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  • The Kaleid Team

What Are Your Power Dynamics?

My life is not about me; it is about God, and God is about love. When we don’t know love, when we experience only the insecurity and fragility of the small self, we become restless, violent, and hateful.

Richard Rohr

How can you draw close to God when you are far from your own self? Grant, Lord, that I may know myself that I may know thee.

- St. Augustine, Confessions

“We have places of fear inside of us, but we have other places as well—places with names like trust and hope and faith. We can choose to lead from one of those places, to stand on ground that is not riddled with the fault lines of fear, to move toward others from a place of promise instead of anxiety. As we stand in one of those places, fear may remain close at hand and our spirits may still tremble. But now we stand on ground that will support us, ground from which we can lead others toward a more trustworthy, more hopeful, more faithful way of being in the world.”

– Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak, p. 94

Dear Kaleid Ladies,

Y’all are amazing, really. Thank you for paying attention to your life. It matters—in your relationships and in the world, so much.

As a woman, it can be hard to give ourselves the time to explore big, personal words like purpose, passion, and power. Entering these rooms of our inner lives and allowing ourselves to discover beauty while also recognizing our need for healing from God is an act of true courage…courage that others might not see or applaud, but courage that will deeply bless the world, nonetheless. The process of unpacking big inner ideas takes us on journeys of faith and desire that can be slow and sometimes frustrating. So, thank you for being women who show up for the complicated things. It’s a gift to walk together.

We have been talking about power. As a quick reminder of where we’ve been, our power is the expression of who we are in word and in flesh. Imaging God in our power means embodying love in our place. Our power is complemented by our vulnerability and motivated by love. Unfortunately, fear distorts power, generating control and exploitation. In Jesus’ life, we see power and vulnerable love yielding self-emptying and empowerment of others.

Today we are going reflect on how we might “audit” our power dynamics so that we can be aware of inner spaces where God’s love can bless and heal these dynamics, freeing us to love with more confidence, clarity, and compassion.

Audit Number One: Power in Our Close Relationships

We all have well-worn ways of entering relationships, mainly rooted in the patterns and pathways that worked for us as children. We sought secure connection so that we could venture out in exploration, and when our connections were less than secure, we (most likely) became practitioners of fear-based power dynamics. The images below offer a simple way of considering how we tend to seek safety in our close relationships.

In the first pattern, we are “co-dependent,” and we tend to define ourselves in reference to another person, seeking from them (or for them) what is impossible to get (or give). In this pattern, we struggle to locate our self as distinct from another or as distinct from our relationship.

The second pattern is one of “independence,” where we resist intimacy or vulnerability and control our environments to maintain a rigid sense of self-protection, missing out on intimacy in relationships.

The third pattern is one of “interdependence,” where we know ourselves well and thoughtfully function independently from others, but where we give and receive freely, sharing interests, passions, time, etc., to foster intimacy and love.

As you look at the images, is there one that feels most “you”? Is there an obvious place where you could invite God to lead you into a healthier power dynamic with others? The journey into healthy power dynamics involves practice, but the great news is that you have God-given power to engage that journey through study, therapy, prayer, etc.

Audit Number Two: Made In Love, By Love, and For Love

It goes without saying that when we function from fear, we limit our own ability to bear God’s loving image in the world…to powerfully embody love in our place. Also, it goes without saying that we cannot wave magic wands to suddenly be un-afraid or deeply secure. We need to know, deep in our bones, that we were made in love, by love, and for love. Being built up in love is a layered, deep process of marinating in the reality of God’s faithfulness. This passage from Ephesians 4:14-16 reveals a few of God’s invitations to be built up in love:

14We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

First, how is God inviting you to grow up as God’s child, secure and loved, rather than as the child of parents with whom you learned fear-based power patterns? What could that look like? (v. 14)

Second, as you are growing, do you sense God’s invitation to hold truth and love together, in tension, looking for ways that Christ’s presence orients your growth? What could that look like? (v. 15)

Thirdly, as you are growing, do you sense God’s invitation to be more closely connected in community, allowing the gifts and graces of others to call you into deeper places of powerful, loving growth? What could that look like? (v. 16)

In Conclusion

The Quakers have a prayer practice called “Centering Down”—quieting our hearts and spirits to enter into stillness and awareness of God’s presence. The practice has three steps: releasing, receiving, and resting in God’s presence and truth. Take some time, three to five minutes per step, while doing the following: holding your hands open, palms down to release; then holding your hands open, palms up to receive; then holding your hands gently on your knees or across your body to rest.

We love you!

We hope to see you at the Contemplative Circle that begins next Wednesday morning (May 17th) and goes for six weeks! Sign up here!


The Kaleid Team

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