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Love yourself!

A wonderful friend (Ru Gof) posted this pic today, which reminded me that this is the greatest and most powerful truth we can embrace.

We may THINK we feel love for others – we may become overwhelmed by emotion for others and feel a huge heart response to them.

We may genuinely put others first and try to meet their needs. We might do everything that looks like love – but it isn’t. It’s a subconscious construct that we adopt to hide our own lack of self love. Its a deflection from the need to look at our own self loathing and fear. Our lack of self love/worth colours every single thought, emotion and action.

Self love is THE only way to truly love others, no matter how you justify it, no matter what your emotions might say, or how loving your actions look. It’s not real.

Love yourself first. Only then will the love your experience and express for others be pure and untainted by our own needs.

This is a hard reality – very hard!! Because there are so many beautiful people who do incredibly loving selfless actions, based on their emotional perceptions and responses. They are genuine and do amazing things for so many, and they can be incredibly empathetic and compassionate as well!

But it’s not real love!

This can be horrific for those fragile ones amongst us to recognise, mostly because it means they have to confront their inner demon of self hatred, which often masks itself as “sacrificial” love, and “empathy”. It can be a large can of worms, especially for abuse victims – which includes religious abuse (and even just devotion to standard christian doctrines!), as well as physical, sexual and emotional abuse.

Self love is the key to freedom, no matter what any religion or philosophy tells you. It’s not pride or arrogance. It’s not narcissism. It’s a true evaluation of the uniquely beautiful and perfect you.

Be brave – live loved!!

Is love a discipline?

One christian tenet that is commonly touted is the whole idea of love being a discipline – something we have to work on – to actively “deny ourselves” and exercise Godly love despite our feelings.

I always battled with this. I could never figure out why love had to be so hard, even though the excuse provided by traditional doctrine is that we are born “fallen” so everything we do that has value is going to be resisted by our “fallen” nature. It just didn’t gel.

As I began my journey out of traditional christianity, I began to see people who genuinely felt “emotional” love towards everyone. It’s the kind of love that isn’t a discipline or a consciously focused exercise on applying scriptural doctrines, or trying to “channel” God in some way. For these people, they just felt simple and unconditional love for every person.

How could this be? So I read and observed, and discovered it isn’t just super spiritual gurus who have obtained “enlightenment” of some sort, but was often simple, average people.

I’ve discovered the one common factor is self love! self-love

I’m not talking about anything narcissistic in the slightest. I’m talking about a full acceptance of our own worth as neither better or less than any other human being. It’s a complete acceptance and love of self as we are at this moment, no guilt, no shame, no regrets. It’s a full embracing of our core being as an expression of love. It doesn’t matter what religion or doctrines you may believe, apart from the basic fact that we are all beautiful and created in love.

This alone creates an inner peace that is far beyond any religion or spiritual discipline. If we have to strive to be loving, then we have missed the point entirely. And I can personally attest to it! Over the last 5 years I’ve grown to love myself “warts and all” in such a way that I feel equal to everyone else. Love to others becomes an expression of my love for myself. I don’t have to “fake it till I make it”. In fact, when I don’t feel love for someone I’m getting to the point where I stop and look at what is being reflected in my own lack of self love.

Yes, it’s something we grow into as we peel away the layers of self loathing in all its blatant and subtle forms. We have to abandon any belief that says we are broken and needy and require an external “saviour” because that shifts the focus and responsibility to that “thing” rather than embracing our true value on it’s own merit.

If you don’t experience natural, emotional based love that feels like empathy and affection for others, then the solution isn’t “trying” harder, it’s loving yourself more, and that only comes by unconditional acceptance of all that we are right now, and then allowing that internal love to gently strip away anything that isn’t a product of love. No striving or effort to repent and renounce sins, no berating ourselves or struggling to be better – we are enough as we are, and all the we hate about ourselves is just a product of our “journey” so far, and we can change the direction of that journey by embracing self love.

Sounds too good to be true? Yep, we’ve been told a lot of lies for a long time. We ARE beautiful, all of us, right now. It’s how we are “created”. We truly are “one”.

Live loved!

Orlando

I’ve waited a couple of days to ponder over the Orlando shooting and all the implications.

There has been an incredible outpouring of love and strength from the LGBT community and the world at large. Probably not much more I could add to all that.

There has been a lot of blame juggling – from gun laws, to Islam, to homophobia, to politics – you name it, someone or something is getting blamed and scapegoated.

The depth of the emotions we experience at something like this are always going to govern our opinions. The thing that we are most passionately “anti” will take the full brunt of our blame. That’s just human nature. We all do it. And that’s why I waited, to give myself time to sift through my natural responses and biases as well as all the rhetoric going around. And I certainly don’t want to diminish the impact of the event or the trauma and grief millions are feeling.

I think when we get to the bottom of it all, the problem is hate – fear based hate. It’s something we are all subject to. When we feel threatened fear sets in and fear needs an outlet. More often than not it’s directed at someone or something as hate. We fear what a political change might bring so we hate the politician. We fear someone for abusing us so we hate them. We fear so many things in different ways and turn it into hate.

It seems the shooter was himself a closeted gay. His native culture and religion made it utterly impossible to come to terms with his sexuality, and the fear of being gay and all that entailed drove him to hate who he was and anyone who reminded him of that. The cognitive dissonance in his mind – the clash of sexuality and his religious and cultural paradigms triggered an extreme hatred against himself and gay people in general.

He was also abusive to his wife, which is just another expression of that self hatred, lashing out in an attempt to be in control.

He was a victim. Yes, as much as we may despise the man (and justifiably so) he was still a victim.

Religion breeds fear, and fear breeds hate.love-over-fear

But this is just one observation of the situation. It’s incredibly complex and we must stop to consider as many aspects as we can before blaming anyone or anything. In the end, we can all be victims of fear and hate, no matter what form it takes.

He wasn’t evil. He wasn’t a terrorist. He was a scared, frightened man who felt he had no other alternative. The consequences of that however are horrific, his actions bringing untold devastation to countless people.

We have much to learn if we are to bring change to this world, and perpetuating fear and hate will not bring that change. We have many hard lessons to learn on this journey, but we can only start with ourselves, in honesty and integrity, learning to live loved.

We’ve only just begun…

Reparative therapy – Conversion therapy – “pray away the gay” – is on the decline and many organisations are closing their doors because they have realised that it doesn’t work. There’s a few fundamentalist die-hards that have regrouped to form even more evil and destructive “ministries”, and some of the smaller ones persist despite the overwhelming evidence that it not only doesn’t work but is extremely harmful.

So this is cause for cautious celebration isn’t it?gay deliverance

Well, not so fast. The problem is far deeper than these higher profile groups.

Most fundamentalist churches are extremely anti-LGBT. Perhaps they have a policy of welcoming them into the church, but it’s on the condition they change, and that’s where the fun begins.

The basic premises of reparative therapy have been accepted amongst Christendom as truth and adopted by every amateur prayer counsellor. Nearly every church has at least one “expert” ready to pray away the gay. They may be an elder who claims to have God’s anointing, a well meaning elderly woman who is regarded as the “intercessor”, the home group leader who has aspirations of running his own church some day, the prayer team who believe they can change anything if they pray long enough… many of them are really well meaning, genuinely believing they are helping people into freedom and new life. They all believe that anything outside the traditional sexual/gender stereotype is a sin – whether it’s caused by some deep emotional scar or a lifestyle choice, even if it’s from being led astray by ungodly relationships.

These are the ones that do just as much, if not more, damage as the established reparative therapy groups.

Deliverance (casting out demons) is a favourite practice in many circles, especially Pentecostal churches. Whatever methods they use, the results are the same – deep trauma, cognitive dissonance, lowered self-worth and much more – often leading to complex mental health issues and all too often chronic depression and suicide.

We may be winning the high profile battles against this evil practice, but we have yet to face the real battles. Religion itself is the enemy. A religion that is based on conditional, performance driven “love”, fuelled by traditions and dogma.

Unconditional love is the only answer – an answer that religion fails to understand at the deepest level.

I Love To Be Loved

The simplicity of love!

It’s not hard, or complicated. We have turned it into some crazy spiritual/religious/moral/ethical maze of conditions and exemptions.To-Love-And-Be-Loved... We have dissected it into oblivion and robbed it of power and declared it unachievable on any practical level.

But I love to be loved!

I know what love is when I receive it. It’s the most empowering and life giving thing I could ever hope to have. When I do something good for others, no matter how “selfless” it may be, deep down it makes me feel good – I’m experiencing love, even if it’s my own love!

We don’t need to be told what love is. It’s written in every heart, it’s who we are at the core. Yes, even the worst of the worst know what love is, even if they have never experienced it or expressed it. All evil is simply a deficit of love.

It’s OK to love to be loved. In fact, it’s the very thing that gives us real life. Love yourself, let yourself be loved, soak it up for all you’re worth.

Live Loved!

 

So, you know how people are
When it’s all gone much too far
The way their minds are made
Still, there’s something you should know
That I could not let show
That fear of letting go

And in this moment, I need to be needed
With this darkness all around me, I like to be liked
In this emptiness and fear, I want to be wanted
‘Cause I love to be loved
I love to be loved [x2]
Yes, I love to be loved

I cry the way that babies cry
The way they can’t deny
The way they feel
Words, they climb all over you
‘Til they uncover you
From where you hide

And in this moment, I need to be needed
When my self-esteem is sinking, I like to be liked
In this emptiness and fear,
I want to be wanted
‘Cause I love to be loved
I love to be loved [x2]
Oh I love to be loved

This old familiar craving
I’ve been here before, this way of behaving
Don’t know who the hell I’m saving anymore
Let it pass let it go let it leave
From the deepest place I grieve
This time I believe

And I let go [x2]
I can let go of it
Though it takes all the strength in me
And all the world can see
I’m losing such a central part of me
I can let go of it
You know I mean it
You know that I mean it
I recognize how much I’ve lost
But I cannot face the cost
‘Cause I love to be loved

Yes I love to be loved
I love to be loved
[x3]

I love to be loved
I love to be loved
Yes I love to be loved