Our Inner Collaborators

10415654_10209191294883801_49664628476285962_n“Most of us can make a long list of the external enemies of the soul, in the absence of which we are sure we would be better people! Because we so quickly blame our problems on forces “out there,” we need to see how often we conspire in our own deformation: for every external power bent on twisting us out of shape, there is a potential collaborator within us. When our impulse to tell the truth is thwarted by threats of punishment, it is because we value security over being truthful. When our impulse to side with the weak is thwarted by threats of lost social standing, it is because we value popularity over being a pariah.

The powers and principalities would hold less sway over our lives if we refused to collaborate with them. But refusal is risky, so we deny our own truth, take up lives of “self-impersonation,” and betray our identities. And yet the soul persistently calls us back to our birthright form, back to lives that are grounded, connected, and whole.”

— Parker J. Palmer

From “A Hidden Wholeness

It’s been a few years since I first read this amazing book. I was listening to the audiobook version on today’s bike ride, when this quote nearly blew me off the bike with a force as real as the south wind.

It would be easy to miss what he’s really saying here. It would be easy to chalk this up as yet another rant against “The Powers That Be.” But that’s clearly not what Palmer intends. His point is much deeper and more powerful.

It’s a point about our “internal collaborators.” The inner voices and enemies within.

I learned years ago that in every great or challenging thing I have ever done, it is winning the battle within –taking the initial step to try, to struggle, to risk– that is the most difficult step. Whether it’s writing a sermon, taking a stand for justice, writing a song, or being vulnerable with a loved one or friend, the toughest journey is the interior journey. The toughest move is not fighting fearsome “external powers,” but even more forbidding internal ones.

The toughest page to write is the first one. The hardest social justice march is when you take your first step. The first time you speak your honest truth to a powerful person, or a vulnerable truth to a loved one, is the most terrifying truth you’ll speak.

OK. Honestly? It never gets any easier. I wish I could tell you it does. Because those internal collaborators are always ready to talk us out of being our true selves.

But at least this much is true: the more we do live from our true selves, the more our soul develops its own muscle memory, and gives us courage the next time the internal collaborators sweetly whisper their lies into the ears of our soul.


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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of Kessler Park UMC United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. Previously, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas for seventeen years. Eric loves to write on topics of spirituality, social justice, music/art and politics. The entries on this blog reflect that diversity of interests. His passion for social justice goes beyond mere words. He’s been arrested at the White House, defending immigrants and “The Dreamers,” and he’s officiated at same sex weddings in his churches, in defiance of what some believe is Methodist teaching. Eric is an avid blogger and published author, and 2017 recipient of the prestigeous Kuchling Humanitarian Award from Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner. (Human Rights Campaign) Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He’s a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named “best judge” by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County, and is currently the longest service district judge in that district. She was re-elected for a fourth term in 2018. They have the world’s best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. Find links to Eric’s music-related websites, at the top of this site’s navigation menu.

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