Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: choices (page 1 of 8)

The Healing Power of [Insert Modality or Company Here]

In my world of virtual (and real) friends, I have some who proclaim the wonders of essential oils. I have those who found healing in particular pro-biotics. There are a few who turn to herbs and even more that have changed lifestyles around ways of eating and experienced transformation. I’ve used all of these things in a season of my life – or even all of them in a given day – and have nothing negative to say about them. Use all of the things, I say.

I’m starting to wonder if effectiveness is not only in the science (and I do think there’s evidence to support any of them). I think the particular gift of any life-changing supplement lies in the gift of returning one’s personal power. We get to play a role in deciding the direction for our lives.

Listen to the stories of the believers (even my own testimonials) and you hear the undertones: “I had tried everything.” “I spent millions of dollars visiting all of the doctors.” “I couldn’t even get out of bed in the morning, but now I have the energy of a thousand racehorses.” Finally, something worked, and that magic sparked a belief in a new power at their fingertips.

I’ll maintain that it is partially about the product. These are not placebos. But if you’re wondering why your FB friends won’t just get over the magical snake oils already, the reason is partially their regained health and a whole lot of they reasserted their own power to decide. They’re no longer victims to this fallen, eczema-induced world, but co-conspirators to its transformation. I’ve noticed that the most financially successful products are the ones that remind people they can also earn a living while helping sound the bell for other people to regain their freedom. (This isn’t a bad thing. The world needs more free people.)

We feel powerlessness in our bodies. Illnesses that won’t go away. Babies that won’t stop crying or start sleeping (God, save us all). We feel hostage to our thoughts that won’t subside and havoc-wrecking habits. When you feel rotten, the powerlessness is nearly as overwhelming as the expressing symptoms. (Ahem, grief. I’m looking at you, October.)  Modalities that say, “hey, you have a choice” have the the double-positive effect of not just easing symptoms but reminding us of our voice. We’re no longer dependent on someone else to give us what we need*.

As the body, so the soul. 

What if our issues aren’t just skin deep? Maybe it’s actually reversed. Perhaps we feel so powerless in our life that it begins seeping out of our skin. Treatments, products, even yoga practices – they help our illnesses and they restore the soul because, Oh yeah!That’s right, I’m not a puppet in someone else’s play.

This, my friends, is the power of faith. I wonder if this might be what is behind Jesus’ repeated words, “Your faith has healed you.” I have to wonder about his tone of voice. Did he say it with an air of “do you see what you just did there?”

Like my oils and herbs, I’m not about to erase the power of God in these healing stories. Yet, I’ve been reading the gospels with this lens,  and I have to pause. When looking at people living in political- and religious-induced victim situations, Jesus gives them courage to assert their power, without demanding  they necessarily upend the entire structure of society. I hear his words in his most famous sermon telling people that when someone punches them in the face, they have the power to turn the other cheek, and with it challenge the character of the man who strikes him. When forced by political oppressors to carry the luggage, they have the volition to keep going, which would bring about reprimand for the soldier who issued the mandate.

There’s something about Jesus and the way he reminds people of their worth and their own intrinsic, given-by-the-act-of-being-born power. He seems to tell them Your response is your birthright. No one can take that away.

We don’t get to choose many of our circumstances. We don’t get to choose other people’s behavior. Certain institutional structures seem to be out of reach. But we do have our response. Even choosing not to respond is a choice we get to make.

And if you really want to exert your power, love anyways.

 

 

*Unless we become dependent on a product or practice. Then we mistakenly hand over our power again. Don’t do that.

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The Crack in the Middle

I went to bed before Ohio had even 1% precincts reporting and awoke to some minor chaos. My best commentary comes from Krista Tippett’s new book, Becoming Wise, in a section highlighting her interview with Francis Kissling:

“You have got to approach differences with this notion that there is good in the other. That’s it. And that if we can’t figure out how to do that, and if there isn’t the crack in the middle where there’s some people on both sides who absolutely refuse to see the other as evil, this is going to continue.”

This is our work. If your preferred candidate is going home or to the White House, change will only arise if we keep that crack in the middle, the people – of both sides – who refuse to see the other as evil.

Those who voted for Trump might be tempted to gloat and use victory of evidence of right-ness. Those who voted for Hillary or any other party might be tempted to question the moral character of their neighbor or our collective  nation. Both of these reactions create space in the mind to believe that the people we live with and among are not in some way good, which will get us nowhere. In another four years, we will find ourselves at the exact same place of divisiveness and anger.

Those who voted for the next president are not evil. Those who did not vote for the next president are not evil. In times of question, concern, frustration or celebration, the hardest place to be – and in my opinion, the most vital to humankind – is the crack in the middle.

 

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Forgiveness for Whom?

I try extremely hard to not speak on behalf of God. Instead, I’m inclined to report on what God didn’t say. The ways that holy scripture can be twisted for personal benefit is endless, especially to an audience who has such little understanding of the culture to which it was originally written (a BFD, in my opinion).

So when prominent Christian leaders make big public statements, I hold my breath. On the one hand, we need their wisdom. I have my own personal favorites and when she or he speaks, I listen and absorb. I try to filter and use my own wisdom, but I know I’m never perfect in that regard. Sometimes I trust because I’m not at the point of being able to sort it for myself. And that’s okay. But Big Christian Leaders may not always keep this in mind. In fact, sometimes it is exploited.

Now that several Big Names have asked the Christian public to forgive Trump, I feel compelled to offer a warning; a reminder about what forgiveness involves.

Forgiveness is rarely about the offender. It’s about the offended. To be clear, Trump hasn’t asked for forgiveness. He doesn’t feel he did anything wrong. So we’re not offering reconciliation because his heart has softened and he realizes the error of his ways.

Often, forgiveness arises as a means of freedom for the one forgiving. It’s a weight you don’t have to carry anymore. Sometimes, we have to forgive and forgive and 10 years later you find you’ve picked up that same baggage and accidentally started toting it around with you again. It’s a conscious decision to set something aside for the sake of your own heart.

Jesus challenges to us to forgive in a limitless supply, because in forgiving others we lean into our own forgiven state – and vice versa. Often we feel more compelled to forgive once we realize our own forgiven-ness. Freedom begins to define us, rather than the smallness we feel with guilt and hatred. And the more you forgive, the easier it is to forgive again.

When you forgive someone, you’re freed from their actions defining you. This does not give license to the person to continue to hurt you. You can forgive someone, set that weight aside, while not inviting the behavior back into our lives.

The church has a terrible, nasty history of using forgiveness as a means of holding its people in situations that are unhealthy. “You need to forgive” – especially when in context of Jesus’ words that we will only be forgiven to the extent we forgive others – are weighty words. No one wants to feel un-forgiven, so the threat of a heavenly withholding can push people into corners.

Church leaders have used this logic to keep women in unhealthy and even dangerous relationships. Some pastors have been quick to tell the woman that her job “as a Christian” is to forgive – and while forgiveness is a godly goal, it is not synonymous with staying. Forgiving doesn’t give him a right to do it again. You can leave, and forgive. 

So when these leaders are pleading for a man’s forgiveness, let’s be clear: it’s for the sake of their own conscious. They’re looking to rectify their hearts with what they know to be wrong.  It is not synonymous with staying. It doesn’t require we go back.

If Trump followers want to forgive and move on, that’s the work of their own hearts. And it’s a good work. Forgive away, because the world needs more of it. But please don’t be convinced that such work requires you support the continued work of the forgiven, especially when the forgiven person has made no indication of change. There’s no evidence that it will be different next time.

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