Good morning my friends. It’s been an exhausting week, but I finally saw the completion of my book, The Liberation of Sophia. I started drawing Sophia right after I left the church and completed 59 drawings and meditations 4 years later. There was an overwhelming sense of grief as I closed that chapter of my life. I can safely say my deconstruction process is pretty much complete. I still have tons to learn, but I feel I’m in a very good space.
I’m being very productive and I have a ton of books to make… mostly collections of my cartoons. But the big project ahead of me is writing my z-theory in a very clear and simple way. I hope is that it is going to be very helpful for people like us who are trying to figure out a way to intellectually understand our spiritual journeys.
I’m also planning on creating some online courses. I hope to tackle this huge project after my vacation the second week of July.
Sophia’s journey articulated my passage from feeling trapped to experiencing spiritual independence. It is the chronicle of how I learned to speak my own language.
I wanted to share those 3 stages of progression with you today:
THOUGHT LANGUAGE: THINK YOUR OWN LANGUAGE
It starts in the mind. You and I both know that our so-called rebellion began with our thoughts. We started to think differently. We saw we were expected to believe a certain way, and even though we complied for a long time, the time finally came where we had to admit we were thinking for ourselves.
It began simply for me. I remember someone reading me a story about a man being swallowed alive by a shark and surviving after several days, and that this was proof of the story of Jonah and the whale. I remember my young mind thinking, “Mmmm… nah!” The same when my family took a trip through the States and visited the Grand Canyon and me being told that sea fossils near the rim was proof of the great Flood and Noah’s ark. I remember my youthful mind thinking, “Mmm… nah!” This continued on up through my college days, seminary days, and throughout my ministry, and even to this day. When someone says something they expect me to believe, I catch my mind thinking, “Mmm… nah!”
My own language started in my own mind.
VERBAL LANGUAGE: SPEAK YOUR OWN LANGUAGE
It took a long time for me to get to this stage. In fact, I was a married adult, really, before I allowed that nagging thought, “Mmm… nah!” to become a verbal expression. I recall the exact moment when someone important said something to me that I didn’t agree with. My mind said, “Mmm… nah!” But it was like a volcano and those words erupted all over the room. I simply said, “Mmm… I don’t think I think that way anymore, actually!” It was like I stabbed that person in the chest with a switchblade. Their eyes widened and their face turned red. Very dramatic. But I said it. A heated argument ensued, but it was too late. I couldn’t retract my words. They were out there. They pushed me away from the dock. Forever.
I know many of you are finding your own voice. It’s something we always talk about. You’re trying it at home with your partner, your family, your friends. Some of you are trying it in our Facebook group or on our forums. Others are writing in their blogs or other venues. Some of you are exercising your voices and finding the best way to communicate your dissent and disagreement. But more than that, you’re finding a way to stand your ground, protect your borders, and establish your own official language.
Your own language starts in the mind, but eventually it has to come out of your mouth.
BODY LANGUAGE: LIVE YOUR OWN LANGUAGE
Finally, it comes to body language. Towards the end of my time as a pastor, I clearly remember my thoughts needing to be articulated verbally. It started on my nakedpastor blog. But I remember the tension this caused in my church. Eventually, the tension became so great that I had to walk. We all agreed that we were no longer compatible: for me to continue growing and for them to remain the same. I had to move on. So, even though it started in my mind and was expressed through my speech, it eventually was manifested in my feet. I had to walk the talk. I had to practice what I preached. It was painful and difficult, but it was necessary.
The fact is, this is how we eventually discover how to live a life of integrity. Jung talks about individuation: when we learn to reconcile all the parts of ourselves into one undivided individual. We come to a place where we have true integrity. It always takes time to get there. It takes a lot of courage as well. Our social environments work hard to prevent it, so it’s like paddling upstream.
But we have to do it if we want our words to match our thoughts and our lives to match our words.
I am thrilled to watch you guys striving to become and remain people of true integrity. I see what it is costing you. But you’re willing to lay it down because, as we all know, there’s nothing more satisfying than feeling the unity of our own lives. Like all the tumblers in a lock just click into place. Or like inserting the final piece of a puzzle.
I encourage you to speak your own language: in your thoughts, in your words, and in your lives.
We are hear to listen.
Your brother and friend,