Spiritual Dyslexia and Central Command

I call it “spiritual dyslexia.”

When I was teaching myself to write, if an offering really, really did not appeal to me, I reluctantly signed up. That’s how I discovered literary journalism—literary journalism? I gasped when I read the syllabus Randall Kenan was teaching that year. It sounded terrible, but Randall was teaching it and I wanted to learn from him. Mostly, I knew my reaction meant I needed to take the course—an aversion to something was the exact indicator it was the right thing for me to do. So I signed up and, predictably, I fell in love with the concept, and I fell in love with Randall, and I wrote literary journalism essays for years.

Later, when I was teaching myself to follow the Holy Spirit, if I really, really didn’t want to do something, I trudged forward doing it. I had learned by then that my spiritual dyslexia was as unfailingly correct as my geographic dyslexia—when we’re traveling, if I say turn right, my husband turns left and we arrive swiftly at our destination. Recently, I’ve blogged a bit about doing what totally embarrasses me ’cause the dadgum Spirit tells me to, but for the most part, I’ve dropped this as an intentional practice.

Glennon Doyle Melton says I need to pick it back up.

Last night, my amazing godchild took me to an amazing talk. It was slap-your-neighbor funny and wait-a-minute-what-did-she say? profound, my two favorite things. Ms. Melton, a blogger and author and speaker, covered many topics, but one of them was following not your “happiness” (for her, eating sugar and watching Bravo), but your discomfort.

As she says in this blog post:

IF IT’S EASY AND SHINY- BEWARE. IF IT STINGS A LITTLE – SIT TIGHT, GET CURIOUS, AND THEN LEAN IN.

To be clear: I am NOT, NOT, NOT a fan of “God sends us troubles so we can learn.” I also am NOT a fan of “pain makes us stronger” or “suffering is the quickest route to God.” I am a fan of “This is your life—if you are lucky enough to find it, live it,” which is the central message of the quoted blog post.

I am also a fan of the brain and its ability to know. By “the brain,” I mean the part of the brain I think of as Central Command. This brain is mostly hidden from us. Maybe it’s the subconscious, but that’s not quite right, either. It’s the part of the brain that finds patterns, discerns meanings, makes connections when we are unaware it is doing so. (I tend to think of Central Command as the Leviathan vessel Moya in the Syfy TV show Farscape, but that’s just me.) Central Command is the part of your brain that has your absolutely best interest in mind (ha, ha-in mind, that’s a pun). Central Command is not swayed by our petty, surface, insecure, what-will-they-think? interest but pursues our deep-down, this-really-matters best interest.

Central Command is what tells me, hmmmmm—you’re having an adverse reaction because the thing will be hard or requires action that makes you uncomfortable or risks tarnishing the way you want to be viewed. It will involve your ego in a not very pleasant way. It will tell you to run away, hands in the air, screaming.

Do not listen to this reaction, Central Command instructs. Recognize it as the spinning weather vane that will send you in the flat wrong direction if you let it, or as Ms. Melton says, understand it is our forever grappling after that which we know for certain will not bring happiness.

When my spiritual dyslexia discerns an uncomfortableness, my Central Command tells me, in Ms. Melton words, “Sit tight, get curious, and then lean in.”

I’ll try to start paying better attention.

Following the Holy Spirit, Glennon Doyle Melton, leaning in, momastery, Randall Kenan, spiritual dyslexia, writing as spiritual exercise

Comments (9)

  • This is so great to hear because I find my best writing comes when I do something that makes me squirm. I, too, shall make an effort to listen to “Central Command”.

      • “non-boredom”! Here’s a story to go with that sentiment: I work a compressed work week that allows me to take every other Friday off. After regaling me with what she was going to do on her free Friday, a friend asked me what I was planning and I replied I was going to spend it writing. Her reply? “Oh”. I realized it sounded boring to her but I don’t think injecting characters in a story and making them do crazy things is boring at all! Anyway, here’s to non-boredom.

        • I’m with you on that one—writing is fabulous entertainment.I still feel like I’m “sneaking away” when I write, even though it is mostly what I do with my time. She simply doesn’t know!

          • I looked at the website. That’s COOL! Boy, suddenly I feel quite exotic being a Canadian – a rare feeling indeed. I can’t believe you’re getting Neil Young – officially jealous. He was supposed to be in Ottawa for our folk festival last year but canceled for health reasons.

  • I like being confronted with a different way of thinking. Your Central command really is a fascinating place and this post helps me appreciate the importance of difference and diversity in almost every setting. There is so much good stuff in your posts that I am sure it is only a matter of time until it wis widely circulated. Besides it is both fun and challenging, often provoking a “Oh? I never thought about it that way..”

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