One of my dearest friends was diagnosed with cancer a couple of weeks ago. He’s supposed to get information on how serious it is tomorrow. He is scared and in that dreadful waiting place. I don’t know what to tell him. I try to listen a lot. I did come across this article I wrote a while back that I’m encouraging him to read when he feels like it. I hope it encourages him. For now, feeling broken and powerless with my friend. This is for everyone feeling that way today.
Bring it On!
Last week I went into an eye surgeon for a consultation. I have a cyst in the corner of each of my eyes. It doesn’t hurt, and isn’t even very obvious, but it bugs me. They needed to check to see if removing the cysts will interfere with my tear ducts. Apparently the way they learn this is by taking…read the rest
In my previous post I tried to clearly show that the path to peace is to embrace powerlessness. I showed that we have very little power over most of the things we care most deeply about. The question is how do we actually embrace powerlessness? The answer is as common as it is profound: by acting powerless.
Gestalt Therapy uses a technique called “acting as if.” This is where the therapist tells the client to act as if he/she is already the person he/she wishes to be. If he struggles to speak to women, he should act for a while like men act who do not struggle to speak to women. If she struggles with confidence, she should act like women who have confidence. This is what is often called, “fake it ’til you make it.”
If what I wrote yesterday is true, and we actually are powerless over a great deal of our lives, then the sooner we embrace this the better. And the way we embrace powerlessness is by acting powerless.
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If you have read all the posts in this series, you may by now thinking that what I am suggesting here is that you simply give up and become a doormat; that you resign yourself to being walked on by everybody, letting life steamroll you, and settling for whatever scraps fall from everyone else’s table. That is the furthest thing from what I am suggesting.
Embracing powerlessness is all about attitude. It is not throwing your hands up and saying, “I give up, what the hell, I’m never gonna get anything anyway.” Truly embracing powerlessness leads to also embracing the places and situations where you can really effect change. It is not a hopeless surrender to the relentless tides of the world. It is knowing that, even if the tides should carry you away, you can still have peace and happiness. Anything less is not truly embracing powerlessness, for despair and hopelessness suggest that you have still not let go of the idea that life owes you something.
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I said in my last post that in this one I would explore our true power. If you are just coming to my blog and have not read the two earlier posts in this series, please check them out before you read this one, because I am convinced that you will never understand your true power until you have come to grips with, and understood, the extent to which you are powerless. You will never embrace your true power until you know what it is — and what it isn’t.
Your true power lies in the only place — and I repeat, the ONLY place — that you have true control, true say, true influence: your own actions and attitudes. Yes, I have truly written two posts and part of a third one in order to give you the cliche, “You can only change yourself.” This cliche can never sound like anything but a cliche until you grasp how deeply, frighteningly true it is. But when you do the work of confronting your powerlessness, this is all you are left with, and it comes as a relief. “At least there’s something I can change!”
The good news is, this is what matters most. Imagine how your life would feel if you were unable to feel angry or anxious.
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I have been inspired and deeply challenged in the last few months by the writings and lectures of Fr. Richard Rohr. At every turn he is forcing me to rethink things I once took for granted. Below is a repost of a recent daily devotional I received from him.
How can I be of and with the poor?
We can no longer be satisfied by simply being the Church for the poor from our position of establishment. We must realize that sometimes that very generosity, that very attempt to be good to other people, has kept us in a position of power and superiority. Somehow we must be of and with the poor, and then be ready for some mistrust and even criticism.
Dom Helder Camara (1909-1999), the holy Archbishop of Recife, Brazil, said it so truthfully, “As long as I fed the poor, they called me a saint. When I asked, ‘Why are there so many poor people?’ they called me a communist.”
Source: Fr. Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations