The silence of the morning hours are the most precious moments I spend. It’s the time when I pray and meditate with God to connect with the pulse of creation and wisdom. In that silence this morning the message I heard was how powerful a person is while being a compassionate listener. To truly hear the heart of another with no condemnation or judgement is to be the greatest gift to this world.
Compassionate listening is to be silent while someone else speaks and truly hear the heart of that person. This is true of groups of people as well. We don’t have to agree to listen and hear. We don’t need to judge or even come to a conclusion, expression, or solution. Sometimes people just need to have someone listen and to be heard. When we listen to understand we become an ambassador who connects hearts instead of repelling them.
The greatest honor is to be trusted with the thoughts, ideas, and feelings of another. The greatest gift is to listen without judgement. It is in that context, in that moment, we become the greatest ambassador of love ever.
It has been estimated that the US prison system has cost our country, and tax payers, over $80 BILLION dollars per year. Not to mention additional costs by families who want to support their loved ones, stay connected, and add hope to overcome their isolation. That cost can roughly be another $2.9 Billion dollars in paid phone connections, commissary items, and restitution costs.
Just recently the state of California alone has proposed a release of 8000 prisoners who have 180 days left or less on their record due to covid-19 issues. This follows a previous release of over 3500. These are non violent offenders. One problem I see with this is some prisoners could have been non violent at the time of arrest but prison life has created a violent offense. Therefore they are no longer eligible. Did it take the corona virus to have them released sooner? Or might we think their sentences were too long to begin with?
Many non violent offenses are drug related. Since drug addiction is an illness, it seems that the tax payers funds, and family funds, should be better used for court mandated intervention and drug rehabilitation. As long as there are no violent offenses, why not opt for rehab instead of incarceration? Isn’t the idea of the arrest and discipline to teach, inform, and rehabilitate offenders so they can be active contributing people in our society?
What about anger management, drug diversion, technical schooling opportunities and other programs that might actually rehabilitate instead of ruining lives? Our lock them into prison and throw away the key mentality has caused more of a burden on society than to offer mandatory rehabilitation and create active, useful, members of society who actually could have a chance at a good life.
Don’t get me wrong here. There are those who deserve to be in prison because of the horrible things they have done while on the outside. Yet, there are also those who fall through the cracks of the justice system, feeling they have no other choices and end up in violent situations after incarceration that ultimately lengthens their sentences.
Just looking at how many prisoners recently released in the state of California alone tells us that there are those who obviously have received sentences that have been too long. Don’t we think that creating re-entry programs is a better choice than lock them up and release them into a world they are no longer used to? Life is about learning. Rehab for a drug addict should never be a choice in court, but mandatory. Programs where court reporting for drug rehab have been shown to actually work with juvenile offenders when held accountable. Accountability and mentor programs can go a long way in helping potential offenders develop character and skills to lead upstanding lives alongside their families.
For those who are not sex offenders, not violent citizens, do not do harm to anyone but themselves, don’t we think that maybe giving them a mandated chance for change, rather than incarceration could be a better answer? It seems that channeling our energy and tax dollars into mandatory rehabilitation centers would be a smarter idea than over crowded prison systems that do nothing but cause more anger, depression, feelings of separation and loss than rehabilitation. This does not even cover prison inflicted illness that can be life altering and life taking.
We have a country filled with talented drug counselors, anger management coaches, life coaches, and clergy that would make great candidates for employment in centers that help human beings become active members of our societies instead of training more prison guards to monitor humans who really just needed a better chance in society. Many incarcerated human beings come from one parent families, usually with an absent father. Are we compassionate enough to give them the things they missed out on in this country? It’s not just about dollars and cents, its about what makes sense.
This is certainly a time in history where it almost feels like the earth is birthing. Seems we have been in labor for a very long time now. We have seen wars come and go, trends cycle and come back, and technology expound into things we never dreamed of in days that have passed. Some call it the end times, others a time of new beginnings. I suppose we all see it through the eyes of our own beliefs and perspectives.
The Bible tells us there is a time for all things under heaven. Through my eyes its a time of joy and a time of weeping. Some things are hard to watch and others are joyous and loving. I’m not sure they are both balanced equally. Maybe only God knows that equation.
I do know things are changing. We are changing. Our hope is we change in a good way. Maybe we can heal wounds, uplift our faith, listen more, and have more empathy. Our hearts all ache and rejoice at the same time. Change and labor is always hard. Usually it all comes with a lot of wounded emotions and tears. We do have hope though! Joy always comes after the hardest parts. I know I felt that joy when my babies came out of me and I held them the first time in my life. Maybe we will get that joy from God as He holds us closely after the hard part is over?
For now we see violence and destruction, but also deep conversations and understanding. It’s hard not to be angry when labor becomes more than we think we can bear. Since the promise to us from God is we will never be given more than we can bear, then we know we will make it. I know our tears are a watering place where healing and love can begin where it has been lacking.
When the season gets to be more than we wish it ever was, remember that this too shall pass. All things pass; this is no different. Our season is just that; seasoning brings flavor to things that are bland and in need of work. If we do the work, we will have the reward.
Feeling abandoned is horrible. Yet, it is only a feeling and not “Truth”. People tend to look at the idea of abandonment and believe it means that there is no one to turn to or someone human has left us. Although this is a human and valid feeling it is only a limited truth. The reality is we are never abandoned and never ever alone. Dark nights can loom up during hard moments. Our breath can feel tight and in response our bodies become tight as well. Maybe those that used to be on the other end of a phone line are not there any longer, but this does not mean abandonment.
God has given to us a sweet choir of spiritual support that never will go away from us. God’s promise is to command angels to watch over us, especially in times of trial and confusion. All it takes is to go out and listen to the sound of the breeze moving through the trees. There is a beauty in the sound and a sense of God’s support. The sun shines brightly and the sparkle upon water or in the green grass can be even more calming than even the voice of a human being.
God’s love letter speaks to us about never being abandoned as orphans. I believe we have much more in the spirit world than we often care to admit. Where do those ideas come from when we wake up in the morning? Or, even those spiritual downloads while in the shower, drying our hair, or driving with the windows down on a long country road? It’s God’s spiritual watch committee that is there every time of day or night. Angels are activated when we ask for them. Jesus is present even when we don’t ask. Love abounds for us 24/7. Just because we don’t “see” them does not mean no one is there.
Jesus said we are blessed when we do not see and yet still believe. I feel sometimes God allows us to feel alone so we will reach out to the spiritual support group we have but can not see. Jesus said to ask and it will be given to us. We have not, because we ask not. This means asking for anything at any time. God’s loving support group will respond with an answer, hope, encouragement and guidance.
Take it for a test drive! You never know until you ask. Believe when you do ask that you will receive. We live in a perfect harmonious universe that was created by God just for us. When your heart feels less than harmonious, reach out to the ones who have been created and placed in special spaces just for you! You will get a reply. People might let you down but God’s hosts will never let you down.
The word toxic has become a buzzword lately when it comes to a certain kind of relationship. Toxic in the original sense means something that is poisonous or potentially harmful in a chemical. Now, the word toxic, being applied to relationships has come to be known as something that is abusive or corruptive.
What I am seeing and sensing, though, is the word has gone crazy out of hand. Now the word toxic is being used any time someone believes something different from someone else. Or, if there is any difference of opinion. One person might like something and someone else not like it at all. Now, this somehow has become known to be a toxic relationship.
Or, a toxic relationship has been identified as one person being abusive to another. Although abuse does occur, the sensitivity of certain situations has become vastly misused. We are being taught to stay away from those who differ or do not agree on one situation or another. One person is considered to be toxic to another if they feel their opinion or attitude will hinder them in some way. This is such a misuse of what God has intended for relationships. Not to mention, no one can affect another on the inside of them unless they allow it.
God does not want us to distance ourselves because of differing opinions. In fact, the Apostle Paul taught if one person eats pork and another does not then not to judge the one who eats pork. What he was saying is to just allow people to be themselves and if they differ not to judge them. Even better yet, not to distance from them or take offense because of differences. Our differences are what make us unique and amazing even if they are hard to deal with or work through. In married situations our struggles are what help us come to an understanding of one another. Sometimes the struggle is real and even very hard. Yet, its hard when two people try to come to an understanding or meeting of the minds with one another when they have been very wounded deep inside.
We carry our wounds and sometimes wave them like badges of courage when we should be healing them. Our conflicts are what exposes them. This is an opportunity to heal them together. It is a hard lesson to learn and we all have to learn it. It’s so much easier to just push away, but who will ever heal and become stronger that way? No one.
Maybe we can put the word toxic back in its place and not apply it to human beings? Toxic can be poison if it likes, but people are not poison. Humans were created to be a gift even if they are differing in opinions or even misbehaving. Although we are not encouraged to take abuse, we should love the person and not the actions. Realize our actions come from a place inside that have been learned in society over time. Relearning the best way to live, love, and be, takes time and encouragement. Push them away and you have not created victory. What you have done is allow wounds to remain unhealed. It’s brave to expose one another and sometimes confrontation is hard. Confrontation is the only way to come to a meeting of the minds sometimes. Understanding is what Paul taught us to have, not isolating from one another.
Truth: Everyone, I mean, EVERYONE has good things about them and not so great things. We all struggle with the SAME condition. It’s called being HUMAN. If this were not true we could all pack up and just go home. Our mission would be done. But, our mission is not done. We are not perfect, and we are not ready for the purity of our spiritual home yet. As much as we would love to always walk in spiritual practice, see with spirit eyes, and love one another the same, it is not complete in us as of yet.
I am stating this truth because I have another point to make here. Since we are all flying on the same worldly aircraft here, we all struggle to get things right in our lives. We make mistakes. We are human beings. The odd thing about how we see people is we see them how we choose to see them. They are actually a reflection of ourselves. So for instance if Suzy is a great cook but horrible at sewing, don’t criticize her for her sewing flaw just because you are great at it. You might be a lousy cook! Do you get my point here?
If you look at someone and ONLY see their flaws it is YOUR flaw that is showing. That is why Jesus advised to take the log out of your own eye before you judge the speck in someone else’s. A person in our lives is a reflection of how or what WE choose to see. The other way around, if there is someone you look at and only see the good things about them, it’s a great thing! You are looking at them with love and positivity. But, be careful with this one too! You can get yourself in one hot mess not being honest about another person’s character.
Here is my advice. Be honest about YOUR character. How are YOU doing? Life in any respect is always a reflection of how you choose to see it and who you are from the inside out. If two people are looking out over a body of water at sunset, one might see the pollution in the water while the other might see the beauty of the sunlight reflecting off the water. One will think its ugly, the other will think its breathtaking! If you only see toxic water and not a glorious sunset with brilliant colors then maybe it’s YOU who needs to adjust your view.
Not being self seeking can be confusing at first. On one hand we can not give of anything until we have it within ourselves. Being self assured, self giving, and providing self care are all good things. We do need to seek our healing, our inner light, and to seek out what is best in our lives. We give out of the overflow of what we have and who we are. We also self seek when we seek God to an extent. We seek to lose fear, define our lives, search out our purpose and expand our horizons. These are all great things and we should all do them!
I believe what the author is saying here is that love does not behave selfishly with an attitude of entitlement over the needs of others. It’s very different to be self loving from being selfish and self centered in an arrogant way. Arrogance is a form of pride that lords itself over others. The type of self seeking that love is not is the kind that says, “I deserve more than you because I am better than you are.” True love never sees anyone that way, but sees us all as equal even when we don’t all behave on the playground.
We might have different places we fill in business, in life, or in family, but we are all equal in God’s sight. To self seek is to seek without God, from ego and not through Spirit. God’s Spirit is Holy and there is nothing prideful or arrogant within the love that is held in God’s Holiness. Self seeking is also a state of division. It states that a person feels they are higher or above all others and therefore deserve preference over others. It denies the Oneness that Jesus prayed to “the Father” about.
When we are looking to embody true God-love we do not seek preference over others but see one another as equal. We understand that we are not completely whole without one another. Everyone is in a state of “becoming”, so not everyone will be on the same spiritual path as another. Jesus did not come to the earth to just visit so He could establish a set of people who would have it all and others would not. Truth says Jesus came for the whole world, to set people free, to show the way, to relieve us all of condemnation, to pour out grace, to teach healing, and point the way toward eternity. Jesus laid down His life for EVERY human being ever created and came to this planet. That means people who were before, who were then, and who were to be. Literally EVERYONE. Not just those who believe as He does but even those who do not believe at all. Jesus was and is the supreme example of love if we ever saw one. He displayed a love that was never self seeking; a love that laid itself down for those who needed it more.
Do you want to embody this kind of love? Its hard when our human side always will compete to interfere. I believe this comes from not being healed from past trauma. We only act and react poorly from our soul scars. When we are healed and clean from those things then God within us can become bigger and more profoundly present. Remember Peter in the bible? People were healed just walking into Peter’s shadow. Peter did not receive any special preference from God or special grace. Jesus said we all could do greater things than even He had. When He said, “all” he meant everyone. Only pure love and faith could be that profound as to heal others with just being present. Isn’t that the express image of God’s love?
Every time this year, when a new year is approaching, we tend to think about resolutions. Either we want to lose weight, make more money, spend less, or travel more. It can be just about anything. Sometimes they are the very same resolutions we made last year only to find we fell very short of accomplishing what our goals were or are.
As I pondered the upcoming New Year and what I really want it to look like, some very unexpected thoughts entered into me. It was like I took a time travel back to when I cared for those much older than I; most of them dying. I recalled working on my doctoral dissertation on dream interpretation as well. Part of the dissertation was dedicated to dreams and also desires by those who were sick and dying. I know this could sound like I am approaching a morbid subject but actually I’m not, so stick with me.
Thinking about both my experiences ,and also my research, I began to remember vividly some of the things that were expressed as people were getting ready to enter into their next phase of living outside of the body. I’m convinced our spirit is alive and never ever dies, just as God is alive. Whatever your thoughts on this is beside the point. Let me move on. As I closed my eyes, my thoughts were filled with statements of regret that I heard over and over again. Some of them in person, some I heard of, and some I studied. Most were all the same. I’m going to list some of them here:
I wish I took better care of myself while I had the chance.
I should have told her/him “I love you” but was either afraid or negligent.
I never realized just how fast time would go and I should have taken more time for what is really important.
The office should not have been my top priority.
My spiritual/devotional life could have been better and stronger.
I could have made the choice to be more kind in circumstances and now I can’t change the aftershock.
I should have considered my choices just a little more before I made them. I might have made a different choice had I thought things through more.
I wish I had spent more time with my family instead of being busy, I could have been busy with them.
Why didn’t I say, “I am sorry”? It could have healed the issue but my pride was in the way.
I never took the time to enjoy the beauty of this earth. My mind and actions were always on things that really don’t matter now.
Maybe you can think of some for yourself. Close your eyes and imagine for a moment that today is the last day of your life. What would you greatly regret if you were leaving this earth today? Now, remember, you have time today, tonight, and hopefully tomorrow. Who needs to know you love them? What are you sorry for but have never expressed it to someone? Where have you always wanted to go? Who is the most important person to you and have you neglected them? Who has been there for you every single time but you never seem to say, “Thank you”.
If you were leaving your body tonight, think about it, would you have some regrets? I have watched tears falling down the faces of elderly people and some younger, while stating, “I never saw the Grand Canyon.” “I should have taken better care of myself because I might have more time with my loved ones had I done that.” “I wish I had not caused _______ so much pain and never healed it with them.”
This upcoming New Year as you consider your resolutions, maybe also consider if you have been silently living with regrets. They tend to come to the surface when faced with our mortality. Let them come now, with tears, with healing, and then with action. Don’t live another day with what you might regret tomorrow. Live in love, but love yourself first by honoring what is right, what is honest, what is your heart’s desire, and what love speaks to your heart. Then thank yourself. You are worth it.
I began this blog a bit more than 4 years ago. It was because expression, communication, and my voice are always my strong place. I might seem unassuming to those who first meet me but don’t mistake my quiet presentation at first glance, as one of a shy demeanor. I’ve learned there are moments to be silent and times when rockets need to flare out of my mouth because the subject matter is just that important to me. Bottom line, if its important its going to get expression from me. It might not win a popularity contest for me but I’ve come to a point in life where having the integrity to stick to my boundaries out weighs anyone’s thoughts about me.
I have thought about the reasons I often speak the way I do, and at the times that I do. I’ve learned the answer from having sessions with my clients. There are times when we need to be heard or our guts will pour out, fall out, or even explode out. We sure don’t want the latter! The human heart needs expression just like an artist needs a canvas and paint. Our expression is our paint and the subject is our canvass. Sometimes I know I paint with precision and others I know I need to splash the paint all over and in every direction. Its all expression. Without it and without being heard, we are a bottle with a cork stuck in it ready to give way any moment.
Nothing is more frustrating or more degrading than to speak and not be heard. Its like sound that bounces off of a piece of stone and floods right back into the gut. It creates a sort of tidal wave inside of me when this happens. Being heard is important but being heard and understood is even more important. I am not talking about agreement. I am talking about understanding. I truly feel that understanding is one of the greatest gifts that can be given over to communication. Talking to someone who will not hear or understand is like talking to a brick wall. Very frustrating. I’d like to take a battering ram and create a break in the brick in those cases. Hearing and understanding is a part of compassion within communication.
I like to speak my mind, that’s for sure. Even if no one wants to hear it. Even if no one agrees with me. Even if there is no compassion or caring. There are moments when expression needs to convert to communication. If you have no one to communicate with, consider a pouring out session with me. I kid you not, you will feel so much better. Listening and hearing are two other things that are my best friends within communication skills. A lot can come to light and more understanding even if its just to hear yourself express your thoughts. You would be amazed at what the unconscious mind will feed into your conversation.
If you need to communicate, let me hear you, “Sign me up”! Don’t allow your stuff to become an exploding volcano. Take it easy on your body and allow tears to flow but more than that allow communication to flow like a river. Illumination will come from it and compassion will be the gift you can receive.
Loving you from here,
Dr Jenine Marie Howry, Phd
832-484-8306 (for your venting and your need for someone to hear)
Living in a world filled with noise and distraction, its hard to remember to listen when we need to; but do we really hear? There is a huge difference between listening and hearing. Listening is what we take into our ears and process with our brains. Hearing is listening but also adding the heart, compassion, understanding, and emotion. When we hear we bring depth into our understanding of a situation or conversation. It is so important to actually hear while communicating with others. Hearing brings empathy while merely listening just transfers information.
It takes some practice if you have not been good at hearing or have not understood this. Meditation is one way to practice hearing. This is because we have to divert the thoughts running through our heads continually and draw them back into focus. A person with focus is someone who hears well. Hearing also heightens intuition. Someone who hears will intuitively know more about the conversation than just passing knowledge. We should be looking for depth in conversation not just making noise.
You will find your relationships will improve by practicing hearing. That means we honor the other with our whole self and not just our mind. We hear with our heart, compassion, empathy and understanding. So many are misunderstood because of merely passing knowledge and not truly hearing another in a conversation.
Your love life alone will improve just by becoming someone who hears well. Hearing brings honor. It means we are taking the time to truly pay attention with every part of us. In that way we honor others while we are conversing with them. If you really want to show someone they have value to you, then do more than listen. Truly hear with your heart. We are meant to have depth as people. Once again, this takes practice. Sometimes we don’t even realize how little heart we put into our conversations with others, especially in a world filled with technology that can be so impersonal.
Challenge yourself to be personal! Be a person who hears and not someone who merely listens! Watch how much your relationships will improve. Hear to have understanding, and then communication with compassion!