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If We Matter
10 minutes | Sep 18, 2020
48: Stories are supposed to change
Seasons change, circumstances change, people change and the world changes. everything is always changing. That means we have to allow and even insist that our stories change or we will find ourselves stuck. The longer we hold a story the more likely we are to see it as truth. But any stories we hold are, at best, part of the truth. More often they are created in our minds by our own fears insecurities and desires. The best way to keep from getting stuck is to make stories a part of our everyday thinking; Always aware of them, wondering about the impact they are having in us. What if accepted the reality that we are hardly ever dealing with facts alone and began to interact intentionally with the stories. What if we called on our creative energies to rewrite the way we look at life and play with what could be instead of saying stuck in what is? This week I experience the power of that when I realized that I was holding onto a story that needed to change. Having committed to finishing the first year of this podcast before taking a break, I was pushing through without freedom OR effectiveness to episode 52. I was telling myself the story that my plans had to stay the same even though the circumstances of my life were drastically changing. It was empowering when I realized that I didn’t have to keep that story. It’s always an option for me to tweak or totally rewrite my stories because they are just stories. For that reason, I have written in a break starting today with the intention to come back for another round of episodes when it feels right! It feels right and I feel the freedom of choosing my own story! There is so much more I want to explore about the stories we live in and so many people I still want to interview. In the meantime, I invite you to listen again to the episodes already recorded and allow them to impact your journey. Subscribe to the newsletter to receive updates and reach out by email with questions and input. The Facebook group provides us a place to stay connected and talk about the things we are learning. Relationships are as fascinating as the people in them. I love to think outside the boxes and use the creativity God our in me for the sake of all that’s possible. Don’t hesitate to reach out for coaching if you want to thrive more fully in your relationships or figure out why you can’t get there in a particular one. It has been a challenging and powerful year for me. I hope it has for you too. We all matter more than we think and life is better when we know that. Want to dialogue more? Join our Facebook group here. Any questions or comments? Email me directly here. Ready to start transforming your relationships? Go to our website and check out the resources on my coaching page.
10 minutes | Sep 11, 2020
47: The stories we tell - tell the story of us
I am becoming fascinated by the reality that all of us humans are always telling stories, to ourselves. Every single observable fact carries meaning to us as individuals. We experience things and instinctively run them through the grid of our past experiences for interpretation. What comes out on the other side is a story. Facts are observable data, stories are things that give meaning to the facts; things like opinions, judgments, and beliefs. We rarely argue the facts with anyone. Facts don’t create stress or drama, they don’t even hurt people’s feelings, it’s the meaning we give to the facts that gives them power. Stories need to be separated from the facts because facts are objective, while stories are subjective. They can’t be proven and they are different for everyone. Stories are not interchangeable. I can’t borrow your stories, because they don’t have meaning for me. But our stories need to influence each other. My experience of you and your stories is part of the ever-evolving story of my life. To know your stories is to know you. Because stories are made up, they can’t be right or wrong; just real. That means we can own our own stories and still hold them loosely. We don’t have to defend them or prove them...we just get to see, understand, share and evaluate them. When a person matters to me, so does their story. It often requires hearing a person's story before we are able to see and accept them for who they are. Imagine with me the beauty and the power of seeing stories for what they are and allowing them to teach us about ourselves and each other. Imagine becoming aware that stories are present and evolving. They don’t represent the facts, just the way an individual happens to see certain facts at this moment. Every little argument feels like it’s about the facts; someone is right and someone is wrong, but that’s not how stories work. Stories can’t be right or wrong. Stories just are and they just have to be what they are, until they become expanded my new experiences. Today’s episode is an invitation to see and value the stories; our own and those of the people around us. People are made of stories. Stories matter because people matter. Want to dialogue more? Join our Facebook group here. Any questions or comments? Email me directly here. Ready to start transforming your relationships? Go to our website and check out the resources on my coaching page.
17 minutes | Sep 4, 2020
46: Am I Kidding Myself?
Such a fascinating question that I asked myself for the first time last night. The answer came so quickly that it surprised me. Yes... I am always kidding myself and I do it without even noticing. The reason I believe that, is based on some things I read once in the book Emotional Intelligence by Dan Goleman. Those things have recently resurfaced In my mind through other authors. Let me summarize it for you. In the context of our normal human existence, we walk through life on guard against things that threaten our sense of worth and well-being. That’s because we actually have a part of our brain that functions as a watchdog for threats. Most of us have experienced the way our body instinctively responds to perceived danger and are aware of the way fear enables us to perform in abnormal ways for the sake of our physical safety. That doesn’t happen very often but it’s nice to know that we are wired to rise up and protect ourselves if it’s needed, right? What most of us don’t give credence to is the fact that our brain perceives threats to our emotional security almost continuously. Without even realizing we are afraid, our brain activated the rest of the body and we kick into fight or flight mode. Last night I had a moment that got me in touch with this reality. In a texting conversation (I know.. that was my first mistake) I asked my son a question that was based in fear, but I had no idea that was true because I didn’t feel any fear. In my mind I was following an urge to be more straight forward in all of my communication; especially with my family. I want us to be more free to say what we think and how we feel. Why does that have to be so hard? I was genuinely kidding myself, even though I couldn’t see it. The reality that my words were rooted in fear was something I didn’t see. But the reactions of both my son and myself proved that they were. My fear sparked his and... well you know the rest of that story. It didn’t feel good when I went to bed, but I somehow believed it was good. I believed the words I spoke in Episode 45, “pain always leaves something good behind. It did. It got me in touch with how important it is for me to be aware of my fears before I enter into conversations, social gathers, or show up at work. If I’m aware of my hidden fears I am able to choose how to relate with those fears. I won’t get caught off guard by them and react, instead I can respond. When I respond it can be from a place of knowing -who I am and what’s important to me. If this is the normal human condition as Dan Goleman and other respected authors tell us, then calling it normal and expecting it to be present, in both of us, becomes really important. It keeps us dealing with the facts of our lives and not just the stories that form around those facts because we are afraid. When I am not aware of my fears I believe the stories I make up that give meaning to what happens around me. Once I do that, I will either blame myself for being a loser who deserves disrespect or another for being a selfish and mean person who simply doesn’t care whom they hurt. Blame turns to shame and I will direct it outward “shame on you” or inward “shame on me.” Neither of those produces healthy communication or satisfying relationships. It makes the question of If we Matter so important. If I am certain that we all matter regardless of what we do or don’t do, I will devote myself to knowing that I matter and helping others believe that they matter too. I will want to honor all of us. Our challenge for this week is two-fold. To revisit the idea that everyone really does matter (period) and practice seeing people through that lens. To continually ask ourselves what we are afraid of as we walk through the week. Choosing to be mindful that all of us live with a very real sense that we are not enough to actually matter. From there we live to defend any sense of worth that we have or to perform for the sake of gaining some. I’m intrigued to discover the impact of owning my fears so they don’t have the power to own me. Will you practice with me? Share your thoughts with me and/or our Facebook community? Reach out to me for a free coaching session to jump-start this way of living? This IS worth it, because we DO matter! Want to dialogue more? Join our Facebook group here. Any questions or comments? Email me directly here. Ready to start transforming your relationships? Go to our website and check out the resources on my coaching page.
9 minutes | Aug 28, 2020
45: But I’m in so much pain
If you listened to episode 44 you may have responded with the thought, “but I’m in so much pain!” I did, even as I was recording it. That’s because I was in the early stages of a really painful family crisis. So here I am, In more pain than I know what to do with, reminding myself that pain never comes without leaving behind some good. It’s the kind of good we don’t think about very much, especially in the midst of it. But it’s good in ways that I can’t afford to avoid. I guess I’m experiencing the power of a new paradigm shift... pain is good. Have you ever really contemplated the goodness of pain? I have been doing that all month in my online course and here is what I’m learning about pain. It’s good because it softens me It’s good because it humbles me It’s good because it’s a part of life that all humans experience. It’s good because it teaches me so much about living as it prepares me for whatever the future holds. It’s good because it reveals my strength and resilience. Getting through it proves to me that I have what it takes to make it (no matter what life throws at me). It’s good because it invites the best of me to show up as I get in touch with how much I need people, creativity, vision, and hope. I need to respond in a way that teaches me to believe in my ability to survive pain and thrive in the midst of it. It opens me up to the goodness of transparency. It makes me more compassionate toward others. As a person of faith... it also dramatically increases my intimacy with Jesus. I don’t know if you can sense the goodness of calling pain good yet, but if you are willing to see the potential it offers enough to try embracing it as good, I think you will. In order to gain all of that goodness from pain, we have to accept it even though we don’t want it. And once we choose to take the next step and call it good because we actually want some of those things pain offers... the flood gates open! I will never want to feel pain but In order to gain all of the goodness it offers I have to accept it even though I don’t want it. Then once I choose to take the next step and call it good because I actually want some of those things pain offers... the flood gates open up. No pain, no gain is not just true in relation to the strength of our physical bodies. It’s true in our emotional lives as well. I didn’t learn to navigate pain growing up and I didn’t know how to teach my own kids either. I wish I had. But I know it’s all the more reason I need to call their pain good now. Of course, that means calling my pain good too- because their pain IS my pain. I have to figure out how to walk through mine and let them do the same offering whatever support they are willing to receive. Just this week as I was talking with one of my grandkids he said this to me: “I used to get so mad at you when I was fighting with my sister and you would say, “you are so lucky to have each other. But you were right.” It’s pretty cool to watch that 19-year-old and his 17-year-old sister be such good friends today.” If you can open yourself up to the possibilities that might present themselves in the presence of pain, just enough to try them on. I believe you will find yourself ready to join me on this fascinating journey. I hope so. More internal freedom becomes ours as we answer the question of if we matter more deeply than ever as we experience pain. Does everyone matter regardless of how they handle the pain of life and how much of the pain they create? Or does everyone who feels pain just matter? Want to dialogue more? Join our Facebook group here. Any questions or comments? Email me directly here. Ready to start transforming your relationships? Go to our website and check out the resources on my coaching page.
8 minutes | Aug 21, 2020
44: I don’t want to feel this way
So much is catching up with me emotionally these days. I want COVID to be over. I’m starting to feel trapped and angry. I really want to do some things that move me forward As a human being who lives with and for the sake of black lives knowing how much they matter. I can’t do much of what my heart wants to do until this is over. What’s happening around the election is genuinely disturbing to me. What is November going to bring? Here is my reality: I feel so many things I don’t want to feel, and those feelings are not going away anytime soon. Of course, these things upset me and they upset the people around me too. This is a hard season with lots of deep emotion for all of us. I know I need to accept that reality and keep using the phrases, Me too, You too, and Of course (from episodes 41-43). I know they help me stay more calm, clear and kind. I want that. Another two-word -perspective-setter for me is so obvious that it’s easy to miss or even dismiss. Its what I want to talk about today. I’m okay... I don’t like the way I feel and I wish it would go away. Even more, I wish the things or people that are causing these feelings would just go away. But still, I’m okay because... ...I’m alive and breathing. As long as that’s true there is potential. It’s crazy how significant it is to stop for even 10 seconds and notice the rising and falling of my chest as I breathe or the air going in and out of my nostrils. But still, I’m okay because... ...I know some things about feelings. They are a sensation that is created in my body in response to life.they are temporary not only are they changing and unpredictable they don’t always reflect reality. When they do it’s just one piece of reality. Feelings are an ingrained way of responding to something. My favorite part is that they are not me. When they move on I will still be here. But still, I’m okay, because... ...I have some very significant things that no one can take away from me. I have resilience and inner strength; the ability to smile and care for the person in front of me. I can give and receive. I can pray and believe. I am creative and resourceful and I always get to choose how I respond to everything that comes my way. When it comes right down to it, I know that I’m okay. Even now while I’m feeling feelings that I don’t like. When I know that I’m okay I settle down. I can relax and just be in the moment without having to fix anything or blame anyone. I can sink into who I am and what I know is true about myself and my emotions. What I believe about God. I remember inviting a friend of mine who was getting ready to support her 16-year old through labor and delivery to use these two words. She called afterward to tell me how much it stabilized and steadied her. I was so excited about what she experienced that I told my husband. His response was to jointly say, “wow, Judy so profound” I was unaffected by his sarcasm because I was so excited about the potential in this simple declaration. Simple perspective shifts like this one where I go from being stressed about what’s going on to Being free to just be where I am are powerful. They free me to treat myself and the people as If We Matter... I hope you will try it this week and let me know what you think. Want to dialogue more? Join our Facebook group here. Any questions or comments? Email me directly here. Ready to start transforming your relationships? Go to our website and check out the resources on my coaching page.
12 minutes | Aug 14, 2020
43: You Upset Me (and a few other confessions)
In this episode, Judy describes the way that our human lives bump into each other. As a result, we are always doing and saying things that upset one another. The words that offer a new perspective this week are simply, “of course.” Human beings upset each other. That’s just what we do. It’s true because we experience a full range of emotions and the ability to think and choose for ourselves, along with so very much diversity. If we plan for the inevitability of upset, we won’t be surprised or caught off guard when it happens. Once we begin to see it as normal, we free ourselves from the instinct to fix or control whatever is causing it. We don’t need to be concerned about the feelings we are experiencing, because they are just an expected and real part of life. From there we can relax, evaluate the circumstances that created the feelings, and decide how we want to deal with them. The only other option is to allow the upset feelings to dictate our response and rob us of our full presence in the moment at hand. Judy also takes some time to wonder out loud with us about the effectiveness of this platform, for her personally and invites us to evaluate along with her. It’s a moment that could provide clarity, or create more questions. Either way, it pushes the door open a little bit wider for us to see what’s possible in our everyday lives, If We Matter. Her declaration, “I’m in it for the freedom,” stands as an invitation to all of us. Her recent experiences of freedom are expressed with a desire to draw us into this journey with her. What if you could become a person who is free to relate with life in a way that lines up with your convictions and removes that constant feeling of regret? Would that motivate you to join The If We Matter Podcast family and practice new ways of seeing life? Want to dialogue more? Join our Facebook group here. Any questions or comments? Email me directly here. Ready to start transforming your relationships? Go to our website and check out the resources on my coaching page.
11 minutes | Aug 7, 2020
42: Why do such imperfect people demand so much perfection from each other?
This question has been on my mind a lot lately and I think it’s connected to our fear. Acknowledging my own fear, and the broken ways of relating that have grown out of it creates a great foundation for change. That’s because it humbles me and softens me toward myself. However, the impact will break down into more self-centered denial in the name of self-care, unless we choose to offer the same understanding to others. Self-centered self-care encourages us to get rid of anyone who doesn’t build us up. True self-care takes advantage of the negative that’s present in order to understand and care for our souls better. That’s what allows me to show up with others as the person I really want to be rather than letting my fear drive my interactions. This week's two words for a life-giving mindset are, “you too.” Once I connect my own broken ways of relating with people to the reality that I’m afraid, I can do the same for you. I am afraid so I judge, blame, and punish you. You too! Your broken ways are driven by your fear too! Do you know what that means?? It’s HUGE... We don’t have to take anything anyone does or says personally. It’s not about us... it’s about what’s going on inside of them. We can tell ourselves a more accurate story with words like these: “Of course you are behaving this way, you are afraid too. You’re afraid of your own limitations and your own failure; afraid I won’t accept you because you are not enough. Even when you try to do the right thing, so often it backfires. You might even be afraid to try again, or just tired of trying. I know these things are happening inside of you because you are a human being just like me. Your story is different, but you have a story. Your fears have grown out of different experiences than mine, but we both find ourselves driven by them, more often than not.” The difference In the way I relate with someone is huge depending on what I believe about them. Is this person just a bad human who wants to get it wrong? Do they want to hurt me or others? If so, and we are in relationship, I may need to let them know that they are actually destroying their own soul. If those words come from a place of genuine humility and compassion, there is a chance the person might actually hear me! On the other hand, If they are just a human being driven by fear, maybe compassion without words would be more helpful. I love the way God invites me to relate with people in this verse of the Bible. Admonish the unruly (those who are just being rebelliously mean and they know it) encourage the fainthearted, help the weak and BE PATIENT WITH ALL PEOPLE. Even when boundaries are needed, or hard truth has to be spoken, it can be given with a soft and dignifying spirit. It can be kind. You can treat the person the exact way YOU as a person would want to be treated in that moment. What I love most about that Is the way it nurtures my own souls at the same time as it offers life to the other persons. This week when you find yourself feeling offended, frustrated, or angry (in the little things)... Lean into the person creating those feelings. Look closely at your fellow human with a “me too” mindset. Notice and admit that you are scared and own the reality of the words, “you too.” Relate with this person as you would relate with anyone who is genuinely afraid. It’s so much better to be afraid together (even if it’s not voiced) than to let fear drive either of us into greater aloneness. Fear is much more powerful in our own lives when we fail to have compassion for the fear we see in others. This too offers us the kind of internal freedom we need in order to be the people we want to be. It’s easier to be mad and to blame and shame, but in that response, we may be forfeiting our own souls. I’m reminded of the perspective James Baldwin (I Am Not Your Negro) offers about our past. What we are afraid of, can turn us into criminals. Reach out for a free breakthrough coaching session and taste the internal freedom that’s available right NOW! See you in the Facebook group! Want to dialogue more? Join our Facebook group here. Any questions or comments? Email me directly here. Ready to start transforming your relationships? Go to our website and check out the resources on my coaching page.
12 minutes | Jul 31, 2020
41: What am I really afraid of?
Today’s episode is fueled by James Baldwin’s story I Am Not Your Negro, which highlights the role of fear in the story of our racism. He speaks powerfully undeniable and profound words straight into the heart of anyone who is willing to listen! It got me thinking about fear. We may be living with more fear than most of us Americans are used to. Our American dream has kept us lost in a fantasy world that we are being forced out of. Maybe the issues facing us today are just highlighting fears that we have become good at avoiding. The unavoidable reality is that fear drives much of what comes out of us, and it might be the reason we don’t like each other very much right now. Today’s episode is an invitation to come out of denial and acknowledge that we are afraid. Fear is part of the human existence and needs to be dealt with consistently and honestly or it will quietly continue to wreck us. The invitation: Acknowledge fear with these words, “I’m scared.” Admit to yourself that you are scared. Name what scares you and then keep asking, “but what am I really afraid of?” Sit and have a conversation with your fear (accept it as normal, console your fear with your commitment to stay with it and offer your strength, speak into your fear the things you know and have and are that offer the confidence to walk through life together). Watch for the opportunity to remind yourself, “I’m just scared.” Then choose to relate with life at a deeper level than your fear itself can offer. If you have something robbing you of your own internal freedom you can contact Judy for a free breakthrough coaching session and get a taste of what’s possible! “Not everything that is faced changes, but nothing changes until it is faced.” - James Baldwin. Let’s face our fear together! See you in the Facebook group! Want to dialogue more? Join our Facebook group here. Any questions or comments? Email me directly here. Ready to start transforming your relationships? Go to our website and check out the resources on my coaching page.
12 minutes | Jul 24, 2020
40: Change is right here
Today’s episode marks the beginning of a new series of episodes that will bring us to the end of year one of The If We Matter Podcast. For the next three months, our focus will be less on the issues that divide us, and more on the issues inside of us that have the potential to bring us together. Life has gotten crazy around us, and I know I’m not the only one feeling afraid about what’s happening to our country. The two sides of our political system have become enemies and the idea of relating with each other from where we are is quickly fading. We are no longer just disagreeing with each others’ opinions, we are dismantling each other as people. It’s creating pain and confusion all around. Hate is filling up the pages of Facebook and it’s not staying in our social media accounts. It’s spilling over into our relationships, our families, and even into our inner worlds. What’s possible from here? Is there a way that we can respond to this mess that will be transformational? I think so. I think transformation is always available to us from anywhere! I think shifting our paradigms in a way that brings creative energy and fun into life is what we all need! The shifts available to us offer more for our all of our relationships; the best and the worst of them. Today's paradigm shift is hidden in two little words, that don’t even need to be spoken to have an impact. Those words, “me too,” get to the heart of compassion. They require us to look for ourselves in the things we don’t like that are coming out of another person. These little words both dignify and unify us as humans. It sounds like this, (in our mind, we are not saying these things out loud): You must have a lot going on inside of you, “me too.” “You are aggravated by something, I know what that’s like.” “Of course you are afraid, I am too.” “I don’t know what you are dealing with, but I know what life does to me.” The moment we bring ourselves into the equation we begin to soften. As we contemplate the way life can or is working us (our wounds, stress, fears, frustrations, conflict, etc), of course, we get it. Some space is opening up inside of our hearts for this person we were ready to judge and condemn. Now instead of using their brokenness to make us feel better about ourselves, we are using it to equalize and dignify both of us. We are creating a little bit of oneness in our hearts with this person that we probably don’t like, or agree with. The best place to start is with our closest relationships, and/or those who are the most removed. The first group we care deeply about. These are the people whose inner turmoil is something we must relate with in an up-close and personal way. We trust that they are good people and they care about us, but they get so defensive, annoying, frustrating, and difficult. So do we. We just have no idea what it feels like to be on the other side of our stuff. Try it this week. Pay attention to how it impacts you, and take advantage of any softness that rises up by leaning in with compassion and reminding yourself how much this person matters to you. Your Facebook feed is a good place to practice too. Your relationship with the person you follow is probably from a distance, and those who comment are usually strangers. Instead of focusing on the things you hate that are coming out, let yourself see the fear behind it. Notice the fear their words bring up inside of you, to fuel what is already there. Now you can sit in the reality of “me too” for a moment and allow it to soften you and remind you that mean people hurt others out of their own hurt. We are going to have to be in the mess that has been created by our polarized political environment, Covid19, and racism together for a while I’m guessing, and all relationships are messy. Instead of judging others for their imperfections and opinions, let’s choose compassion so that we can fight from a better place. Let’s make The If We Matter Facebook group a place where we work together to make the paradigm shifts that will ease the relational tension in our relationships and teach us to live free from the tendency we all have to judge and divide. There is so much potential, If We Matter… Want to dialogue more? Join our Facebook group here. Any questions or comments? Email me directly here. Ready to start transforming your relationships? Go to our website and check out the resources on my coaching page.
27 minutes | Jul 17, 2020
39: We are more alike than you think!
Today’s episode is an interview with an ordinary person who happens to be a young mom with an amazing heart for people. Crystal was introduced to the If We Matter Podcast by someone she randomly met. When she reached out to me I knew immediately that I needed to know her, so why not make our conversation an episode? I think you will be intrigued by the similarities and differences in a way that might create new paradigms! Want to dialogue more? Join our Facebook group here. Any questions or comments? Email me directly here. Ready to start transforming your relationships? Go to our website and check out the resources on my coaching page.
15 minutes | Jul 10, 2020
38: Do black lives matter?
For a brief moment after the murder of George Floyd, I had the sense that our country was coming together. But things have definitely shifted. I don’t know about you, but that video required me to see things I didn’t want to see. It exposed me to the reality that the injustices I desperately wanted to believe were in the past are actually alive and well in the present. It brought me face to face with myself in relation to the three words: Black. Lives. Matter. It required me to stop avoiding the confusion they have been creating inside of me. So here I am, navigating my own confusion. At the same time, angry voices swirl all around me. They are from the mouths of people I respect on both sides of the issue (culture war). As you know, it’s been intense. When I process threads on Facebook, I get a picture of us playing tug of war with black lives. We say we are fighting for them, each in our own ways…but it feels like we might tear our black friends apart. We might be sacrificing real people on the field of battle. It feels like the fight is not even about black lives anymore. What I’m sharing is my own journey with the three words: Black Lives Matter I’m doing it even though I know that … … it will prove to some of those who live around me, that I am one of those people (evangelicals) they have always suspected I am, … it will create concern in others (evangelicals) that I am no longer who they thought I was. I share my journey in the hope that engaging together, we might influence each other along the way. I share my journey because I really want to be a bridge, and maybe sharing the journey together IS the bridge. The hard part of being a bridge is that you actually have to touch both sides while extending across the risky middle ground. These three words have dotted the landscape of my life for the last four years. More recently, they’ve dominated. I don’t go out for a walk without seeing them in my neighbor’s windows. In the beginning, I received them as a slap in the face, an unfair accusation against me and others like me. They often come as part of a list of statements that starts with “In this house… or in this city we…” They scream out, “We actually care about black lives and you don’t. You white Christians say you love people but you don’t. Liberals are the only ones who actually care about people.” My own heart knows, and my experience with others tells me that this implied accusation simply isn’t true. I think I was mostly frustrated because I wanted those words in my own window, but not as the political or social statement it has become. I just wanted to identify my heart with the most pure meaning of those three words My false accusers make me feel like I can’t. I began to realize that the words: black lives matter are actually begging questions that go beyond the worth of black lives. As a label for a political movement, it now includes questions about, among other things, the dignity of women, and LGBTQ rights. What about the lives of the LGBTQ community? When the rainbow became a symbol for this community, it felt like a takeover of a universal sign of hope. It had one message and was off-limits for use by anyone other than for LGBTQ issues. Then it became a social/political line in the sand forcing me to “choose sides.” I didn’t want to choose because I didn’t want to abandon either. But I’m on the side of love, and love is on both sides! The line drew up sides between so-called “biblical morality,” and so-called “secular morality.” There was no place for a person who believes that to love God IS to honor people with or without full understanding or agreement. What about the dignity of women? For too long a patriarchal society has demanded women deny themselves and fall in line with the duties of childbearing, homemaking, and the sexual pleasure of men It was required that we carry huge weight, without a voice. Was that really the intention of God? Were we meant to be seen and not heard? Were we given a free will and the ability to reason without holding the kind of dignity those same abilities offered men? What if a Christian actually does care about honoring women and members of the LGBTQ community? What if the healthiest perspective is the one having discovered it doesn’t have to be one or the other? What if we are sabotaging ourselves when we don’t deeply respect both from the deepest level of our being? What if it all matters too much for us to divide and fight? All of this reminds me of King Solomon’s ruling between two women, both claiming the same child. Splitting the child only brings death, while making the decision to keep the child whole might mean sacrificing part of oneself. His ruling was designed to flush out the truest love. It leaves me knowing and not knowing. From this blip on my journey, I have full freedom and deep conviction before God to embrace and to own these three words: Black. Lives. Matter. and the message they bring to my heart, in spite of anything they might mean in our volatile social/political climate. I am falling deeply in love with the goodness of black skin and all that it means to the God who gifted black skin to the world. I am allowing my soul to marinate in the pure and inherent significance of black lives. I long to be changed in my insides. I am so much less concerned about what happens in the United States of America than I am about the beauty of the Kingdom of Heaven rising upon this earth. (I think my God is too.) From this place in my journey, I am not free from wrestling with all of this. I still find all kinds of resistance rising up in me when I listen to what feels like nothing more than fighting words coming from both sides in a determined effort to be right, and to prove others wrong. What I am most concerned about is the way the church seems to be fighting against the world we live in and our fellow humans. That is not our calling. It feels like “truth” has become about prescribing and enforcing one brand of morality on a culture, rather than offering the essence of truth’s heart, which I believe is love. If God is love and God is holy, then maybe love is the deepest form of holiness. The kind of love that is dignifying, patient, and kind. The kind of love that reflects the kindness of God so fully that it can be felt by those who share life with us on this earth, especially those on “the other side.” Releasing ourselves from responsibility for other’s reactions to our “truth,” we seem to take pride in creating more fight…a deeper divide. It feels like we have taken on the role of judge, without even noticing that the pride fueling our judgment just might be more detestable than what we define as the immoral behaviors of others, their lifestyle choices, their identities, or their political views. Where we all find ourselves. We all have to wrestle with the question, “Does my black life matter to you?” Could it be any more important that we face it? What is triggered inside of you when you own that question? What kind of resistance rises up inside of you with the words “black lives matter?” What is it really about? Maybe like me, you will find yourself wanting to take back your freedom to care for the lives of real people and to bring the heart of God to bear on our world. Maybe like me, you want to let God be God and do the work of God among us, while we do the work he has given us to do. Where can we all begin? Regina’s words offered a start: 1) Proximity, and 2) Empathy. These are rising up as an answer to the desires in my heart. There will be no empathy that lasts if there is no proximity. I choose proximity, period. With my fellow humans who are black, as well as my fellow humans who land on either side. I choose to stay authentically in the discomfort of all of it. I do so on purpose because I believe that either everyone matters to me, period, or no one actually matters to me. A friend of mine actually started a YouTube channel for me several months ago. I think it’s time to start using it. I want to share more specifically the words of the Bible that are influencing a change in me (for those who think I have wandered from biblical authority in my life), and for those who find themselves curious about why the words of that book matter to me so much that I could never walk away from them. Want to dialogue more? Join our Facebook group here. Any questions or comments? Email me directly here. Ready to start transforming your relationships? Go to our website and check out the resources on my coaching page.
27 minutes | Jul 3, 2020
37: Does my black life matter?
Regina Robinson is a beautiful, competent, confident educated woman who happens to be black. She is a mother of four, a devoted follower of Jesus and the Dean of Student Affairs at Cambridge College in Boston. The last few months have rocked Regina’s world as she grapples with the reality that her black life doesn’t actually matter to many of her fellow humans. Never before has she felt the danger associated with her black skin. Hearing the heart behind her words will impact your perspective if you are willing. Want to dialogue more? Join our Facebook group here. Any questions or comments? Email me directly here. Ready to start transforming your relationships? Go to our website and check out the resources on my coaching page.
10 minutes | Jun 26, 2020
36: Becoming conscious of the unconscious
As racism is being exposed, I’m discovering the goodness of allowing the deeper parts of who I am to be exposed with it. I’ve always wondered about the things hidden in my subconscious mind. What’s in there and how is it impacting who I am? What I didn’t realize is that intentional awareness of how I’m responding to life in the moment offers the opportunity to bring those things hidden beneath the surface of my consciousness forward. It’s not easy and what rises up isn’t always easy to see, but I’m tasting the goodness of conscious living. The reality is that there is always more to experience in every moment that we make the conscious choice to be conscious. If you are willing to go there with me I believe what you discover will impact us both. Want to dialogue more? Join our Facebook group here. Any questions or comments? Email me directly here. Ready to start transforming your relationships? Go to our website and check out the resources on my coaching page.
22 minutes | Jun 19, 2020
35: African American Bridges
Much like Danté Upshaw and Neil Edwards, Jua Robinson is an African American who has chosen to live his life as a bridge. Not many will, and no one should be expected to. Maybe that’s what makes these men’s lives such a gift to all of us. Jua lives in Boston with his wife Regina and their four kids. He works for an organization called the Boston Collaborative, serving the good of his city. As a follower of Jesus, His unique passion involves bridging the gap between a church he loves and his African American people. I’m struck by his willingness to patiently work to create change in the context of the church; where disunity of any kind is incongruent with its very existence. The hypocrisy of the church is on display in Jua’s story. So is the heart of a tired man, who graciously invites us to something better. We need to stop talking about unity in our gatherings and get ourselves out working alongside others for the sake of real change. His willingness inspires mine. My wheels are already turning with thoughts about racism in the context of the evangelical church today. Join me in contemplating this serious reality and let’s let this moment change us! Want to dialogue more? Join our Facebook group here. Any questions or comments? Email me directly here. Ready to start transforming your relationships? Go to our website and check out the resources on my coaching page.
15 minutes | Jun 12, 2020
34: No one wants to be labeled
Right? I don’t like to put labels on others or have them put on me. A person is so much more than any label they wear, and labels have different meanings to different people. I hate being defined by other people who wear the same label as me. Labels generate assumptions and are packed with ore conceived notions. Right now we don’t even know how to feel about wearing the basic label connected to our skin color. It used to be just a description of our external appearance, and white was white. But now white is being labeled as so many different things, I just want to shake them all off in order to figure out who I am as a white person. Unfortunately, it has always been that way for black Americans, and as a white person, I’m just getting a small taste of how it feels to have my skin color define me in a negative way. My choice for today is to turn it around and embrace the label that is the most uncomfortable for me. It doesn’t feel to me like I have been infected with white supremacy, but I’m going to start assuming I have. I’m not doing it because I’m supposed to. I’m doing it because I want to make the most of this opportunity to explore what’s really going on inside of me and root out anything that keeps me from fully valuing myself and my fellow humans. I want to be someone who creates safety for people who can’t feel safe with me because of my skin color. I am not ashamed of being white I just want to learn how to wear it better. I think step one for me in the long game is to put myself under that label and feel it. I am embracing the adventure because I am ready to enjoy more of the untapped potential in my human relationships. I am also embracing you and your journey, ready to let you be a different kind of white than me right now. This is a life long adventure that offers us all more, as we seek to be better people to our fellow humans who happen to be black. What is step one for you? Want to dialogue more? Join our Facebook group here. Any questions or comments? Email me directly here. Ready to start transforming your relationships? Go to our website and check out the resources on my coaching page.
27 minutes | Jun 5, 2020
33: We are not powerless!
Today’s episode is a follow up with Neil Edwards (Episode 31) a man who is committed to speaking truth for the sake of added meaning. I’m certain that new meaning will be added to these moments for you as Neil describes the toxicity of white supremacy in all of us. He speaks powerful words into our hearts to help us understand where we are, and what it will require of us, white people, to root it out. Neil's anger is clean and soft in ways that so accurately reflect Jesus. He lays the responsibility squarely at our feet in a way that is without judgment and full of compassion. It’s so powerful. I think it’s because his commitment to justice lives grounded in love. He calls us to devote ourselves to the inner work that reveals what’s under the surface of our lives and to do it together. We need to enroll the support of our fellow white humans who are committed to doing their work alongside of us. Together we can become those who engage in the kind of sustained effort that is imperative if we are ever to earn the trust of our fellow humans who happen to be black. We can’t be content to offer support on social media, let that be only the beginning of a work that doesn’t end. I love how Neil invites us to go and go and go again, as those who bring healing through face to face, person to person experiences and conversations. I also love the way he compares our condition to an addiction. Addicts are the last to see their need to heal and once they commit to it they must see it as a life long process of recovery. This work will never be done because the tentacles of racism, like addiction, are so deeply woven into the fabric of our being. There is so much to learn. Will you listen from a place of humility that receives the responsibility he lays at our feet? Will you come back next Friday and talk with me more about what that might look like and consider jumping in with me to do the work? I couldn’t be more ready to do it, more passionate about how we can do it, or more willing to create a path for us to do it together. Neil wants more for us humans as we live this life together, and you probably know I have been working to create resources to that end for several years. I think we are on the brink of something so much better! Please take the call of this episode seriously and let’s get at the transformation we want! I will be looking for your comments and your emails. I’m serious about this, and I think you are too. Want to dialogue more? Join our Facebook group here. Any questions or comments? Email me directly here. Ready to start transforming your relationships? Go to our website and check out the resources on my coaching page.
11 minutes | May 29, 2020
32: Dismantling my human supremacy
At the root of racism and every other related “ism” is the presence of supremacy. Us humans dabble in it every day and some of us live with our feet firmly planted in it, almost like an anchor. We naturally connect with people who share our opinions, lifestyles, beliefs, etc. just affiliating with a like-minded group of people creates a bias in our subconscious minds because we feel that our way of thinking is superior. That bias becomes prejudice when we highlight our way of thinking in comparison to others in our conversations. We still don’t even notice. Then when things heat up and controversy of some kind rises up between groups, disdain and disgust enter in. Yesterday I heard the term anti-racism, racism. We all see it growing as whites go against whites in our efforts to sort out whose fault this really is. Neil Edwards is a gift to The United States of America. His unique perspective based on his unique experiences up until he came to the US for college offers us a beautiful example and a powerful hope. Neil has tasted a world that most of us haven’t. The world he grew up in involved racial diversity without the presence of racism. He has a vision that I want to borrow; hope that I want to embrace. Neil has found a way to see himself in us white Americans, a group of people who have hurt him deeply. His anger is real and yet somehow clean. I think it’s because he keeps it within his highest value, which is love. It’s a hostile world right now and there is so much to be afraid of. I want to be like Neil Edwards. Neil can see himself in you and I. That’s the most unique thing about him. What if all of us would choose to see ourselves in him today? What if we became willing to see ourselves in everyone whose opinions make us fearful? What if we refuse to let the script of any one group divide us from our fellow humans? What if each of us would get serious about seeing and dismantling our human supremely? I’m in the thick of it and I would love for you to join me. Want to dialogue more? Join our Facebook group here. Any questions or comments? Email me directly here. Ready to start transforming your relationships? Go to our website and check out the resources on my coaching page.
26 minutes | May 22, 2020
31: I can see myself in you
Today’s interview is with a beautiful human being who happens to be black. Neil is a coaching colleague and a new friend who has deeply touched my life. His story is unique in that it began in the Bahamas where Neil was privileged to be among the country’s majority. He also attended a private international school, all the way through high school. There were one hundred and thirty students from over thirty different countries. Race was just a thing that described an individual. It meant nothing more. Neal looks back on those life long relationships with fondness and gratitude, thankful that he knows what it means to live life without the presence of racism. The next season of his life began in 1988 when he came to The U.S. for college. That’s when he began to understand as he experienced bias, suspicion, and even hate. Much pain is expressed and shared between us as he describes the burden of being a black man in America. His anger toward injustice, exists alongside his sadness and together they seem to have bred a desire to love deeply. You will be touched by the man and his story. Even more so by the vision he shares for America. His childhood left him hopeful that as he is able to see himself in his fellow humans, across racial lines, maybe someday his fellow humans will learn to see themselves in him. I saw myself in Neil Edwards and I will never be the same. Want to dialogue more? Join our Facebook group here. Any questions or comments? Email me directly here. Ready to start transforming your relationships? Go to our website and check out the resources on my coaching page.
20 minutes | May 15, 2020
30: Am I willing to expose myself?
As Neal speaks of his recent years and personal journey through the issues of racism his intentions are to expose himself. As an older, white, American, male whose life has been devoted to the church, there is a lot to expose. An experience of the black slavery museum with evangelical colleagues has driven voracious reading and deep introspection. The reality that he, “Doesn’t know what he doesn’t know,” has created humility and a willingness to discover the things he does know. Check out the books listed in the resources, start reading, start noticing your own thoughts and feelings, and start exposing yourself. Let’s let this episode drive is to change the way we see differences, especially those related to skin color. This is beyond necessary, If We Matter... Mentioned in this episode Equal Justice Institute (EJI) - If you visit this website you will find all references to the book, museums and memorials in Montgomery, AL. Bryan Stevenson's Book | Just Mercy Jemar Tisby's Book | The Color of Compromise Ron Hall and Denver Moore's Book | Same Kind of Different As Me Want to dialogue more? Join our Facebook group here. Any questions or comments? Email me directly here. Ready to start transforming your relationships? Go to our website and check out the resources on my coaching page.
14 minutes | May 8, 2020
29: Wait, is Christian Supremacy a thing?
If you are not a believer, you are probably ready to give that question a wholehearted “yes.” That’s because you have felt it. On the other hand, If you are a believer, you might be feeling the exact opposite and a bit defensive. I was utterly surprised when that question rose up in me this week. It happened as I listened, and listened again, to episode 28. Whoever you are, I hope you can hear me describe my journey through this week without judgment or resistance. I can invite that now only because I made my way through some crazy feelings and landed in a place of gratefulness. I needed to be blindsided by some truth tucked away in Danté’s story. In the 1960s the church actually believed and taught that slavery had to happen, because the African people were so horribly sinful. Their only hope was that we would go to them with the gospel and conform them to the ways of our faith. While I believe this was generated by people who truly cared and thought they had it “right,” I am sad about how wrong it was. I’m sad by the way it fostered racism as it unwittingly promoted both superiority and fear. In the church; evidenced in the way Danté experienced racism in the context of his Christian school. When Danté described his perception of the sin of the American church, it exposed some things in my heart that were devastating. He named it as “Our efforts to conform people, who have been made in the image of God, to our own image.” That’s was the goal of our missionary efforts because we failed to see God's image in people. Today we see God's image. Now the goal to conform people to our image is more subtle, but it is still there. The questions rising up for me today are these? What else have we gotten wrong? When did our invitation to explore the love of Jesus together change from, “Come be with us,” to “Come be like us.” When did our posture change from humble delight that Jesus rose from the dead to a demand that the world conform to our beliefs and morals? How can we be so certain that we are right? How has it become so easy for us to put ourselves above our fellow humans as a judge? How did we become so arrogant while living under a message that has no room for anything less than absolute humility? I may not be a white supremacist, but I think I suffer from a brand of it that I’m calling “Christian supremacy.” I listened to Dante’s story in a way that is requiring something huge from me. I‘m convicted and I am ready to change. How about you? Are you ready to join me in a conversation to explore what is behind all of our good efforts as a church? Those of you outside the church will you support us in our desire to change and wonder about the possibility of another form of supremacy in you? Supremacy of so many varieties is alive and well among us in America, and I’m getting in touch with just how destructive it is. I also love to imagine what’s possible if we would choose to open ourselves up to the humility invited by the simple question of “If we matter...” Want to dialogue more? Join our Facebook group here. Any questions or comments? Email me directly here. Ready to start transforming your relationships? Go to our website and check out the resources on my coaching page.
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