bottom feeders

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

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When was the last time you exclaimed, “Eureka, I have lost everything, all that has given me a sense of security and happiness is now gone?”

I remember a few of those profound moments of self-realization – when I finally divested of a toxic relationship which included the entirety of my possessions and my house, when I walked away from my own life-time dream to chase after and share the dream of  another person, when I closed the door on a promising corporate position to reorganize my life and follow the path of sober-living.  And honestly, I don’t remember screaming, “Eureka.”

I repeatedly found myself on the bottom rung of the ladder which had promised to lead upward to wealth, happiness and security.  The bottom was so near and the top seemed so far away once more.  This was not where I intended to be at ages thirty-five, forty-four and sixty-two.  However, following the most recent self reckoning ten years ago, I did not look again to the top hoping to some day be the man whom I felt others wanted me to be.  Miraculously, money, prestige, social standing, worldly success did not matter.  I became blissfully content to feed at the bottom.  There, where most of the world’s population dwells, egos are reduced to  a manageable condition, wants finally become distinguished from needs, and smelling the roses becomes more desirable than beating the crowd to the top.  Poor materially, but enjoying immeasurable inner wealth.

Dorothy Day (1897–1980) said much the same: “The only way to live in any true security is to live so close to the bottom that when you fall you do not have far to drop, you do not have much to lose.” [1]

Richard Rohr at CAC. ORG continues with this comment:

“From that place, where few would expect or choose to be, we can be used as instruments of transformation and liberation for the rest of the world.”

When we stop climbing those ladders set in place for us by others who have been part of life’s journey, we finally see the truth and reality of our life and the tremendous need for us to feed with the rest of humanity, not from lofty perches atop mountains, but at the bottom where we meet the poor and destitute, the homeless and persecuted, the sick and defenseless.  Centuries ago a man of great wisdom called them “the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3) and promised them the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

Imagine that.  Heaven is not a few steps above the top of the ladder high in the clouds; rather, it is upon the ground of humanity where our ladders have been standing all this time waiting for us to step off…or fall off.

Reference:
[1] Dorothy Day, Loaves and Fishes: The Inspiring Story of the Catholic Worker Movement (Orbis Books: 1997), 86.

CAC.ORG

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I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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it’s OK for me to love me

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

BREAKING THE SHACKLES –

You never do anything right, you are a failure.

No, this is a fallacy straight from hell used most often by parents, sometimes spouses and (surprisingly) adult children to mold us into the type of people who fit their ideal of successful.  If you or I are living life to fit the expectations of other people, we will never be complete and fulfilled.  We will always be people-pleasers.

God did not make a mistake in creating the uniqueness that is you or me.  Everything about us is exactly as designed, perfect in every way.  Abilities, creative energies,  passions were not handed out randomly or haphazardly.  Life’s great challenge is to recognize those gifts and use them unselfishly.

Instead of lamenting our alleged deficiencies, instead of listening to a nagging spouse or complaining child, every morning let’s gaze at the reflection in the mirror and whisper words of admiration and love to the image we see, “You are wonderful, I love you.”cropped-c6fe7102aaf9242136b451907b02957d1.jpg

I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

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INTEGRITY

So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.

I   AM   LARRY – worthy, unique, loved

unshackled 3

PRIDE – conversion therapy

Living the PRIDE.  It’s not only about protests and political action, but also about enjoying the freedom to live as created.  There continue to be many who oppose that pride6freedom and would return America to the days prior to 1950 when the closets were filled with gay men and women who feared physical harm, incarceration and personal shame.  We’ve come a long way, baby, and those closet doors have been permanently thrown open never to be shut on us again neither by government nor religion.

But, some will try.  Conversion therapy is alive and well among fundamentalist Christian groups determined to “change” gays, especially minor children, to a heterosexual orientation.  Years ago this conversion used barbaric methods including shock therapy, aversion therapy and in extreme cases, lobotomy.  Being gay was not an acceptable family nor church circumstance.

Today’s methods, not as drastic, resort primarily to counseling and role playing in attempts to make a gay person straight.  Conversion therapy is, however, unanimously discredited by mainstream psychological and psychiatric associations citing the potential for severe emotional damage to developing young minds.  Many of those who condone this ‘therapy’ apply the delusional thought that the lifestyle is chosen and not innate.

Whenever this hypothesis is presented to me, my response is always, “OK, so you are a straight man/woman.  If heterosexuals were a 10% minority and you were directed to become one of the gay majority, either by will power or conversion therapy, could you do it?  Could you refute what has always been normal behavior for you?”

Usually the response is hands thrown in the air, a shrug, a scornful face and a few expletives as that person abandons his/her attempt to ‘change’ me.  I WAS BORN THIS WAY.  But even if my way of living were a choice, you, dear evangelizer, have no right to inflict your views upon me.  That’s the wonderful thing about freedom – we have the right to choose.  Choice is life’s golden ticket.

I have referred numerous times to the SPLC, a non-profit dedicated to exposing and c6fe7102aaf9242136b451907b02957d[1]prosecuting discrimination against minority groups.  Recently, it won a New Jersey case against JIFGA, Jewish Institute for Global Awareness, citing the bogus practice of facilitating gay to straight conversions.  Not only was JIFGA ordered to dissolve, it also will be paying the plaintiffs’ attorney fees and a financial settlement.  Follow the link above, JIFGA, for the full story.

 

PRIDE & God

god loves everyone….if not, She would have annihilated us by now…

“Why not?  Why not pretend for now that the Absolute (the Great Mystery, the Ground of Being) sometimes expresses itself in the body of a woman?  Pretending that God’s a dude hasn’t exactly worked out for the vast majority of the human family, let alone the animal and plant communities or the air or the waters.”  Mirabai Starr (1)

(1) cac.org

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PRIDE – acceptance

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Let’s get honest.  We all need to feel wanted and accepted.  It’s a human thing which most people are able to navigate effortlessly.  Helping us along the way to becoming respectable, normal members of our communities were parents, teachers, clergy, and friends, all of whom were well-intentioned in their guidance.  They unanimously wanted nothing more than happy, well-adjusted, heterosexual kids to grow up, find a calling in life and raise families just as they and generations before them had done.

That could be the end of story….and it is in some cultures.  But, in America, we grow up with choices, with the prerogative to love whom we want.  That right is protected by the Constitution and anti-discrimination laws enacted following years of protests, marches, beatings and deaths.  We are the USA and in this country no religion nor institution can deny our hard-won rights although some still try.

Growing up, we knew about those few freaks who did not fit into the community plan, those who moved to the city, those who relocated to another state to pursue their idea of happiness and fulfilment.  At the dinner table there was talk of cousin John living with another man in sin or of aunt Mary divorcing her husband to set up housekeeping with another woman.  They were not accepted, they were not considered normal and we quietly heeded the unspoken warnings concerning the criteria for acceptance.

So it is not surprising that this gay thing which troubled so many of us as an unacceptable, deviant lifestyle was learned at an early age.  Also not surprising is the revelation that ultimately the greatest challenge was not in gaining the approval of parents, teachers, clergy and friends, but rather instilling approval of ourselves.  The bigger issue became how to love me when so many obviously did not care about me, the person, but rather how to control me, the pervert.  We had to learn how to live a life with no secrets, no lies, no cover-ups.  In doing so, we realized that some people would withdraw their love, some would vehemently denounce us, some would try to cure us, and some would always disapprove.

But, we found others who could love us unconditionally and embrace the truth of our lives.  When being true to ourselves became more important than winning the approval of others, we finally became free to be the human beings we were born to be.

 

PRIDE – celebrating our differences

When all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.  Barack Obama

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Have you ever watched the movie BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN?  The mountain settings are spectacular, the music is soulful and the actors do a terrific portrayal of two men discovering the truth of their lives while living in a culture which refuses to accept that love comes in a multitude of flavors.  The emotion is raw, the love is tender, the difficulties accepting alternative sexuality are real.  Check it out if you have not seen this award winning flick, but allow me to fast forward to the nugget of truth.  Ennis (Heath Ledger) could not accept the deepest love he had ever experienced – physical, emotional and soulful – until that love (Jake Gyllenhaal) was taken from him by the hatred and prejudice of men who lived their lives in an extremely narrow concept of masculinity and manhood.  Ennis realized in the final heart-breaking scenes what he had lost, but it was too late.

Standing shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand with diversity and inclusiveness is an act of love which could save our world.  It means that I must extend an open mind to the differences of others just as I would want them to accept me with my distinguishing differences.  That is probably the greatest challenge a brother/sister of color, an American Muslim, or a member of the LGBTQ+ community will face in life’s journey.  It becomes too easy, having been a target of prejudice and derision, to  complete the circle of  hatred and intolerance, but we have to be better than that.

This excerpt below which I chose is graphic and profane, but so is life.