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The Leprosy of Our Day

Oh what an awful title to start this entry for the day. But, have you ever00011506-SPP-leprosyportraits-005 by natalia_tumasian. thought about it? Jesus confronted, held and touched, and healed one of the most debilitating and damaging illnesses of His day-leprosy. All lepers (due to the contagion of the illness) were automatically removed from society, held with disregard, treated as if substandard, and lastly, left to die within their little community of lepers. How tragic and utterly baneful this must have been for those who contracted the disease. Why did Jesus go out of his way to make a difference, to relate, engage, heal, and love these people?

1month - 1700g - Pneumonia by u.wili.As in many of the Lord’s parables where he touches the very heart of broken, sinful, and lost humanity, He does so with these people. Jesus most often elevates the truthful, and compassionate response to humanity while ensuring that the point is not to expose humanity and how bad it is. “Our tragedy is that most often, we focus on what people are not rather than what they are and what they can become.“ 

So…what is the leprosy of our day? As mentioned earlier in one of my first entries, I am a therapist and a consultant. I spend many hours listening intently to the circumstances, stories, and relational exchanges that seem to create stuckness in the mire of life. I am convinced that the Leprosy of Our Day has less to do with physical illness and more to do with our response towards our overriding  ”fear of not belonging.” What do I mean? Let me explain.

Because we were all made for meaningful connection, our proclivity for perspective is to belong. We all arrange our grid for viewing life each day with an emotional focus to insure belonging. When we stumble upon a person who is “different” or perhaps going through something that we would dread going through, our immediate grid becomes jaded with our fear and asks, “If I engage would I belong?” If we are afraid, our belonging meter begins to show alarm. As a means of self-protection, we then become suspect, possibly even judgemental towards the person, or group therefore insuring our own cleansing from the system while protecting what we have already set up as our “criteria and system of belonging.”

Lepers are created by our own perceptions of what is “not acceptable” and reinforced by our engrained response of judgements and rationalizations of why another is truly an outcast. So..the leprosy is not necessarily a certain issue as much as it is a response to the issues with an already preconceived grid of insuring self-protection and deemed purity.

A good friend recently went to the Holy Land on a tour. His instructor Giant Clouds Invade Idaho! Close Encounters of the Cumulonimbus Kind by moonjazz.Ray Vander Laan  said it well, “Jesus came to bring order in the midst of disorder, he came to enter into the chaos and not skirt it to appear more righteous.” Oh, how difficult this is. What is certain is we cannot do it alone, we need each other, our perspectives need to be refined and transformed into the image of true love, and we need to be having conversations with the Lord and each other about our struggle in the midst of it.

Photos Courtesy of  Natalie Tumasian,U.Wili,, MoonJazz 


Confusion: The Ultimate Saboteur of Conversation & Relationship

The title says it all! I am finding myself perplexed by the degree of complexity that surrounds conversations and relationships. I ask myself, “How on earth did we get here and where do we go from this point on?”

If you have ever been in the position of helping a conversation move forward, you know exactly what I am talking about. Conversation gets bogged down, consequently the relationship gets stuck in this murky, unclear emotional soup that limits freedom of speech, freedom of sensing (other than anger and frustration), and ultimately, freedom ”to be” in relationship. I wish to propose that the greatest saboteur is confusion. So, what causes confusion and how does one name it, move out of it, and use it to gain momentum for improving conversation and relationship? Certainly, this could be a book, however, I wish to suggest a few thoughts.

Margaret Wheatley suggests that “Growth is in the roots of all things.” I really appreciate that phrase. Growth truly is the genesis of all organic matter. When life endeavors to grow, it sends its tender roots down to absorb the life and nutrients that are available in the soil.

Conversation is similar. We send our tendrils out into the void not knowing how the other person will respond, yet we hope that there will be something to gently “connect” to in relationship with the sense of “other” in the conversation. In an earlier post, I suggested that the quality of change in a person’s life must come  out of their view of reality. I am certain that if we do not boost the importance of conversation we will continue to experience the consistent limitations of what we are currently experiencing. I believe that conversation is sabotaged by four primary qualities:

  1. Poor listening
  2. Closed attitudes and heart condition
  3. Fear of being wrong with a greater emphasis on being right
  4. Prior conversations that have already tainted reality and perceptions

300-365 by sicliff3. When we begin to notice the emotional stickiness of a conversation, be aware that something is happening. The flow is absorbed by added mental processing to overcome and guarantee refuge in the event that there is not receptivity or connection. Flight, fight, or freeze, typically is our dominant response.

Improving the conversation will need the opposite of the already mentioned saboteurs. Improvement begins with a few pointers:

  1. Willingness to listen.
  2. Being open  and curious not so much about what another has to say, rather what meaning is conveyed while conversation is taking place.
  3. Posturing oneself in a position of not knowing until learning from another has taken place.
  4. Possessing boldness to be honest.

Certainly this is my most lengthy blog. How do I say what needs to be said.? What do you have to say?

Photos Courtesy of Flickr, Tsmyther, Tina Manthorp, Siclif3


Conversations That Turn To One Another

I am becoming more aware of the degree to which people feel isolated from one another. Loneliness, emptiness, despair, and turning one’s affections from what fulfills and creates life to indulging in parts of life that offer nothing more than the slimy consolation prize which in turn certainly communicates: ”you’re not a winner.” Sometimes I simply have had enough of the paltry and squalid side of life. I long for and desire so much more for relationships, people, and the daily experience that is created from our human efforts.

“Every change in the quality of a person’s life must grow out of a change in his or her vision of reality.”  This quote comes from a book that  I am reading. You can check out the links for yourself. The book suggests that there is a wisdom of tenderness that coincides with the Words of Jesus as the master vision of reality. Essentially, our picture of God creates our understanding of reality with all the mental, emotional, and relational paradigms that go along with it. Understanding and identifying with our picture of God is an honest beginning for knowing where to commence defining the world we live in.

Where is the place that we begin or continue to turn for our own personal consolation when the world does not make sense? If we turn to God and we receive nothing more than silence, often in our own spiritual immaturity we conclude with, “God must not care.” If in turning to others we are told religious blather God merely is reduced to the trivial understanding of our own ignorance. If we turn to one another, what do we turn to one another for? Are we merely temporary sources of comfort amidst the discomforts of life. What place do we (our relationships) hold with each other?

I witness and listen to a variety of relational experiences where people are disillusioned and confused with their relationships and the purpose they have in their life. I am certain that conversations must turn to God but also to one another. The quality of these conversations, in my estimation, outweighs the quantity of conversation.

I have been a witness to conversations that seem to spin around the maypole amassing quantity yet the end result is anemic with mutual understanding and connection. Conversations that listen at a depth that is commensurate with what is being said appears to be central to arriving with a level of connection that satisfies. My next entry will discuss conversations that listen.

Photos courtesy of Microsoft Picture Organizer


Connection That Gives Life!

This past week was certainly filled with appointments where relationships were filled with pain, frustration, and loss. There was a variety of difficulties that create the negativity resulting in a “going away or a going against” style of relationship.

What gives life in our relationships? What types of connection offer more than our shallow placating efforts to “make someone happy?” I find that the real trap is when we feel responsible for someone elses happiness. This automatically is a set up for someone else to control whether you are happy.

Central to our challenge to experience relationship connections that give life is our boundary layer confusion about “what is yours, what is mine, and what is ours.” I find that there are three distinct entities in a dyadic relationship: me, you, and us. The difficulty is that we are confused about the relational, emotional lines between the three. Consequently, we are either overperforming, underperforming, or not performing.

Relationships were created to offer an authentic source of generative life. Our confusion due to emotional, developmental, historical, and spiritual forces misconstrue the perception and therefore the delivery of relationship giving. The end result: confusion, hurt, frustration, differences that do not reconcile, emotional tissue that does not get restored, spiritual birthing that does not get a chance to develop.

Certainly, a 250 word blog is not enough to address this difficulty in full. However, mentioning the challenge and attempting to distill out of the confusion a central understanding of part of the challenge can begin the conversation that creates an interest to delve deeper into discovering for yourself Connections That Give Life! How do you relate to this conversation?

Photos courtesy of  Microsoft Clip Organizer


Conversations that Connect

This morning I was reflecting on the many conversations that I have been a part of this past Memorial Day weekend. For many, Memorial day is filled with the need to experience recreation by being outside and engaging in some type of activity:  fishing, boating, or camping, in addition to remembering those that have gone before us and have passed away. My time was spent reflecting about my late father, being with family, gardening, and sailing.

Aside from the enjoyment of particular activities was the engagement of connecting with family and friends. Whether it be phone conversations or personal exchanges over a meal, connecting  was the linchpin that created the overall meaning of my time with family and friends.

Why do we as human beings have such a need to connect? Why is it so gratifying when we are able to meet with people and walk away with so much more than what we came with? What are we actually walking away with? Often I will in my coaching or therapy relationships hear how a person no longer wishes to be in relationship with others due to the fear of getting hurt. Naturally, they have already gotten hurt and their perceived immediate reaction is to abandon any sense of relationship that will replicate the same injury that they are experiencing. The result is an experience of increased isolation and loneliness. The outcome is a cycle of of downward spiraling into discouragement and sometimes depression.

The question remains: how do we connect when we are hurt? Do we merely become confrontational and address things with a big stick? Do we simply absorb the hurt, the confusion, or even the unintended frustrations and drift away leaving the relationship void and bankrupt of the life needed to redeem the relationship?

Love is energy. Life is relationship, Living is the beautiful chemistry within the context of our own personalities to embrace the beauty of our longing for love (connection), our need for daily life (living). We struggle with this as humans. We have an inability to know and express love in harmony with another. We fall so short. We fail. We are at times ignorant and unknowledgeable. We need help. We need God!

Life Leadership on a deeper level goes beyond the surface activity and moves deeper towards knowing your own heart and becoming aware of your personal trust structures. Trust structures are deep seated attitudes and orientations out of which behavior patterns flow. Ultimately, our deep trust structures are areas in our lives where we are still captive of our own anxieties and do not trust God. We are still bound up, defensive and self-protective in order to maintain our more fragile sense of self. Connecting begins to leads us towards the  experience of transformation by offering us an opportunity to invite each other into the presence of God and relationship with one another.

Photos courtesy of  Microsoft