Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher

We Take God’s Breath Away (Thank you KR)

13 Comments

I am sitting in a small wooden boat, drifting across the placid waters of a lake. “Pick up the oars and begin to row,” the meditation master invites and for one moment awareness sweeps over me and I awaken to a deep inner truth. I have control of where I am, and where I go on the water.

It was profound. Enlightening. Awakening.

In the past, to lull myself into a relaxed, meditative state, I sometimes imagined myself to be on a raft drifting on the water. All was calm and I imagined I had no cares, no thoughts, no desire to be anywhere other than on the raft drifting along with the gentle current. Eventually, my raft would bump lightly up against the shore and I would step off onto the lush, green grasses of an island filled with all the wonder and beauty imaginable.

But in this meditation, I direct the small wooden boat which I row towards an island. I determine where I go.

It is a small yet significant shift.

I direct my boat. I control the speed, the direction, the outcome of where I am. I have absolute and total control of what I do and where I am going in my life. I have the capacity to respond to the environment around me, to avoid eddies, skirt storms, speed up or slow down.

I have control of how I row my boat, and where.

On Friday, when I presented at Break the Silence for the launch of Violence Prevention Month, I shared the story of my fall into hell and my journey into becoming a victor in my life.

Afterwards, several people came over to thank me for my words and for shifting the focus from being a ‘survivor’ to embracing the attributes of ‘victor’.

“We really do want our women to rise above the abuse. To go beyond survival mode into living life as victors,” said one woman. “We need to watch our language,” she added.

And we do. Need to watch our language. We need to be conscious and expand our understanding of the power of words and their ability to hold us in place, or set us free.

Sometime ago I spoke with a friend who was involved in the establishment of the new Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre (CAC) here in Calgary. The CAC offers “hope, help and healing to children, youth and families impacted by child abuse – all in one amazing place.”

The friend told me, their voice rigid with disgust, that they would never feel compassion around ‘these guys’ who abuse children.

What if you were to re-frame that to ‘at the moment’ I feel no compassion around these guys who abuse children? I asked.

They made choices, they told me. They need to live with those choices.

I agree, I replied. They did make choices. But what if in our insistence they live with those choices forever more we are locking them into that place of shame, anger and guilt that lies at the core of their actions. What if in not allowing compassion to filter through the cracks of our resolve to hate, we inhibit all possibility of redemption? What if in our disgust of what they’ve done, we block the possibility of transformation?

No one is born a child molester. Just as no one is born a murderer, gang member, or an abuser.

Becoming those ‘labels’ are learned behaviours that at one time served a purpose in their ability to protect, and/or defend their position in the world. At one point, their responses to what was happening in their world became their behaviours in the world — and the molester, murderer, gang member, abuser was born.

And yes, for those with personality disorders, with mis-matched chromosomes and faulty brain synapses the behaviours appear to be hard-wired. But they are the minority.

Even the man who abused me deserves my compassion, for in his inability to understand or feel or see the harm he caused so many people through his insistence that he had the right to lie and steal and cheat and deceive to get what he wanted, he is locked in a vicious cycle of self-abuse.

And hating him, vilifying him, locking him into a fortress built of condemnation will only harden his resolve to stay the course of his destruction. Hatred will not change his path. I believe love can.

Not the love that says, “I give you permission to act out in my life.” Because that isn’t love. It’s self-harm. It’s blindness. It’s wilful disregard of my own safety.

I am speaking of the love that holds a space for transformation to occur through our human capacity to choose a path other than the path of least resistance that leads to our repeating the things we’ve done to harm, hurt, betray and destroy lives.

Once upon a time, I chose the path of least resistance. I let my raft drift aimlessly along the surface of my life, waiting for a miracle, or a magic wand, to appear to calm the waters.

Today, I know, no matter how choppy the waters, no matter how distant the land, I have the power to pick up the oars and row myself to safety.

I have always had this power even though there were times the sky appeared so dark, the waters so threatening, I didn’t believe I had the strength to pick up the oars. I am grateful there were those who had the wisdom, and the courage to show me I could.

We all have this power. No matter what we tell ourselves about our circumstances, we all have the power to row ourselves to safety.

We can’t continually shame those who disobey or disregard the mores of our society for causing the rough waters on which we sail. Yes, many have broken laws, created havoc, caused distress.

In our shaming of them, however,  we keep stirring up the waters and losing sight of the possibility and the power we all have to create a world of wonder, a world where calm seas welcome every sailor home to the heart of who we are as human beings — magnificent, divine creations of Love.

As my friend Kathleen from GP taught me long ago, “We take God’s breath away.”

And that means all of us.

Advertisements

Author: Louise Gallagher

I believe we each have the capacity to be the change we want to see in the world, to make a world of difference. I believe we are creative beings on the journey of our lifetimes. It's up to each of us to Live It Up and SHINE!

13 thoughts on “We Take God’s Breath Away (Thank you KR)

  1. “Once upon a time, I chose the path of least resistance. I let my raft drift aimlessly along the surface of my life, waiting for a miracle, or a magic wand, to appear to calm the waters.
    Today, I know, no matter how choppy the waters, no matter how distant the land, I have the power to pick up the oars and row myself to safety.
    I have always had this power even though there were times the sky appeared so dark, the waters so threatening, I didn’t believe I had the strength to pick up the oars. I am grateful there were those who had the wisdom, and the courage to show me I could.
    We all have this power. No matter what we tell ourselves about our circumstances, we all have the power to row ourselves to safety.”

    This portion right here, is something I wish everyone I know could read and understand, especially some of my former friends from my former life, who have chosen the path of least resistance. You and I both know that it might take a lot more than reading your powerful writing, possibly a seminar or 3, but this right here is probably the most truthful and relating thing (to myself) that I have read since I started getting more of what I wanted out of my life.
    Thank you so much, I love when your light shines on me Louise.

    Like

  2. You are amazing – amazing!

    Like

  3. Beautiful post. Yes, loving the hardest to love is, I think, the great challenge and necessity of living compassion and being peace.

    Like

  4. Breathtakingly beautiful…..thank you for sharing the riches of your deeply lovely heart:)
    -Jennifer

    Like

  5. In regard to feeling compassion for your abuser, is that sympathy as in feeling sorry as you would for someone with an illness, or is it empathy in fully understanding WHY?

    I love your analogy about taking up the oars and rowing, albeit sometimes I feel that this is difficult if you cannot actually see where the land is… and if indeed there is any.

    Like

    • I’m not sure it’s either elizabeth. I think it’s more about acceptance that he is who he is and it’s not my job to change him — it’s my job to change what he does and the impact of what he does/did on my life. He does what he does because that’s who he is. Which I suppose is fully understanding WHY — he does what he does because that’s who he is — or what he chooses to do. Now, doesn’t make it right. It makes it what it is. what he does. And then, I don’t spend my time thinking about changing him — I work on me. The empathy and compassion come into accepting that there is capacity to change within him — it’s not mine to activate or step into.

      Not sure I’m explaining it well… you are the inspiration for my blog today.

      Like

      • (This is written after your reading you next post as well). I guess that my question related to my own situation. and trying to reach a state of peace in my head about him (my ex-husband). I have read that there are 3 levels of forgiveness (or compassion). The first is magnanimous forgiveness (‘forgive them, because they know not what they do’). In other words they knew no better. The second is saintly forgiveness (they do know better and they did not act the way they should have so they have a problem and I will try and fix them). The third is forgiving as in a debt (in this case an apology or some sort of acknowledgement of the wrong-doing).
        For a long time, I grappled with all this. I never ever thought the first category applied (he knew better… that is what hurt so much).
        So because I know he knew better, I tried for the second category for a long time. I tried to fix him.
        I have only recently realised that that is never going to work and so I am trying of moving onto the third type of forgiveness, of just letting it all go, not expecting an apology, and just accepting that he is who he is, even though that is not who I thought he could have been.

        I suppose this is what you were eluding to.

        Thanks, this has helped me get things a bit straighter in my head.

        Like

  6. Yes, it is a shift! Not insignificant at all.

    Like

  7. Pingback: Peace, fairness and divorce | Almost Spring

This conversation needs your brilliance to shine. Please share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s