“Stinkin Thinkin?”

1Devotion Adaptation
From Father Richard Rohr’s blog post on “Stinkin thinkin”

For many of us these words of Father Rohr will strike home into the depth of our hearts. Why? Because from an early age, we learned to listen MORE to the voice of self-talk aimed at criticism than from that still, small voice that speaks to our heart with love. There’s nothing more haunting than that voice of condemnation inside of you that constantly badgers your soul. It doesn’t even matter if you are operating in areas of your life where you feel especially gifted, trained and prepared. The voice speaks…it speaks poison that festers into self-hatred. Yes, we can attempt to cover it up or escape it but sooner or later everyone has to deal with the “voice.”

Father Rohr gives, as usual, special insight into this issue. For those of you who read the paragraph above and said to yourself, “how did Robin know what’s going on in my head,” I have good news for you. It’s time to silent that voice or, at very least, drown it out with a voice that is louder and brings with it life-giving affirmation and love. Here’s what Richard Rohr recently wrote,

“Although we begin life, as very young children, as non-dual thinkers, usually by the age of seven we are all dualistic thinkers, and sadly many of us stay that way for the rest of our lives. Dualistic thinking is the well-practiced pattern of knowing most things by comparison. And for some reason, once we compare or label things (that is, judge things), we almost always conclude that one is good and the other not so good or even bad.

Don’t take my word for it; just notice your own thoughts and reactions. You will see that you will move almost automatically into a pattern of up or down, in or out, for me or against me, right or wrong, black or white, good or bad. It is the basic reason why the “stinkin’ thinkin’” of racism, sexism, classism, religious imperialism, and prejudice of all kinds is so hard to overcome and has lasted so long—even among nice people!

At the risk of being too cleverly alliterative (though it may help you to remember), here is the normal sequencing of the dualistic mind: it compares, it competes, it conflicts, it conspires, it condemns, it cancels out any contrary evidence, and then it crucifies with impunity. You can call it the seven C’s of delusion. This is the source of most violence…especially within ourselves. There is a reason why Jesus says, “Do not judge!” and why angels in the Bible are always saying, “Do not be afraid!” Our violence—and almost all of our unhappiness—emerges from our judging, dualistic mind—which itself comes from deeply rooted fear.”

What struck me about Rohr’s thoughts had as much to do with what he didn’t write as it did with what he did write…in other words, what appears to be an “outside of me” type of mentality is REALLY something that starts insidiously INSIDE of me (and you). “Stinkin Thinkin” always starts as the comparison, dualistic mind starts to hammer us on the inside with words of comparison (“I’m not as handsome or pretty as he/she is” or “I’ll never be that good”), competition (“I know when I look at myself that I’m a loser”), conflicts (“I’m going to get my way no matter what it costs me”), conspires (“I’ll do whatever I need to do even if it betrays my values to get what I want”), cancelling thoughts (“they are lying to me, I can’t believe what they said about me”) and finally with that proverbial stake through our heart (“I wish I were dead”). You might think I am a bit overdramatic but, trust me, many people I know and love deal with this inner critic ALL the time.

It’s time to silence that voice and to hear the words of love that can be transformative and life-refreshing to our souls. Read these words from Psalm 139:

“God, You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.”

The beauty of those words are this – God knows us in a deeper manner than we even know ourselves and He still loves us…He still heals and forgives…He still restores and refreshes…He still, He still, He still. The only voice I know that is stronger than the inner critic is the one that called the Universe into existence. The only way to silence the dualistic mind is to understand that for God, He sees you through ONE prism…that of love. I know I need that word daily and my guess is, you do too!

Another priceless bit of encouragement…

1Most of you who have occasionally dropped in on this blog know that I am a HUGE fan of Ann Voskamp.  I have read her books, I regularly receive her emails, and I have been inspired and challenged in my faith and life by Ann’s insights for years.  If you don’t receive her emails or if you have NOT read any of her books, here’s my encouragement to you – DO IT!

Yesterday Ann published her personal story of how she has changed her life regarding physical “movement” as well as Bible reading.  Her post was very insightful – not only about reading God’s word but the importance of movement for health, both physically and spiritually.  I thought I would post today some of the “gems” that come from that post:

When you challenge yourself to move, you challenge your own perception of self.

And then on the hardest days, when I did hard things anyways: I was stuck by the epiphany:  Moving every day is how you move through stress.

I found: If you don’t move daily, you experience stress obstruction in your soul.  When I move, stress moves out of me. 

Movement is a free strategy against discouragement.

And I moved every day not at a gym, but outside. Moving outside creates something of a miracle inside. The Japanese have a term for moving outside into nature; they call it “forest bathing.”  But I call it “Glory Soaking.” Because the whole earth is full of His glory, moving outside calms a heart full of trouble.  Daily Glory Soaks cleanse the mind, so the heart can fill with hope. When you feel like you’re drowning, a Glory Soak outside can keep the soul afloat on the inside. Running under trees began to root my soul.

Moving under sky moved me toward God.

And when I couldn’t run away from the relentless story of failure that kept running on replay in my head, I began to listen to His Word while I ran and I let God’s Story in me play louder than any other story around me.

“I began to listen to His Word while I ran and I let God’s Story in me play louder than any other story around me.”

When I listened to Scripture while running, I could run away from the narrative of me and right into the narrative of grace.  The relief of this was everything. I turned off all the noise of news and drama and distractions around me, and all the noise of fear and failure within me, and I just ran with my headset in, leaning into the language of God. With every step, worries quieted, hushed, stilled — and all I could hear was the voice of God in my headsets, heart keeping time with His.

I move less for my physical health and more for the health of my soul.

And we have more than enough time every day to move toward physical, mental and soul health.  Every single one of us has 1,440 minutes every single day — and every single one of us can use 30 of those minutes to move in some way, while being moved by the Word of God, to change the health of our whole lives.  30 minutes a day of movement — will change every other moment of your life. Guaranteed.

This is what changed my life as I started moving and the let the Word of God move me:

God became my Pacesetter.  God is my Pacer — and I just stay with the Pacer so I can finish impossible races.  God is the steady, the consistent, the voice at the ear who shows how to take the next step, and the next step after that. I don’t have to keep up to anyone else — I simply have to keep company with God. I simply have to keep close to Him.

As I physically moved, and was spiritually moved by His Word, thoughts began to move through my mind differently, I began to process my world differently.  I felt stronger, braver, not just physically, but especially emotionally.  The anxiety ebbed, the hope grew, hope that something was growing in me that I could rise to any challenge.

Turns out: Courage is highly contagious, and bravery to do a Hard Thing in one aspect of your life, quickly spreads to all of your life.

If I let my feet literally keep rhythm with God, fears stop driving my life.  If I put one step in front of the other, I move past all kinds of paralysis.  If I tune my heart, my feet, me ears, to Him, I tune out everything that is making me anxious.  If I stay in The Story, my life stays the course.

People keep asking me if I am training for a race. And the answer is yes: I am throwing off everything that hinders (Hebrews 12:1) and training to run with perseverance and finish the race marked out before us, to keep the faith (2 Timothy 4:7).

The answer is yes: I am literally learning how to put one step in front of the other, to carry on, to keep carrying on.  The answer is yes: As I move, I’m moving beyond a life limited by smallness, by fears, by pain, by regrets, and I’m moving into God.

Move and you begin to move farther, and further up and deeper in, than you ever imagined. Move and Hope moves into you. Move and you move into a new identity.

YES, I can change, YES, I can do hard and holy things because they are the next thing to get to the best thing, YES, I can let God move into me, YES, God can move into all of my moments, YES, my new identity is found fully in Him, YES to whatever this day and decade and road holds, YES, I can be moved by God who is always making a way for me to MOVE FORWARD!