Tag Archives: love

A Pathway to Reconciliation

 

This past November I wrote the most difficult and intricate post I have ever written on my blog or elsewhere on the topic of racial reconciliation titled, “The Imperative & Paradox of Racial Reconciliation”. In getting to the finished post, I crafted various versions that in hindsight acted as my processing tools. I had originally intended on making the framework I created be the centerpiece of my finished product but God had other plans!

Outside of my continued work on racial reconciliation in the Be the Bridge groups at my church, I am grappling with reconciliation on a personal level and it is proving to be daunting. I am talking just about the hopeful restoration of broken familial bonds, not anything to do with race or gender, just plain old reconciliation. And I feel like a blind woman trying to walk in the desert at night. How do I begin to rebuild trust, restore wholeness in love, respond with empathy and respect, nurse my wounds without anger and stem the pangs of perceived betrayal? This much I do know— I need a generous endowment of The Holy Spirit to transform my heart so I can be an honest participant in any reconciliation process. I cannot do this type of heart-centered work purely by my own efforting or willing it to be so.

In trying to make a way for myself, I figured it might be helpful to dig up my earlier drafts on a reconciliation framework to give me some type of guide as I navigate the uncomfortable and often painful journey towards reconciliation within my family.

The Cycle of Reconciliation

In my research on this topic and personal experience, I’ve observed three key stages that define the reconciliation process. For want of a more creative descriptor, I’m calling it The Reconciliation Cycle.  It’s a cycle because these stages are by no means linear. For a concept as complex, personal and significant as reconciliation, it is best to think of these stages as flows rather than steps, with the understanding that a person can flow back and forth and in and out of each stage or stages at different times.

  1. Confession—Professing/Acknowledging out loud to another and/or to ourselves/God where you have wronged, hurt or harmed another by word, action or deed.
  2. Repentance—Feeling sorrow and regret for the wrongs and hurt you may have inflicted on another, knowingly or unknowingly. Having a true desire to atone for wrongs and to make amends with another. Repentance often requires a heart change.
  3. Forgiveness—Forgiving the other party for the wrongs you believe you suffered at their hand. And forgiving yourself, bringing your hurts and wounds to the throne of God’s grace. Extending forgiveness is the only way to start a constructive, heart-centered dialog which is essential for reconciliation.

These three stages may occur back and forth as The Reconciliation Cycle is in process, the scales removed from our eyes and more grievances or injustices are uncovered.

Attributes/Attitudes Required

Reconciliation requires that each party in the process arm themselves with attitudes and attributes that promote reconciliation. These attitudes are critical as the parties move from hurt to healed, and go through the three stages of Compassion, Repentance and Forgiveness during The Reconciliation Cycle.

  1. Humility—Confession, repentance and forgiveness require a humble heart. Both parties need to get their egos and pride out of the way for reconciliation to move forward.
  2. Readiness—If one party is ready to reconcile but the other is not, there cannot be reconciliation. Reconciliation requires a certain level of readiness from each party.
  3. Understanding—A part of the reconciliation process involves a shift in perspective where each party is better able to put themselves in the others’ shoes. This is the only way for healing to really occur. Each party must be able to understand their role in breaking the bond of relationship and desire to move forward differently.
  4. Compassion—Compassion and understanding go hand in hand. Having empathy for the other party promotes forgiveness.
  5. Patience—Reconciliation takes time. The deeper the chasm the longer the journey. Each party has to exercise patience during the reconciliation process.
  6. Trust—Reconciliation cannot emerge without trust. Trust is needed in one self to share ones truth to another. And trust is needed in the other party’s willingness and ability to hear and receive this truth. It requires each party to believe in the best about the other as they work through their differences.
  7. Commitment—Reconciliation is not a linear progression. It is much more complicated than that and each party may be at different stages of The Reconciliation Cycle at any given time. It is uncomfortable, painful and extremely vulnerable doing this tough work. So both parties must be committed to reconciliation.

I think this is why Paul exhorted believers in the early churches throughout the New Testament to “clothe (them)selves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12) and to “be humble and gentle in every way. Be patient with each other and lovingly accept each other” (Ephesians 4:2). Paul knew what they were up against, and knew they would need to be intentional about loving on one another in the midst of challenges.

The Role Emotions Play in The Reconciliation Cycle

Consider the challenge required in crossing over each of these three stages of reconciliation with just one other person as you journey to reconciliation. It is a process. It is complicated. Emotions rise to the surface easily– tough emotions like shame, guilt, anger, hurt and fear which we are often ill-equipped to express in healthy ways. These emotions too, are part of The Reconciliation Cycle. These feelings need to be discharged in constructive ways. And feeling these emotions can cause old wounds to be opened anew.

In spite of how overwhelmed I feel about trying to restore key broken relationships in my family, I remain hopeful that God will equip me to do what he has called me to do: to be an ambassador of reconciliation.  This is true not just among the disparate factions in my church and this country as a whole, but as up close and personal as my own family.

As challenging as I believe racial reconciliation to be as evidenced by my thoughts on it in my previous post, I think the restoration of familial bonds may actually be more difficult as it is fraught with such deeply personal experiences and history. Nevertheless, I press on, in hope, trusting in the love of God to heal all wounds.

“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, could be accomplished alone; therefore, we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our own standpoint; therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.” Reinhold Niebuhr, ‘The Irony of American History’


Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, insight coach, and marketing & branding consultant. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. Read more of her inspirational posts on her website. Email her at Elanimage07@gmail.com.

 

 

5 Steps to Leverage your Vulnerability for Victory

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In order to develop deep, meaningful relationships, we need to expose our real selves, to let people in so that they see our authentic personas. This is what vulnerability is all about. But, let’s face it, how comfortable are we with vulnerability, when many of us perceive it as a weakness? How can we be vulnerable when we don’t trust others will honor our unmasked selves? How can vulnerability coexist with the fear of being judged, disliked, criticized or shamed?

Brene Brown became famous for her research on shame and vulnerability. In a recent article she explained, “Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people might see or think… When we’ve attached our self-worth to what we produce or earn, being real gets dicey.” Her words so resonated with me. In my career as an image consultant, I became so fixated with my brand image, that I began to downplay the naturally authentic traits that revealed the “real” me. Unnoticed by me, I was increasingly becoming a façade of my true self. I assumed if I perfected the part of image consultant, it would seal my success. But I was so wrong. What I could not understand then was that I was distancing myself more and more from true connections with my family, friends, and clients. With all these walls against intimacy up, how could those whose favor I wanted truly relate to me?

In my attempt to win approval, I perfected the art of people pleasing.  I hitched my self-worth onto my performance because that is what I was taught—get good grades, a good job, practice good behavior and I would earn the right to be liked.  The very thing I sought is the very thing I hijacked by my “good girl” image. People may admire the good girl, they may even respect her, but they sure won’t get close to her. Likeability has everything to do with one’s capacity for vulnerability.

What I’ve come to understand is that my flaws, my humanness, my struggles make me a real woman living in today’s very complex, intricately connected world. Striving to be the perfect anything is a recipe for failure, because perfectionism reeks of fakeness, illusion, and inauthenticity—all things that keep us arm’s length away from others. The fear of making mistakes, being criticized, failing, or rejection are the uncertainties we tackle as individuals on a quest to fulfill our life’s work. Facing this vulnerability head on is the only way to move forward. Being vulnerable then helps us to succeed as it allows us to connect with others in a real, meaningful way and to honor ourselves as we truly are, all armor aside.

Supported in this knowledge, these 5 steps continue to help me recover from my tendency to hide the real me:

  1. SHOW up. It takes a LOT of energy to hide. It is far easier to show up, to be in the game and to be present to the glory and the potential risk of disapproval. To be a player in love, work and life.
  2. Be SEEN. Make your presence known, felt and understood. Be visible and stand in your truth. Take the necessary step: write that book, design that masterpiece, launch that innovation. Fuel your passion and creativity. Dream. And dream Big. Just go for it.
  3. SHARE. Your story. Your opinion. Your perspective. Your values. Be generous in opening up about who you really are and what you are about. Sharing also means listening. Be an active listener. It is this give and take that allows real bonds to form.
  4. SHINE. As Marianne Williamson famously said: “It’s our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” Dare to be brilliant! 
  5. SURRENDER…to the outcome. Know that no one can do you better than you. You are the best version of yourself. Be authentic and surrender the rest to God. Be amazingly you, but don’t be attached to the result.

There will always be folks who “lie in wait for the vulnerable and pounce as a way to feel powerful” as author Donald Miller put it in his book Scary Close. Yes, there will always be naysayers and detractors. But we should not let their judgement and criticism crowd out the majority who really are rooting for us, because they recognize that we are all ultimately on a similar journey to realize our excellence in our life’s purpose.

Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, freelance writer and editor, and marketing consultant. She consults with would be authors and writers on honing their “voice” so their words have the desired impact.  She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. 

Visit her blog at: http://nataliejobity.com/be-simply-inspired/

Have a Hug

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I have a confession to make. I’m a hug junkie. As in, I love receiving  hugs!! Really warm, big, heartfelt hugs.  Perhaps some of my most memorable hugging experiences have been the hugs I’ve received from a child. Simply nothing beats the sheer abandon, sincerity, love and joy with which children hug. There is none of the adult awkwardness, the personal space boundaries or potential sexual tension…nothing that limits its expansiveness. It’s a hug in the fullest sense of the word.  And if that doesn’t turn a day around, I don’t know what would.

A good hug to me feels like a micro massage—it hits all the right places at once, makes me feel comforted and validated, and reduces stress. If it’s really good I can’t help but start giggling—it’s as if my body’s  automatic stress reduction naturally promotes that response. For a few minutes I am that much more content. All is well in the world.  I have been hugged today.

Beyond cultures, countries and language, hugs connect us so profoundly to each other. Psychologists say when we hug someone it releases oxytocin, also known as ‘the cuddle hormone.’ That’s what makes us feel warm inside. This is what promotes feelings of devotion, trust and bonding. Research has found that hugs can reduce our stress levels and improve our overall sense of well-being. So why don’t we just hug each other more?

I believe that more hugging would help us nurture the spirit of love, compassion, oneness and  belonging that we all need and want in our lives. The intimate connection of an embrace, the deep connectivity, the natural removal of personal space boundaries, and the fact that so many of our senses are naturally aroused in such close proximity (touch, smell, sound, sight), allows us to bond with each other more. It breaks down walls. It fosters freedom of expression.  It engenders trust.

Hugs convey so much. They express our joy when we greet someone. It’s a way of providing comfort and assurance to a loved one in times of grief or sadness. A hug is the gesture of choice when we want to congratulate someone.  A hug is a way to show camaraderie and kinship to another. A hug is an expression of love: parent to child; sibling to sibling; lover to lover; friend to friend. Hugging conveys a sign of solidarity—to a cause, a mission, a movement. We hug when we say goodbye to someone.

It costs us nothing to hug another. It’s one of those mutually beneficial acts that we can so easily take for granted. The next time you hug someone, really hug them. Feel it on the outside and inside. Linger a second or two longer. Close your eyes. Breathe into the experience.  Let those feel good hormones do their magic.

Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, freelance writer and editor, and marketing consultant. She consults with would be authors and writers on honing their “voice” so their words have the desired impact.  She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style.