Turning the Page
What to do with your Curve – Incurvatus in se

What to do with your Curve – Incurvatus in se

September 23, 2021

There is a self-centeredness to ourselves, a turned/curved inwardness, incurvatus in se, but there is one that shows how to break the gravity, the pull of the curve.

There is a pull on me all the time.

It’s in the lyrics of the eighties pop hit.

What about me, it isn’t fair
I’ve had enough now I want my share
Can’t you see I wanna live
But you just take more than you give. Garry Frost and Frances Swan

There is a demand for others to meet my needs. They should know that my life is the most important thing in the universe. It’s all about me.

Meet my needs; then, I might move on to listening to yours.

There is a curve, and all our thoughts run into it. When we run into others’ curves, their demands for a better life, then there is a clash.

There is a fancy theological term for this gravitational pull. It’s ‘Incurvatus in se’

Incurvatus in se

‘Incurvatus in se’ is Latin for “turned/curved inward on oneself.” It’s like a gravitational pull affecting everything I do.

I love others, but deeply I wonder ‘what’s in it for me.’ I give to others but wonder if I will receive back.

I am an empty vessel, and I demand you fill me.

Tell me pleasant things, nice things, affirm me. Fill me with water. I am hungry so feed me.

I am determined to see my pain relieved, and I will do whatever it takes to meet that need.

Some may give it a diagnosis such as Narcissism, but it’s in all of us. This inward curving towards ourselves. For some, you can easily see their curve, but with most, it’s more hidden, subtle, and manipulative.

Of course, no one can ever completely meet the need of the curve. Because, well, they are also under the gravitational pull of the curve too.

Perhaps sometimes, they offer a few drops of presence that somewhat alleviates the pain. But for the most part, we are so thirsty and determined for pain relief that it becomes automatic to reach for the chocolate bar, bottle, online shopping, or porn site. We have a curve that takes us to a cistern.

Where does your curve take you?

God is compassionate about curves.

Are you feeling somewhat down now?

I may well have woken you up to the reality of something of yourself that you may not like. But isn’t an awareness of the battle better than living in a foggy dream world?

We need someone who fully knows the power of the gravitational pull to self-centredness to somehow push against the trend.

Read more here 

Are you Tired and Weary? You Need a Refuge

Are you Tired and Weary? You Need a Refuge

September 16, 2021

Tired and weary, worn down and burned out. You can’t find relief because you have no refuge. So let’s build a storm shelter together.

It’s the noise that wears you down. The ambient, in the background but all around you, stresses of life.

You’re the meat in the sandwich, and everyone wants a bite.

Its the

  • People
  • Politics
  • Media
  • Feelings and thoughts

The grind of the grindstone wears you down till nothing is left.

All you want to do is to go to a place where the streets have no names, no postal codes, and there’s no one hammering on your door.

I want to run, I want to hide
I wanna tear down the walls that hold me inside
I wanna reach out and touch the flame
Where the streets have no name. U2

My Mothers Bible

The other day I was flicking through my mother’s Bible and happened to come across a verse in the Psalms where she had marked with pen and added a date.

I checked the date with other memories of what was happening in the stream of her life at that time.

It was a time of struggle for my mother.

My father was unwell, and she was losing him. He died 82 days later, on October 3rd. She would follow him in ‘promotion to glory’ 166 days later.

I recently wrote about this in a guest post on Contemplative light – I’m Grateful For Ink

What a stormy time for us as a family that was.

 

Read more here

The Problem is Not the Problem

The Problem is Not the Problem

September 10, 2021

“The problem is not the problem. The real problem is much worse.” Sandy Burdick

I can still see the look of abject horror on Alma’s face, and the dark brown eyes opened wide as I approached her. I was about to tell her that she was magnificent, and she was terrified.

She was an inmate at a women’s prison where I was part of a team that met weekly with groups of women who were sexually abused as children or adolescents.

In our first session, we always showed the short classic movie, “The Butterfly Circus.” 

It is an incredible telling of the gospel story and the impact of a relationship with Christ without mentioning faith or religion.

In it, the leader of the Butterfly Circus, Mendez, encounters a man, Will, with no arms or legs at a different circus’s sideshow.

While others make catcalls or pull back it horror, or even throw tomatoes at him when the crowd clears out, Mendez approaches Will, leans down to look him eye-to-eye, and says in true admiration, “You are magnificent?”

Will is so stunned; he spits in Mendez’ face.

When the movie reaches its dramatic conclusion, we members of the team get up and go look each of the inmates in the face and say “You are magnificent!”

Alma had seen that happen to several of her fellow inmates and now saw me approaching her.

With that look of horror on her face, wide-eyed, she began to shout at me, “No! No! Don’t you dare say that to me.”

 

Read more on website

Are You Afraid of Who You’re Becoming

Are You Afraid of Who You’re Becoming

September 2, 2021

The change felt good, but they were also afraid of who they might be becoming. Then they learned that they were not alone and to trust the train they were traveling on.

It’s always scary when you don’t know what’s on the other side. Who am I becoming? What will happen as my new self is revealed? Will I be rejected? Will I be hurt like the last time I stepped out?

For my friend John, this was new ground he was walking on.

Never been here before, and he felt fragile.

We had been walking, talking, and praying together for a few months, and he was beginning to see something change in him.

It wasn’t forced or fake. It was, in his words, ‘Natural.’

Like it was something that was there all along but now seemed to be making an appearance and revealing itself. Like a spring of water starting to bubbe up seemingly from nowhere.

But he was kind of scared about who he was becoming.

He knew he couldn’t stop this internal growth, it was good, and he didn’t want it to stop, but what about how others would react to the new man.

All the scenarios played out before him.

Where was this train taking him?

When you’ve learned some new things about yourself, processed some pain, asked some hard questions, and worked out some shakey solutions, then there is always an invite.

It’s an invitation to move forward. You can no longer stay where you are or even retreat back.

You feel like you’re on this train and it has already left the station of yesterday. It’s chugging along, and you’re wondering what’s coming next.

There may be quiet and excited anticipation, but more so, there may be a fear of here we go again.

In the past, you put yourself out there and showed your best creative self, but people, even your family, and friends shot you down. Instead of cheering you on, you got ambivalence and negativity. No one captured your vision.

Read more here

How to Stop Being the Scapegoat. Six Keys

How to Stop Being the Scapegoat. Six Keys

August 26, 2021

Are you tired of being the Scapegoat but don’t know how to stop it? Six key steps to stop being the dumping ground of other people’s rubbish. 

She felt like they were making her a scapegoat.

They were saying she was responsible for all the terrible things that had happened. It was her fault. Everything bad that happened was her responsibility.

This was a pattern of abuse she had experienced for a very long time. Jenny remembered as a child that once her mother had broken a cup, but somehow it was her fault. Then, the vicious words rained down.

Now it felt like she was a human receptor for other people’s stuff.

She was wired for it. Anything that went wrong, she took the blame.

Even when they didn’t blame her or say it was her fault, she still, for some strange reason, felt she was to blame.

She reasoned that it must be something to do with her. She was a failure, and so she caused all these bad things to happen.

Jenny had a big ugly, smelly goat bleating in her brain.

This belief entered early into her brain when she started to receive the abuse of others. Then she took it on as part of her identity.

The scapegoat was as much of her identity as goat’s cheese is made of goat’s milk.

Her depression was worsening as the guilt and shame piled up. Her anxiety was building as she waited for the next guilt-filled message to be handed out and for her to take in.

She was tired. Really tired. The goat, and its bleating, was keeping her up at night and alert all day.

But now, she was beginning to wake up to the bleating, blahhing, and destructiveness of its voice.

Read more here.

Do You Have a Scapegoat in the Backyard of Your Brain

Do You Have a Scapegoat in the Backyard of Your Brain

August 19, 2021

They kept feeling a sense of guilt and blame for something they didn’t do, but then they discovered a Scapegoat living in the backyard of their brain.

It wasn’t nasty, or maybe in a subtle kind of a way it was, but they felt like they were receiving all the blame for things that happened, and because of that, they were being excluded from the relationship.

Why would anyone want to have a relationship with someone like them?

Someone so terrible as they were.

And it was so subtle, so sly, that over time this inner negative critic wove its words into their deepest beliefs about themselves.

It was a goat. A scapegoat, and they had one bleating in their brain.

  • It’s all your fault
  • You’re the one to blame
  • You never get anything right
  • They did this because of you
  • You don’t deserve any relationship

Then with these inner voices bleating in their brain, they began to believe that they didn’t have any value or worth.

Nothing beautiful or meaningful about this smelly old goat.

They withdrew, hid, and definitely didn’t put themselves out there because they knew that there would be just more criticism, blaming, and shaming.

They had a goat, a scapegoat, grazing in their brain.

 

Read more at Do You Have a Scapegoat in the Backyard of Your Brain?

 

 

Five Actions to Take when Someone Rains on Your Parade

Five Actions to Take when Someone Rains on Your Parade

August 12, 2021

Some people seem to like to rain on your parade, but we can learn how to hoist an umbrella and continue on.

They couldn’t help themselves.

Anything my friend did was negated. Any attempt at doing something special, creative, or different was criticized and smashed with harsh words. Sometimes an indifference, a bored ‘Whatever.’

It wasn’t that they wanted approval, but more so, they wanted to share the joy they found in their creativity.

They had the breath of a creative God within them, and they wanted to share their own creative expression with those dearest to them, but it was routinely dismissed as nothing. So there was ambivalence to their deepest gift.

Something began to die and shrivel up within them. The spark of expression was growing low.

Nothing they did was good enough. Depression, a poverty of spirit, and despair slowly began to suffocate the God breath out of them.

 

Read more here

Why Did the Samaritan Cross the road Because the Chicken didn’t

Why Did the Samaritan Cross the road Because the Chicken didn’t

August 5, 2021

So why did the Samaritan cross the road? Perhaps he wasn’t afraid of the sky falling in. Let’s not be chicken with people like us.

I happened to call an acquaintance of mine a few days ago. He does some jobs for me every now and then.

As we talked, he said that he had a kind of personal crisis in his life. So I gently pressed a bit further and found out what had happened.

The same thing had happened to me many years ago. In my gut, I felt a deep connection. We chatted for a bit longer, and then we finished the call.

Later that day, I realized that I could have offered a bit more. I thought that I could have invited him for a chat and a coffee.

I thought of all the excuses not to cross the road as such and invite him in.

  • I’m too busy
  • He’s too busy
  • He might think I’m overly intrusive, nosey.
  • I might not know what to say

Then I remembered this post you’re about to read.

Read more here

The Secret Questions of a Secret Life

The Secret Questions of a Secret Life

July 29, 2021

Many of us carry secret questions, and we are hungry for answers, but we need someone safe. Someone secure in themselves yet vulnerable to listen well.

 

When the pastor sermonized my personal story, I felt exposed.

I was once in a small group in a church, where our Pastor taught us how to be leaders in the church.

Once a fortnight, we would meet, talk about what was happening in our lives, then he would give some teaching, perhaps a visiting speaker would chat with us. Overall it was a good thing.

I felt safe. That was until the Pastor used something that I shared in total privacy as an illustration in his sermon.

Now, most of the people in the church service would not have associated the story with me. He didn’t say my name, but there were enough people there to know that this illustration was about me.

I felt exposed, angry, and violated. I had given him my trust, and he used my struggle for his gain.

I never trusted him again.

Another story of exposure. I shared something deep with a pastor, and they, too, decided to share it with others. Then the story gained momentum and a life of its own.

Some people shouldn’t be in positions where they are to hold another’s heart. They are not secure within themselves to keep a fragile gift.

I’ve heard people’s stories, still do, but I don’t share them. I will go to the grave with them. Fortunately, as one person said, I have a very good ‘Forgetter Computer.’

When you’re living in fear of exposure

For many of us, we have questions and struggles rolling around in our heads, but we don’t want anyone to know.

All the internal struggles. If we disclose them, then we’re sure to be rejected, dismissed, abandoned.

So we create an alternative life that is very secret. We don’t feel safe with the ones whom we’re meant to feel safe with.

We think we are the only ones with these struggles.

And if you’re that person reading this, then I want to assure you that you’re not the only one living a secret life.

I think we all do.

We present to the world one face, while all along, we have another world in which we have unmentionable questions, crazy thoughts, and wild passions.

But we have no one safe to express the internal drama, and so we are stuck.

We type our questions into Google, scour the screen for answers, and sicken ourselves with comparisonitis.

We might even send a postcard to at least tell the universe.

He came in the night.

There is a wonderful story of a man who was in this dilemma.

He didn’t want the exposure, but he still had questions. Every kid in Sunday School memorizes the answers he got.

His name was Nicodemus, and he was someone who was supposed to have all the answers, the religious answers.

His role in society in Jesus’ day was that of a Pharisee. He was a keeper of the religion.

But then Jesus came and threw the rule book up in the air and talked about relationships.

We find the story of Nicodemus in three places.

The first is when he came by night to Jesus.

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” John 3:1,2

It’s interesting to see that Nicodemus ‘came to Jesus at night.’ He didn’t want to be seen connecting with the Christ, but he was hungry with questions.

So many of us are like Nicodemus. We are hungry with questions, but if they were to be told, we could lose our social ranking, status, safety, and even our family and friends. We risk exposure if we show ourselves.

The next time we meet Nicodemus is when he is defending Jesus’ right to free speech.

Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?” John 7:50, 51

The final time is when he cares for the crucified body of Jesus.

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus.
Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away.
H
e was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.
Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. John 19:38-42

Two men, both living in fear, were the ones to touch the crucified body of Christ. Secret servants.

Are you living in fear of someone or something? The body of Christ welcomes your attention.

By the way, note that Nicodemus brought a ‘mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.’ That’s 34 kgs—nothing secret about this man’s love for Jesus.

The story of questions

I want to connect with people living in fear of exposure.

Someone once wrote on my whiteboard

‘Will I be loved if they knew the real me’?

We could add other questions of exposure.

  • Will I be loved if they find out about my porn addiction?
  • Will I be loved if they find out about my comfort eating?
  • Will I be loved if they find out about me getting help?
  • Will I be loved if I don’t go to Sunday church anymore?

What’s your secret that you fear exposure of?

And so we come by night looking for connection.

In the story of Nicodemus, we see a story of spiritual formation. From the questions said in private to being with another secret servant and the adornment of a dead body.

Knocking on the door

In my mind, I imagine Nicodemus sneaking through the streets and dark alleys. Then, finally, he comes to the place where Jesus was resting.

He knocks on the door, waits, hides in the shadows, the door opens, and he quickly dashes in.

Jesus and his followers look to see a man,  a pharisee, and they wonder.

He has his questions. Is it safe to speak? Is there a traitor in the room?

He moves close to Jesus and with a whisper begins his carefully prepared question.

But Jesus throws him questions about his question. It’s a style of opening the heart for a deeper connection. Jesus is a master at this style of meeting the heart.

By the way, Jesus still throws us questions that invite us to walk on water.

When we come with our deepest secrets to God, we come to one who is fully aware of the whole of our story. God knows more about our story than we know ourselves. Therefore, nothing surprises God, and nothing will shock them.

God is not one to expose us to the darkness and the frigidity of nakedness.

They clothe us with compassion and love. They envelop us with community. They don’t throw us to the opinions and judgments of humanity. They don’t have a judge’s gavel ready to fall upon the tenderness of a secret.

Being the one that welcomes

I need someone to welcome my mystery—all those secrets, questions, and fears.

Not someone to spread the word and to pick up a megaphone.

I also don’t want someone to give me a quick answer—the textbook solution. More so, I want someone to explore the secrets and offer me other questions that journey me down new paths.

Isn’t this what Jesus did with so many?

He spoke in parables and stories about wheat and wind, hidden treasures, and lost coins.

Stories were told to confuse those listening with logic, but to those listening with the heart, a hungry heart, there was allurement for more.

How it works here

Do you fear exposure?

How it works here on Turning the Page is that you can knock on my door by sending me an email. It’s as private as that. 

You can also access all the books, courses, and conversations with me on a Pay What You Want basis, which includes Free, just if someone is watching your bank account and you don’t want them to know.

I am trusting in a God of a bigger economic providence than what humanity is constraining itself to.

You can come out of the dark here; you don’t need to be alone anymore.

Quotes to consider

  • Grace shows up when logic breaks down. Richard Rohr
  • Love acts like a giant magnet that pulls out of us, like iron filings, every recorded injury, every scar. Terrence Real
  •  Integrity is often a willingness to hold the dark side of things instead of reacting against them, denying them, or projecting our anxiety elsewhere. Richard Rohr. Eager to Love
  •  “Sensitive listeners respond to comments with words that convey an interest in hearing more, sentences that open the door to information.  Words that open doors transmit two messages: 1. ‘I am interested in whatever you have to say.’ 2. ‘I will accept you regardless of what you say.'” Larry Crabb

Questions to answer

  1. When have you felt exposed?
  2. What are the secrets that you want to have someone listen to with openness and love?
  3. What would it be like to be in the room where Jesus and Nicodemus are in conversation?

Further reading

 

Barry Pearman

Photo by Ashley Light on Unsplash

I will Champion your Mental Health

I will Champion your Mental Health

July 22, 2021

Life has many struggles, but with a champion, someone who will walk and talk, we have someone who reminds us of our progress and gives us hope.

I was recently talking with someone about the struggles in their life. We had walked many a mile together over the years.

As we talked, I asked if they remembered how they were five years ago. We actually rated some of their feelings. Five years ago, it was a 9 out of 10 struggle, but now it was 2 out of 10.

They looked up with a sense of realization. Things had actually changed. Some of the issues they faced back then hadn’t changed that much, but many of them had.

From this, they took a great deal of encouragement, and I did too.

For them, the deepest parts of their journey had not been seen by many. They didn’t want others to know. But there were a few special people, such as myself, that they had let into their private dark hole.

In my eyes, they were a superhero. Very few went where they went. Now they were strong in ways unimaginable a few years ago.

Noticing the progress

Have you ever been to a forest, and all you see are the trees, the obstacles, and maybe a faint path to follow?

Your attention gets consumed by what is all around you.

You forget about how far you’ve come. Sure, you might feel it in your body. Aches and pains, but all you know is the depth and darkness of the forest.

That is until you climb a hill, or there is a break in the trees, and you can look back and see how far you’ve come. You’re amazed at the progress from placing one foot in front of another—one millimeter at a time.

There is a saying, ‘You can’t see the forest for the trees. ‘

I would also say you can’t see the progress for the trees.

The depth of the present struggle is so all-consuming that there is no pause to take in the wonder of where you’ve come from.

A champion walking alongside us invites us to take a break, have a sip of water and celebrate the progress.

I think it’s so important to have people in our lives that in various ways, can lift us out of the daily battle with the trees, the brush, and the weeds.

They point out how far we have come and offer us a perspective about where we are going.

Then it’s back to the millimeter by millimeter bush-bashing through the shrubbery of weeds and wilderness.

There can be loneliness to this journey.

One of the features of many people’s journey is loneliness. You feel that no one is there with you.

Possibly you might have friends and family, but there you are with your happy mask because you don’t want anyone else to know the deep struggle you’re going through.

So you’re alone.

You may have reached out, been dismissed, felt overlooked, and disregarded. No one gets you.

You wonder why you’re so self-focused. Isnt that selfishness?

Surely others have it worse off than you.  Maybe they do, but actually, you don’t know. Your journey is your journey.

You trudge on seeing the trees, the weeds, the struggle.

The champion in your family

There is an interesting little verse in the Psalms.

God places the lonely in families Psalm 68:6

This is not so much a family of mum, dad, and the kids. More so, it is a nest of relationships where we can call home.

I have a champion in my family nest. Actually, I might have more than one.

This is not someone who has a big shiny winners cup but more so someone who desires to champion me.

A champion is someone who supports
or defends a person or cause.

Think of these champions

    • Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement
    • Nelson Mandela and the Anti-apartheid movement
    • Kate Shepherd and the women’s suffrage movement
    • Bill Sinclair and his support of John Bishop
    • Mary Smith and her commitment to her friend Jenny Bertland

You probably don’t know the last two champion names on the list. I don’t know them either. They are fictitious. I made them up.

But you probably do know people like them.

People who walk alongside someone and encourage them when they can’t see the forest for the trees. They can’t see the progress for the weeds.

We all need a Mental health champion.

I recently had a champion share some very kind words with me. It filled my heart like a breathe of fresh air fills the lungs.

I sucked it in and let it seep in deep.

They weren’t trite words. Instead, they were words crafted out of a known awareness of being in a battle themselves. They knew the walk and so could talk the walk.

I needed that.

Into the pool room – my encouragement journal – went their words.

 

I believe we all need people who will regularly come alongside and pour words of life into the dry and parched areas of the soul. People who have taken the time to watch and listen.

Friends who will champion us as a person of great worth and value.

Let’s walk and talk

We need more Bills and Marys to walk and talk with Johns and Jennys.

Champions.

We have a mental health crisis, and I believe much of it could be addressed by people learning how to walk and talk.

Sharing some wisdom, crying together, laughing.

Reflecting on progress made in life because there were simple conversations and words of encouragement.

I wonder what would happen if all of us would say to one other person, I want to walk and talk with you and be your champion?

Quotes to consider

  • The word encouragement has its root in the Latin word cor, which literally means “heart”. So does the word courage.  To have courage means to have heart. To encourage – to provide with or give courage – literally means to give others heart. James Kouzes and Barry Posner – Encouraging the Heart
  • Research teaches us that the capacity to reach out to others for help in dealing with fear and pain is the best single remedy for emotional injury.  Whether the person is struggling with the effects of combat, rape, or childhood injury, the best predictor of trauma resolution is good social support. Terrence Real, I Don’t Want To Talk About It.
  • Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one. C.S. Lewis
  • Don’t walk in front of me… I may not follow
    Don’t walk behind me… I may not lead
    Walk beside me… just be my friend. Albert Camus
  • Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be. Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. Mother Teresa
  •  Loneliness is the first thing which God’s eye named not good. John Milton
  • “There is a soul yonder which is lonely.” And he added, deep in his own mind, “I owe him a visit.” The priest in Les Miserables  Victor Hugo
  • Real encouragement occurs when words are spoken from a heart of love to another’s recognized fear.  Larry Crabb
  • Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. Desmond Tutu

Questions to answer

  1. Who has been a champion for you?
  2. What are the qualities of a good champion?
  3. Are you able to look back and see the progress?

Further reading

Do You Feel Alone in Your Struggle?

God Sets the Lonely in Families

Why Men Don’t Talk. 26 Reasons for Silence

Barry Pearman

Photo by Malte Schmidt on Unsplash

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