Reflections on “A Return to Love”

In “A Return to Love” Marianne Williamson talks about how her negativity was as destructive to her as alcohol is to an alcoholic. She describes her negativity as “that hysterical woman inside [her] head.” I am all too familiar with that hysterical woman. I’ve been contending with her a lot this week and today she got the best of me which resulted in my crying in public, something I haven’t done in a long time.

Earlier this week, I posted a beautiful picture with a caption that highlighted the growth I’ve made in my healing journey and how much joy I was feeling in celebrating that growth. This is all still very much true. And yet still, today was a hard day for me and a reminder that as much progress as I have made in my healing, I still have a long way to go.

(Sidenote: Thank you God for always keeping me humble ::said with the only the slightest note of sarcasm::)

This week my prayer was:

I’ve realized that a lot of my anxiety can be traced back to the fear of something. Fear of what other people will think about me. Fear that people will disapprove. Fear that people will leave me or stop being my friend if they could see all of me. It’s all rather exhausting and I’m holding on to my favorite verse as an affirmation. 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God does not give us the spirit of fear, but of power love and self-discipline.

In a genuine effort to move forward this week in power, love, and self-discipline, I’m sharing this blog post despite my headache and insecurities. Thank you to all the women that joined Melanie Santos and me on Friday 2/22 for an online book club conversation on “A Return to Love.” Here are a few of my favorite takeaways.

  1. You must learn to surrender everything and be willing to break before you can be built back up.

    “It’s as though my life was a house, and I thought God would give me a wonderful paint job–new shutters, perhaps, a pretty portico, a new roof. Instead, it felt as though, as soon as I gave the house to God. He hit it with a giant wrecking ball. ‘Sorry honey,’ he seemed to say, ‘There were cracks in the foundation, not to mention all the rats in the bedroom. I thought we better just start all over.”

    One of my devotionals this week talked about orientation, disorientation, and new orientation. Orientation is when we are in alignment and life makes sense. Disorientation is when we are hurt, suffering and wondering where God is. The new orientation is when God breaks in and meets us in a new way. Marianne Williamson talks a lot about surrendering to this process. She says “nervous breakdowns can be a highly underrated method of spiritual transformation.” Surrendering is not an act of weakness, but a powerful nonresistance.

  2. The work that needs to be done is inside of you. Growth is never about focusing on someone else’s lessons, but only on your own.

    The ego is a great fault-finder. My ego and I have gotten very good at identifying what everyone else needs to be working on while avoiding the plank in my own eye. I have noticed that I have been judging and critiquing my partner a lot for his cellphone use, but I’ve since reflected and noticed that I am just as bad, if not worse than he is. I’d be better off working on improving how I allocate my leisure time when it comes to my phone and social media use rather than wagging a finger at him for doing the same thing. Relationships with others are a mirror reflection of our relationship with ourselves.

    The reality is you cannot change anyone else. You can only change how YOU move, how YOU speak, and how YOU see and perceive what is happening around you.

    P.S. I spent a good portion of today reorganizing my phone settings and folders to maximize productivity and decrease clutter and distractions. Electronic clutter is a very real thing. This article was SUPER helpful in the process.

  3. Any real, worthwhile relationship, will experience turbulence.

    “A ‘spiritual relationship’ isn’t necessarily one in which two people are smiling all the time. Spiritual means to me, above all else, authentic.”

    Too often, people hold in anger because they fear that it will hurt the other person involved. This is especially true of women and even more so for women of color. Up until about a year ago, I really believed that anger was not an emotion I experienced regularly. The truth was that I was so used to suppressing it, I didn’t recognize it when it arrived. Honest and valuable relationships allow both people involved to express their feelings without fear of abandonment. As Williamson points out, “a good relationship isn’t always crystals and rainbows. It’s a birth process, often painful, often messy.”

There was more, so much more in this book that should be highlighted. In spite of some dry sections and not agreeing with ALL of the theology in this book, it is undeniable that there are a lot of gems. Stay tuned for a video that will be dropping on my YouTube channel covering ALL of our reflections on this book.

In the meantime, Melanie was wonderful enough to collect all the prayers from the book and put them into a pdf that you can download here. If you’re having a hard time reading the book, I recommend you jump to the Relationships chapter and see how that flows for you. And if it’s not working for you, that’s OK! Maybe this isn’t the right book for you or maybe it’s not the right time for you to read it. Either way, continue to explore the ways you can develop your emotional and spiritual intelligence and be gentle with yourself in the process. 

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