Third week in Advent 13th of December till 19th of December 2015

Last week we talked about letting go of what is holding you back in life and take on what creates possibility, joy, and hope. This week we are continuing that theme. Especially with such beautiful readings such as:
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a victorious warrior.
He will exult with joy over you,
he will renew you by his love;
he will dance with shouts of joy for you
as on a day of festival.
- First reading, Zephaniah 3:14-18.
and:
I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness. Let your tolerance be evident to everyone: the Lord is very near.
- Second reading, Philippians 4:4-7.
What holds us back from experiencing that joy and being happy, that the readings speak of is fear.

Let go of fear

Fear wants to run the show, it creeps up in life and then threatens to take over.
It is loud and heaverly opinionated and it is hard to see any alternative when it has your focus.
Ultimately fear stems from looking bad. No one wants to look bad. That is why we get tense when we miss a dead line, or are running late for an appointment or are embarrassed in front of people. Fear can be good in that it looks ahead and sees where there could be risk, but when it controls you it takes away opportunities it can suffercate your life and keeps you hidden, and withdrawn. Soon enough life passes you by. You find you are upto date with all the latest movies in the cinemas and you avoided looking bad during that whole time, congratulations. But I'm afraid to say, fear was running the show and you were the puppet.
Fear in my life has taken a lot of opportunity from me. As a kid I liked being scared, I liked watching scary movies. At one time I put pictures of ghosts up on my bed room wall because I wanted to be scared. But my greatest fear was not the fear of ghosts or loosing my life but rather the fear of looking bad with my friends and my brothers. It was so prevalent that in the end I didn't realise I was being scared, I just found myself thinking each time I was with my friends and brothers "what would they want me to say?" "What would they want me to do?" "What would be the cool thing to do here?". In the end I believe I committed character suicide, just so I could fit in, belong, be accepted and be loved. What a waste of the gift of who I am and the time I am given.
Character suicide is the belief that your actual self your true character is not loveable. Therefore to find support and love and to belong in life you need to be a different character. Most might be a little guilty of sacrificing your true self but when it becomes perminent then it is character suicide. It is a term I came up with so don't worry about googling it. But as long as we are alive I believe it is reversible, with a lot of repentance and permission to be your true self.
Truly, God is my salvation,
I trust, I shall not fear.
For me the turning point came when in the midst of my deepest experience of loneliness - because if you aren't being yourself of course you would be lonely-  at the age of 22 at my darkest point in my life I remembered moments when I was seen for who I was and loved for who I was, it was then I realised two things. 1 I was never happy being someone I wasn't...2 I want to love and be loved and the only way to really experience love is when I am true to myself and people see me and choose to love me as myself. It was a journey of vulnerability, permission to be self in front of the possibility of rejection. By the age of 22 I was in such pain that I was ready to try anything.
This lead me to study the mind and how it works and to study emotions and decision making, which lead me to life coaching and where I am today. I want to teach people about their fear and how to let it go so they can be free to be themselves and to love others as themselves. I have come a long way from drawing ghosts on my bedroom wall :).
So last week we talked about letting go of our sorrow. This is a bit of a continuation of that, but it is letting go of our fear of not belonging of not being loved and not being accepted and then open up to that truth that you are loved.
I once stayed in a beautiful Italian town called Subiaco the monestry of st Benedict. I stayed with some nuns just above his cave, and I would attend mass with them each day. I remember one day returning from a morning mass there and walking back with the sisters to their lodging. When we got to the house I noticed the founder of the order on her balcony with a big smile on her face, looking out at the beautiful view into the valley, the view was amazing. But then I over heard some other sisters complaining because the founder didn't attend prayer and mass. A sisters vocation is to become holy and daily mass is considered paramount for holiness. But it amazed me how removed the founder was from her sisters judgments that she could still be so happy. The founder couldn't speak English but I got her first book, which is full of beautiful reflections on ones goodness. It is called "Diventa chi sei" by Maria Pia Giudici, which means become who you are.
I think as Christians we can forget that God wants us to be happy. Holiness is about being in relationship not the amount of Mass's you go to or things you do. A famous Saint once said: deliver us from sour faced saints. So let go of your judgments and complaints and sorrows and fears and be present to others and to God in relationship, it is the only way to be happy. Not by winning an approval award. Think of what Paul says in the readings today:
I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness. Let your tolerance be evident to everyone: the Lord is very near.
 
If you are not happy your not being present to your life and to others. Listen to the recording at the end of this article.
 
We are all on a journey of becoming who we are. If we knew how beautiful each of us are rather than better than so and so or not as good a so and so we will be truely free. I believe when we know we are made from love regardless of our parents relationship at the time of our conception we stand at letting our fear go and really being ourselves so others can love us as we are and we can love them as we are. The good news that Christians need to bear to all is that we are all loved, the readings this week speak of that.
Be happy I repeat what I want is your happiness.... I too want to repeat these famous works of St Paul and to guide you in this reflection to reconnect with the truth that you are loved, you belong and you are very acceptable.
I would like like, to share this reflection from her book and add to its On my way! Mindfulness techniques to really centre you on the truth of your goodness and belonging and acceptibility as you are. Let this year to come be a year of love rather than fear.
Listen to your heart and what it is saying. If your not listening to your heart your listening to another voice. That other voice is probably more concerned with worry and concern about what others would think if you followed your heart.
God came to take away our fear. You need to let go of your fear and accept that you are loved:
"The Lord your God is in your midst,
a victorious warrior.
He will exult with joy over you,
he will renew you by his love;
he will dance with shouts of joy for you
as on a day of festival."
Great well done, thanks for joining me on this reflection, keep going and I look forward to connecting with you next week. kind regards Corey Payton