Be True To All of Me

bluefaieA while ago, someone called me a ruthless, hard-ass, capitalist business woman with a razor-sharp edge.

It was the culmination of several weeks of increasingly uncomfortable interactions with this person, and I went home after the conversation and cried. Worse yet, I developed a cluster headache (which is the only condition more painful than natural childbirth, in my experience) and the crying made it worse. Not crying made it even more worse. (Yes, I was in such pain that this was the state of my grammatical abilities.)

I finally called a friend (and biz partner) and told him I needed meds, water and coffee. And a shoulder to cry on. He arrived with all of these, and I blubbered on said shoulder. I cried that someone would think so poorly of me. I cried that I was so shallow as to CARE what another person thought. I cried because I was crying, which clearly meant that I was weak. I cried because all this emotional fal-de-ral obviously proved that I was spiritually unevolved.

He patted my back, handed me tissues for my nose, and waited for the noise to subside. Then he said, “You are not weak. You are strong. You held yourself together during the meeting. You kept to the high ground while not giving up any ground. Thank you for that. You are strong. Look at you. You waited until you got home to fall apart. You don’t need to apologize to anyone for being who you are. I value you. Our other business partners value you. Your strength carries us all. We like your emotional nature. We like your hard-ass self. You don’t need to change a thing.”

My spiritual director said, “Why do you think that being emotional means you’re not spiritual? Isn’t bliss spiritual? Joy? Happiness? Those are all just emotions. Why would you consider anger, sadness, and frustration to be any less spiritual? They’re not good or bad. You are an emotional creature. In fact, you are uniquely emotional. And that’s a great gift. Why not accept it?”

That’s when I realized that to be truly spiritual is to be true to myself. ALL of me. Not just the version that I idealize myself to be.

Directed!

walkThe ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) has a new presiding bishop – and for the first time, a female was elected.  (The Episcopal church elected their first female presiding Bishop in 2009, my Episcopal sistren are quick to point out.) I have more to say about gender and religion (perhaps my next blog?) but today, my thoughts are swirling in a different direction.

In an interview with Time Magazine, Elizabeth Eaton (the new ELCA presiding bishop) was asked:

I hear you have a spiritual director. What is your process of spiritual direction, and how has it shaped you?

“There are people now who are spiritual and not religious. I would characterize myself as religious but not spiritual. I am a faithful person, but taking a closer look at my relationship with God in a more intentional way was something that gave me the willies sometimes. So I thought, By golly, if I really believe what I preach, then I can’t do this on my own. If everyone of us depends utterly on God, maybe I need to start finding a way to have a discussion about that with God, and I thought, I might need someone to help me dial into the God frequency.

..I contacted <a spiritual director> and she said, “O.K. I want to be clear: I am not a psychologist, I am not a therapist, all I am is someone who can be your companion while you are having your conversation with God, and I will eavesdrop on your conversation and help you to stay honest in that.” We have been doing that for the past year or so, and it has made a huge difference.”‘

I LOVE the response given by her spiritual director! That’s exactly it. As a holy listener, I’m given permission to eavesdrop on conversations with God, to provide accountability, and sometimes, direction. But mostly, I’m there to be a companion, because it’s lonely to go it alone.

Curious about holy listening/spiritual direction?  Wholly Listening