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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

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.

hope-and-happiness-1024x418

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

ready-made man

ready-made man

There is no such thing.

From time to time I become incredibly irritated by the sanitizing of so-called conventional wisdom. It doesn’t matter to me if the sanitization is of romance or religion – in any context it doesn’t do anyone any good at all.

Too many women live in constant desire of a mate while also living in burdensome fear of the ones that cross their paths regularly. Of course, I am not advocating that we throw all caution to the wind and entertain the affections of any prospective lover. No. As always, however, there is plenty of good middle ground between the extremes.

Too many women, especially women of faith, ascribe to best practices that dictate a man be in a certain place in life before he becomes worthy of her affections. In essence, we are told to prepare ourselves and wait for the ready-made man. Just open the box, add water, and stir.

There is no such thing.

I have learned that life and being human is messy and that we cannot avoid the messiness, no matter how meticulously we try. On our best days, with our best efforts, we cannot sidestep or circumvent the natural flow of things. One certain aspect of life’s process is that there is a kind of assignment that romantic love must carry out. Romantic love has a particularly unique way of getting to the heart of matters to which we must tend in order to grow and heal. That is why when we end relationships before love has completed its work, we continue to meet the same lover over and over again, just in a different body.

May we move into 2017 without the rose-colored glasses? May we approach romantic love as women, pulling up our big-girl panties? May we be/become so secure in ourselves that we can handle the man’s growing edges because we know that together we can simultaneously support and challenge each other, going forward together to unknown adventures. May we stop looking for the ready-made man?

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

As you reflect and prepare for a new year, check out our 2016 posts:

image: pinterest

(c) 2016 candi dugas, llc

the ankles and the pussy

the ankles and the pussy

I LOVE it when a production delivers way more than I expected!

Last week, I attended Synchronicity Theatre’s production of Anne Boleyn, a revisionist take on Queen Anne’s romance and marriage to King Henry VIII. As the story is also a part of Christian church history, I expected to experience it through a theological, Protestant reformation lens. However, I was not prepared for the extent to which Howard Brenton’s (playwright) approach would affect me.

I was struck by our historically persistent narrative of the perceived threat of woman to power. We sisters today call it our Black Girl Magic. Every subset of woman has it, though, a way about her, a mystique that changes, transforms, influences, causes things to happen … and threatens. Instead of celebrating this phenomenon, the world tends to criticize and condemn it – I suppose because it cannot control it.

Henry’s (played by Brian Hatch) attraction to (fueled by his weakness for her ankles!) and I assume, love for, Anne (played by Brooke Owens) changed the world as they knew it. As Cardinal Wolsey (played by Kerwin Thompson) faced off with Anne – and lost, in her I saw all the women charged with threats to/falls of/losses of power (read the downfall of a man that wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for the woman – and/or the loss of a way of life as the people knew it, because of the woman), including: Eve, Delilah, Jezebel, Helen of Troy, Hester Prynne, Joan of Arc, Wallis Simpson, Princess Diana, Duchess Camilla, Olivia Pope … (What are the names you would add to this list?) We can actually list other women whom we know personally, in our communities, who are just a little too sexy, a little too influential, a little too helpful … for their own good.

Beautiful women's legs

And then I think about our current US presidential election and the threat that Hillary Clinton has always posed. She’s simply too smart and capable, regardless of people’s determinations about her trustworthiness. Still today, too many men seem incapable of dealing with smart, capable women – much less, able to do so well. They seem not to be able to separate us from our pussies – a term I use, in this context, to represent this magic that is always desired, yet must always be guarded against (despite Donald Trump’s and others’ misogynistic use of the word) – must always be controlled. Maya Angelou called it the diamonds at the meeting of our thighs. The thing is, though, you cannot control magic. I even wonder if the attempt to do so contributes to the conflicts and the downfalls that are blamed on woman.

This “magic” does not have to be overwhelming. I refuse to accept that men are not capable of being more holistic, well-rounded and not beholden to the ankles or to the pussy – scapegoats for a man’s inability (or lack of choice, courage) to make mature, wise decisions. Where is your magic, brother? Are you selling yourself short? Could it be that if you live fully into your magic, you might be able to meet mine somewhere in the heavens and really transform the world?

Perhaps it is male privilege that keeps men settled in being and doing just enough, that prevents them from doing the inner work that results in healthier and more balanced approaches to women. Humanity can be lazy; we don’t do anything remotely hard unless we have to do so. Unpacking misogyny, privilege, oppression, etc. is difficult and taxing, especially for people conditioned to be out of touch and uncomfortable with their own emotions and the plights of non-privileged persons.

Towards the end of Anne’s story, the overall narrative continues as Henry discards this amazing love of his life in favor of another woman for pleasure and purpose of offspring. The less-thans continue to be commodities and pawns in the hands of those who have and wield power – political, economic, personal, sexual, etc. Is this the fate of humanity? A persistent game of chance and chess, where our most intimate and compelling desires are subject to the callous and calculated choices of life that seek to maintain power and privilege?

I am not a rose-colored glasses type of gal, but I surely hope that we can more than create spaces in our lives free of calculation, that there are sacred spaces protected from such manipulation. I hope that our loves and passions can be enjoyed and even consumed without threats and jockeying for position and power. Let not the beauty of our vulnerabilities be so stained. Rather let it bloom and produce more beauty, appreciated for the wonder – and even the loss of control it can cause in our souls.

(c) 2016 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

why listen to bey instead of mom* or g~d?

why listen to bey instead of mom* or g~d?

A gorgeous, wealthy pop star

without impressive traditional credentials – like an Ivy League degree

 

has never been embraced

by conservatively valued members of our community

 

as a worthy role model

to influence the beliefs and actions of our young people

 

– or even ourselves.

So, why should Bey experience anything differently?

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Image: vulture.com via Beyonce/YouTube . View “Formation” at Beyonce.com.

I am not surprised at the antagonistic comments I’ve read on social media over the weekend. Defiant even. “She will not take the place of my Jesus!”

I chuckle at comments like that – for a couple of reasons.

1.

I don’t know Beyoncé, but I seriously doubt that she’s interested in becoming anyone’s savior.

2.

I believe such adamance is an expression of a shamed and uncomfortable attraction to her work.

“Thou doth protest too much …” ~Hamlet

Even for women of faith who have great relationships with their moms and love the lessons that they’ve passed down still can find other voices beyond family and the bible, church, etc. to be relevant and valuable to their experience and goals.

Bey brings to the table an unapologetic sexy sense of empowerment that we sorely need. One Facebook friend posted that we’ve been looking for a black leader to rise up. We thought it would be Obama and it turned out to be Beyoncé.

Mrs. Carter is all of who she is. Surely, we can say that her wealth allows her to be, but she wasn’t always this financially wealthy. This daring and confidence began developing long before she had paper. In fact, these intangible qualities make what we can see and feel happen. In this way, Beyoncé is a worthy model for us to follow. “I see it; I want it. I stunt, yeah, little hornet. I dream it; I work hard; I grind ‘til I own it.” (sung by Beyoncé)

We don’t have to dress like she does or dance like she does (though that would be great if my body could still absorb the intensity of those moves), but we can certainly allow her witness to inspire us to be unapologetically free in who G~d created us to be. She’s leading in ways that traditional interpretations of G~d are not, do not. She’s able to say what most moms don’t feel free enough to articulate to and for their daughters – than we are able to pronounce for ourselves.

That’s why we listen to Beyoncé, sing with her and do our best to keep up when dancing with her.

“OK, ladies, now let’s get in formation!”

*mom – While we know that dads are present in our lives, for the purpose of this post as a response to online comments about how Beyoncé doesn’t trump a mother’s advice, we are only referring to “mom” as the parent.

© 2016 candi dugas, llc – Featured image: spin.com.

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.

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