26 September 2017

The Wounded Healer (and why that is each of us)

I was in college when I first heard of Henri Nouwen. It wasn't until the beginning of graduate school that I actually began to read some his writings. 

His Life of the the Beloved is one my favorite spiritual books during this season of life.

As I started working in ministry, a friend had suggested I read Nouwen's The Wounded Healer. He said he thought this was required reading folks working in ministry. Years later as I reflect on my life so far, I see how right he was.

The premise of the book is that in our own woundedness, we can become a source of life and healing for other people. When we acknowledge and work through our brokenness and wounds, we become more compassionate, empathetic ministers.

I find myself re-reading the book and drawing on certain themes as I am taking a class on Theophostic Prayer Ministry and eventually working towards certification

TPM is an inner healing ministry that seeks to deal with inner emotional pain. It is a type of prayer designed to help people identify the lies they are holding onto that are causing them emotional pain and disrupting their walk with Christ.

People are asked to identify an emotion from a painful memory and expose the lie-based thinking that is causing them emotional pain. Then you hold up the exposed lie to Jesus to receive truth from His perspective.

We all have some lie-based thinking we are carrying around, some of which we may not even be aware of. But when we expose lies to the light of Jesus then truth can undo the power of lies we previously believed.

When I was married, my husband and I had several individual prayer sessions and I found it helpful. Since the experience, I knew I wanted to learn more and experience it for myself so maybe someday I could help other people too.

While there is much more wholeness and freedom in my life, there is always more that God desires to give.

The more we face our lie-based thinking and wounds from life, the more we experience greater freedom.

I think that is what makes a wounded healer.

A willingness and courage to face the inner pain in our heart and mind. The difficult things we experience in life will do one of two things: they will either break us or make us stronger.

I will never have it all together. I still need more healing in my own life, even though I am more whole than I've ever been in my life.

After the experience of marriage/divorce/annulment, I saw really clearly things that kept me trapped emotionally and spiritually. And as I experience deeper freedom, I just desire to learn more so I can help other people.

The principles of things like TPM or Unbound are gifts to the Church and the world today.

Each of us has wounds from this life. 

But these wounds (once processed and worked through) can be a way Jesus desires us to bring His healing and restoration to His people. 

Each of us is a wounded healer.

As I begin this class, I am so grateful for the healing I have experienced in my life so far. But it also brings to awareness healing is a life-time journey...we need to constantly be open and receptive for the MORE that God wants to give us.

The places God calls you to bring hope and healing will probably be different than mine. 

But right in your own relationships, family, job, and community there is a need only you can fill.

Be open. 

Listen to the Holy Spirit (and your heart).

Ask the Lord where has He put you to bring His healing light.

And then step out in faith and take a risk.

P.S. Check out a copy of The Wounded Healer
I promise you will not be disappointed. 

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18 September 2017

Shame, Sexuality, and The Heart of Man

Shame is the most destructive, powerful lie that Satan whispers into our hearts and minds.

It has the power to change what we believe our about ourselves to the depth of our soul.

And shame that is connected to our sexual identity, pain, and trauma has lasting effects to our of our soul we cannot always see.

Enter The Heart of Man

The movie is a cinematic re-telling of the story of the prodigal son which plays into a wider conversation about our sexuality, shame, and understanding our belovedness as sons and daughters of God.

The movie dives into the painful trauma of sexual abuse and how such painful unprocessed experiences as young children lead to deep seated shame in our hearts, which then affect our how we view sexuality and our own worth. 

Everybody carries shame and shame always drives us deeper into isolation. When we look to the places in our heart we carry the most secrets, that is where the most shame exists.

And because the secrets and shame wells are so deep, its too painful to be vulnerable and expose ourselves. Sometimes we can learn to live with shame because to face it head on would be too much.

But the beautiful irony is that exposure of our secrets and shame can actually become the path toward of healing and transformation. The messy process of healing is not so much changing or becoming something you weren't, but uncovering the truth of who you have always been from the beginning.

The movie talks about some of the most painful, difficult conversations we struggle to have (particularly in the Church sometimes): sexual abuse, sexual addiction, the shame they produce, and life-changing power that takes places when our shame can become a bridge to the heart of the Father.

This not the cheesy, poorly done Christian B film. This is raw beauty and deeply thought provoking.
When it becomes available for purchase, this would be a great resource for a variety of people and groups working in ministry.

While I have done a lot of healing work in my own sexual abuse and shame, it is a stark reminder to never give into the false truths about my own worth and dignity before my Heavenly Father.
Those five letters will never hold the power they used to over me ever again.

It is reminder to me to keep doing the healing work which helps me experience the freeing truth of who I am and will always be before Jesus...Beloved.

Our name is not shame or sin or brokenness or guilt, but Beloved...always and only Beloved.

What if our brokenness was not a barrier, but a bridge to God?

And the awesome thing that to our God, our brokenness is what draws us deeper into His heart.

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14 September 2017

The Illusion of Control in the Spiritual Life

I've talked around here before that a recent-ish spiritual lesson I am learning is that I can be controlling with God.

Like a lot.

In my spiritual journey I have struggled over the years with the doing vs. being with God. My perfectionist nature whispers to me if I "do" lots of churchy, holy things than I am more pleasing to God. I have to come before Him a certain way.
And while I have grown in this area, it still catches me off guard from time to time.

But this illusion of control with Jesus, is something He is gently reminding and re-reminding of ever since my first Ignatian retreat this past Lent.

Over the end of the summer, I was struggling a little: feeling insecure about being on my own right now, dating, not getting a job I wanted, and just second guessing myself in general.

As I kept coming back to Jesus in my journal and personal prayer, I kept hearing in my heart "I see you. I have not forgotten you."

And my response to the Lord?

I got angry and annoyed. 
Really Patty?! 

I basically brushed it off: "Oh yeahhhh that's nice and sweet and precious of you Jesus, but not really what I wanted to hear." I more or less told the Lord that wasn't what I NEEDED to hear. 
I complained and whined about what I really wanted or thought was best to hear from the Lord. #controllingmuch

Thank goodness for wise, gentle spiritual teachers in my life who told me to go back and ask the Lord why I was so resistant to hearing Him speak those words to me. I did that and God had to humble my heart. He took me back to wounds that still need healing.

I am slowly realizing when I try to control Jesus that I cannot fully receive from Him.

In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus turns to Peter and says "you are an obstacle to me."
I've always heard the part right before where Jesus in reference to Peter says, "Get behind me Satan!"

But the being an obstacle part, that recently cut me to the heart at Mass one Sunday. And for me it again goes back to this illusion of control with God.

As I took those words of the Gospel to prayer, an image kept coming to mind.

I was looking down at Jesus from above and He was trying to walk forward on the road. But he couldn't because at his feet, was this rambunctious, high-energy little puppy dog running circles around his feet. Chasing her tail or trying to nip at his ankles, the puppy was just being a puppy dog.

Not anything bad or naughty, but Jesus couldn't walk ahead because the puppy was so absorbed in being...well a puppy!

The Lord gently showed me I was that little puppy dog, being an obstacle to Jesus. It was not shaming at all, but a gentle prompt. Another reminder to get out of His way and stop trying to control my life or the circumstances around me.

We cannot control God. 

If we think we can we have made God into our own image.

While its an awkward and difficult lesson to keep learning it has been healing in a lot ways at the same time.

Jesus, I want to be able to receive from You...not control You.

Please show me (and all of us!) the difference...

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11 September 2017

Birthdays, Dating, Writing, and Life Lately.

The last few months I've been riding the struggle bus to keep a regular writing pace here.

Summer has been fun and relaxing, and if I don't have really anything to say I don't want to clutter things with filler posts.

So turning 32 over the weekend seemed as good a time as any to reflect on the goings on around here lately.

On Saturday I turned 32 and celebrated my sister' Annie's baby shower. It was a beautiful day, but the highlight was most definitely being asked to be godmommy to #juniorschunior, my little niece or nephew. I started crying and told my sister this was the seriously the best birthday present I could get. 

We all sealed the deal with a group hug along with my brother who is the godfather. Did I mention my Dad (who is a Catholic deacon) will get to baptize his first grandchild too!? #itsgonnabeapartyyyy #cannotwait

Later that night I went out with one of my dearest friends Sarah and we caught up on all the life things. Sunday my Mom came to Mass with me and we grabbed lunch in the city with my Pops afterwards. And later that night, I wandered over to Belle Isle for Mass 2.0 and a huge taco party with tons of young adults.

So yeah dating...is interesting. 

I feel so different doing from a perspective of healing and wholeness vs. insecurity and neediness. Counseling for the win!

I have been on a few dates here and there and even been awkwardky hit on by an old man in a coffee shop after church once. My favorite date story so far has been the guy that picked a wedgie within two feet of the table while en route to the bathroom. 
Ummmmmmm no. 

BUH. BYE. sweetie pie.

While those lonely moments creep in every now and then, I know I am right where I'm supposed to be. I am just living my life without living to find someone. 

I had my first freelance piece published in America Magazine. You know its good when it ruffles the feathers of Catholic folks from the left and right ;)

I did a workshop at Blessed Is She on Boundaries a few months back and am preparing for a few talks I'm giving this Fall at two different parishes. I am hoping to start to do more writing and speaking on the side to bring in a little extra money and slowly work that inky stinky debt snowball.

Youth Ministry starts up again full-time this Sunday and will be more busy from now to about Thanksgiving. This Saturday the leadership teens wanted to have a king party together where we hang out, bake good food, and eat it together. 
Sounds fun to me!

Its about 5 weeks till my marathon debut on October 15. I have gotten a couple long runs under my belt and was SHOCKED how good I felt after my 16 and 18 mile runs. 
Extra Strength Bengay, you're my new bestest friend. 

Oh and bacon. All the bacon.

At the end of September, the Blessed Is She is getting together again for a retreat in Wisconsin and I cannot freaking wait to see these lovely women again.

Overall life is in a good, beautiful place. Perfectly the way I desire it? 
No. But that is not how life goes.

One thing the Lord has been teaching lately in prayer is when I try to control Him it prevents me from receiving from Him.
So I am gently trying to live out of that truth day by day...

Hope you're starting to enjoy some of the beautiful Fall weather too! :)

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05 September 2017

Whispered in the Dark

Sometimes I think Christians struggle to have certain difficult pastoral conversations well.

We don't know how to talk about certain things because we struggle with the language or its just plain awkward and messy.

But sometimes the most awkward, messy conversations are the most important ones we need to be having.

Enter Whispered in the Dark.

My friend Danielle and I are introducing a new workshop to the Archdiocese of Detroit--a workshop for the empowerment and support of women who find themselves seriously dating/married to a man who addicted to porn.

If we as a Church want to help young women today date smart and form strong holy marriages, we have to talk about one of the biggest killers to good Christian relationships and marriages. Roughly 60% of marriages that end in divorce, porn use played a role.

It is not an easy topic to talk about. We as a Church have be on the front lines. 
We have to be willing to talk about the painful stuff.

We have compiled a morning of compassionate, informative professionals who will talk about sexual addiction 101, testimonies from women whose relationships have been impacted, list of resources/books/counselors/where to turn for help, teaching from sound spiritual leaders who understand the connection between addiction and spirituality.

Maybe you don't deal with this personally, but the statistics STRONGLY suggest that you know someone who does. And she probably doesn't know how to talk to you about it.

If you have young daughters, nieces, goddaughters, granddaughters, etc. this is the culture they will be growing up in: pornography, objectification, sexual abuse and manipulation, and misogyny.

If you have young women in your life you care about, this is something you need to be educated about. And if you happen to live in or near Southeastern Michigan, I would really love you to come on September 23...and help us spread the word!

One of the greatest lies is for Satan to confuse us and make us feel alone; like we are the only one going through something. I know I felt this way many times when I was in the middle of it when I was married.

If you do not live near SE Michigan, please pray and fast for us. We have never done this before. We have no idea how many women will come, but Danielle and I see it as such an urgent need for the Church to speak into more.
#bringallthewomen #pleasejesus

At the end of the day, this is something we are all facing, since we are all a part of the Church together.

And for the sake of young women you care about, be educated so you can help empower and educate her.

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