Tag Archives: #selfawareness

Living from the Front Porch

porch1

I have a hunch that you are like me, you’ve gotten really good over time at living a disconnected life.  You are super at faking it, you excel at putting up the front that ‘you got this’ and ‘this is fine, we’re fine’.  Well, are you fine?  Do you feel at home and at rest in this one ‘wild and precious’ life as Mary Oliver puts it?  Are you comfortable in your own skin?  Do you feel powerful?  Is your inner life settled, is it at rest?  Do you experience a deep abiding contentment regardless of how much or how little you have on the outside?  Is your heart healed and free?

We know what the opposite experience is of these soul questions don’t we?  Anxiety, depression, disconnection, loneliness, despair, loss of hope, hurt, suffering, loss, scattered thoughts, bondage, discontentment.  In my 45 years of life on this orbiting planet, I’m learning that the answers for me reside in living and leading from the Front Porch.  The Front Porch for me is a metaphor for a way of living that involves things like rest, self-awareness, invitation, hospitality, healing, truth, deep community, nourishment, power and many more experiences that make my heart feel at home.

When I’m living from the Front Porch, this is where I connect to the One who made me and gives my life context.  This is the space of deep  healing and intimacy.  The Front Porch is a spiritual reality for me and I’d like to give it away to others who may find it helpful.

Life is not about the ‘next’ thing, it’s about finding a reality we can connect to that never changes.  Everything in this world changes and breeds anxiety.  There is a place we can find the satisfaction and contentment our souls long for that never changes.  This is what I call living from the Front Porch.

“Aren’t you, like me, hoping that some person, thing, or event will come along to give you that final feeling of inner well-being you desire? Don’t you often hope: ‘May this book, idea, course, trip, job, country or relationship fulfill my deepest desire.’ But as long as you are waiting for that mysterious moment you will go on running helter-skelter, always anxious and restless, always lustful and angry, never fully satisfied. You know that this is the compulsiveness that keeps us going and busy, but at the same time makes us wonder whether we are getting anywhere in the long run. This is the way to spiritual exhaustion and burn-out. This is the way to spiritual death.” –Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved

The 3 lies I tell myself

“The reason I talk to myself is because I’m the only one whose answers I accept.”  ― George Carlin

Pinocchio

Self-talk is a tricky thing and we all do it.  The messages that bounce around between our ears play a huge role in the behavior that comes out of the rest of our body.  These agreements tell us how to perceive the reality of the world around us.  They can dictate if we think we are winning or losing at this thing called life.  They filter our values and point us to what we think is true.  It is in this private world that we may unknowingly deceive ourselves and thus limit who we can become.  There is a kind of beauty when the lies we once held true crash like a window-pane all around us and invite us into an opportunity to reconstruct what is our core truth and understanding of who we really are and why we are here anyways.  Here are my typical bullies of untruth:

  1. I don’t have enough –Myth of Scarcity, sounds like this, tell me if you’ve heard this song: If I just had ‘X’ then I would be happy.  If I had as much as ‘X’ then I would be as happy as they are.  Everyone else seems to have ‘X’ except for me.  The only thing between me loving my life and me not being left-out is ‘X’.  The consumer hyper-marketing messages all around us only re-establish the stronghold of this kind of falsehood.  The ‘X’ is a job, more money, a vehicle, a partner, a raise, a home, a place at a table you are presently not at, a greener pasture etc.  The lie is that I don’t have what I need to be fulfilled right now.   That with more I’d be okay, but with my present reality, the recipe just doesn’t bake the cake.
  2. I am not enough – Myth of Mattering, sounds like this, tell me if this rings true:  I am not as good as ‘X’, I’m not as smart as ‘X’, I’m not as accomplished as ‘X’, I’m not as talented as ‘X’, ‘X’ seems to get all the breaks, no one would choose me, if people knew the truth about me they wouldn’t be interested.  The lie is that I don’t matter, everyone else matters more.  What the world measures as valuable is all the things that I don’t have or embody.  If I was more like ‘X’ then I’d finally be valued and okay.
  3. This is enough – Myth of a Closed Future, sounds like this, tell me if you’ve seen this movie:  Tomorrow will be just like today, this is all there is, things will never get better, since I failed before I will always fail in the future, things just don’t work out for me, I better accept the tyranny of the present because nothing is going to change.  The future is a closed opportunity, it is only more of the same.  Accept reality, the future is closed, this is all there is.

What if I told you none of these are true?  Like you, I am on a journey of deeper discovery about who I am and what this world is all about.  For the past 15-20 years I would have labeled myself a chief cynic, a realist who coldly, and harshly just dealt with the way things were.  Pains, disappointments and perceived failed attempts convinced me that these lies were true.  What I didn’t know was that my agreements with these falsehoods actually created a system of thinking that was a self-fulfilled prophecy.  I believed them to be true so that is how I behaved, I acted, I reacted, I perceived how my world was developing.  A more careful examination tells a different story.

I am a faith guy so I start with the truth I was created and placed in a world that has always been enough to sustain and multiply a diverse creation of unbelievable beauty.  The creation feeds on itself in a unique design where life creates more life and never tires of it’s recreation.  The creation has all I ever needed, nothing leaves me in want.  When I was created, I was designed with both a certain amount of unique giftings as well as some limitations (not weaknesses).  I don’t carry all the Creator’s strengths, but I have some of them and I’m at my best when I am reflecting his identity in how he created me.  There isn’t another me, there is me in this time, in this place, in this community to matter in ways I have even yet to discover.  As Dallas Willard put it, ‘as water is meant to run downhill, so you were destined to count’.  The future is not closed, it is ripe with abundant opportunity to learn more, grow more, discover more, love more, create more, enjoy more, serve more and experience more.  If there is breath yet in me, the future is pregnant with a birthing of the next opportunity to be uniquely me.  The lies have the stench of death, the truth smells like hope.

What if I told you that you have enough, that you are enough, that the future is open with opportunity?  Would you believe me?

“18-21 That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens. 

22-25 All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s withinus. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.”  – Romans 8:18-25 (The Message)