Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Jeff asked me to explain why the lesson on spirituality was so upsetting to me. We talked for a long time, and I really enjoyed the conversation. I also wanted to write down my thoughts. And ask any one who reads this their thoughts.

The questions that started the lesson:
Can you make your body do this or that or not do this or...?
These questions are fine if you can answer the "right" answer to all of them.
Yes. I can make my body walk. Good. Then YOU are good.
Yes. I can make my body fast. Good. Then YOU are good.
Yes. I can make my body get up early. Good. Then YOU are good.
Yes. I can make my body respond properly (according to the church's definition). Good. Then YOU are good.

And what if I can't? Then what?
Am I less of a person? Is my spirit not as strong as someone who can?
I have done everything I could possibly think of to do to show that my spirit was (is?) stronger than my body. Or to show that my mind is stronger than my body. Ignore pain. Ignore emotions. Ignore tiredness. Hunger. Needs. Wants. And somehow all of those things showed that I was good.

What about when I couldn't walk? (I mean really I COULD walk. I totally pushed through, but then I passed out in the bathroom, and Duani yelled at me, and I had to learn to STOP trying to will my body to do things it shouldn't do.)

And, I CAN'T fast. I fall over. Besides the fact that my mind goes beyond screwy. Then I hear lessons like this one and feel ashamed. So much shame. That I am not good enough. I need to try harder. BE better.

I DO feel anger. I can't make it just go away. But I will try my damndest. And feel ashamed for every time that I feel anger. How is that good for me? How is that good for anyone?

The lesson finishes with a story about riding horses. Something I am very passionate about. The final quote from the story was,
"Son, don’t ever let the horse do something you know he shouldn’t. Never let him have his way unless it is what you want him to do. If he ever thinks he’s in charge, you’re a goner.’ I found that I had all the equipment I needed to work with that horse: bridle, harness, straps, and saddle. All these helped, but nothing worked if I didn’t insist on obedience. I had to be in charge, and the horse needed to learn that. As I worked with him, he learned what was expected and what was and was not allowed. We became good friends, but both he and I knew who was in charge.”
When I ride, I don't "insist on obedience". I just couldn't do that. Sunny and I have spent enough time together that he trusts me. He listens when I ask him to do things most of the time. I also trust him. When he refuses to do what I ask, I pay attention. There are things that I can see (and plan for) that he cannot. (Horses lack the ability to plan ahead.) There are things he can see and understand that I can't. (Horses have an amazing sense of direction and intuition - as in tune as I could possibly get, he'll be better.)

The relationship I have with Sunny is amazing. He has helped me change my life, but if I never trusted him to lead me, I would not be where I am today. To my way of thinking, our bodies and spirits are intertwined. We have to trust both, and by learning to "control" the body with shame, we lose a most precious gift.

Its been pointed out to me that most twelve year old boys are listening too much to their bodies, and not enough to anything else. Possibly. But my take is, the overly selfish, involved with their bodies way of thinking is completely appropriate developmentally. A twelve year old boy is SUPPOSED to be paying attention to himself.

And then I think about Parker. He's now fourteen, although still struggles to allow himself to eat, or rest, or stop serving for longer than a few seconds. If someone doesn't show him how to STOP, he won't survive. I was blessed to get to go to CFC, but what will he do? He's STILL being taught to give, serve, love others more than himself, and I know better than most, he may not survive those teachings.

If we really listen to our bodies, our spirits, our hearts, our intuition, or whatever we want to call it, we are powerful beings. I don't believe the idea that controlling our bodies (or our emotions) comes from God. Working with, trusting, directing, all seem to be appropriate...

I can't think of a time that shame ever works for our good... but I've been wrong before. What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you enjoyed our talk, I really did too. It was good to gain a better understanding of your perspective on the issue. I do think it's true that we should learn to listen to our bodies and understand what they are telling us.

    And, while I still see validity in what the lesson is teaching (that we should learn to control appetites of the flesh) I think that there is definitely value in the teacher expressing some of the things you've said about listening to our bodies.

    I think the most important thing is that every lesson should be taught by the spirit, because every young man that will hear the lesson has different needs. In Parker's case it sounds like this lesson is completely not for him. I totally support teaching him things that are more needful as the spirit directs.

    By the way, thanks again for the good chat. It's been a long time since we've been able to dig deep into something like that.