Listen to the Spirit … adapt as needed … stay longer where you are drawn …
“My life is firmly grounded in the fact that the reality of being a person is seen fully in Jesus Christ. “Just as I have come to do your will, O God” is the motivating force of his life, so the only real principle of choice in my life is to seek out and to do the will of God…With this habitual attitude, I find that I can maintain a certain balance in my inclinations…I would not want to turn away from God even in small ways, because my whole desire is to respond ever more faithfully to God’s calls and invitations.” – Spiritual Exercises #166
We all started out gloriously authentic and with time, we may have authenticity beaten out of us. Over and over, we would get the message, implicitly and explicitly, that “image is everything,” and “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”
Although we may want our covers to be the shiniest and most impressive covers we can manage to project, but we have to question where does it really leave us in terms of self-love and genuine connection with others? Our inauthentic tendencies are often woven so deeply into the fiber of our beings that we may have no idea they are even there. People-pleasing is an all-too-common and insidious addiction in our world. At the root of all people-pleasing tendencies, and most inauthentic tendencies in general, is a fear of being judged. Many of us grew up with some degree of a fear of abandonment from being unlovable if we were judged and came up short. Furthermore, we all judge ourselves to varying extents.
When we catch ourselves in those inevitable moments where we are not expressing our deepest truth, we should celebrate it. At that particular moment, we are taking a glimpse of our real self. Any acts of self-improvement must always start with awareness. Becoming aware of the masks we wear will have the marvelous effect of revealing ourselves…the one residing beneath those masks…this is who we are looking for…that is who we want to love.
The only thing standing between that kind of freedom and confidence is the ability to live authentically from our innermost core…because authenticity and self-love are our keys to the kingdom. Without them, nothing else can bring us joy. With them, nothing can fail to bring us joy. Authentic love enhances us and those we love…it implies accepting another person’s weakness and bringing patience and understanding to help the person transform. Love can lead to growth for the person we love and ourselves…where we will each share in enriching experiences that does not detract from our being.
Suggested Song: Stupid by Sarah McLachlan
Grace to seek/ask: To love my authentic self…
Try to keep this short, focused on how people’s hearts are as they come to the meeting.
There doesn’t need to be something written for this for each meeting, but if there is a way of checking in that would be helpful in setting the theme for the meeting, include it.
Being true to ourselves gives us the insight and compassion to see others for who they are not who we expect them to be. It frees us up from the judgment of ourselves and others and it gives others the freedom to be themselves as well. – Victoria J. Reynolds
Matthew 22:39 – “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Corinthians 6:19 – Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.
Listening and Sharing
When have I ever felt unlovable and judged?
What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
What are my inauthentic tendencies I am afraid to reveal?
These are questions that allow community members to listen to and share about what is moving within them after the focus exercise. Specific questions about the focus exercise can be included here, but facilitators may choose to approach it differently such as with more open ended questions.
- What has struck you as you have been listening to others share? Do you notice any patterns or similarities?
- How have you been feeling throughout the meeting? Comfortable? Anxious? Curious?
- Is there anything you would like to share after listening to another person share?
- What is remaining with you? What do you hope to return to in prayer at another point in the week?
Hearts of Fire – Page 53: Teach Me Thy Paths by St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, SJ
Lord, let me know you, let me know myself.
Lord, you do your will and not mine.
I’m just coming, Lord.