What Is Your Destiny?

... and how finding "TRUTH" came to be mine

What is Your Destiny?

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What Is Destiny?

People have always lauded me for my transparency and authenticity. It probably seems like searching intensely for ultimate truth is my destiny. But I feel like I just realized at any early age that I’m terrible at hiding my emotions, and terrible at acting like something I know is true isn’t true. I cannot hide the truth.

When I was a kid, any time I would feel terrible and attempt to disguise it I’d end up being chastised by someone for being a jerk, or a close friend would see right through me and call me out.

I think eventually I just gave up, decided I wasn’t even going to try. This was no more a courageous decision about being authentic any more than shaving my head was a courageous decision about being bald. In that case, the writing was on the wall. I had already started losing my hair. So I took action that got me to the destination of being bald as a way to skip the painful process of going bald. The same was true with being honest. I couldn’t hide my feelings and opinions, so I just quit trying.

At some point pretty early on, people started applauding me for being honest and transparent and authentic. Of course most of us will take any affirmation we can get, and it was pretty obvious that this was my avenue for being unique and getting noticed. Pair this with a growing chip on my shoulder and an affinity for words, and this “honest” thing must have seemed like a pretty good gig.

Please don’t be mad. If I’m going to be that honest person, I probably need to be honest about being honest, and that’s what I’m trying to do. Could it be that what seems from one perspective to be “destiny” is, from another perspective, just giving in to reality?

I wonder if anybody is the way they are, good or bad, without it being due — in some way — to the discovery that being a certain way was always how they were best able to be accepted on some level by someone.

Maybe that’s what “destiny” really is: finding those ways we are accepted and affirmed, and embracing them. Could that be?

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How to Listen Well

It's Simple, but It's Not Easy

listening man -- how to listen well

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In my last post I gave you four reasons why you’re probably a bad listener. At the time of this writing that post has had over 40 shares! I promised you I’d follow up with a post on how to listen well. I hope this is helpful.

To listen well, you must…

1. Cultivate presence

Listening is more than hearing, as I explained in my previous post.

Hearing happens on a biological level, but listening, at its best, is a spiritual exercise.

The heart of all authentic spirituality is learning to cultivate presence to God, learning how to truly “be with” God in the present moment. Listening well, then, requires learning how to do this in the presence of a fellow human being.

This is simple, but it’s not easy. To cultivate presence, you must learn to do the following:

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Things I’m For

My Ideal World

things I'm for - lincoln determine a thing shall be done

I’m for equality, for justice for all, for caring about other people above asserting our own rights, for defending what’s good for most people rather than for 1% of us, for an end to bigotry, for kindness, for compassion, for courage, for an absolute commitment to, and unwillingness to shirk from, intelligence, for the idea that formal education by no means makes our ideas better than anyone else’s but it’s a good start, for all of us banding together to give no quarter to anyone who hates or fears people different from them, or who in any way believes other people to be less worthy of love and compassion than themselves.

I’m for the truth, however it presents itself, whether or not it agrees with my politics. I’m for being willing to change our minds. If you’re not interested in and open to the truth over your own political ideology, there are other pastors/writers who can deal well with you, but you’re not in my wheelhouse.

I’m for caring about the things Jesus cared about more than the things Ronald Reagan cared about, and for understanding the difference.

I’m for a world where everyone knows that another person living the way they want to live doesn’t in any way keep anyone else from living how they want to.

I’m for people pursuing God out of curiosity, courage, love, or interest, but not out of fear. I’m for a world where the only theology we care about is the theology that springs from compassion and loving others, so theological statements and doctrines are only useful when they help us to do that. I’m for a church and a world where love is the law, and it’s enough.

I’m for an end to violence of every single possible imaginable kind — emotional, spiritual, psychological, physical, social, verbal, economic, and I’m for searching myself to see where I might be perpetrating some of this violence unconsciously, and then doing what I have to do to address it.

I’m for a world where no one, ever again, says, “I love you, but…”

I’m for not towing the party line, whether that means me not towing it for the church when the church is wrong, cops not towing it for cops, teachers not towing it for teachers, whites not towing it for whites, gays not towing it for gays, blacks not towing it for blacks, for everybody being willing to learn to identify and root out the sickness in our own houses. I’m for seeing problems, naming them, and working to fix them.

I’m for religion that opens up questions and mystery, rather than making us certain and self-satisfied.

I’m for reading both the Bible and the Constitution openly, not in letter but in spirit, trying to discern what general point was intended and how that applies to us today, for wrestling with old documents and using them as guides, not as templates.

I’m for people taking personal responsibility, so saying things like “I am responsible for the world being the shitty place it often is,” and “I’m responsible for traces of racism, greed, and lack of empathy in my own heart.”

I’m for all people being considered worthy of basic love, respect, and humanness, even including bigots, as long as they don’t spew their bile onto other people.

I’m for the idea that America, in fact the world, isn’t a good place until it’s good for all of us.

Most of all, I’m for taking another step — today — to be the change I wish to see in the world.

Why the Race Dialogue in America is Going Nowhere Fast

and What to Do About It

dialogue -- two men arguing

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Foreword: This piece speaks of “black America” and “white America.” Someone has recently read the piece and observed that though these two groups are far from monolithic, I write here as though each group has a single point of view. Though I recognize this, and obviously I cannot even speak for all white people, let alone all black people, I can surely elucidate what I think is a big part of the problem among white people. I certainly cannot, and have no right, to claim to capture “black experience,” but as a therapist and pastor, I am trying to latch onto some human universals that transcend race and I hope I will be allowed to do that, despite the inability of language to capture the experience of all people.

America’s Race “Dialogue” Like an Argument Between Spouses

Think of our racial back-and-forth in this country like a discussion between spouses. I realize it’s more complicated because it’s a national dialogue and there are so many competing interests involved, but still, at the core of it, here’s the dialogue.

Wife: I need to talk to you about a serious problem. [mention of said problem]

Husband: But I only do that because [reason for doing what she sees as a problem, filled with all kinds of excuses, and a few valid points that she should probably listen to]

Wife: You’re not hearing me.

Husband: I heard you fine. You’re not hearing me! You said you’re upset about this thing, and I’m telling you why I do that thing that upsets you.

Wife: I heard you, and I feel like you’re saying it’s MY fault.

Husband: Then you didn’t hear me. I’m not saying it’s your fault, I’m just telling you why I do that thing I do. If you’d stop doing that thing that makes me do the other thing, I’d stop doing that thing and there would be no problem.

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How Education Does (and does not) Matter

excellence and education

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Someone said to me recently, after reading my bio attached to a syllabus I had prepared, “Do you think we (she’s a professor as well) come across as egotistical with all the stuff we put in our bios? Should we just teach and let it speak for itself?”

My response…

No doubt. There are times I read through my bio on a syllabus and think, “Well look at that. Aren’t I just the crap.” I feel, briefly, like a very special human being.

Two days later I’m taking a workshop taught by someone else, and I read their bio, compare it to my own, and think, “I’m such a piece of garbage compared to them. Why would anyone listen to me.” I feel, usually for a quite a while, like a complete imposter. Soon someone will discover I don’t really know anything and I’ll lose everything I’ve ever worked for.

So of course it’s ego, all of it, who’re we kidding? My sense of self-satisfaction with my own accomplishments, my sense of inferiority to others with superior accomplishments, my fear of my life jig being up because someone finds out I’m a nobody. All of it. What a stupid game it is.

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