A Page Turns and a Chapter Ends
Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash
The first day of April is known as April Fools’ Day. I desperately wished that the reality I faced on this day was a joke. But, as we all know and experience, the pages in our book of life continue to turn, and this page turn led to the end of a beautiful chapter. (I’ll write more on this later.)
Years ago I was exposed to the concept of dualistic & non-dualistic thinking by The Center for Action and Contemplation. Basic concepts around this could be shared as an abundance mindset vs. a scarcity mindset, among many other ideas. At the time, I wasn’t sure why this was coming back up, and why God was pressing this deep into my spirit, but there was a reason. Here’s a little more from the article:
Dualistic thinking, or the “egoic operating system,” as my friend and colleague Cynthia Bourgeault calls it, is our way of reading reality from the position of our private and small self. “What’s in it for me?” “How will I look if I do this?” This is the ego’s preferred way of seeing reality. It is the ordinary “hardware” of almost all Western people, even those who think of themselves as Christians.
The dualistic mind is essentially binary, either/or thinking. It knows by comparison, opposition, and differentiation. It uses descriptive words like good/evil, pretty/ugly, smart/stupid, not realizing there may be a hundred degrees between the two ends of each spectrum. Dualistic thinking works well for the sake of simplification and conversation, but not for the sake of truth or the immense subtlety of actual personal experience. Most of us settle for quick and easy answers instead of any deep perception, which we leave to poets, philosophers, and prophets. Yet depth and breadth of perception should be the primary arena for all authentic religion. How else could we possibly search for God?
If you want to read more, a good place to start would be here. So, why am I down a rabbit trail with dualistic thinking? Well, God was pressing this into me, and then it came up in a counseling session I had a few weeks ago. I was processing the odd feelings and emotions I've been having with deep pain and grief and also having a bit of excitement and hope for the ”new”. These feelings and emotions were opposites, and yet they were alive and sitting side-by-side inside of my inner being. It felt really strange, and in many ways, I felt a bit guilty for having feelings of excitement while feeling a deep sense of loss and grief. This is what my counselor helped me process and navigate. It was then that I realized this was living out non-dualistic thinking. These thoughts and emotions could sit side by side in my core, and there was nothing “wrong” with this.
This simultaneous sitting in grief for my loss and excitement for something new was the space I was in on April 1, 2021. Brian Russell, my best friend and partner in ministry for 13 years, has been called to his own version of new! Brian, his wife Maureen, and their four kids are packing up and heading to Portland, Oregon. They are chasing after God’s plan for their lives and practicing living out the way of Jesus. Brian and I have worked together for over eleven years, and I just can't get my mind around what work will look like without him. Robin and I have also done life with the Russells this entire time! So, as you can see, there is deep pain and grieving that comes with the transition for Brian and his family. A page has indeed turned and a 13-year chapter in my life’s book has closed.
Sitting right next to this dark emotion in my core is a spark of excitement. With Brian’s departure comes a change for me as well. My new role as YouVersion’s Chief Operating Officer will bring many opportunities for me to help our team through Brian’s transition and other transitions and changes that will come. There’s an overwhelming sense of responsibility on my shoulders coupled with the humbling reality that God is in this.
Can you sense my odd sense of guilt for being excited while wading through deep pain? I’ve also thought, “Am I not honoring this monumental friendship in my life when I show my excitement for the new?” This dualistic thinking was deep inside of me, fighting for mindshare, and causing anxiety and even low-grade depression. Thankfully, God gave me a great counselor and the self-awareness from understanding this way of thinking. Despite the fact that this ENTJ, enneagram 8 has cried buckets of tears over the past few months, I have been able to bring personal self-leadership and walk in a healthy way through this challenging chapter shift.
I am so excited for Brian, Maureen, and their kids! I’m excited for how God will work in and through these new Portland residents. (Honestly, wondering what they will put a bird on — Portlandia reference.) This also gives Robin and I a great excuse to travel to Portland, spend time with great friends, enjoy amazing coffee, and explore the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Yes, all this is true, and it is also true that I am deeply grieving the loss of my best friend’s daily presence in my life. He’s been my colleague that I could process anything with and share 100% of what is going on in my world and my head. I’ve never worried about him judging me. I seem to stumble into painful feelings of loss each day, and maybe those will start to slow over time. But for now, I am just allowing these very different emotions to sit side by side each other.
Life can be very exhilarating as well as very exhausting. This last chapter included both and so much more, and I am confident this coming chapter will produce way more that I can even imagine today. So, here’s to continually pursuing life with a non-dualistic mind as well as keeping my soul healthy and rested. Here’s a video and a book that will be worth your time!
Until next time.