Below is an excerpt from this week’s Authentic Freedom Academy Weekly Empowerment Newsletter. If you are interested in learning more or subscribing, click HERE.
Teacher Teach Thyself!
I’m going in a little bit different direction with this week’s empowerment newsletter. Instead, I stand before you naked and vulnerable and confess to you a lesson that I learned (and am apparently still learning) TODAY through this week’s gospel reading. The lesson for me is about money and the first of the seven spiritual fears as outlined in Authentic Freedom – the fear that there is not enough.
A little background. Since stepping out on my own, beyond the Institutional Church into the secular world – offering what the Church traditionally offers….or rather what they SHOULD be offering – I have offered a sliding fee scale. I have set a suggested fee for my programs and services and asked people to “pay what they are able.” I have done this because I believe this is what Jesus would have done. (Actually, Jesus seemed to offer what he did freely…..but in this culture, I’m not sure this is possible. I do need to eat, pay rent, put clothes on my children’s backs). I have offered this sliding fee scale believing that if I provide for others, God would provide for me. Admittedly, the results have been mixed. I have always had what I needed to survive, AND I have had to be very creative with finances and trusted on the generosity of family and friends to make this all work (and believe me, “making this work” is a subjective measurement!). For me personally, this has been a rollercoaster journey of trying to trust, being afraid, feeling as if I am being supported and shaking my fist at God when finances look grim….which they often do.
From the client and student side of this kind of arrangement, again, the response has been mixed. Many, who are financially able, are happy to pay my full fees, because they value themselves, they value the work we do together and they are willing to do the work. The majority are not able to pay my full fees, but do pay what they are able and are happy to do so…again, because they value themselves, the work, etc. With these folks, a) and b), I am humbled and honored to work. I am grateful for their ability to pay because I know they are being honest and sincere in their part of the exchange….AND I know they are truly paying what they are able….perhaps even making sacrifices elsewhere so that they can pay to support themselves.
Then there are the freeloaders. Those who ask for a reduced fee, when they don’t really need it. Those who I know have the funds, and who then offer me a ridiculously low exchange – as if they believe I should be doing this work for free or that they are entitled in some way to special treatment. Those who beg for a lower fee, or ask to be given a “scholarship” and then tell me about all the other ways they are spending their money on things that are not a necessity. To my ego, this is maddening, disappointing and insulting. And to the part of me who worries about how she is going to pay the bills, this is terrifying.
So what to do? Some have told me to “get a real job.” Others have suggested I dilute my time and energies with part time work to supplement my pay. Whoo whoo people have told me to “think the right thoughts and the money will be there.” Others have suggested I get tough around my money policies – again, setting higher fees, boundaries around payment, etc. All of this geared toward “success” and “reward” in the material world. Believe me, I have tried all of the above and every time I do, I fall FLAT on my face. I try to set boundaries and instead end up putting my own foot in my mouth by going after the wrong person. The “real jobs” elude me – even those for which I am perfectly qualified and know all the right people. I couldn’t think any more “right thoughts” if my life depended on it. I’ve tried the part-time thing and what I discovered is that after doing the soul-sucking part time work, I have nothing left to give to my clients, classes, writing, etc. and my business ends up drying up and floating away into nothing. Again, all of these efforts, as it turns out, are geared toward “securing” success and reward as they are defined in the material world.
Jesus taught something different:
“When you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14: 14
The answer to my quandary about what do to, is to DO NOTHING. All this time, I’ve been looking for the “fair exchange” in the material realm. In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus reminds us, it is not in “this world” where we shall have our reward. Instead, it is in the other world that is not defined by human measures – the “kingdom of God” that Jesus taught was within.
I don’t exactly have that all figured out yet, what that means, or how I might experience this, but my sense is that it has something to do with:
- Offering my services freely and openly to those who need them.
- Gratefully accepting whatever is offered in the way of payment.
- Checking my ego at the door when my fears are triggered by money (or lack thereof).
- No longer defining my value in monetary terms or in worldly measures of “success” (like whether or not I got a big-house publishing contract or have an email mailing list of 30,000).
- No longer believing it is my job to set an example for others about money and self-value (especially if money has nothing to do with our value….it is just another lie we’ve been telling ourselves).
- Simply letting go of the money thing as the central focus of my life and turning my attention instead to the Divine within, trusting I (the Big I) will take care of me. (YIKES!)
This is scary stuff! Trusting that all my needs will be met as I turn my attention inward, in connection with that which some might call God? Trusting that all my needs will be met as I minister to all those who are in need of and who might benefit from my services? Trusting all my needs will be met no matter who or how people are able to pay? Trusting all my needs will be met when the reward is not outside of me but is within? Again, this is scary stuff. And when I face this fear (more than any of the other Authentic Freedom fears), I ask myself, “Why did I write that dang book?” Because now I have to LIVE IT! YIKES!
As I have said, and learned a million times, “Authentic Freedom” is not for the faint of heart! But if I’m going to teach this material, I’d dang well better live it!
So, there you have it! I’ll keep you posted as to how this all turns out. In the meantime, I invite you to reflect on this fear and its place in your own life? Where are you fearful that there won’t be enough? How central of a role do thoughts about money play in your life? How are you measuring success in material terms? How is your own sense of value defined by money? This is deep and tough stuff….especially in a culture whose refrain has become “Show me the money.” Let me know how you work this thing out!
To learn more about our weekly Empowerment Newsletter, click HERE.