Daring to Value my Divine Essence
What a cocky title, full of arrogance and pride, right? Part of me thinks so and would caution the part of me writing this blog against such blatant braggadocio – one of my grandmother’s favorite words to define those around her who seemed so full of themselves. Such prideful behavior would not be found in a Vollbracht, she boasted, missing the irony of her cautionary words to my brother and me. But her words guided us and were reinforced by other family members and by our church and school. So this morning I asked, “Is there such a thing as ‘healthy’ self-esteem?” Early on in my life I learned to see the phrase itself as oxymoronic.
That was then. This is now. And in my morning meditation I was confronted with a perplexing situation. The past week or so offered up some wonderfully affirming feedback for me, yet this morning found me under clouds of depression. How could that be? How did the clouds arrive on such a sunny day?
For context, please indulge me as I describe some of these very meaningful affirmations from emails I received over the past ten days.
1) Let me begin with my most recent blog – dealing with Pat’s affirming me in my being a very generous Johnny Appleseed of Pathwork. She noted this in regard to my role in the Karen Millnick Memorial Service and this was amplified in my helper session with Moira from which I saw other areas of my “Johnny Appleseed” role in Pathwork: sharing the Pathwork Lectures that I so faithfully recorded over the past six years, my website with its many helpful links, presentations, and quotes, and of course my blog – all of these “Divine Rays” flowing out of me as seeds being spread out for the benefit of all beings.…
2) While I’m on the topic of my blog, this week I got an email from a reader exclaiming: I LOVE YOUR BLOG ,I can relate to so much of what you have shared. I can piggyback from your experiences and sessions. OR another response that came earlier from a committed Pathworker friend whom I respect greatly: “I … came across your news-feed from your webpage and was blown away by your integrity and courage and vulnerable and open sharing in the blogs I read. I felt less alone in my journey as an individual and as husband reading about some of your journey.
3) And this Pathworker also shared his response to the Lecture Recordings: “Bless you Gary!!! Thank you so much for continuing to offer this immense blessing to the world. These lectures on audio are sooo meaningful and extremely supportive to my spiritual life! Thank you, thank you, thank you… I drop into the material usually and it goes beyond the person and personality level when I listen.”
4) Over the weekend I sent out a heart-felt message to our MAP helper community requesting prayer support and celebration for our 2012-13 Pathwork Transformation Program that started on Thursday evening. One of the teachers in the class responded with, “A stunningly beautiful email Gary.”
5) Finally, I do some executive coaching and after a session last week the executive responded in his email, “Best value we could find anywhere.”
It makes me nervous to put this all out there. Grandma (the braggadocio-adverse one) would not be happy! But each of these emails met me in my heart space, mirroring back to me things that are most meaningful in my life. Yes, intellectually I see these reflections as mirroring of my Divine Rays. And when I dared to really take them in on a heart level they touched me deeply. I was deeply humbled and gratified.
And yet at the same time I found myself not feeling good with all of this “wonderful” feedback. I could even say the emails, while inspiring me on the one hand, filled me with apprehension and anxiety on the other. I would be so uncomfortable with this “Gary” who was so “out there” from his “heart” and “passion” that in some kind of strange embarrassment I would run away and hide in the corner. This other “Gary” just wanted to be left alone. But clearly these mirroring experiences brought with them appreciation. These folks value who I am and what I offer in my passion.
So my question in meditation was, “What keeps me from valuing myself, daring to honor who I am as a part of God’s creation on the planet?” Somewhere in all of this there seems to be some kind of negative intentionality. Part of me intends to be of no value to others or myself. Part of me intends to be worthless on the planet. Part of me intends to not open my heart to love. And when my Divine Rays somehow leak out, I am terrified that braggadocio will set in. When this leaking out occurs I feel naked, exposed, and quite vulnerable. Why?
There are likely multiple facets to this issue. It seems so dominant in my makeup that I would say this low self-valuing is a core block in my life. Even my brother Paul gets frustrated with me when I refuse to see obvious love flowing from my heart. He hangs in with my refusal and denial, but it is a struggle for him. Why such stubbornness in me? What is the core of my resistance to seeing any good coming from my Essence? I explored this painful situation further.
First off I noticed that growing up I felt like Dad’s “star.” Whether it would be performance in school or in music or in becoming an eagle scout (I cheated on this one by the way, but that is another story), I knew Dad would be pleased with me. Oh he would not brag openly (the braggadocio aversion thing from his mom), but he would let my brother and me know how proud he was of us.
What effect did being the “star” have on me? Well I liked it on the one hand – I really wanted to please Dad. But on another level, and certainly unconsciously, I resented that he could not relate to ME, only to my performance. I did not experience being valuable apart from my performance. This carried forward into not experiencing love apart from performing. My experience of love was one of being appreciated for my performance. And I can remember terror at not getting straight “A’s” in Junior High. I just cried and cried. I did not fear punishment. Rather I simply did not want to disappoint Dad, I did not want to lose the love that I unconsciously craved.
A second aspect of this issue was my distortion about self-esteem. I said to myself, “Feeling Good about myself” was “Pride,” and “Pride” was “Evil.” So I would never dare to feel good about myself. It was more comfortable to feel “unworthy” and “Less Than” than to feel “good” about myself.
Now today I am faithful to what I love doing. It is effortless effort on so many fronts. I am faithful to the recording of the lectures, to my website, to my blog, to my leadership, to my mentoring, to my relationship with Pat and with others, BUT I do not allow myself to feel good about myself as I am allowing all these Divine Rays to emanate from me. I do not allow myself to feel that I am of value to the Cosmos. Why such a strong wall of resistance here?
I think this is a core issue for me. And I think I set up a life that would reinforce this challenge of daring to value myself. The members of my German Lutheran Family certainly played their roles well. And likewise my Lutheran Church Missouri Synod with its commitment to “Original Sin” (vs. Matthew Fox’s Original Blessing, a book I read as part of a course I took at a Catholic Seminary before the professor was asked to leave for theological reasons) certainly reinforced this self-devaluing.
In my 57 years with the Lutheran Church there was the biweekly confession as part of the liturgy – the old Page 15 Liturgy with its, “O Almighty God, merciful Father, I a poor, miserable sinner, confess to Thee all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended you and justly deserved temporal and eternal punishment. But I am heartily sorry for them and sincerely repent of them, and I pray Thee of Thy boundless mercy and for the sake of the holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death of Thy beloved son, Jesus Christ, to be gracious and merciful to me, a poor sinful being.” (The Lutheran Hymnal page 16 ©1941 – used at all churches I was a member of until my 57th year when I left)
For many years after I left the Lutheran Church I was dismayed and rebellious at these rigid and conservative church positions, but now I am at ease, seeing them as part of the shell that was necessary for me to break out of for my own individuation. I had to break out of to find my own way to Life. In the end the “hard shell of conservatism” played a key role in my transformation.
When I came to the end of my meditation time this morning I realized that I did not really uncover very much of all that needs to be dislodged in me to feel into my healthy self-worth. In fact I sense I am just at the beginning of working an issue that is really a core issue to address in my life here on planet earth.
To conclude my meditation time I recalled a cogent Pathwork Lecture that I find very practical and helpful on this topic. It is Pathwork Lecture 194: Self-Esteem. I read it later in the day and found it very helpful, something perhaps I can work with this week. I close with its introductory paragraph:
I should like to discuss a problem of great importance, especially for all those whose pathwork has brought them awareness of previously undetected reactions in the self. These reactions indicate struggle and confusion regarding their self-esteem, which is of fundamental importance. Self-esteem, self-liking, or self-value — whatever you call it — is sorely lacking in every human being who experiences feelings of uncertainty, fear, insecurity, guilt, weakness, doubt, negativity, inadequacy, and inferiority. To the degree these feelings are present, self-esteem is inevitably lacking, only this is not directly recognized. Such ignorance is all the more damaging, for you are then less capable of tackling the problem directly. Only considerable insight into the self, as a result of hard work, brings the direct awareness of “I do not like and respect myself.”
Very helpful words to contemplate.
Shared in love, Gary