Tomb Time: April 16, 2017

Copyright © 2017. Vince Shifflett. All Rights Reserved.

Dear Readers, thanks for being with me once again and Happy Easter. I am reflecting back on this day and what it means for me. I am reminded of the story of Jesus and how he was crucified, had 3 days of tomb-time, and then resurrected. Keeping in mind that crucifixion implies death or dying and resurrection implies life and new beginnings, this story has strong correlations to my personal life.

There must be a crucifixion before we can experience a resurrection in our personal lives. This I believe to be true. Although many spiritual leaders today would say we have a choice which one we experience, it is my belief that we will experience both and that it is not always our choice. The tragic death of my mother was not my choice but it was certainly crucifixion and a time of suffering for me. I found myself in the tomb for a long time following her death. I do believe however that we are given the choice as to how much time we will spend in the tomb after our crucifixion. The tomb time is very important for reflection and growth but one certainly does not want to stay there.

On a personal note, I have struggled a lot in my life with the choice regarding how long I will stay in the tomb. I have even found myself going back to the tomb over and over again where it can be quite painful. I have allowed the painful experiences (crucifixions) in my life to keep me in the tomb much too long at times. Even with all the beautiful life (resurrection) that surrounds me, I still find myself in the tomb.

According to the story of Jesus, he staying in the tomb for 3 days but then he came out. We are given the beautiful choice, after tomb time, to resurrect and head towards the light or remain in our crucifixion. Despite knowing this, yet I struggle. Getting to the bottom of my struggle I guess requires I dig my tomb (grave) a little deeper to discover what lies beneath.

Crucifixion will come. There will be times when you find yourself in the tomb. How we process and handle the crucifixion determines our tomb time. I am a work in progress. It is my intention to spend more time in the resurrection (life) and less time in the crucifixion (death) but quite honestly, I have spent the last 3 weeks in the tomb. Smiling on the outside but in the tomb on the inside. Going through the motions on the outside but experiencing death on the inside. I think of Robin Williams, the comedian, who was constantly making people laugh and full of life on the outside. The end result told us he was the complete opposite on the inside. It is apparent that he spent too much time in the tomb.

Today, I encourage myself. Today I encourage you. It is resurrection time. Whatever crucifixion (death) you may feel right now, there is resurrection (life) available to us.  This I know. We are Divine beings created by the Divine. The Divine lives in us and flows through us, as us. Every thing that happens in our lives is divinely orchestrated. Even though we may not understand it at the time. We all experience times of crucifixion but we do not have to stay there. Today, at least for today, I am coming out of the tomb. Today I will experience the beautiful resurrection (life) given to me by God.

Peace and blessings

 

 

 

My Personal Gratitude: March 4, 2017

Dear Readers, it is once again a pleasure to be with you for my Weekly Sunday Blog. As I sit here at my kitchen table, I take a deep sigh. It is a sigh of gratitude. Gratitude has proven to be such a powerful thing in my life when I choose to be aware of all I have to be grateful for. So this week I have chosen to share with you some of the things I am grateful for in my life.  The good indeed outweighs the bad.

I am incredibly grateful for my friends of which I have been blessed with many. I attended the memorial service of one of my dearest friend’s mother today. I witnessed so many of my other friends in attendance. Such love and support. So to all my friends, thank you for enriching my life every moment we’re together.

I am grateful for my family. My mother and father are deceased but I have 3 siblings, too many nieces and nephews to count, and 8 great nieces and nephews. My mother’s death made me acutely aware of how important my family is. Always there to lean on when I need it. Always there to listen when I need a listener. So to my family, thank you for your undying love and support of me.

I am grateful for my 27-year career as a Professional Registered Nurse. Most of that was spent in critical care settings like intensive care units. The incredible opportunity to touch so many lives has been humbling and in return those same lives have touched me. So today, I express gratitude for this awesome calling on my life to minister to so many through my profession.

I of course could go on and on about the things I am grateful for.   My feelings hold true that the good indeed outweighs the bad. Bringing myself back to a place of gratitude during challenging times in my life has repeatedly changed my whole situation for the better. So today, I just say thank you.

Have a wonderful week filled with thoughts of gratitude.   I look forward to sharing with you again next Sunday as I have for the past 15 months. That alone has been a huge blessing for me. I am grateful.

 

Peace

The Positive Difference: January 29, 2017

The Positive Difference

Am I making a positive difference in the world? A question I’ve given much thought to recently. What am I doing to help create a world that works for everyone? Do my actions promote positivity?

I realized that I am given hundreds of opportunities, on a daily basis, to make a positive difference in life. I am given the opportunity and choice to change the energy so that it flows in a different direction. Again, the question is, how often do I take that opportunity?

After much thought, I believe the key to making a positive difference is through giving. Giving of your time through volunteer service. Giving a smile. Giving of some of your resources to those with none. Giving a hug. Giving of your talents. Giving love. There are so many ways to give. Am I giving as much as I can to make that positive difference for someone?

In the midst of what can appear at times to be somewhat negative, we can make a positive difference that can have a ripple affect that ends up touching many. For me, I believe that it is only when we give that we receive. I believe there are a lot of positive things going on in our world, and I still believe in the general goodness of mankind despite all the negative things we see and hear in the media.

My intention moving forward is to take advantage of that incredible opportunity, to make a positive difference, by being more mindful and aware of it. It is my hope that you will also be inspired to give, in an effort to make that positive difference. Change the focus from negative to positive. At this time when things are a bit unsettling in our world, how are you making a positive difference? At this time when we are hearing a lot of hatred and negativity, how are you making a positive difference? I would love to hear your stories. Share how you are giving to create that positive difference.

Thanks as always for reading my thoughts. I am incredibly blessed to have your support and feedback as I share weekly from my heart.

Peace

Spiritual Litmus Test: January 22,2017

Spiritual Litmus Test

Spirituality means something different to everyone.   For some, it’s about being part of an organized religion: going to church, synagogue, mosque and so on. How can one tell when they are spiritually engaged? How do we measure spirituality?

First I believe it is important to distinguish the difference between religion and spirituality as the two are often confused or used interchangeably. Religion is about practicing a certain point of view, whereas spirituality is more about the Divine and feeling the divine presence. This makes it possible to be very religious but completely disconnected from your spiritual being. A situation I believe is very prevalent in today’s churches. My mother used to say, “ living in a barn doesn’t make you horse anymore than going to church makes you a Christian.” True Christianity has nothing to do with religion. It is about having your own personal spiritual experience that is completely independent of others teachings and thoughts.

For me, it is more personal. I get in touch with my spirituality a number of ways that include private prayer, meditation, quiet reflection or just a long walk in the park. For the first time in my life, I feel a deep connection to my spiritual being that is in no way connected to religion. The challenge I face is staying in a spiritual place. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. Too often, I have lived from my human experience as opposed to staying aware and connected to spirit. I have also often allowed others to judge whether or not I am spiritual based on their belief system or their religion. In other words, many religious groups have judged me over time based on what they believe. Based on their religion. Now that I am connected to spirit, I understand exactly who I am.

The spiritual litmus test for me is inner peace and fulfillment. It is the ability to step outside the 5 senses of the human experience and connect to my inner guidance. Am I always successful? Of course not. But it is my full intention to live in the place of spirit. To live in a state of conscious awareness. Deepok Chopra said, “Religion is belief in someone else’s experience and spirituality is having your own experience. Wow. This really resonated with me. Growing up in church, I remember religion being more about fear. I remember it being more about believing in someone else’s point of view and making sure I adhere to that point of view. Not adhering to that point of view or belief system meant I was a wrong. Or as the church called it, I was a sinner.

What is your spiritual litmus test? Are you living from a place of spirit? What are some of the ways you connect to your spiritual being on a deep level? Is your experience about believing in someone else’s point of view or is it about having your own personal experience? I look forward to your feedback and as always, thanks so much for your time.

Peace and blessings

Growing up Gay

I first realized I was gay in Elementary school. Even earlier than that, I sensed I was different. Once I realized I was attracted to boys, my life changed. I knew immediately that I could not let it be known. It was considered the ultimate sin in my church and community. It was very unacceptable and something you just did not talk about. Keeping all those feelings inside was difficult.

Going through high school trying to hide who I was, certainly was challenging. Even though I tried to hide it, I was often called names such as fag and queer in school. Then when I got home there was Dad. He would often call me names like momma’s boy and sissy. Thank God for my Mom who always was my protector and supporter. I think she sensed I was different and she felt a need to protect me. And protect me she did.

I remembered thinking, who would choose to be gay? A lifestyle that was so socially unacceptable. A lifestyle where people lose their lives just for being who they are. I prayed for many years for God to take it away and make me “normal” because the church taught me it was not normal. Later in life, when the church did find out, they tried to anoint me with oil and cast the “demons” out of me.   This only made me feel more ashamed, depressed, and isolated.   I spent many sleepless nights, even as a kid, pondering my same sex attraction. I was very confused because my first several sexual experiences were with married men in the church. That same church that taught me that homosexuality was an abomination and demonic spirit.

Fast forward to the past 25 years of my life. A time when I’ve come to realize that I am the beautiful person God created me to be. Yes I was different than what most considered the norm at the time, but God uniquely created me. Once I realized there wasn’t a demon inside me, as the church had told me, I began to experience freedom. I accepted and loved myself exactly how God had created me. I wasn’t abnormal and there was nothing wrong with me. We often complain about other people’s fundamentalism. But whenever we harden our hearts, what is going on with us? There’s uneasiness, a tightening, and a shutting down. Next thing we know, we become very self-righteous about our point of view.

Today I am blessed to have family, friends, and a church that love me regardless of my sexual preference. Today I am able to express gratitude for my life. I am able to love and express love. I am aware of the truth that we are ALL unique expressions of God, one no less than another. Even today, it is difficult at times knowing that certain groups of people believe that you do not deserve the same rights just because you are being you.

I would love to see a world that works for everyone. A world where we see ALL as an expression of God. It doesn’t matter what kind of scarf they have on their head or who they fall in love with. It is our place to love unconditionally. Conditional love is no love. To say I love you but you are Muslim with a scarf on your head is conditional love. To say I love you but you are gay is conditional love. I am thankful that God loves all with no conditions. It is my intention to be more like him because I am part of him.

Peace and blessings