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 has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. 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. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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