Our Hardest Work in This World
The mystical poet Hafiz wrote “Our separation from God – from Love –
Chama al-Din Muhammad Hafiz, author unknown
is the hardest work in this world.” I think Hafiz was onto something.
Mystical teachings tell us we can never truly be separate from the Absolute Reality of Love because the Absolute contains everything. Yet we create obstacles to Love. The most persistent obstacle I’ve observed is a sense of unworthiness. I have counseled numerous people who tell me they feel like “damaged goods,” and therefore believe they are unworthy of Love.
Another word for unworthiness is shame. Brene´ Brown, PhD states in a viral TED Talk, that shame thrives on three things: secrecy, silence, and judgment. We hide what we do not like about ourselves in the hopes that no one will see – or maybe it will just go away.
Dr. Brown also states that the one thing shame cannot tolerate is empathy. So in the spirit of dissolving secrecy and invoking empathy, I’ll share a story from my ministry that makes me look bad. I’m embarrassed to tell it – but here goes. Continue reading
I’ve been approached by many congregants who say, “I’m trying to learn to love myself. When can I expect the inner voices of shame and self-doubt to go away?”
My standard response to that question is, “I’ll get back to you when my own voices of shame and self-doubt disappear.”
Then I share what I’ve discovered through years of spiritual study and practice: no matter who you are and what you’ve accomplished, it’s normal to have a sense of inadequacy lurching around in your mind at times. Lurch lists your shortcomings. He plans potential failures. He tells you you’re not good enough and he’s quite skilled.
The best way to be with the lurching mind is to stop trying to control it. We can’t control the mind with the mind. We just observe it. Then, instead of “thinking ourselves into a new way of living – we live ourselves into a new way of thinking.” (Richard Rohr)
I know this, because several years ago Lurch tried to ruin a wedding. My nephew Andrew was marrying his beloved Mark in New York City. I was invited to officiate. Continue reading