Day 2814 – Day 2821
This month, those on my email list are working on purpose and meaning. One of the definitions of living a purpose guided life is to live in alignment with your values.
If you think I think I’m a Guru on all these things, I don’t. I might be further down the path than some, but I also need the rigour of the practice. I gain so much from the various ways I give daily and weekly and monthly focus to the practices. Everything I suggest is something I’ve either done, and found helpful, or is a task that I am currently working through, myself.
Last year I did all of the values exercises that I offered for resources on purpose. I just ended up confused. There were so many great values and so many things I cherish. I couldn’t find a way to narrow it down to a handful. I’m sure we all have many values that we think are desirable. Finding the core handful of values that drives you and guides your life may be a challenge.
Sometimes we don’t value the things we think we should. Sometimes we value the very things we don’t know how to achieve but having them would heal childhood wounds. These wounds may be there to help guide your soul’s evolution, yet sometimes our conditioning and traumas make the very values we need for healing, and transformation difficult for us to uphold.
Values are things that we hold sacred. If they weren’t sacred, they would be mundane which means they would not have great intrinsic worth. Some of the problems we have in living up to our values come from an increasingly secular world that lacks the ability to recognize and revere the sacred. How can we narrow down our values if we aren’t used to holding anything sacred? How can we build the character strength to, for example, put the needs of our children before our own ego needs, if we haven’t been raised to honour sacrifice for what we hold sacred?
There are many books that aim to inspire us to live a life of purpose. We might come to believe that this is what everyone is doing. That is a false perception. Many struggle to define their values, and everyone struggles to live them. Values are aspirational and therefore, living a life fully on purpose is also aspirational.
Values are like our compass to the sacred and our purpose is like the path.
Recently I came across a well-worn, hand written list of my personal vows as a Minister. As a group, we took vows essentially to serve the spiritual needs of all, without any form of discrimination. We also had the opportunity to write our own personal vows.
These are the only vows I have ever taken and probably the only vows I ever will take. They are sacred. As I looked at my vows, I realized they were a large part of my core life values. I have edited them, for precision, and I would combine some vows into a single value. That I chose to make these sacred vows demonstrates the core values of Service and Devotion to God. To the list of vows, I would add values of Creativity, Beauty and Wellbeing. Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service are aspects of my values.
I wanted to share my vows because they aren’t and shouldn’t be secret – I made them in a sacred space in front of my Seminary cohort, clergy and God. And, these are the vows to which I hold myself accountable.
- I will stand for those who seek Justice and cannot stand for themselves (this is a form of Service);
- I will live in the spirit of Non-Violence (as a value this is part of my penultimate vow);
- I will live Simply and Sustainably;
- I will remember the Divinity of all beings and Love All; and
- I will live in Truth.
The last one is a doozy if you grew up in a family where there was triangulation and where there were secrets. I did, and my experience last week may serve to illustrate how we can choose a value because it is something we lacked, and where living that value is difficult because of our conditioning.
Last week, I spent a lot of time writing and re-writing my previous post. As I thought about the dream, I was gaining more insight into its lessons and clarity into how the dream applied to my life. The post became less about the person in the dream because the way dreams work, as I’m sure you know is that it’s not really about the person who appears in the dream. I always post my first draft of a post and sometimes, I will decide to go back and edit, many times, until the work is done. But, if I’m telling the truth, that’s not the only reason I re-wrote it many times.
I was also concerned about protecting the feelings of the person in my dream, should he ever read my post. This has been a theme in so many of my dreams about him, and a theme in my life.
I think it’s loving and non-violent to seek not to purposefully hurt someone’s feelings. However, protecting the feelings of someone who has not protected mine is a form of keeping secrets, rather than boundaries. Being evasive and avoidant is a waste of time and compromises my ability to live in Truth, reflecting a coping mechanism I learned as a child, of walking on eggshells, in order to survive. If you break it down, the whole dream was a play within a play within a play that was a colossal time waster. The dream itself was calling for me to cut through the crap of all the “stories” we tell ourselves and others and look to the Truth.
I’m sure that if we all look at our lives, we will find at least one example of this struggle to live our values. For example, if someone has the value of fidelity, but were sexually abused as a child, they may experience a sex-addiction that keeps them from being faithful. That failure can keep them locked in a cycle of self-hatred and addiction that separates them from that which they hold sacred.
So, as we work on values and purpose, it is important to take a penetrating look at how we are really living, and whether this is how we WANT to live, according to our values. Living a life that betrays our values can bring lots of pleasure, and gratification. Sacrificing our values might seem easier than the discomfort of living them, but denying that which is sacred is soul-destroying, in the end. With compassion for ourselves and for others, we can break the patterns that keep us separate from the sacred. We can, and we must, have enough self-compassion to seek help, if we cannot do it alone.
I am grateful that I kept this hand-written list of vows, and that I came across them just at the right time. I am grateful for the lesson that struggling to live in Truth has taught me about the sacredness of values and the difficulty we will all face in living them. I’m grateful for the reminder that we must always have compassion and forgiveness for our failings and the failings of others as we strive to live our purpose.
I hope that you, too, will practice self-compassion when you encounter the challenges that your values bring your way.