The Ability to See

This is a bit longer of a post than I normally do, but if you have the time, it will be worth it.

I begin with a somewhat long quote from C.S. Lewis:

“‘Whisht, now!’ said my Teacher suddenly. We were standing close to some bushes and beyond them I saw one of the Solid People and a Ghost who had apparently just that moment met. The outlines of the Ghost looked vaguely familiar, but I soon realized that what I had seen on earth was not the man himself but photographs of him in the papers. He had been a famous artist.

‘God!’ said the Ghost, glancing round the landscape.

‘God what?’ asked the Spirit.

‘What do you mean, “God what”?’asked the Ghost.

‘In our grammar God is a noun.’

‘Oh — I see. I only meant “By Gum” or something of the sort. I meant … well, all this. It’s…it’s…I should like to paint this.’

‘I shouldn’t bother about that just at present if I were you.’

‘Look here; isn’t one going to be allowed to go on painting?’

‘Looking comes first.’

‘But I’ve had my look. I’ve seen just what I want to do. God! — I wish I’d thought of bringing my things with me!’

The Spirit shook his head, scattering light from his hair as he did so. ‘That sort of thing’s no good here.’ he said.

‘What do you mean?’ said the Ghost.

‘When you painted on earth – at least in your earlier days – it was because you caught glimpses of Heaven in the earthly landscape. The success of your painting was that it enabled others to see the glimpses too. But here you are having the thing itself. It is from here that the messages came. There is no good telling us about this country, for we see it already. In fact we see it better than you do.’

‘Then there’s never going to be any point in painting here?’

‘I don’t say that. When you’ve grown into a Person (it’s all right, we all had to do it) there’ll be some things which you’ll see better than anyone else. One of the things you’ll want to do will be to tell us about them. But not yet. At present your business is to see. Come and see. He is endless. Come and feed.’

There was a little pause. ‘That will be delightful,’ said the Ghost presently in a rather dull voice.

‘Come, then,’ said the Spirit, offering it his arm.

‘How soon do you think I could begin painting?’ it asked.

The Spirit broke into laughter. ‘Don’t you see you’ll never paint at all if that’s what you’re thinking about now?’ he said.

‘What do you mean?’ asked the Ghost.

‘Why, if you are interested in the country only for the sake of painting it, you’ll never learn to see the country.’

As I was reading this in The Great Divorce, I re-read it and re-read it and re-read it…

It began to blow me away with insight.

The Ghost was interested in the country only for what it could offer him (that he could paint it).

If I’m authentic here, I must admit that at times I am the Ghost. I can tend to see things, at times people, for what it/they can offer me. And in the midst of this, I sacrifice the ability to truly “see.”

I have missed having great friendships perhaps, I have missed enjoying nature at times, I have sacrificed authentically knowing myself even…because I didn’t choose to simply “be” with people.

I overlooked being curious, being present, being all there, in each moment.

This passage from the book has compelled me to make the following commitments:

1. Be curious from the inside out (go deep in reflecting with myself and my inner conversation).

2. Be curious about others.

3. Show up and simply be present in the moment.

4. See things for what they are.

5. See people for who they are (rather, perhaps, than my agenda or for what they might offer me).

6. Be aware of my interpretations and judgements and choose how I will respond to them.

7. Authentically bring to light the things that I might see better than others (live out my strengths, talents, and passions.

Will you join me?

Video Blog: Courageous Vulnerability

It Seems so Stupid

What does it look like to be vulnerable in a relationship or situation? 

I was on a coaching call the other day and I was wanting my client to be more vulnerable with me. And honestly, I wasn’t sure how to have that happen in the conversation.

But what the heck does that even mean?

The word vulnerable comes from the Latin vulnerablis meaning “to wound” or “wound.” The definition I found was “susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm.”

There are times in all of our lives that we have been wounded. We were susceptible to harm and we were hurt. And then, We can become calloused to a degree. And when, in our calloused state, we look back on the times we were wounded, we think “that seems so stupid. I can’t believe that hurt me.” Or “I can’t believe I let him/her hurt me.”

That often translates into our present thoughts. We think about a time when we know we need to be vulnerable and we are afraid. And we think “It is so stupid that I am afraid to be vulnerable right now…” In some ways, it seems so easy to just think about being vulnerable. I mean, really, just go do it. Be vulnerable and see what happens. Yet there is something about it that causes us to hold back. To not go there.

Often times because we don’t know the outcome and how others will respond.

And since, at one point, we were vulnerable and were hurt in a situation, we can assume that if we are vulnerable that we will get hurt again.

Now it makes sense why we don’t want to be vulnerable.

Only problem is – it only makes sense in a world in which I care more about protecting myself than I do about showing up in a way that makes a difference for others.

Oh hello there expectations

I have been thinking quite a bit lately about my expectations and, when they consume me, how much trouble they can get me into.

And this is because when I have expectations of a situation or relationship, I believe that my expectations will always be too small.

As in, my expectations cannot fathom the true potential of what could happen.

My expectations are finite. What is possible is infinite.

When my expectations run me, consume my mind, I believe this is called idolatry. Because idolatry is when I put my faith and hope in something finite, something that I can imagine in my mind. Something smaller than what is actually possible.

And I then give myself to the predictable, rather than the mysterious.

I, in my pride, think I truly know what is possible or best for a situation or relationship.

Rather than expecting that my expectations will be far surpassed.

And I show up, simply ready for whatever comes, and whatever I can offer to what comes.

And focus on that, rather than what I can predict.

What is True for them

I am no stranger to conflict.

I read something the other day that discussed conflict. It said that often times in conflict, we are so focused on ourselves and the point we are trying to make…

Rather than engaging what is true for the other person.

Now I wish I could say I always engage what is true for the other person all the time.

Yet I miss it at times.

My commitment is that, in the midst of conflict or any other conversation, I will engage what is true for the other person.

And when I miss it, when I get overly focused on what I think and the point I want to make, I will ask forgiveness and recommit to that person to engage and be curious about what is true for them.

Judgments/Assessments/Interpretations

As humans we are meaning making machines. Events occur all around us and our mind must make meaning of what all is going on.

Makes sense to me.

However, I’m not always excited about my judgements.

My judgements can cause me to be incredibly frustrated, think negative thoughts about others, believe that my world is the only one that matters (of course), etc.

So then what?

This then provides a great opportunity for me to judge my own judgments. Interpret my interpretations. Assess my assessments. Get curious about where my judgements are getting me. Either they are getting me towards my vision or further away from it. It is worth looking into.

Another way of seeing it is: Either I “have” my judgements or they “have” me.

If my judgements “have” me, in my experience this is a victim conversation where I am just the result of whatever judgements show up for me and I respond however they tell me to. And thus I am dependent on something external to determine my fate, if you will.

If I “have” my judgements, I then choose to get curious about the judgements. I inquire regarding my internal conversation. I assess where those judgements and interpretations of reality are getting me.

Closer to my vision or further away.

The Measure

I have come to believe that one of the most accurate measures of a person’s character is how they respond when they are confronted, rebuked, challenged, contradicted, attacked, etc.

If the response is curiosity that pursues a clarity, it indicates one thing…

If the response is defensiveness, it indicates another…

Next time you are confronted, imagine if 1% of what the other person is saying has some truth in it about the impact you have on others.

Assuming you are curious about someone other than yourself.

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