I have recently been called “worldly.” In fact, one of my speaking engagements was cancelled because of it. Granted, the venue for my workshop is a conservative Christian church, but I am still perplexed by what the organizer meant when she called me too “worldly” to speak in front of her group. The basic underlying message behind all my workshops, my book, my radio show and my parenting blogs is that inner peace is not relegated to men, mystics, old maids (who never had little lungs piercing her bubble of concentrated calm), or empty nest moms who now have time to focus on themselves. Peace is for everyone. The God I believe in gives it freely to all: even those in the midst of poopy diapers and piles of laundry.
The challenge for mothers, especially those of children between 0 and 5, is to stop focusing so much on our responsibilities to our children that we forget to check in with our immediate state of being and determine if what we are experiencing is good for us, let alone our children. The subtle energetic impulses which we are constantly emitting are very easily picked up on by our super-sensitive children before they are fully immersed in the sophisticated social structure we call modern culture. We say, “Do what I say, not what I do.” They hear, “Do what I do.” And they do it.
Being called “worldly” for spreading a message of inner peace for the exhausted mother seems ironic considering my interpretation of the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ. However, the experience has given me an opportunity to clarify the distinction between “worldly” and “world-like.” What is the world but a huge conglomeration of human beings all with challenges, feelings, mistakes, triumphs, tragedies, longings and life lessons of one kind or another? My role as mother is to direct my children to a happy adulthood and show them how to successfully be that happy adult. For me, there is no separation between my happiness and the depth of peace I feel towards my current surroundings and circumstances. To be “worldly” is to acknowledge and understand the broad range of our possible experiences and then to choose steps that take me in a more satisfying direction.
On the other hand, the world consists of form, natural and man-made splendors and catastrophes, and an infinite array of stimuli for our five senses. To be “world-like” is to be fixated on just what I experience through the five senses alone. It is that constant outward looking and disregard for the inner world holding in check my collection of thoughts, feelings, interpretations of past events, and all that goes into what constitutes my “personality.” World-like ignores the spiritual nature of so much of our experience. Worldly recognizes that there is a spiritual context for everything we go through – including parenthood.
Even though I am saddened that a single individual can determine whether or not I present my message for practical steps we can take now to feel calm, even when the world seems to be falling apart around our ears, I still owe her a debt of gratitude for giving me something to write (and think) about this week and for allowing me the privilege to know with absolute certainty that what I stand for is both worldly and in complete alignment with the great spiritual truths taught throughout the ages. Whatever contradictions perceived by those who would send my workshops elsewhere are really not my concern as long as my children continue to see in me what inner peace looks like in the outward example of my genuinely joyful experience of life. Amen.