I can’t believe I’ve already been back in Australia for over two weeks!
My time has been mostly involved in the Volunteer Selection Project, other tasks I’m learning and being trained in to help with, and a bit of time maintaining my own business too.
With the Volunteer Selection Project, initially I thought to do regular recaps of what we’ve been doing, but Eloisa has been posting amazing ones on the God’s Way blog already that describe the ins and outs of our activities. So, rather than replicate her already awesome blogs, I’ll link to them periodically when I do an update, and here on my blog, I’m interested in sharing what I’m personally learning about God’s Way of doing things and the necessary attitudes required to be of service to gift, and learning about myself.
So thus far, here are the God’s Way Blogs on this round of the VSP so far:
That being said…
A Short “What I’ve Been Up To” Summary:
The Volunteer Selection Project runs 1-2 days per week, and I’m both a participant and also observing and learning behind-the-scenes operations in the long-term desire of mine to start a Learning Centre somewhere in the world.
I typically arrive an hour before the program begins each day that we have it to help set up, and stay a couple hours after it finishes to do a bit of clean up (though we do nearly all of that as part of the program itself) and to observe Eloisa and Tristan, the facilitators, debrief, discuss the day, backup data, update their extensive documentation of various kinds and do other kinds of reflection and computer work related to the VSP. I’m learning so much from this and am so grateful to be able to observe!
In the behind the scenes component, I’ve also had the privilege to sit in and listen to some of the backend meetings of various kinds which has been fascinating, inspiring and is giving me such a better idea of what it would be like to do this myself. So again, this opportunity is priceless and I am so grateful.
There is also homework each week in documenting everything we do (so far this has been cleaning indoor and outdoor spaces, and weeding), and we have upcoming assignments which will involve speaking presentations to the group, individual and group research projects, and more.
Additionally, I’m starting to learn and train in a few things to be able to help with projects here. I’m just at the very beginning of that but hope to begin learning “markers” and tagging for studio recordings and Assistance Groups (which you can read about on Lena’s blog here if you’re unfamiliar with what I mean by “markers”), and dealing with FAQ questions that are sent into the office, an expansion on the project I did last year logging questions (which ended up being 1000+!) that were written by participants during the 3.1 and 3.2 Assistance Groups.
And partly through the VSP and through other avenues, I’m learning how to help out with cleaning, environmental projects and other endeavors.
With any leftover time, I tend to my business as a nutritionist, catch up with Perry and continue to discuss our stuff (though trying to work through soulmate stuff from afar is pretty different!), and doing a little cross training fitness which I enjoy and makes me feel more capable and safe to do all the physical, manual work that is done here. It’s been busy!
What I’m Learning Emotionally
Emotionally, I’ve been all over the place! I feel so challenged and confronted and uncomfortable a lot of the time, but also invigorated and inspired at other times. In the course of one day I often feel like I experience 20 or 30 different emotions, and when I do feel really challenged and confronted, I feel like it’s about 20 different topics or issues. But it seems it’s best to let myself feel exactly what comes up as soon as it comes up, not delay it if possible, and not analyze things intellectually too much.
I notice that if I am not soft to the fears that are always coming up, then I go about everything with anxiety, start having insomnia, difficulty making decisions, and get rather obsessed with small worries while neglecting the big issues. I get really in my head, tense and pressure builds in me in an unhealthy way and I just get more and more rigid in my body and emotions. So I am trying to focus on my fear in a more gentle way and let myself cry about how overwhelmed I often feel. So far it’s seemed if I can just let myself feel how overwhelmed and disoriented and scared I feel–just process emotionally what’s right in front of me–then I come out of it feeling more capable, and optimistic, and my desire and excitement returns. And it seems I have to go through these cycles every few days.
There is masses to learn to be able to be of help, and I’m realizing how important it is to deal with all my blocks about learning and education, how it feels to not understand, not know, not be good at things yet. I have to remind myself to be patient, that I am not going to be perfect at everything tomorrow or next week, and to just keep trucking along, plodding and learning and processing my emotions along the way, and at some point I will get it and I’ll become more skilled.
In the V.S.P and in general, fear is predictably one of my biggest problems: fear of confrontation and attack, fear of holding to what I feel is the most loving way to do a thing even if it means others disagree, fear of making mistakes and getting things wrong, fear of being totally honest. These issues affect things daily in my life, and probably hourly and by the minute if I were to really see them for what they are. However, I am so grateful for so many opportunities to see when and how I live in and act in my fear, and most of all I am finding it is really important for me to see how it impacts others when I justify, live in and act in fear.
We are learning in the VSP about what the facilitators are calling “honest communication”. From one of Eloisa’s God’s Way blog posts, she explained it like this:
Participants are encouraged to be themselves and to honestly communicate with each other. This means that when a conflict or feeling comes up in one or more of the participants they are encouraged to truthfully feel what they feel and speak up about it. Participants are encouraged to feel how they feel, say what they thing in a self-responsible manner (not blaming others for how they feel).
Just saying what I really feel is so challenging for me! It has been sad for me to realize that all my life, my communication with everyone has been the exact opposite of this. I’ve always misrepresented my feelings, hidden what I really feel and think, make out to others that I’m ok, lie if it means I can avoid a confrontation, or avoid attack and disapproval, and been happy to put on whatever opinion or face any particular person wanted me to be. And yet, as many of us in the VSP are finding, honest communication rapidly exposes emotions and is a very fast way to resolve issues.
At the moment, the main topics on my heart are this:
I am realizing that the people here who have and are teaching me, and who love me–Jesus, Mary, the VSP facilitators Tris and Elo, and many other friends I have here–encourage me to act the exact opposite of how my parents and family, and most people previously in my whole life, wanted me to act. This is a really emotional realization for me and I have a ton more to feel about with regards to it.
Let me be more specific in some comparisons below. When I say “here” I’m referencing the most loving of people here, not necessarily everyone in the local area or who are participants of the VSP.
♡ Here, I am encouraged to be honest about what I really feel. Being honest without blaming or pushing my emotions on another is considered very good. I am never attacked or rejected for being honest.
In my childhood, if I was honest about what I really felt, I was always rejected and punished, even if I wasn’t blaming or unloving with it. Honest communication was actively discouraged and punished.
♡ Here, I am encouraged to be myself, and am taught about how being myself and sharing myself is loving to others, and not doing so is unloving. The real me is appreciated and desired.
In my childhood, I was attacked for being myself, and taught that being myself and sharing myself was unloving to others. The real me was considered a bother and a nuisance.
♡ Here I am taught that self-depreciation is an addiction and an issue of love that needs to be resolved.
In my childhood, I was taught that self-depreciation was good and right, and that I was not doing it enough, and should do it more.
♡ Here, enthusiasm and passion are encouraged and a good volunteer would have them. They are seen as positive things.
In my childhood, my enthusiasm and passion was an indicator to others it was time to squash, discourage and oppress me. No one wanted me to feel passionate or enthusiastic.
♡ Here, I am encouraged to stand up (in a loving way) to people who are being unloving to myself or others. When I don’t say something, this is a problem.
In my childhood, saying something to those treating myself or others badly was punished and silence was praised.
♡ Here, upholding a space of love and truth is of primary importance.
In my childhood, there was absolutely no value placed on an environment of love and truth; the opposite was created.
♡ Here, everyone wants to build me up and help me have more worth, to see the real reasons why I have low worth. Nobody pulls me down.
In my childhood, my worth was torn down. Nobody wants me to see why I have low worth or heal this.
♡ Here, developing loving leadership qualities, being bold, brave, and taking initiative is encouraged.
In my childhood, any leadership, boldness, bravery or initiative I displayed was treated as bad and squashed.
♡ Here, fear is never justified. No amount of it is an excuse to be unloving, and it is an urgent issue of love to be resolved.
In my childhood, I was taught that fear is always justified. Fear was a completely valid excuse for unloving choices. Living in fear was never considered an issue of love.
… I could go on! When I say how certain things were in my upbringing (and still are the same in my family), of course I don’t mean I was actually verbally told to self depreciate etc., but essentially I am realizing, these are indeed the things I was taught, even if facades and lies were used to gloss over what was really happening.
I think a big reason I feel most of the time confused and disoriented and upside-down, is because this environment feels like the polar opposite of how I was treated in my childhood, how my family still feels towards me, and how most other people in my life previously have felt was the right way for me to be, and the polar opposite attitude towards various emotions.
I am constantly having soul double takes of how strange it feels that what’s being encouraged of me here could not be more polar opposite of what has been encouraged by others in me before, and of course which I have come to also think is right myself and continue to choose to act in myself.
Essentially, God’s Truth and God’s Way and my way and my family’s way could not be more different.
So my experiment for now is going to be to try to trust that God’s Way of doing things is better, to trust Jesus and Mary and others in what they are encouraging me in, experiment in acting in those ways even though it feels so foreign and wrong. Acting in the more loving way sometimes feels as counterintuitive and strange as it has felt driving on the other side of the road!
So I think I need to just experiment with it all, take the risks and make decisions and speak up, and let emotions come up in the process of that. Action really can yield so much emotion. It also seems if I can deal with how I was treated and what I was directly taught that created such wrong info on how to love and how to live God’s Way, that will be a good way to clear up blocks too. So anyway, that’s my current train of thought/feeling. I’ll let you know how the experiments go and where I’m on track or not in them!
Till next time,