turning our ingrown eyeballs up & out
* it’s really hard to put into words my gratitude for the many responses i received on monday’s post. so much honesty and i appreciate each of you for taking time to share. oh, how i wish we could all be together in my living room for a deeper conversation about this! online space has its limitations, but it does open up the door for tricky topics. we need to learn to live in the tension of disagreement without being mean. for now, i will say that i am very glad that somehow this struck a chord and gave language for some who are wrestling with living in these kinds of painful paradoxes. i knew i wasn’t alone but it helps to know there are many who resonate. i have three follow-up posts to this that are swirling around in my head and will go up over the next couple of weeks–dignified dialogue, why people are afraid to be honest, and ways we can actively participate in preventing abortions. i hope you can come back and respond. sometimes when there are controversial posts there’s a lot of action in the initial conversation or idea and all kinds of passion about it. i’d really love to see as much passion on practical, tangible solutions, what we can do to better listen to each other, and how to become safer people who can intersect with these issues so that more people could feel free to process not only their own pain but also what they are wrestling with theologically without feeling like they are going to get totally jumped on. the only way to get there is to keep practicing.
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meanwhile, today is the november synchroblog, a small group of bloggers blogging about the same topic. this month’s theme is the spiritual practice of gratitude. we’re centering on gratitude at the refuge’s saturday gatherings & this past week some of the stories reminded me of how complicated it can sometimes be to be grateful, especially for the hard & painful parts of our lives.
and at the same time, gratitude heals.
years ago i read something about depression and ingrown eyeballs.
it has always stuck with me–ingrown eyeballs.
it is so easy to have them, especially when life is hard or not going the way we had hoped, to turn inward and only see what’s hard, bad, icky, ugly, you-name-it-that’s-not-helpful. i’m not talking about healthy introspection here; i’m talking about self-centered-joy-robbing-all’s-i-can-see-is-bad-stuff eyeballs. it is my natural tendency to focus on what isn’t instead of what is. to see the bad instead of the good. to remember the negative instead of the positive.
i don’t mean to. i don’t want to. but without some intention and help, it’s where i often end up.
i like gratitude because it helps turn our ingrown eyeballs up & out.
for me, up & out seem to always go together.
up toward God, to remembering there’s something bigger than us, that God is with us in the midst of whatever we are dealing with, that there’s a wide world out there beyond only what we can see. sometimes, as a spiritual practice, i look up at the sky. i stand and turn my head up and remember God’s greatness & bigness & goodness & wildness.
“up” helps. and points me toward God.
and turning my eyes and heart out toward people helps, too. to remembering the beautiful friends around me who remind me what really matters. toward the in-the-flesh relationships that continue to heal and transform me. toward gratitude for the love & grace & mercy & presence & laughter & beauty of my family & friends who love me even when i have ingrown eyeballs. i see their faces, their hearts, and it shifts something inside of me.
“out” reminds me what really matters–people.
every spiritual practice takes intention. not a grind-down-make-it-happen kind of intention, but an openness and willingness to try some new things. for me, a slice of the spiritual practice of gratitude is to look up & out.
up toward God, out toward people with simple gratitude.
some days it’s not easy, but it always seems to help.
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other bloggers who wrote about gratitude so far today:
- Jeremy Myers – 5 Things to be Unthankful For
- Glenn Hager – Gr-atitude
- Carol Kuniholm – Grateful
- Amy Martin – Gratitude in a Culture of Economy
- Leah at Desert Spirit Fire - Living Thanks
- Jack Kooyman - Gratitude as Action
- Christine Sine – Where is God When Disaster Hits?