Posts tagged ‘being’

November 20, 2011

How to attract God by being yourself (or why “more of You, less of me” doesn’t work)

My husband and I get into unproductive cycles in our relationship sometimes. One that I’ve been recently noticing is when he starts feeling needy. When I hear him express that, I groan inside. I simply cannot make myself feel turned on by his neediness; instead, it pushes me away. Maybe this is because it turns something that should be about desire on both sides into obligation for me. I think that because I’m married to him, I should meet his needs, but it turns out that his needs are really for me to desire him, and I cannot desire him based on obligation or neediness. Instead, I want him to meet me where my heart is at so I can feel connected. For me, desire springs from that. When he’s feeling needy, I think it’s because he is not believing that he is attractive enough that when he is himself, I will be drawn to him. So he begins to feel sorry for himself, believing that he cannot attract me, and he then tries to turn me on by expressing neediness, but when that does not work, it reinforces his belief that he is not attractive to me.

I was thinking about how this dynamic has often existed in my relationship with God. A lot of the worship songs I used to sing both in church and by myself were downright needy. For example, take these lyrics from “Breathe” by Michael W. Smith, one of the most popular worship songs of all time: “I’m desperate for you; I’m lost without you.” My heart connects to that song because I used to sing it over and over with such passion. I could feel the tears welling up inside as I sang, “You’re the air I breathe.” I just listened to the song again, and I could feel myself connecting once again to the idea that being with God is the most important thing in my life, and I don’t want anything to get in the way of that.

But while this and similar songs have helped me to become aware of my heart’s desire for God, worship songs have also led me down a path of emptying myself of me. Lots of songs present the idea that I should decrease so God can increase. I googled “more of you and less of me,” and I found a beautiful song by Brian Johnson that I used to listen to. As I listened again, I found myself reconnecting with the ideas in the song. The words “more of you, less of me” are repeated only a couple times, and the rest of the song is about how wonderful it is to be in the presence of God. The lyrics, “I’m satisfied by you alone” carry the sense that I am already with God, and being with God fulfills something in me. But while I relish the idea of feeling God’s presence more, I wonder why Johnson wrote, “less of me.” Why do I have to decrease, becoming less of myself, to get closer to God? Perhaps Johnson meant that as God increases in my life, bad character traits I’ve exhibited will start to fade. Or maybe he adopted a Christianese cliché without thinking too much about it. More likely, the phrase comes from a bible verse (John 3:30) where John the Baptist says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” I think in context, though, John was probably talking about increasing and decreasing in popularity, not in personhood. I have attended the church where Johnson leads worship, and I know that this church encourages its members to find the gold in people, Christians and non-Christians alike. When we tell people the truth about who they really are, this church teaches, that reality will start to show up in their lives. I think that’s a great concept because it doesn’t reject the person as useless without Christ. But a lot of Christianity does. “Amazing Grace,” for example, calls the pre-Christian a wretch. And there are quite a few songs about becoming more like Jesus.

Several years ago I took myself on a personal retreat. I had been trying for years to get closer to God and advance in my spiritual journey, but things were not going well. Every time I tried to join a church, I enjoyed it for a short time, but then I would begin to be miserable. My heart would say, you don’t belong here, but I took that as demons and tried to force myself to stay. (I wrote about that experience here.) I was about to move again, to another church, and I went to the beach to try to hear God. I couldn’t hear much, but the one thing I did hear became a turning point in my life, “I would rather have you be yourself than worship me.” This gave me the permission I needed to be free to be myself, but it was months or years later before I actually did stop going to church and singing all those songs.

I have an almost-two-year old toddler who is still nursing. (I blogged about that recently on my other blog here.) Though she wants to nurse a lot, I don’t find her desire unattractive. Rather, I like the fact that she wants me, and nursing makes me feel close to her. I was thinking about what is the difference between how she approaches me and how my husband often does, and I think it is in confidence. My daughter trusts me to meet her needs, and she has no doubt that I want to meet them. She doesn’t doubt her identity or wonder whether I love her. I’m pretty sure that such a thought has never crossed her mind. Because she is so confident in our relationship, I’m always totally attracted to her. Even when I don’t feel like nursing, I look at her reaching for me, my heart melts, and I scoop her up and latch her on.

When I used to listen to teachings from the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, I loved a phrase they often used: “confident in love before God.” I think that phrase expresses the idea that I am saturated with the knowledge that God loves me, I love me, and I love God. When I know that I am loved for who I am, that God believes in me, there’s no limit to what I can do or be. (Darin Hufford talks about this idea a lot.) “Confident in love before God” also carries the sense that what really attracts God is our confidence in being who we are. My reality is that God desires to have a relationship with me for who I am. God’s not looking for another Jesus. Jesus is Jesus, and I’m not him. And I don’t want to be him. I choose to be me. I do believe that my personal unique self is far more attractive to God than an empty shell or shadow of a person who is trying to be like Jesus in order to please God and divorcing myself of my own heart in the process. What I have to offer in a relationship, whether with God or anyone else, is my own being, and the more I am confident in that, the more attractive I will be as a person. Who wants to be with someone who is constantly down on herself, berating herself, or saying, “what a worm I am” as some old hymn states? I am not a worm. At my core, I am an amazing being, made from love, filled with light. I am completely unique, and there’s no one like me in all the world. And I shine with a beautiful radiance that flows from my inner being. Okay, so I have bad days where I cop an attitude or say negative things. But that’s not me. When I say, I want to be more of me, I realize that the more I manifest who I truly am, the less negativity will show up in my life. As I am who I am, I attract God. And when I believe that God loves me for who I am (which I discover when I am with God) I am more likely to live from that reality. So maybe I should rewrite the song, “more of you, more of me.”

July 5, 2011

Becoming energized: developing a zest for life from the wellspring inside

I awake and lie in bed, thinking of all the things I could accomplish today. My house is a mess. I just returned from a trip, and there is stuff everywhere to put away–both from rushing around before the trip and from the trip itself. Not only that, but there is just stuff everywhere. My husband and I are in the middle of a major project to declutter our life. Our stuff is driving me crazy! My goal is to get rid of everything unnecessary so we can travel the world without too much baggage. Every time I look around at all the clutter we still have, I feel my energy draining away.

On days when my husband is gone at school, I try to get a ton done, but I just cannot seem to make headway. Instead I scan paper after paper, trying to digitize my files, and the lethargy sets in. I look around at all the dishes, think about how many hours I spent on them yesterday, and just cannot find the willpower to clean the kitchen today. I glance around the living room and see all my daughter’s toys scattered everywhere, but I cannot find it in me to pick them up. So that is how my husband finds me when he gets home–depressed and bored.

Today in my contemplation I took the question of energy. Where does my energy come from? What gives me the ability to get things done?

Have you ever worked a job you hated? I have, several times, and I find myself just barely able to go through the motions. I count the hours until I can leave. On the other hand, I have had plenty of energy for most of the jobs I have had. My creativity was stimulated, my problem-solving skills were in demand, and people were depending on me to finish my projects. I derived energy from the things I had to do. So much so that I became completely unbalanced, not having energy for fun or life outside of work. I simply was not happy unless I was working or thinking about work.

Now there is a certain energy to be derived from working with other people: the synergy that comes from sharing a common goal and working towards it together. I used to love that kind of thing, but at the end of the day, I would be miserable, knowing that I was not living out my true self.  So I no longer want to live my life for other people’s goals.

Even though I am not working at a job with a team of people right now, I still rely on other people’s energy an awful lot. This is not necessarily a bad thing–I feel the synergy when my husband and I work together on decluttering, and I have been very inspired lately by reading blogs such as Married with Luggage and Miss Minimalist. Married with Luggage inspired me to take big steps to change my life into the way I want it to be. Miss Minimalist inspires me to get rid of the crap from my old life that is keeping me from coming into my new life. The other day I read her post about a minimalist kitchen, and I got up, walked into my kitchen, and took a whole box of stuff out and into the storage room (I’ll garage sale or thrift store it all later after I see what it is like to live without it).

Yet I find that other people’s energy is not enough to sustain me, and reading blogs can turn into a distraction that keeps me from having to face the big jobs in my path, like cleaning out my pantry and selling stuff on ebay.

When I start to feel drained, I often turn to cooking and eating. While cooking is an activity that I enjoy, and food does give energy to my physical body, it does not deliver much energy to my soul. Instead it often has the opposite effect of making me even more lethargic.

So in my contemplation today, I realized that all those papers I am scanning have a low energy flow. Even though it feels good to be rid of them, I am not getting through them fast enough to keep up my energy while I declutter. Moreover, those papers are not my source of life; actually they are something I am trying to rid myself of.

In reality, all those sources of energy–working with others, reading inspirational writing, eating, doing stuff, having stuff, decluttering stuff–all come from outside me. Though I can feel energized from these sources, the energy does not last. It does not make me reverberate with a steady hum from who I really am, and at the end of the day, I feel low, like nothing got done, and I go to bed depressed. My happiness comes from what I have accomplished, and I usually have not accomplished enough to feel happy with myself.

I dream of the day when I can look around at my house and see hardly anything in it. I think then my energy will be able to flow more freely, yet I have come to the realization that as long as I derive my energy from outside sources, I will never be happy or balanced. Worse, I will never be myself. Always striving for yet another project just to try wring a little more energy from it, to live a little longer–all this effort pales in comparison to true reality. When I gaze at the ball of fire inside that is God, decluttering my puny little papers seems like a stupid way to try to get energy.

What I heard this morning centers around the meaning of the name “Jehovah,” the English version of the Jewish name of God. I was taught that “Jehovah” means something like “I am that I am.” This has been a powerful idea for me every time that I contemplate the being-ness of God. I got the idea this morning that “Jehovah” is not only the identity of God, but also of each of God’s children. That is the part of me that is divine: I am that I am. I am who I am. I am not saying that I am the person of Jehovah, but that I am the person of myself. I am.

And in my being, there is a wellspring of abundant energy, not just to scan puny papers, but to really LIVE. Living off the energy of doing stuff is fake. It’s a fraud. It’s nothingness and distraction and lifelessness and busywork that keeps me from living. I cast it off!

In contemplation, I center myself on who I am. As I come into the core of my being, I tap into a limitless well of energy that will never run dry.

Today I challenge myself that whenever I feel my energy running low, I am going to close my eyes to the outside world and contemplate, even if just for a minute. I hope that in this way, I can connect to the energy of my being, not my doing.

How do you get energy? Do you find it easy to derive energy from the core of your being? Do you have any method you use to switch to “being energy” from “doing energy”? Let me know in the comments.