Your Light Shine

"When we let our light shine, we unconsciously give permission to others to do the same." Nelson Mandela

I can't make any claims to wisdom. Both an enthusiast and a skeptic by nature, my views define me as an apostate to all extant Christian traditions, save perhaps the Unitarians (which many do not consider Christian). Thankfully I don't expect or require any person's approval, but am free to follow my conscience and work out life in a loving, heritage-accommodating (ELCA Lutheran with lefse overtones) community, where I am challenged to pursue love and justice (compassionate interdependence) and spurn evil (unmitigated self-seeking).

The evil from which we can be saved is not doubt, which is our human birthright, but loss of relationship to one another and to love itself, that underground river so many call God but which no word can contain and no instrument measure.

Last week I watched Martin Luther King, Jr. in rare footage on a DVD called "Man of Peace in a Time of War". Incredibly powerful. Calm yet fierce, he burned with an inner fire, having seen a future not evident to others.

But we can all visit that mountaintop and see the promised land. It is here within us, each of us.


  1. Free, do you know the song "This Little Light of Mine"? It's so upbeat. Here's another of those schizo thoughts: We should let our light shine for all the world to see. However, we must not be any different than anyone else. I guess that means we should be sure our light isn't getting brighter or shinier than any other light. How tiresome that is! I'll let my light shine where God wants it to shine. Free, your light is glistening.

  2. How timely. This is today's Our Daily Bread. Sure fits into the subject of "let your light shine".

    A knock came at the door of the home of a man who had a young family. When the father answered the door, he was greeted by someone he had never met—a friendly man from a nearby church who had stopped by to say hello.

    His pleasant demeanor and kind words impressed the dad, and the two agreed to meet again. When they did, the visitor introduced the man to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Both he and his wife trusted Jesus as Savior.

    That changed everything. The couple began attending church, and all six of their children became believers in Christ. Eventually the dad became a Sunday school teacher and a deacon.

    One of this couple’s daughters grew up to attend the same Christian college I attended. That student’s name was Sue, and from the first time I saw this cute girl from Grand Rapids, I was smitten. The man who had answered the door eventually became my father-in-law. That door-to-door ambassador changed not just one man, but an entire family—and the results continue to reverberate.

    Paul encouraged us, "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one" (Col. 4:6).

    Whose life, whose future, will you impact? —Dave Branon

    I grew up hearing don't hide your candle under a bushel basket. But thats exactly what I think is done when you judge your neighbors because they don't go to your church. Or when they manage to somehow walk through the doors of the church and NO ONE SPEAKS TO THEM! Where is the glow there?
    Where is the shining Christian light? We don't need to knock on doors, if thats not something you can do; just speak of grace at work etc quietly at lunch. Try to let your light shine by example. You wouldn't believe who is watching! To have someone say, "there must be something to this Jesus guy because you have such a glow about you". So don't be a grumpy gus and always look at those you disapprove of down your nose. They feel it. Just show them Christian love. When someone complains about a rotten co-worker; suggest they pray for them. Then you pray for both of them. Lets set the world on fire folks! My soap box of the day.

  3. Sisu, you put your finger on it: Janteloven! Jante Law is a familiar concept to all of us with Laestadian heritage:

    The ten rules are:
    Don't think that you are special.
    Don't think that you are of the same standing as us.
    Don't think that you are smarter than us.
    Don't fancy yourself as being better than us.
    Don't think that you know more than us.
    Don't think that you are more important than us.
    Don't think that you are good at anything.
    Don't laugh at us.
    Don't think that anyone cares about you.
    Don't think that you can teach us anything.

    Sound familiar?!

    I still remember how stunned and envious I was, as a child, to discover that some of my friends were told by their parents that they had unique gifts -- inner treasures -- and it was their job to discover them and share them with the world.

    Contrast THAT sense of purpose to the one we were given: to remain obedient to "the teachings."

    It is a tragic waste of one's limited life hours to obsess about other people's opinions. Yet individualism as a goal in itself is hollow, because we are bound to each other and the ecosystem, like it or not. Enlightened individualism allows us to pursue our unique gifts and enjoy them while serving the greater good. It allows us to learn from each other.

    I wonder how best to teach this to our kids. I find it very hard to model because of those old inner critics telling me to sit down and be quiet. Perhaps they are the ones to teach me.

    Case in point:

    Our 6-year old recently won a city art prize. Her school celebrated. She got her photo in the paper. She shook hands with the mayor and received a check. Her pals commissioned drawings and had her autograph them, which she did graciously.

    "I'm TIRED of being famous," she said finally. What she loves to do is draw, and the hoorah was taking time away from her passion, which occupies her from sun up to sundown.

    Which is perhaps why, when she was asked last week "what dou you want to be when you grow up?" she answered:

    "A waitress."

  4. Thanks for that great post Ijumped!

    As I leave the OALC, I realize more than ever before the importance of speaking about your faith to others. I have never been able to do that as an OALCer. Perhaps in part because there was a nagging feeling that something just wasn't right with me. That something turned out to be the OALC.
    I don't mean to denigrate that church, as it works for some people, but it wasn't working for me. Even with my limited newfound scriptural knowledge, I have been able to talk to others about my faith, and it is very uplifting.
    Hopefully, the day will come when my light will also shine as brightly as some here on this blog.
    God's peace to you all.

  5. I agree that we all have gifts, given to us by God for his purpose. To waste them is a shame! Free, your daughter sounds like she's got such a great spirit. Good teachings from her parents I'm sure.
    I think people are drawn to Gods children, because they have incredible spirits. Warm, loving and kind toward others.

  6. Great posts, everyone.
    Free, don't you think it should read, "Don't think you are AS important as us"?
    That seems to be what it all comes down to.

  7. Hi all,

    Thought-provoking AND timely post. A friend of the family (who is not from the old church) recently mentioned that we talk about the church and the things that have been said or done on a very frequent basis.

    Why is that? Is it because so much of our identity is tied up in the way we were raised? That was our only identity. Then, after we left the church, we were not okay anymore. We can understand it, because we lived it on their side, but it still defies logic and reason.

    If I were to say, yes, I want to come back and repent, I would be celebrated like royalty for a time. But since I am not, I'm a pariah, an unbeliever. Even small children are taught to identify people as acceptable or not by this standard. Kids are so honest. They will flat out ask you if you are an unbeliever. Or they'll stare at you openly, as if processing what an unbeliever looks like.

    oalc-doubter, I agree with you. It was very difficult for me to share what I was supposed to believe with anyone outside the church, because I couldn't justify it myself. I have an easier time now sharing my faith, because I don't have to rattle off this list of what we do and don't do. I don't have to say, "oh, you'd have to talk to one of the ministers about that. I really don't know exactly how to explain it." That is a gift in itself.

    And since you mentioned gifts, Free and Faith, the first time I heard spiritual gifts being preached about, I thought they were making something up. I had to go home and read it myself. :)

    I knew that different people were good at different things, of course, but they were never to brag about it. I had not heard of Jante Law before, but I am definitely familiar with the concepts. They were an intrinsic part of how I was raised. People tried not to think highly of themselves, but they certainly got huffy when they thought someone else was bragging or being a know-it-all. And I'm not just poking fun at others...I was sucked into doing the same thing. That was part of the culture of the church.

    I wonder if that is where all the criticism disguised as sarcasm comes from that I observed. Once, and only once, I heard the question, "How can we raise children as Christians to have healthy self-esteem?" This person saw the bigger picture and the difficulty in doing both, but I don't believe that she received an answer. I thought it was a valid question.

    So I'm back to your comment, Free, which I will stick on my mirror so I can see it daily: It is a tragic waste of one's limited life hours to obsess about other people's opinions.

    That was the word I needed today. Thank you.

  8. My Sociology Learnin' flares it's ugly head! So much I want to say. Bear with me

    First, Free, you are the bomb! I have to agree with you so much. Letting go of fear of judgment by ones peers, curbing judgment of others, pursuing real joy, and following ones conscious, that is the key to real happiness. The upbringing we all had (some stricter then others) put such an indelible stamp on my Super-Ego, the church is never that far away from my thoughts and actions (no matter how subconsciously.) I am assuming from what I have read here, that I have probably pushed the boundaries of proper behavior more then most. But what has always kept me from going to far astray, or getting myself into real serious trouble was that little voice telling me the way "good people" behaved, and that I better cool my jets, or watch myself closely in certain situations. Sometimes when I did and do go to far, I that little voice setting me on a self correcting path. For that I do Thank the Church and my Parents. But running away and thinking for myself has made life so wonderful I wish I could share it with all those stuck in those closed minded societies so they may see the light also.


    Now for the sociological banter. Look up symbolic interactionism, parochialism, and provincialism. Some heady stuff indeed.

    Aside from the Church, when I declared I was moving from Minnesota to So Cal, the reaction was ineteresting. "Why would you want to leave here? This is the greatest place on earth! The grass is so green, the air is clear, the lakes are so beautiful! LA is full of smog, etc.. etc..." I was stunned because, yeah MN and the Midwest is cool and all, but the greatest place on Earth? That is a form of Provincialism, and it is not only Midwesterners who practice it. When I tell people in So Cal that I might move to Chicago or anyplace else someday, depending on where life takes me, they react identically "Leave So Cal? But this is the greatest place on earth, we have the Mountains, the Ocean, etc.. etc..." and I am like smog, sprawl, traffic... Please, its cool and all, but...

    What makes people react that way? Fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of making the wrong choice. As long as everybody stays still and does exactly the same thing, people don't have to think or question. Obviously you are making the right choices in life, I mean everybody else is doing relatively exactly what you are, right? But when somebody breaks away, you are making the people left behind question there own choice to stay, and that can be scary. So that fear of outsiders, or people who have left, gets shown as scorn or derision towards the different or the unknown.

    Can you see the parallels to the church?

    I have never met a truly liberal or free minded person who had fear of change, fear of different cultures or people. Almost all reactionary actions are born of fear. Did you hear we are going to build a wall across the Mexican Border? Fear of Brown People. Notice we have no wall planned for Canadians.

    The church has become very good at building walls around itself, not only to keep people out, but to keep the people inside in.

    Ouch, I hurt my head, must quit spouting words....

  9. And the people said, Amen!

  10. Mr. Smith, I like your comment about the church putting an indelible stamp on you. I think it has on all of us. So I view the comments made by current church members, showing their surprise at my knowledge of "proper behavior in matters of the church", to be a bit arrogant. Not that they see themselves in that light. Rather than getting angry, I remember smiling inwardly. Like I could ever forget! They seem to feel that once we leave, we forget everything. It is then easier to put us in the "unbeliever" category and place us in the THEM side of the US/THEM divide.

  11. I dont say amen to that. There is talk of building a wall at Mexico because if ILLEGAL aliens ivading our country. We house them in our public housing and prisons, give them free health care, (which law abiding citizens must pay for) and then we the taxpayers pay for their children`s free lunch at school. The first thing that happens when somone sneaks across the border is they break the law which makes them a criminal and we are supposed to accept that? I dont have a problem with Mexicans and am not racist. I think all immigrants should respect our laws and wait in line to live here legally. Lack of a wall talk at Canada has NOTHING to do with fear of brown people. You just dont see a steady stream of Canadians disrespecting our laws. Sorry about the rant, but it just struck a cord with me and I dont think fear of change has anything to do with being conservative or liberal. I want things to be as fair and just as possible so those who are American citizens aren`t taken advantage of.

  12. Hmmm... This is not the place to have a political discussion, so I regret my example for that reason alone.

    Anonymous you may be noble and sincere, but trust me, here in So Cal, it is mostly fear, the social services costs you speak of are not (percentage wise) that high, comparatively the economic benefits we reap as a country, and the future benefits for these 'Illegals' and their families is monumental and humanitarian.

    When my Great Grandfather came to the UP of Michigan to work in the Copper Mines from Finland, without speaking or writing English, through the not always noble efforts of the mining companies, I am glad he did. Two-Three generations later his descendants are all educated and contribute greatly to society. I have a hard time denying that to new people, not very Christian of me to do so.

  13. Illegal and Legal having nothing to do with ethical and moral.

    It was illegal to harbor run away slaves in the American South during the pre-civil war era, moral law? Also see history of Chinese American Immigration to the West coast to see if Legal and Illegal equate to justice, ethics, and morality.

    Sorry, can not help myself.

    e-mail me at hollywoodguy99 @ yahoo.com if you want to discuss more, I do not want to suck up this blogs time on my soap box issues not pertaining to the topics at hand.

  14. Living our faith -- and not hiding it under a bushel -- is something that we are all called to do. In our world today though, that is not always easy, and we need to consider carefully how we do that. Even speaking of faith in the workplace can get you dismissed by many companies. My experience at work is that we do have some faith based conversations, but we must be careful, as there are many who will take any excuse to become righteously offended! In a way it's sad, but I try hard to see the other side of the issue as well. I'm not sure I'd be appreciative if conversations were conducted in my hearing by significant numbers of people espousing something I didn't believe.

    A good friend of mine who is a devout Southern Baptist told me one time that he was completely against prayer in public schools, which kind of surprised me. When we discussed it, he said that if his children were allowed to practice their faith and pray in that public setting, then they would also rightfully be exposed to the practice of every other form of faith -- and unfaith -- and he didn't want that. Good point.

    On the Mexican issue, I drive my friends from both sides of the aisle nuts with my solution. Let's just join hands and country with both Mexico and Canada, and form the country of North America! Think of it. The border could be the Panama Canal which would be short and easy to defend. Mexico has enough oil that they don't know how to develop to pay for all of their social problems and more, ensuring that all could enjoy a better standard of living and health care and school etc. Canada would also bring a wealth of natural resources to the table -- maple syrup and Shania Twain not being the least -- and only have that annoying "eh?" habit to contend with. Not only that, then we could actually and accurately call ourselves "Americans"...or at least "North Americans."

  15. Well, in my (admittedly apostate) opinion, letting one's light shine is more a matter of action than speech. If a guy came to my door and talked about Christ, I would show him the door. Politely, of course. God talk is invitation-only hereabouts.

    Seems God-talk is often just tribal signaling (like the guspeace handshake or a bumper sticker). I'll never forget Ralph, a guy at my former workplace who took every opportunity to talk about his "personal" Lord & Savior -- but claimed credit for others' work and never fixed his paper jams. Ya think he missed the point? Gimme an ethical Zoroastrian anyday.

    Relationships are where love -- and transformation -- happen if they are going to happen. I'm always relearning that lesson. If I tell my kids I love them but ignore their needs, they are right to question my credibility.

    Christ-claimers everywhere would be well-served to clam up and just walk the walk for a few hundred years. (Especially Ted Haggart. Pity the poor folks who go to him for his "100% heterosexual" counseling).

    Mr. Smith, thanks for the links and ideas. I am still chewing on them and would like to explore the many forms of provincialism. I know it still afflicts me (but then, my neighborhood is the loveliest in the finest city in the world. With the best coffee).

    cvow, I like your grand America idea. How bout some bumper stickers?

  16. LLLreader sez: A friend of mine, who has also left the OALC, told me she remembers me in Confermation School telling the preachers I didn't like the song we were singing about "such a worm as I" because I didn't feel like a worm. I don't remember it, but she was shocked that I would have such nerve!! Can you imagine the preachers thinking, "Oh man, are we going to have trouble with this one!".
    I do remember going to see a councelor years ago, and him asking me what we believed in the church. I couldn't come up with an answer. I couldn't think of a thing to say!!!!!

  17. Free, your mention of someone coming to your door reminded me of a thought I've often had. The LDS missionaries often come to our door. They are always neatly dressed, extremely polite, and ask if I'd like to have a conversation about Christ. When I've told them no, they have offered to give me some literature, and when I refuse, they always wish me a good day and leave. As they leave, I often thank them for their polite way of living their faith and witnessing for Christ, even though it isn't an interpretation that I am interested in. They're usually quite surprised...

  18. "if his children were allowed to practice their faith and pray in that public setting, then they would also rightfully be exposed to the practice of every other form of faith -- and unfaith -- and he didn't want that."

    Actually, his children are free to practice their faith and pray in school. It's the teachers and school staff that cannot lead official prayer. The kids can pray to their hearts' content, as long as they aren't doing so out loud in the middle of geometry class.

  19. cvow, that reminded me of an incident from long ago. I was 18, fresh outta the OALC, and sharing a duplex in Vancouver with two gorgeous blonde girls who got a surreal amount of male attention.

    One day we were lazing about in scanties when a knock came at the door. As my roomies ran to the bedrooms to make themselves decent, I parted the curtain to see two guys with white shirts and bicycles.

    Who is it? called the roomies.

    More mens! I said.

    We didn't answer the door. No doubt those boys heard our cackles and were happy to move on to the next house, but we had a great time speculating about how long it would take them to drop their books. :-)

  20. If this were the good old days,
    and the lightly clad blondes
    answered the door :

    The men would of yawned and said:

    Get dressed ladies , we each have
    6 more just like you at home .

    Happy Valentines Day !

  21. Let me 'splain...
    If someone says to me "Boy, you are such a good person. God will surely have something special in heaven for you." I personaly have to respond with "I won't get to heaven by being good. Only because Jesus died for me." There is my witness. I didn't bring up the subject. But I cannot silently "allow" them to think I agree with their statement insinuating that:
    1. Good works will save me.
    2. God will have a "special" treat for me because I "try" to follow a Christian ethic.

    I work for a very large national corporation. It is by no means a Christian company but we are lucky that faith can be spoken. We have a chaplaincy committee. We have voluntary prayer group meetings during lunch. I guess I'm seeing the world from my personal corner.
    I do think that one MUST try their darndest to walk the walk to be a witness. To me this does mean having a good work ethic. It also means that the company is not your free retail store for pens, paper etc:) People notice. And I don't follow this path for glory. Only because I've pounded the hammer on the nails of the cross way too many times in my life. Why purposely add more blows? I can't change that Jesus had to die for ME. But if I can just shave off one reason a day that he had to die for me: it is a start. Then maybe tomorrow I can shave off two?
    Being a silent witness also means respecting your neighbors. It means acting respectful to everyone you meet.
    It doesn't mean loudly proclaiming the faults and sins of others. It doesn't mean turing people away from God by being so obnoxious in your faith that they run with their ears plugged.
    Free, you may not be a door knocker. Neither am I. But maybe when that person knocks on your door you can smile and say that yes you are saved. Have a great day. Maybe twenty houses down from yours is someone (say homebound)so in need of hearing the gospel proclaimed to them that this obnoxious door knocker is exactly what they need, exactly when they need it. Thats how I try to skip through this life. Realising that mostly its not about me. Realising that often we are a cog in the wheel for someone else, and we may not even be aware of the cause, reaction, or effect. The stone in the pond sends ripples that the stone is not even aware of. OK, that's about a dime now. I'll shut up.
    Oh one more thing before I shut up: Free, you are actually one heck of a doorknocker! Yours is just a cyberdoor!

  22. Clarification of above joke :

    My critics ( female ) once again
    have misinterpreted my joke and
    pointed out to me that polygamy
    is not funny .

    I agree especially if very young
    women (girls in fact) are raised
    and told that this is a require-
    ment of their religion.

    It was the "good old days "
    for the yawning men before the
    law was changed and the leaders
    suddenly had a new vision which
    changed the faith allowing only
    one wife .

    Some people are always looking
    for ulterior motives in every
    thing you read, write or say.


  23. I know this is probably a silly comparison, but I was watching Superman Returns last night and there was a scene that stood out. Lois is telling Superman that the world doesnt need a savior. He says he wants to show her something and flys her high above the country. He asks "what do you hear?" she says "nothing" He says "I hear everything. I hear so many people asking, begging for a savior" (probably not an "exact" quote, but thats what I got out of it) I started thinking; it really is what we hear, sometimes what we want to hear. And where I thought this superman seemed to enjoy the cameras a bit more than the last one, and he didnt, really couldnt, go about his good deeds quietly, he was doing his part as he was capable and knew how. As should all of us when we hear a call for help.

    anyhow... :p

    I am also not a "door knocker" so to speak. In fact, I have often had this discussion with others: many of the people in this world today are sick and tired of 'being preached at' and the religion/faith subject is definately an invitations only subject. Ive found that if I 'speak' I am almost immediately tuned out and put into a category, but if I live the example, someone is bound to notice and ask questions. ie 'why didnt you take the extra office supplies home, no one would notice' oh really? well someone sure noticed when I didnt! Although my reasoning isnt about getting caught, but about doing what I believe is right.

    I remember an incident that happened in high school that had a forever impact on me regarding this too. I was working at Safeway around Christmas time, and of course everyone was "merry Christmasing" and "happy holidaysing" everyone else to the point of overload. (the word Christmas wasnt quite such a big deal yet, but in the transition)

    Well this old guy that looked a lot like santa came in, but with the sourest look Id ever seen on his face. He kept saying "dont merry christmas me" and he had a wide empty space around him. I was curious, so I approached to help. I asked "how are you today?" He replied "not so well. Why is it that this is the one time of year people think they have to be nice? Do they really think it will make up for the way they act the rest of the year? Dont they know love is something that is in your heart and you give it away all the time? People think they're so happy because they can show cheer for a month, but its so sad they cant or wont the rest of the year. People need to know you love them all the time, not just once a year"

    Well he went on for a bit as I was bagging is groceries and helping him out to the car, and we had quite a discussion. I thanked him for sharing his views with me (and everyone else within earshot :)

    I was forever impressed upon.

    NOt that I was a scrooge (well kind of by some's standards) but Im forever grateful that birthdays and holidays are not the only time I think of people, in fact sometimes I will avoid the holidays because thats when everyone is already overloaded. I would rather be quiet about it when someone needs it, (like in the weeks/months after the new baby instead of making a one time appearance at the hospital, and its least expected. Ive also been a secret pal to many over the years, its been one of my favorite pastimes.

    So anyhow, I thought about making this anonymous since I like it that way, but I guess a code screen name and a span of the world here is probably good :p

  24. troll, maybe Im a little different in that I grew up with all brothers, but I found your joke funny. because it was a joke. Its not funny if your serious but it sounded like a joke to me :)

    And Free your story was hilarious! Something I would have said and done :p

  25. "angry-confused anon", welcome back. Thank you for writing your post! You have put so many good thoughts in it -- thoughts that have occurred to many of us in our own stumblings! Your example of the deep treads and shallow treads is great!

    I sense a great growth since your first writings! I think you should copy what you just wrote and read it again in six months or maybe a year. I have a feeling you'll be astounded at how the Lord guides us along, opening new doors every day!


  26. Dear Post-Angry Now-Just-Confused,

    Your words will resonate with many readers, I'm sure. Cyber-hugs are coming your way. Continue to let your light shine. It's there lighting your path, even if you are not able to see it yourself right now.

  27. Dear formerly angry,
    Just keep taking out a thimble full of the old dirt and adding in a thimble full of the new dirt. Step by slow step and then one day your will find yourself repotted!
    Sometimes in the new pot your old dirt of doubts, shame, worthlessness may creep in but you will know that if you keep adding the new healthy soil of love, faith, joy, peace; they will win out! Stay brave and we are there with you. Sending prayers for peace for your heart.

  28. Dear anon: Yesterday in church the pastor spoke about love. He said that it is so important to realize that GOD LOVES YOU! He loves us! Once you know and grasp and truly believe that, things will fall into place. I have to tell myself all the time that God loves me even though I am a sinner. He died for me. No one else has. God Bless you!

  29. LLLreader sez: to formerly angry--welcome, welcome, welcome--your feeling are appreciated here.

  30. Many Trails Home2/19/2007 03:15:00 PM

    Love you, "Confused." Good to have you back. Good to have your "skillful ramblings" which are so poignant, so easy to relate to. I see growth and acceptance happening even as you speak. Many blessings to you. You are loved. MTH

  31. Thank you, formerly angry. You have expertly reflected thoughts that I have had in the past as well. I find your words encouraging, because I remember how difficult it was to be in your shoes, and I am grateful because I can see how the new treads have become more established. There is something powerful about acknowledging the truth. Accepting that this is how you feel now, hopeful for more, honest about the struggle...thank you for your candor. It is appreciated.

  32. To faith & CVOW and all the other friends who so generously responded to my post: You are so right, the bottom line is to know that God loves me. And I do know that. I mean, don't I?? I believe it. I emphasize it to others who are doubting and in pain. I speak at my own church occasionally, and this is one of my themes (for we "teach" what we need to learn, of course, right? ;)...yet it is so strange to realize that somewhere deep (WAY deep) down, I never quite internalized that. Not fully. I mean, if I did, I would love and accept myself better, wouldn't I? The new treads would be well worn by now, wouldn't they? I do manage to guide others through some pretty serious episodes of doubt and such. And yet, when it comes to myself...well, it's sobering to realize that all the therapy, reflection, spiritual workshops, determination, prayer & meditation, even a fair amount of spiritual speaking and teaching...all of this over decades now...hasn't really quite managed yet to erase the old tape. Well, first I had to *recognize* the old tape for what it was. I guess that's a fairly recent event. I thought I was just fine...and to all external judgments, AM "fine." But the underlying hum, like the sound of the air conditioner or heater, is "you'll never be good enough," and "if you think you're good, you're bad," and "when you know you're bad, you're good!"...all the rest. I wonder if we learn to actually turn off that hum, or replace it, or just get good at ignoring it. All the above, I suppose, at various times. And each of us internalized it differently, I suppose...depending on which congregation we were raised in (and I don't want to go there), what stage it was in at the time, our position in our family, etc etc. So many factors. Whoops. I'm doing the "stream-of-consciousness" thing again. He he. I guess it's ok here, isn't it! :)

    -Former-Angry-Anon-Still-Seeking-Right-Handle (How about Searcher? Traveler? Still Here? Finally Awake? Just Noticing? -- Maybe I'm making this too hard...another sisu trait gone awry, I'm afraid! ;)