Summer of Awakening

On Monday I start teaching yoga classes at Genesis Yoga. I'm nervous (maybe more like terrified) and the closer it gets to Monday the more I know I should be on my mat preparing and yet the more I avoid it. The theme and intention at Genesis Yoga for the summer is Awakening and this morning I've been laying in bed turning it over and over in my mind.

Awakening. What does that mean really? What do I have to say about it? I can abstractly understand so much that it means, but how do I explain experience in words? How do I lead people into an experience of awakening, of experiencing God's presence?

The only answer I keep hearing as I turn the questions over in my mind is the same answer I always hear about writing: "share what you know."

Write what you know. Tell what you know. Share what you know.

What I know is that I'm terrified about teaching this class. Terrified in a way that you can only feel about something that you really want, that hits at something deep in your heart and pulls at all your insecurities. I known it's exactly what I should be doing. But this morning all I can think is, "Why the heck did I decide to do this? What was I thinking?" I'm irritable and angry and wishing I hadn't decided to do this and I could just sleep away the summer instead.

But, I know that teaching yoga is holy ground for me, not because the classes I teach are holy, perfect, or life transforming moments for people (I'm quite sure that's rarely the case), but because standing up and using my voice in that way is life transforming FOR ME. There's something purifying in it for me. It's ground on which I face my fears and insecurities and past wounds. It's holy ground upon which I meet with the God who loves me, and made me exactly as I am.

What I know is that I have spent a lot of my life believing that my desires can't be trusted, that they are only and utterly sinful. Friends, our desires can be broken, hurtful, and wrong, but not always. So often in scripture God listens to people and satisfies their desires for good things. In the Gospels we see Jesus asking people, "What do you want me to do for you?" Oh what a question, what an utterly beautiful question!

What do you want me to do for you? What do you really want?

God doesn't want you to hide or stuff or kill those desires in your heart, the really deep ones, the really true ones, the really core ones, he wants you to bring them to Him.

The Spirit that made you also placed these desires in your heart. At the beginning of creation the Three-in-One called us very good, and that very goodness is still there, that belovedness, that core of who you are, it's what God seeks after and is trying to restore. It's still there.

Yes, our hearts are broken and they have enormous capacity for evil, yet at the core, at the center, the heart of who we are is still very good, full of God's finger prints. God still speaks over his sons and daughters the words he spoke over Jesus, the first born, "This is my child in whom I am well pleased."

Friends, for so much of my life I have believed that I can't really trust my desires (even my desires for good things, even my desire to do this - to teach yoga) and that I don't really have anything to offer the world.

I have listened to the voices that say, "You aren't good enough." "That person is better at this than you are, you should just let them do it." "You aren't smart enough, you don't know enough, you need to learn more first. Maybe someday, but you aren't ready yet." "You will fail." "No one will want what you have to offer." "Your story doesn't matter. Your voice doesn't matter, at least not as much as that other persons does." "No one wants to hear what you have to say." "You're too young (or at least people will think you're too young since you look young) and they will dismiss what you have to say." "Your place is at home." "You have too many other things on your plate, you don't have time to pursue desires, even if they are good ones."

Friends, some of these are half-truths. But I believe them as full truths and the result of all of them is the same...I shrink back. I hide. I bury my desire, and along with it any potential talent I may have. I let someone else claim the land. I give up my power, my beauty, my goodness. I consider God a bad artist, a poor potter. I ignore the voice of the Spirit that asks, "What do you want me to do for you?"

I sleep.

We sleep in the dark, under covers, often curled up in a protective position. Those who hide belong to those who sleep, not to those who are awake.

What I know is that God has been waking me up. Slowly. Tenderly. And oh goodness I still fight it and often want to run head first back under the covers. But Spirit has been there softly asking me to come out of hiding and into vulnerability.

What I know is that God has been asking me to own my voice, my story, the power and beauty of who I am as He made me, the beloved child He calls me.

The book of Hebrews tells us: "We do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved."

Over and over in scripture God tells us "be strong and courageous".

But, friends, I can't just quote scripture at myself and hope that will change what I believe. That is often the accepted Christian version of positive self-talk and it doesn't really work - not fully.

Oh friends, this is hard work, slow work! It doesn't happen over night or simply by effort. I can't positive self-talk my way into believing I am beloved. All I can do is come to Jesus, pry open my heart, lay it all out in the open with him, and then wait in quiet and ask Him to speak. I need an experience of being the beloved, I need to hear him singing love over me; not once but over and over again. This is the work of the mystics, the contemplatives, and this is the work that transforms us into being the beloved. This is the work that wakes us up to the deep love of the Father.

Over and over again, when I show up openly and honestly before God and really listen, He speaks words of love over me.

We are valuable to him. He made us, not to hide, or shrink back into the shadows, but to be light and salt, life and love to those around us.

He wants to hear our desires, he doesn't want us to shrink back, to hide, to disqualify our desires or our gifting, he wants us to come to him with all of it.

"Wake up, sleeper, Rise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you." Ephesians 5:14b

I think we'll be talking about some aspect of all of this in Monday's class. If you are in the Phoenix area and you're interested in coming. Class will be at Genesis church (the south east corner of 32nd St. and Thunderbird) at 10am on Monday. There's childcare available ($5 for the first kid and $2 for each child after that). I'd love for you to join me!

Grace and peace, Bethany