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Category Archives: spiritual foundations

confident in my badassness: stripping my shadow for the love of my dreams

Unless we’re coming off an edge from a relationship gone wrong, none of us think about the darkness that can be connected to love. In fact, popular opinion often advises that if any darkness is associated with a love, that it’s not love – not a healthy one, at least – and that if we’re ever in a dark love, that we should run for the hills. How many loves have we discarded solely because shadows kept coming out – theirs or ours – and though we run, we cannot escape these shadows? When true love comes, isn’t it shadow-free???

No.

As I’ve written before, there is a specific quality about romantic love that pierces to the heart of the matters within our souls, matters that need to be revealed and healed. And if we are in divine partnerships, this specific quality is magnified hundreds of times, for divinely destined relationships have a particular goal in mind – to refine both persons, individually and collectively, as much as possible. This destiny requires that some pretty dark, ugly shit rise to the surface for acknowledgement, inspection, sometimes some cleansing, and always – integration.

So, this means that the love of our dreams is not all lovely and sweet or wonderfully fragrant. No one is coming, at least at first, to whisk us away into a horse-drawn carriage down a yellow brick road to live eternally, happily ever after. Therefore we need to expand our definitions and our perspectives of what is healthy and what is required. Everything becomes more grey than black and white. It all shifts and moves around more than it is solid and predictable. It’s all a rather adventurous invitation into vulnerable spaces – places where we’re naked – not because we’re going to fuck, but because we’re being stripped, beyond the bone.

stripping

Everything that we’ve ever known about ourselves is up for grabs to be peeled away, layer by layer, no matter how painful or how closely cemented they are to us. Our comfort and ease are not #goals. The only thing that the universe is after is the end, the end in which we ascend into our true power, in which we BE the very best versions of ourselves to serve the greater good, to help others along the Way. G~d requires that we are confident in our badassness. This requirement necessitates a stripping of our shadows, and for that, we get the loves of our dreams.

During one of our recent weekly oracle readings (view below, cued to the shadow part) on love, intimacy, sex, relationships, etc., i had the most a-mazing revelation by applying as metaphor Yeshua’s (Jesus) journey between his crucifixion and ascension. So, what really (completely) happened when Yeshua descended into the dead and spent some quality time in hell? Have we heard the whole story? Was there any stripping of Yeshua that occurred there before he was completely ready to arise from death and then to ascend? For we know not only did he appear so differently to his closest disciples that they did not recognize him immediately when he returned, but that upon his incarnation, he grew into the man he needed to become to live out G~d’s call on his life.

From these questions and what we know from the Greek writings, I assert and extend that ascension requires stripping, of every single thing that we have. Following Yeshua’s hero journey, stripping of:

  • his status in heaven to become human
  • his ego and other related qualities during his time of testing in the wilderness before launching his ministry
  • his will in order to agree freely to go the cross where his human life would end

Those are all the details that we have. There has to be more. What else had to go for him to rise to his next level?

In other aspects of our lives, we are familiar with this requirement of stripping:

  • bad habits to become more disciplined for a job that requires more multi-tasking
  • self-centered perspectives and behaviors to be available for an expanded family life
  • downsizing and tightening the financial belt to save money for larger investments like real estate

BEing in the love of our dreams is no different. It’s way bigger than the even great task of simply deciding that we’ve found a cool person to share life with for the rest of our days on earth. Dream love is a lofty ambition, literally. It’s a love that lives in the clouds, in the ether; it’s up there. And for us to get up there, we need to be lighter and lighter and lighter … dropping baggage, shedding layers, removing masks, disrobing – allowing all to be revealed and ogled, studied, analyzed, enjoyed, consumed, and relished.

Are you thinking that this is not what you signed up for? LOLOLOL – I get that. But then you also know that you’ll take nothing else for your journey now. 🙂

Here’s to high-flyin’ love!

Looking for clarity, confirmation, answers, guidance regarding love, career, family – or just life? Share your questions with candi for an oracle reading to help you on your way! She is here for you 🙂

(c) 2018 candi dugas, llc

your beauty is safe here

We’re celebrating our newest service, Sacred Readings with candi dugas!

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Weekly we publish free, general readings on YouTube, and you may also order your own personal readings as well. This week only (through Saturday, 30 June 2018), all readings are 50% off in honor of this celebration.

Watch our latest general reading, “Your Beauty Is Safe Here.”

I look forward to hearing from you!

Best,

candi (claircognizant, clairsentient, empath)

a bishop’s legacy

What bothered me most when the story broke in 2010 that accused Bishop Eddie Long of forcing young men into sexual relationships was his arrogant response and misappropriation of the biblical story of David and Goliath. (1 Samuel 17)

While he was clearly the one in power, with emboldened arrogance rather than contrition or even compassion, he attempted to place himself in the victim’s position, the weaker party under attack. And the most loyal members of his New Birth Missionary Baptist Church congregation wildly supported him there. Quite troubling, but not surprising.

On the occasions when I visited New Birth, I was always struck, saddened and deeply concerned by how that community had created an environment that worshipped Long. I do mean every literal bit of that word, worship. In ethics classes and with so many other opportunities, as we are educated, trained and otherwise prepared for professional ministry, we are warned against ever becoming an idol or a god for the people. I do not doubt that Long moved some mountains for folks, that some can credit him for literally saving their lives – but we are called to worship One that is greater than we are, not one who is just as flawed and susceptible to mistakes.

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image: wallpapers.brothersoft.com

The thing is, though, given his power and position, Long’s mistakes caused deeper harm with a reach beyond any average parishioner.

Now, he certainly wasn’t the first clergyperson to abuse his power and never apologize for it. Unfortunately, he will not be the last either. And the issues around the allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct do not live outside of the context of the larger issue of the Church’s woefully anemic approach to sexuality and spirituality. When the Church does not educate responsibly, authentically and truthfully around this intersection – along with promoting doctrines and practices that exclude people based on their sexual identities, orientations and behavior – it creates a rich environment for leaders to hide their true selves and harm others, as well as themselves.

Then one day, it all ends in a tragic death, of one kind or another.

So, today the man called by God to preach the Gospel and to heal the souls of his community leaves behind a legacy that is forever compromised by accusations that he settled out of court with a huge sum of money. It’s all quite sad. My heart continues to grieve for all the various kinds of pain folks are feeling now with the news of Long’s death. My prayer is that we may recognize, sense and commune with G~d’s all-knowing, merciful and gracious presence – always, in this and all matters that involve and affect humanity.

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image: positivepsychologyprogram.com

The silver lining? Well, the Church could determine that enough is enough. The Church could take this opportunity to address human sexuality with at least some common sense, if not critical and spiritual scriptural (re)interpretation. The Church could renounce its own arrogance, apologize and repent. But it won’t, no more than Long did under pressure and threat to his empire.

Next steps? We, the people, the other church, must continue to create our own safe, relevant and truthful spaces that feed our holistic well-being. The greatest thing about the Gospel is that it is and makes G~d accessible to us all. And there are enlightened faith communities around that will do for us what the Church never will. Such un- or under-traveled paths require a bit more effort and work on our part, but I think G~d is pleased with this reality. I think G~d has been waiting on us to be more (pro)active with our spirituality and relationships with ourselves, G~d and others.

Could this, then, be Bishop Eddie Long’s legacy???

(c) 2017 candi dugas, llc

all the voices

all the voices

 

No justice or equality movement has ever succeeded without the voices that come from the “other side.”

Christianity had the Apostle Paul. Abolitionists and the Civil Rights Movement had “white” people. The Feminist Movement had/has men. The war on poverty still needs the wealthy and transgender folks need more help from gays, lesbians and straight people.

I was a bit suspicious at first and I cannot say that I’m utterly convinced now, but I’m at least encouraged by what I hear coming from Pastor E. Dewey Smith as he continues to publicly share that he’s rethinking his theology about sexuality and faith. His conservative voice bearing witness to what liberals and progressives already know, is priceless.

pastor e dewey smith

Pastor E. Dewey Smith and congregation praying for Singer Angie Stone at House of Hope Atlanta. Image: joy105.com.

Last weekend he participated in a gathering at Princeton University via its Black Church Studies program, “Love Thyself: Black Bodies and Religious Space.” The gathering was inspired by the viral hashtag, #BlackChurchSex.

During the conference he said in about 4 years, some studies report that 50-55% of African American women will never get married. “Do we really expect these women to lead celibate lives?” Then he challenged that the way we currently read the bible enslaves women and reinforces a pimpish theology. Pastor Smith offered that our churches must begin to give people space to grow, think and recognize that the bible doesn’t have the answer to all our questions. WOW! How’s that for ‪#‎BlackChurchSex‬??? (as reported by a Facebook friend of mine that attended the conference)

We don’t listen to every voice. Having as many different kinds of voices as possible that can advocate a realistic message of freedom in a grounded context of faith will greatly assist the church – the Black church – in having meaningful conversations which improve our holistic health as followers of Yeshua.

(c) 2016 candi dugas, llc

sexuality + spirituality

sexuality and spirituality: doing it differently

Each Sunday in October – live in person and online

Impact’s 2015 “Sexuality + Spirituality Experience Series” builds upon the wildly successful one that we produced in 2010. Five years ago we shared that God created sex to be good for creation and that we will not prescribe to anyone how they choose to engage or not in sexual activity. So, how do we make these decisions, the kinds of choices that help us to live with integrity within ourselves, before God and with others? Impact helps us all make these determinations by providing the tools for each person to make her/his own informed, educated and spiritual decision(s).

For further understanding, we invite you to join us this October as we unpack, affirm and celebrate what it means to be a whole, integrated person in God, one who is simultaneously and beautifully sexual and spiritual.

We are excited to share the good news of God’s love for all with our community – where all means ALL. Impact always endeavors to create safe and relevant space for worship of God and service to the world. We look forward to your joining us every Sunday in October – 8am, 10am, 12noon – in person or online (http://www.impactdoingchurchdifferently.org/live/)!

*Some content may not be suitable for all audiences.

allow yourself to love him

#LoveWins is THE hashtag celebrating #SCOTUS’ decision Friday for #MarriageEquality.

I posted on Facebook:

candi's lovewins facebook post

I read friends’ celebratory words and viewed their pictures, including profile pics awash in rainbow colors.

Then I began to see other friends’ subtle and not-so-subtle rejections of SCOTUS’ ruling – proclaiming that the end is near, that G~d’s word is the same though times may change and even some posts that intend to support our LGBTQ community by saying that we all sin and fall short of G~d’s glory. All of these posts are equally irritating to me.

The affirmation of love, the call to love elicits very close-minded, bigoted and discriminatory replies from those who self-identify with a faith tradition that, on paper more so than in action, professes the world will know us by our love. They claim to still love the other while condemning the other for anything and all things from who they are to what they do – loving with very unlovable words and tones of voice.

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Until now, I’ve not responded much online – after all, I am on vacation. Besides, rarely do these kinds of conversations over what the Bible does and does not say lead to any sort of fruitful dialogue. Rather, my response has been to think about it all and to refuse to linger in irritation or allow my irritation to transform into anger.

#POTUS has been reflecting on #grace. I’ve been reflecting on #love.

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My reflections began as personal ones, not even considering that they may intersect with national events unfolding this weekend, as I continue to seek resolution within myself, to seek a settling of the matter of how best to be in romantic relationships – as I continue to seek how to love. My quest returns me again and again to myself, to the places of lack in my soul – whether I call them empty places or unhealed places or half-filled places. Being close to another shines lights, rattles foundations and rips open closures. That’s what true love is, a call to oneself – whatever kind of love it is, it always requires inner self-work. It actually becomes more about me than the other person, a reality that is the antithesis of what our culture touts as true love.

“I am on the hunt for myself in everybody else. I’m looking for myself in you. And perhaps I can’t find myself until I find it in you. … Just as to love oneself means to deal with oneself beyond all of the limitations, all of the things, the not-good things in oneself that one knows, to look beyond all of that to a center, which if I can ever become aware of it in myself. Then it is out of that center that I move towards all of the other relationships by which my life may be surrounded. And because I am unwilling, despite all of things I know about myself, I am unwilling to give myself up. I cling to myself with a kind of abiding enthusiasm.” ~Howard Thurman

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“There is scarcely anything more difficult than to love one another. … [W]hoever loves must try to act as if he had a great work: he must be much alone and go into himself and collect himself and hold fast to himself; he must work; he must become something! For believe me, the more one is, the richer is all that one experiences. And whoever wants to have a deep love in his life must collect and save for it and gather honey.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke

And so as we call on the world to celebrate love, to wave rainbow flags and shout that love wins, we must remember that we are actually calling for a deep love. We must remember that most of the world has not collected or saved anything to this end. They have not done the work, the grueling inner self-work to be able to regard another’s triumph over discrimination without thinking that their victory somehow defeats the world’s senses of salvation, holiness and righteousness. Most in opposition will not change. They will continue to default to conservative, traditional and dying biblical interpretation and theology as their responses to progress rather than confront the lack and the pain inside of themselves. After all, black churches continue to be burned in 2015 and southerners are publicly protesting the removal of the Confederate flag in 2015. African Americans know that changed laws do not change hearts.

Only each person doing her/his own work within can change one heart … and one mind. Only becoming self-actualized individuals grants us the capacity, the bandwidth to open up broadly enough to even approach truly and fully loving the other. Perhaps we can begin with our personal relationships and grow to extend love beyond our inner circles. That hasn’t exactly been my path; yet, my path to personal love is requiring me to reevaluate what I mean when I declare my love for my neighbor.

Am I truly allowing myself to love “him”?

(Read more, if you like, to see what I mean, a bit of back-story on this quest for personal best-love, regarding a past romantic relationship.):

I recall my counselor’s words to me one rainy afternoon. I was exasperated and drained from all of the unfulfilled desires and unresolved emotions I had been carrying around within me since my then-lover severed our connection. Sharing my angst with my counselor, I expected him to encourage me to be strong, persevere, focus on myself, re-route my thoughts to thanksgiving for all that I had in my life rather than all I considered to be a loss, etc. But I didn’t get that.

Instead, he said, “Allow yourself to love him.”

“What?”

“Yes. Are you in any danger? Does he hurt you physically or abuse you emotionally?”

“No.”

“Then allow yourself to love him.”

Well, that meant also, allowing him to continue to hurt me via my love for him. That also meant allowing myself to feel the vast land beyond the keyhole smallergreat void of his absence. What I’ve come to know, that I suppose my counselor intended for me to learn and from which to grow, is that somehow this allowance of simultaneous love and pain facilitates a maturity of being that we never obtain by avoiding it, by wallowing in anger, hurt, resentment, betrayal, etc. – all of the, ummm …, more acceptable emotions when we end ties with someone that means so much to us.

What I know is that after all the emotions subside around the cause of the breakup, we’re left with the love that was present all along. During the angry rants, it never left. During the weeping, it never left. During the miscommunication and realization that it’s over, it never left. And somehow we can feel it deeper later than we ever did before relationship ended.

As I continue to feel love, the question then becomes, “Do I keep moving forward without him or do I let him know that I still care?” Because, right?, we have this need to communicate our feelings. Not communicating passionate feelings like love for another is a heavy thang. But to what end? Am I sharing because I want to get back together? What if he ain’t even thinkin’ ’bout me? What, then, do I do with the counsel of allowing myself to love another – no matter where the other is?

We realize that our loving others has way more to do with ourselves than with the object of our affection. (Revisit Thurman and Rilke.) And so what we do is we decide to discard tradition’s ineffective, shallow notions of love. We decide instead to embrace the deeper thing. We return to self, to solitude. We grow taller, stronger so that we can indeed love the other with a love so great, so strong that we can abide with each other in true harmony and peace amid all of our differences and disagreements.
Then, love truly wins.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” ~Yeshua (Matthew 22:37-40)
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(c) 2015 candi dugas, llc

your thoughts: feminine sexuality & spirituality

the women of black history month 2014

the women of black history month 2014

At sexNspirit you may always share your thoughts regarding feminine sexuality and spirituality. Yet, today you may share them with a chance to win a $25 gift card to the retailer of your choice*!  Visit here to complete a brief survey and enter the drawing.  (NOTE: The survey is for adults only – 18+ years old.)

You may also want to check out our latest newsletter that features a collage of all the women highlighted on our SoulSpace blog during February’s Black History Month.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

best,
candi

*The gift card must be available to purchase in Atlanta, GA or online.

(c) 2014 candi dugas, llc

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