In Our Pain We Can Find the Courage to Transform Our Lives and Our World

Michael & Marie Looking UpIt has been an extraordinarily painful few days for our country with the back-to-back mass shootings that occurred over the weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

The grief we feel as we mourn the many innocent victims who so violently and tragically lost their lives unites us not as a country but as human beings.

Even if we don’t personally know any of the victims, at some level we all know that we lost something this weekend because of these shootings.

It might be that we lost the belief that things will ever change, or our faith in humanity that was already hanging on by a frayed thread, or that we as individuals have the power and ability to change the trajectory of our individual and collective lives.

I know the speed and intensity at which all that is good in this country and in us is being attacked, dismantled, and destroyed is mind-boggling.

I know it’s hard to catch our breath let alone figure out what to do or how to organize and combat what’s going on.

I know that you are in pain, because I am too.

But I’m asking you to not walk away or distract yourself from the pain you’re feeling.

If you’ve read THE SPIRIT FACTOR, you know that the inspiration for our book came from a moment of pain, deep pain, that Michael and I unexpectedly experienced one February night.

That moment of pain was so powerful that it kept me questioning and searching and writing for almost 9 years, eventually turning our pain into a completely new and revolutionary philosophy for creating lives and a world of Unobstructed Spirit (US) so each and every one of us has the opportunity to live to our fullest potential.

Pain can be a great motivator if we allow ourselves to sit with it.

We need to remember that pain has an important message, and that its voice should be listened to.

Pain tells us that there are imbalances, injustices, inequalities, and many urgent issues that need our attention.

Below is something I wrote a few weeks ago about an experience that made me realize I have been avoiding painful feelings that have been building up in me over the past few years.

I didn’t know when I wrote this post how relevant it would be today.

I hope it inspires you to listen to and use the pain you’re now feeling as motivation to take action to create positive change in your life and in our world because we need you!

A Park, A Picnic, and the Pain It Uncovered

This afternoon, I sobbed uncontrollably as I made the 15 minute drive home from a community fair in a small rural town where my husband Michael and I had a booth for one of our businesses.

I wasn’t crying because something bad happened.

Actually, I witnessed something at the fair that was so beautiful, simple, and rare these days that it brought to the surface emotions that have been building up inside me over the past few years as I’ve watched the cruelty and cowardice of so many politicians and people online and in person.

Recently, the rhetoric and vilification of immigrants from Mexico has reached such a disturbing level that my heart hurts when I think of the fear so many of them live with every day and the new challenges they now face.

The rural area where Michael and I live in northeastern Washington has very few people of any color, which has always felt strange after living in a very culturally diverse area of Southern California for most of our lives before moving here 14 years ago.

So, today, when a Hispanic family of five sat down at a picnic table in the park the fair was in a short distance away from our booth, I noticed them, and wondered what it must feel like to be in a community where no one looks like you and in a country where you have been singled out and called criminals, rapists, and less than human by the president.

I was surprised by the overwhelming sadness and grief I felt when I thought about the dangers this lovely family now faces and the anger and hate that is being directed at them.

Tears filled my eyes and soon started rolling down my cheeks as I watched this family, not only because of this but also because the love they had for each other was one of the most beautiful things I’d seen in a very long time.

It was so strong that it was visible, tangible, and so simply stunning that it took my breath away. I couldn’t take my eyes off of them.

I watched as the mother pulled several small plastic bags filled with homemade sandwiches from a reusable grocery bag, giving them to the father, who had a kind face and a gentle spirit, who then handed out half of each of those sandwiches to his children and wife before taking one for himself.

I was amazed how he treated the food with such gentleness and appreciation, and how each family member received the food in the same way.

When everyone had their food, they all closed their eyes and bowed their heads as the father gave thanks for the meal they were about to eat.

When he was done, they looked happy, eating their lunch while quietly talking to each other with undivided attention.

No “selfies” or other pictures were taken, no texts exchanged or phone calls made, and no social media accounts checked or posted to.

Actually, there were no cell phones in sight.

It was refreshing to see that this family felt no need to try to impress or prove anything to anyone, and that they were content in the simplicity of eating homemade sandwiches on a Saturday afternoon in a park with each other.

This beautiful family was not some story on TV or meme on social media. They were in my community, sitting next to me, in real life, close enough to look in the eyes.

And at that close distance, I saw the truth—that this family didn’t pose a threat to anyone—and not the lies told to further the agendas of politicians who want us to believe that some “group” they single out is the enemy instead of them.

When those in power label a group of people as bad, as the “enemy,” it makes the world much more dangerous for everyone in that group, including the sweet family I saw today peacefully living their lives and who loved each other deeply.

Knowing this, I wanted to walk over and give each of them a hug, and say, “I’m sorry. I’m just really, really sorry, for everything.”

I wanted to tell them that I wasn’t one of “them,” and that I don’t believe the lies that are being told.

But I didn’t.

And I didn’t because I felt so deeply ashamed by what’s happening in our country that I was immobilized.

To be honest, this experience has totally and completely wrecked me. I can’t stop crying.

I don’t know that I can put into words the significance of what I’m feeling, but I must make an effort not only to give you an idea of the gravity of it but also for me to understand the many different emotions I’m feeling.

You see, as I watched this beautiful family, whose skin color and ethnicity has made them the target of vicious attacks, I felt the dam that has been holding back the grief, hurt, frustration, anger, and despair building up inside me over the past few years completely break, flooding me with a tidal wave of emotions that I felt I might drown in.

I thought about the words I’ve wanted to say and people I’ve wanted to confront but haven’t.

How I’ve bitten my tongue bloody and chocked back words that needed to be said but weren’t.

The community meetings I should have attended but didn’t.

Like you, I’ve watched this nightmare unfold in real life, in real time, in our country, expecting someone else to step up and stop it.

But no one has.

I’ve tried to find ways to navigate these challenging times by limiting my exposure to the 24/7 news cycle and social media, distracting myself, and just trying to be joyful in spite of what’s going on.

But it’s been hard.

No matter where I go or what I do there is an always-present feeling of uncertainty, instability, and danger hanging heavy in the air that my body and mind are keenly aware of.

Today, I felt the depth and seriousness of what’s going on in our country as I sat close-enough-to-touch to a family who is most affected by the dangerous rhetoric being used to turn us against each other, and it hurt, bad!

But I’m okay with that.

I’m letting myself feel the pain, not walking away or distracting myself from it, because I know that in this pain is where I will find the courage to stand up and speak out, and by doing so I just might find in me the person I’ve been waiting for to “save” us and make the difference in the world we so desperately need.

Maybe if you do the same, we can create a world that’s kind and safe for everyone, and look towards a future that’s filled with limitless possibilities for all of us.

In Spirit,
Marie Kukula-Tyner
Author, THE SPIRIT FACTOR

THE SPIRIT FACTOR is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats!

Check out our website at www.thespiritfactor.com and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thespiritfactor and become a part of the (R)EVOLUTION of spirit!

STANDING UP FOR SPIRIT, FOR THE TRUTH, FOR WHAT’S RIGHT

Martin Luther King Quote
My spirit is weary today, tired and oh so saddened by the lies, corruption, and cruelty in our world and in so many hearts.
 
When I feel this way, I turn to our book for comfort and inspiration.
 
The chapter that came to my mind today is Chapter 34, Standing Up for Spirit, because it reminds me that standing up for spirit, for what’s right, for the truth, is always the right thing to do. It truly is the only way we can create lives and a world of Unobstructed Spirit (US).
 
We are at a critical moment in our history so the message of this chapter seems more important and urgent than ever. If we want to save ourselves and our planet, more of us have got to find the courage to stand up for spirit, and we also need to support and rally around those who risk their safety by publicly doing the same.
 
I hope this chapter inspires you and gives you the courage to let your voice be heard. We need you!
 
CHAPTER 34: STANDING UP FOR SPIRIT
 
And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it’s right. — Martin Luther King, Jr.
 
THIS IS A HARD CHAPTER FOR ME TO WRITE. I have to tell you to stand up for spirit, which means standing up for the truth and for what’s right.
 
Most of us were told to do this from a young age. To me, it always sounded simple enough, noble, and, of course, the right thing to do. No question!
 
But I was never told about the challenges I might face or what I could lose if I did.
 
For most of my life, I believed that when you “do the right thing” you would prevail and make a difference in the world.
 
The many movies I’ve watched over the years about real-life people or fictional characters who risked everything to do the right thing reinforced this belief. The stories, told in entertaining 90-minute packages, always had happy endings.
 
I’m sure many of you have seen some of these movies, and, like me, thought, I could do that! It’s easy to say that we would when we know there will be a happy ending. But, truly, would we if we had to risk everything without knowing the outcome?
 
We might, especially if we believe that the truth always prevails—like I did, until a few months ago, when I found out that it doesn’t.
 
The Truth Shall Prevail?
 
Michael and I have been involved in a lengthy legal battle in which we have stood up for what’s right and fought for the truth. It’s been brutal and exhausting financially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
 
Throughout the many years of litigation, we have told the truth, every step of the way—in motions, hearings, trials, etc. That’s the law so that’s what you do, right? Well, it turns out, not if you have something to hide.
 
We were warned by our attorney when the case started that people lie in court all the time. But, even if they did, we felt that we had more than enough evidence to support our position while they had nothing to support theirs.
 
Because of this, we were confident that we would prevail. Judges have to rule based on the facts, evidence, and law, right?
 
Um, wrong. Judges have some-thing called “judicial discretion,” which pretty much gives them the power and freedom to rule however they want, even if it’s contrary to evidence and law.
 
And that’s what happened in our case.
 
On a beautiful sunny July day, we sat in a courtroom and listened in shock and disbelief as the judge ruled against us.
 
Wait a minute! I thought. When you stand up for the truth, you always prevail!
 
Well, at least that’s what happens in the movies. But there we stood, in real life, defeated. It felt horrible.
 
Pointing a Finger at Spirit
 
That day, Michael and I lost any kind of faith we’d had in a fair and competent judicial system, and even worse, in spirit.
 
We couldn’t help but point a finger at spirit and blame it in some way for what had happened.
 
While I took the loss hard, Michael took it much harder. I wondered if he would be able to recover physically and spiritually from such a devastating disappointment. He was inconsolable. I had never seen him so sad and lost. I was scared.
 
When Michael, who is the most positive and optimistic person I know, is sad, it feels like the whole world is sad. And that’s how it felt.
 
He had always been the one who offered words of wisdom and encouragement during the challenging times in our lives. But not this time. He had nothing to give—no words of comfort, no “everything will be okay.”
 
Michael’s sadness quickly turned into anger. He was pissed off at everything, including spirit. He said to me, “Spirit abandoned us! It totally let us down!”
 
In that moment, I also felt spirit had let us down. But after thinking about it, I knew it hadn’t.
 
What happened in the courtroom had nothing to do with spirit; it was all man-made.
 
No matter how much we would have hoped and prayed, visualized and believed, or even provided more evidence, the outcome would still have been the same.
 
The ruling was made by a flawed human being, who, unfortunately, was in a position of tremendous power.
 
Whether his ruling was based on some kind of agenda, bias, vendetta, or just flat out incompetence, he knew he could rule however he wanted and there wasn’t much we could do about it.
 
Because of this, spirit was pushed out of the courtroom—and the ruling.
 
Many times the truth doesn’t win in the courtroom, or in other areas of life, no matter how hard we fight, because humans, with all our obstructions and agendas, stack the odds against it.
 
Win or Lose, Doing the Right Thing Is the Right Thing to Do
 
After going through what Michael and I did, I’ve often wondered if we would do it again, knowing what we know now. I have to say, I’m always a bit surprised when my answer is “yes.” Because even though we “technically” lost, doing the right thing was the right thing to do.
 
But beyond that, if we hadn’t done the right thing by standing up for spirit in our own lives, how could we possibly tell anyone else to do it in their lives?
 
For our words to carry any weight, we have to “walk our talk,” and Michael and I do when it comes to standing up for spirit. And because we do, we know intimately the sacrifices, challenges, and obstructions you will face when you do.
 
To be honest, standing up for spirit is a hard thing to do! But it’s a necessary thing to do if we want to create both lives and a world of Unobstructed Spirit (US).
 
It’s how we will “turn the tide” and start stacking the odds in spirit’s favor, giving it a chance to win. If we don’t, we all will lose—quite possibly everything.
 
We Can No Longer Look the Other Way
 
Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way. — Martin Luther King, Jr.
 
When our obstructions are out of the way, we know what’s right; and we also know when we need to stand up for what’s right. But many times we choose to “look the other way,” justifying doing so with excuses that give us a temporary reprieve from the guilt we feel.
 
While this may ease our minds for a moment, it does not fool spirit. Spirit knows what we need to do, and it will continue to remind us of what we need to do.
 
When we don’t listen and, instead, “look the other way,” over time the “wounds we inflict on our soul” from doing so will become fatal.
Many of us have become so disillusioned and depressed by what we see going on in the world that we’ve given up believing in any possibility that things can improve.
 
When we feel this way, our bodies notice. Our inaction literally eats us up from the inside, deflating us of the life-giving force of spirit.
 
But when we do the right thing—no matter what the outcome—we experience a powerful peace in knowing that we did the right thing.
 
I can attest to this. The legal matter Michael and I were involved in went on for almost five years. While we suffered greatly from stress and disappointment during that time, we are recovering. In addition, we’ve gained a newfound respect for ourselves and each other for having the courage to stand up for spirit the way we did.
 
Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
 
Through the “challenge and controversy,” Michael and I stood with and fought for the truth. I will forever be proud of us for doing this.
 
As I mentioned before, standing up for spirit is not an easy thing to do. Because of this, I cannot promise you the warm, fuzzy place that so many people do with their self-help philosophies.
 
But there is something I can promise you. When you stand up for spirit, you will be actively participating in creating change in the world by helping to stack the odds in spirit’s favor. When enough of us do this, we will create a world of Unobstructed Spirit (US).
Truth Be Told
 
Below is a poem I wrote when Michael and I were going through the challenging legal situation I talked about in this chapter. Truth’s voice woke me up in the middle of the night and gave me these words.
 
Truth Be Told
 
Here I stand in front of you, waiting to be told
Longing for the moment that you look inside my soul
Lost between two sides and promises never meant to keep
Treated like an outcast, like a beggar in the street
 
Held hostage, bound and gagged, waiting to hear my fate
Hoping you pay my ransom before it’s much, much too late
I’m lonely here, alone, standing in what’s right
Growing weary of the battle,
I feel I might be losing this fight
 
You think I haven’t noticed
that you won’t look me in the eye
But when you lie to truth, I will never take your side
Even when denied I will never go away
Here I stand in front of you,
and that’s where I plan to stay
 
So patiently I’ll wait for you
to fall in love with me again
For I am the one, the only one,
that matters in the end
 
#truthbetold #standingupforspirit #dotherightthing