Thursday, March 24, 2011

Seeds of Endurance

What kind of things can tempt you to give up on your path?

Lies, and damn lies, tend to be my downfall. While I don't expect people to be perfect (well, not all the time at least), I do expect them to be honest with me. When I find out that people have lied to me, it makes me want to throw up my hands in despair. When I am lied to by people who I consider spiritual equals or betters, it's even worse. I have found myself, several times over the years, standing in a sacred place and saying, "Why am I doing this? They don't WANT me to interfere!" Sometimes I want to "get off the ride" and just walk away. I usually take that as a hint that it's time for me to go be alone for a while, time to recharge the spiritual batteries so I can keep plodding on. I don't know that any of that really tempts me to give up my path, though it vexes me.

What are your strengths and weaknesses in personal discipline?

My strengths would include my ability to speak and communicate relatively well, and my skill at writing. They're related, though one requires more interaction than the other. I prefer to write my sermons down, for instance, but have discovered that I have the ability to get up and just speak, and the words come out alright even without the script.

Weaknesses are another thing. I don't budget my time as well as I should, and I let myself get distracted by trivial things. When I should be working on my sermon or ritual, I'll realize I'm wasting time on FaceBook or Once I get going I can be a real work horse, but sometimes I have a very difficult time getting moving.

For what are you willing to endure almost anything regardless of the cost in time, money, relationships, and so on?

I can endure almost anything for love and for children. I have been through hell and back emotionally, yet I still hold on. My relationships with Gray and sis and the kids are wonderful, bastions of strength for me. While I have the capacity (even the need) to love others, they are and will always be my core. They are like an anchor that holds me as I sway in heavy seas, lending me inner strength and peace of mind when I need it most.

How do you sustain your commitment during the silences?

That's a tough one. When the times come that have me uninspired, when I'm trying to write and the words won't flow, when I feel separate from my gods for whatever reason... those are times I have to tough it out. I have to continue to slog on, doing what needs to be done. I've learned that I can allow myself to feel down, depressed, even angry, so long as I don't wallow in those feelings and I keep moving forward. The word "slog" comes to mind again. I pray a lot. I try new things, and I educate myself in a subject I'm not yet familiar with. I do things to keep my mind lubricated and open, ready for when I am called upon.

How do you recognize within yourself the difference between passionate commitment, obsession, and fanaticism?

Commitment, passionate or otherwise, is a positive thing. One commits to going to church each Sunday, or giving up a favorite food for Lent, or writing a piece of spiritual poetry every day. It is an action, something you DO. Obsessions and fanaticism can both be inactive, qualities that infect the mind and soul but remain hidden. Even if they come to the surface, they aren't always noticeable. They aren't necessarily negative, per se, but often can be. They eat up all your time rather than the time apportioned to them.

How do I recognize the differences between these three in myself? I would say that if I am doing something for a purpose, whether that is to improve my health, spur my spirituality, or something else entirely, then I am doing something that is a passionate commitment. If my goal is unclear or uneven or illogical, then I need to take a good, hard look at what I'm doing and see if it is a negative thing that needs to be stopped.

Do you know when you are simply being stubborn? How does that differ from dedication?

Again, I think the negative connotations of stubbornness tend to make it stand out. Dedication is inherently positive, something you do for a purpose. Stubbornness happens because you're dogging at a subject, unwilling to give up, and it may have started in positive intentions but is no longer aimed that way. In myself, stubbornness is pretty obvious. Usually if I'm being stubborn, I am upset or unhappy with what is going on, or the result of that stubbornness. On the other hand, if I am dedicated to a cause or purpose (seminary, for instance), it may eat up time and effort, but it has a positive outcome and a reason behind it.

What is the difference between martyrdom and endurance?

Well, one can endure while alive, but to be a martyr you have to die first. I'd prefer the first...

Can you see things as they are and still hold the vision of what they can be?

Yes, although I'm still on shaky ground with this one. This is a skill that I have only just learned in the past few years, and I am still practicing and refining it. In my past, I would get caught up in "things as they are" and lose sight of where they might go or could become. That would lead to negative thinking such as, "Well, if we're short on cash now, we'll always be short on cash!" Now, I'm better able to look at a situation and see that what is happening now is happening for a reason (even if I don't understand it), and that the ". . . universe is unfolding as it should . . ." (thanks Max Ehrmann).

Most important, why are you enduring? For what purpose?

I don't know exactly what the purpose is, but I know there are things I need to do in my life. I don't know if my part of what is going on in the current universal shift will be small or large, but the bottom line is that it doesn't really matter. No matter whether I'm the headliner or in the back row of the chorus, I am a part of things and that's good enough. I am enduring seminary, home hardships, poly divorce, and other things because I know there are things I am destined to do. I'll know what they are when the time comes.
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