Taking Out the Trash

It is everywhere.

You don’t have to go looking for it.

Turn on the news; it doesn’t matter what channel. You’ll find it there.

Scroll through social media; any platform will do. You’ll find it there too; permeating the atmosphere like the stench of rotting garbage.

Anger. Hatred. Violence; the by-products of fear.

There is one very real thing about the stench of over-ripe garbage, and that is that no matter how much deodorizing spray you squirt, no matter how much lemon-scented soap you use, you can’t truly get rid of the smell unless you take out the trash.

Now before anyone gets their panties in a bunch, I’m not talking about voting one political party or another in, or out of office. It doesn’t matter WHO gets in. In truth, unless we deal with the underlying fear, it doesn’t matter who wins, WE LOSE. Why? Because we haven’t taken out the garbage. We haven’t dealt with the fear.

Until we deal with the fear, the stench will remain; a constant reminder of the rottenness at the core.

You have heard it said that people fear what they don’t understand.

This is true of EVERYONE who gets angry for a cause.

In the current political climate you have one side you have where individuals’ fears stem from the changes that they see as coming with a progressive platform (they want to take away our guns / kill our unborn babies/ turn everyone gay / give our hard-earned money away to freeloaders/open our boarders up to violent criminals etc.).

On another you have those who’s fears come from the contemplation of a world where conservative views impinge on the inroads progressive platforms have made in the last hundred years (they want to take away our social security/steal our medicare/deny us the right to marry who we want/keep us from affordable health care/deny us the right to love who we want/ attempt to control our bodies / punish us because we are a different skin color or religion etc.).

I’m not saying that the fears on either side are not justified. There are plenty of those on BOTH sides who can give convincing arguments as to why they are right and why everyone else is wrong. But at the end of the day those that act out of fear, even if it is for a “just” cause, have more in common with their opponents than they would like to think.

Why? Because the anger and the hatred and the need to justify one’s position or view point or ideology ALL STEM FROM FEAR.

I’m not saying that the issues being argued are not important. They ARE important, extremely so. This is a pivotal moment for our country and I am not saying that we should sit back and do nothing. I am merely pointing out that no matter what side you take, no matter what your personal views on a subject may be and no matter how justified you may think those views are, if you are acting from a place of fear, you lose.

What I am saying is that we ALL lose if we do not address the fear that lies behind all of the anger and hatred.

Confronting one’s fears is never an easy thing to do. Most people avoid it like the plague.

It is not done by forcing political, social or religious views on those who disagree with you whether by posting angry memes or passing legislature designed to suppress the opposing side.

It is not done by arguing and getting defensive every time someone disagrees with you.

And it is certainly not done by picking up a handy weapon and killing those that you fear.

Fear is not always loud and obnoxious and obvious. It can be insidious. It is pervasive. It hides in just causes and in thinking you have the high moral or intellectual ground in a situation.

In fact, there is only one thing in this world powerful enough to counter fear, and that is love

Yes, love.

Stop wincing, I’m not talking about new age cosmic love; all glitter and unicorns and “good thoughts”. I’m not talking about the kind of love that features in pop songs and teen magazines or indeed romantic love at all.

The kind of love I’m talking about does not look at one’s outward appearance or bank account or position or political ideology, or how many time’s one meditates a week or national identity or religious affiliation or sexual orientation to deem another worthy of being loved.

I’m talking about the kind of love that empowers another to be their best self by believing in their worth as a human being.

I’m talking about the kind of love that fills up your heart and heals you from the inside out.

A person with that kind of love in their heart simply loves. Everyone. Without reservation or judgement.

I’m talking about unconditional love.

To come from a place of unconditional love in every decision that we make as individuals, as communities, and as a country is the only way to counter the fear. And it is the only way to undo the damage that millennia of living from fear has caused.

By living from love we don’t just take out the garbage of our own fears and the innate fears that come from being human, we transform them. We turn those fears into compost; fertilizer that feeds the soul and strengthens the human spirit.

Unconditional love is real.

Living from a place of unconditional love is possible.

It is as simple as choosing in each moment to ask yourself “what would love do?”

And then go out and do it.

-Just Steph. October 30 2018

Employing the “F” Word

How much pain can a heart deal with and not implode?

It doesn’t matter what was said, the reasons behind the pain – what matters is the pain itself.

HOW MUCH CAN A HEART TAKE?

Well, as I see it, the person dealing with the pain has two choices.

One can either continue to let the pain build up inside, where it will eventually puddle into stagnated pools of moroseness and self-loathing and breed reptiles of the mind or one can choose to employ the “F” word.

No, it’s not “F*@k you”, (though there ARE days when one would like to employ that word with strategic preciseness) no, the “F” word I’m speaking of is FORGIVENESS.

Yes, you heard me right, forgiveness.

Think about it, think of the worst pain you’ve experienced, then consider, just consider the idea of forgiving the person for the pain they’ve caused you.

Interesting concept isn’t it? Notice how your mind shies away from the idea? Now why is that? Why are we so hesitant to employ forgiveness? To use its power to release us from the power of our pain?

I’ll tell you why. Speaking personally I’ve found that when I can forgive someone for the pain they’ve inflicted (whether the pain inflicted was intentional or unintentional) I can release the pain – give it back to the universe so to speak, and be free of it once and for all, and make room for whatever it is that the Universe has planned for me.  But there is always a part of me that resists letting go of that pain; that clings to it like a small child clings to their teddy bear of favorite blanket.  It is this same part of me that wails like the same small child when their favorite object has been taken away from them when the pain is gone.  In fact, the longer I think about forgiving the person, the less likely I am to do it.

So why the hesitation? Why do we cling to the pain instead of forgiving the person and letting it go?

Perhaps the pain makes us feel important. Perhaps we feel that it is better to feel the pain than to feel nothing at all…or perhaps it is because in clinging to the pain we hope to hold onto the person or situation that inflicted it.

I could cling to it. It’s a tempting thought actually, but instead I choose to employ the “F” word, to forgive, to let my pain go.

Try it, just think of a person who’s hurt you, think of the pain they’ve inflicted, FEEL THE PAIN, all of it, every last part of it, let it fill you up until you feel like you can’t stand it for another minute, then say it out loud….

“______I forgive you.  All of this pain that you’ve caused me. Every hurtful thing you’ve said, I choose to no longer hold on to the resentment and the anger it has caused.”

Now (and here is the important part) let the pain go. That’s right – unclench your heart and let go of that anger, that fear, that pain that has been weighing you down and eating at your sense of well-being.  Feel it slip away. No don’t clutch at it.  It’s no longer yours.  You’ve given it away. And don’t worry about where it is going either, the universe will take care of that for you.

Now, take a deep breath and open your eyes.
Isn’t it an amazing feeling? Feel the emptiness inside you; like a house that has been emptied out of all its old oppressive furniture and outdated knickknacks.  What an incredible feeling it is, this lightness of being that comes from no longer holding the weight of your anger and fear and resentment and pain.  Stretch out your metaphorical arms and twirl in your new space.  Laugh at the freedom you’ve been granted.  Now, there’s just one more thing to do…

What, you thought you were done?  Not quite.  Bear with me.  This is by far the easiest step.  You see, you can’t just leave the space that held all your pain empty.  Well, not without cleaning it out first.  Yes, you’ve gotten rid of the pain and hurt and resentment, but now you need to disinfect the room (so to speak) and there is only one way to do that, and that is to open yourself up to love.

So sit or stand quietly, eyes closed, breathing deeply, and feel that empty space in your head; in your heart, the space that so recently was full of hurt and pain.  Now imagine that there is a waterfall of love flowing down through the top of your head and filling you up; all of you; every last inch of you; falling and flowing until you are full to the brim and spilling over.

No, don’t try to stop it when it reaches the top, let it overflow.  This is what happens when you clean something out; you let the cleansing agent do the work. And don’t try to hold onto it.  You’re going to want to hold onto it.  But let it do its work.  And don’t worry about where this love is coming from.  In fact, don’t even try to put a label on it.  Don’t try to call it divine love, or universal love, or cosmic love.  It is love.  It just IS.  Let it be.

When it has finished its work you’ll know.

You’ll know, and you’ll smile, and at last you’ll be at peace.