I wrote the following post while on the road somewhere this year; just about the time we thought the media was going to start their coverage of us. In the end I think the coverage began later and I didn’t ever get to publish this post. I found it today and thought it may be worth popping up. I am so happy to say that much of the emotion that was so raw at the time of writing these words is much softer now.
The experience with the media campaign about us really, REALLY assisted me to work through some big stuff. I actually feel liberated in a way I haven’t felt for a long time! Of course now I am in the thick of some other major emotions but rereading this post renewed yet again my faith in this process and overwhelmed me with gratitude for God. Truly, staying humble to whatever process God has presented for you to feel and heal through right in this moment, creates the space for alchemy to begin to work in your life. Staying humble through the media stuff was difficult for me. I totally absented my body at times, it was stressful and I saw whole areas of myself that are still vastly wounded. It humbled me to recognise my limits to loving. But recognising them and grieving them has changed me. More change has to come before I am anywhere near as loving as my mate (he was so incredibly inspiring in his capacity to love during this time) but experiencing all this definitely increased my faith in that possibility.
And also – how relieving that I don’t have to figure out how to let people know about my identity in awkward conversation anymore – thank-you channel 9 – the ultimate ice breaker!
Love to you all,
|Image Courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/christopher_owen/2305522801/|
Living With an Open Heart (& Shedding the Straight-Jacket of Cynicism)
This Easter, on Easter Sunday, no less, we were interviewed for the final time by the ‘cult investigator’, David. He originally approached us in December, stating that he wanted to include something about these teachings in a book. Initially, he told me that he thought we were not exploiting others and that he wanted only to do a fairly innocuous piece about us. Over the course of months the writing turned into filming and ultimately channel 7 became involved and film crews and sensation began to shroud this process.
Throughout it all I hadn’t ever been so naïve as to think that (especially as David is a Christian Minister) his assessment of us would be in agreement with these teachings or our beliefs about who we are. I did however have the hope that he would find us to be honest and sincere (as I know we are). He certainly maintained this impression i.e. one of respect of us as people and disbelief at our claims. That is until Sunday. In his final interview with us David revealed how he really feels – that I am a manipulated mouse and that AJ is a dangerous tyrant preying on others.
I respect that David is able to form his own opinions of us and even to present these on national TV (although I can’t lie - the latter bit hurts badly). What I found to be the hardest thing though was the juxtaposition of treatment of us off camera, friendly, conversational and seemingly respectful, to on camera, condescending and belittling and attacking. I respect a person who is open and transparent. This was my aim throughout the entire process. That David was not, was and is distressing for me. In the end I do feel naïve. I feel betrayed. I feel my open heart was used and manipulated. I also know that these are my feelings and I placed no demand on David or his crew to act differently. I gave them the opportunity to be honest and loving – not to agree – but to at least portray as we are. They did not take this opportunity.
My deepest distress was the way in which David treated AJ. His assertions that AJ, not only has manipulated me into believing I am Mary Magdalene, but also that he lords it over others and induces everyone around him into believing that they have been abused in their childhoods, felt so attacking and unjust. I watch AJ give constantly and see him strive with deep humility to clear his remaining errors. He loves in the most pure way I have ever witnessed and living with him I can certainly testify to how much respect and care he has for everyone we encounter.
The truth is I have long been a cynic in the ways of the world. In fact when we were first approached by David (and two other TV stations) I did not want to have anything to do with cameras and interviews.
I decided though to challenge some of my old beliefs, to change, and to engage with some members of the media. I realised that to live this path would be to approach this process with an open heart, an open mind and with a vulnerable sharing of who I am. I decided not to hide behind cynicism and fear. For what are my beliefs if they only exist in a darkened cupboard? If I am ready to relinquish them in fear as soon as someone shines a light in and says ‘What is it you are doing in there?’ were they really there in the first place?
And how strong is my faith if I cannot realise that as long as I stay humble God is teaching me lessons of Love in every moment? And that, while it may seem dark and confusing everywhere around me, that God’s Truth and Love can be a beacon to follow, even if I don’t see a destination.
And if I refuse to give a journalist am opportunity to act lovingly and fairly in his or her dealings with me – aren’t I then simply judgemental myself?
So it is going to be painful to feel mis-portrayed, sensationalised and idiotic. I really am just a simple girl. I am so terrified of upsetting so many Christians and inciting fear and drama in the lives of others. But let me tell you of a quiet gift I am being given. While none of this went as I had hoped, while they will likely choose to vilify us instead of document our lives, I can rest in the knowledge that I made a different choice. I didn’t hide myself in fear and judgement of them. I chose to live with an open heart, the heart that allows choice in others, the heart that allows for hope. And while my open heart hurts right now, there is a new awakening in me. The ugly brace of cynicism, that has held me restricted like a vice for so long, cannot increase its hold while I stay feeling. If I stay breathing and grieving and feeling I can keep my heart open to whatever awaits. (And when God is in the picture something beautiful always awaits us). This is like a new dawning for me – feeling the hurt is worthwhile because (some may say ironically) through feeling the pain I am liberated from my awful, cynical world view. When we allow ourselves to grieve we also nurture our capacity to one day hope. It was my shutting down of this process that led me into my straight- jacket of cynicism and worldliness.
I am so afraid of attack, and unworthy of attention. I am so sad at my family’s rejection. But feeling all of these things keeps me in connection with God and others and prevents me curling up into a tiny ball and cocooning myself away from life.
The show goes to air on Sunday and until then I just have to remember to keep breathing, to keep feeling.
And to remember that most often when our belief systems are confronted we do get angry. I should know! I was so angry with AJ in the first year of our relationship I left him three times. The second year wasn’t much better – I fought and refuted, I questioned and doubted, I tried to control and limit his passion and his voice (if you want proof of this just watch a old DVD – there are many tell-tale signs!!). So how can I judge others if the very same thing that angered me also angers them? Isn’t it a quality of love to allow others to feel whatever it is they feel? When we step into the process of change, very often our first emotions are anger and bewilderment. As we deal with these emotions, many times without even realising it, we have already begun the process of growth. I don’t advocate anger, but I would be a hypocrite to judge those who have it and I would be forgetful if I didn’t recognise it as a stepping stone along my own journey.
The fact that we opened our home to these people, that David and his producer stayed in our very beds and ate our (vegan) meals, was only ever a product of our love. I never hid who I was or how I felt. Although we both knew that events may lead in this sensational and critical direction (and that scared me) I recognised that if I were to truly love I would be both open and vulnerable, without expectation. We both even made a point of noting to others in our company that their attempts to convert David and Tim to our beliefs were unloving and did not respect their free will.
On Sunday a very many people are going to see a highly edited version of my life. They are going to hear from people around the world, most of whom we have never even met, but who are extremely angry with us because of the behaviour of their family members who purport to follow this path. They may even interview my own brother.
I cannot hide that this is a time of intense fear and sorrow for myself. It may challenge you as well. My only prayer is that you let this process refine your relationship, not with us, but with God. All of our noise and talk is only ever with the intent that you may truly come to know God and to experience His Love. If this next phase we are stepping into makes you doubt us that’s truly OK with me. I pray that it won’t lead you away from God.
So as Sunday looms and I feel about so many people seeing me on TV – finding myself in a place I never thought I would EVER be – I keep reminding myself of these things:
- Trust God
- Keep Breathing
- Remember Love & Compassion for others – especially those who attack
(stay humble to my own feelings and I won’t become rigid or defensive, if I love myself enough to stay connected to myself I will be able to love others more, while I hold onto grief I hold onto the pain that can be inflicted through attack, when I allow myself to grieve I create space to love ALL others)
- Don’t expect myself to be perfect
During this process of interviews that has lasted three months and triggered me on so many levels I have forgotten those four things many, many times. I am not perfect and I am very afraid. My heart aches from a deep rocky hollow within me. I have a cavern in my chest that cries out at a life without my family and a life of Truth that challenges so very many. But amidst all of this also these grows a new hope, a vision of a life without fear of how others will view me, and that place would be liberating indeed.
‘God, please help me welcome this pain so that I may know you as my true parent.
Help me to remember that my relationship with You is the one that will teach me love and that the opinions and judgements of the world around me mean little if they take me away from you.’