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Randy Elrod
Intoxicated by experience, astonished by life, attentive to myself and others, hungry for mystery.
Intoxicated by experience, astonished by life, attentive to myself and others, hungry for mystery.

Randy's posts

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New location for my talk "Be Who You Are Not What You Do" filmed at scenic Burgess Falls Tennessee

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On Wholeness and Being (Letters from Kalien)

I felt like a piece of paper that had been torn into a thousand pieces and thrown into the wind. This sentence from my memoir "A Renaissance Redneck In A Mega-Church Pulpit" described my life in the year 2006. My therapist later called this phenomenon fragmentation—a psychological term that describes the separation or the division of something into pieces or fragments. It is the name of a psychological disturbance where thought and actions are split apart.

Sounds bad, huh? The psychology dictionary goes on to say: "In fragmentation a person will appear to be vague and show bizarre actions.” Yep, that would describe me perfectly for most of the past decade. Another article says, “A fragmented person experiences a detachment from reality, like ‘spacing out.’ Part of that person just isn’t ‘there in the moment.’”

This fragmentation is often the result of trauma. For me, the traumatic situation was the result of years of abuse or neglect of my self.

The question: So what is the opposite of fragmentation? My therapist describes it as cohesion. Others call it wholeness or congruence. When you enter the words, “cohesion psychology definition” in Google, most of the results deal with group cohesion.

I have come to understand that my self can be described as a three part being. A group if you will. A being comprised of a body, soul, and spirit. In my case, it wasn’t just that my soul was fragmented from my body (although years of religious dogma had certainly made sure of that), or that my spirit was fragmented from my soul, or my spirit from my body—all of my three parts were also fragmented.

I was in deep shit. Eleven years and I’m still recovering from the abuse and trauma inflicted upon me by the institutions of life: family, church, society, and education.

My wife Gina and I were talking during breakfast this morning and I asked her one of my endless questions. “What is the most important thing you’ve learned in the last seven years of adversity and suffering (self and other imposed) since your divorce?

After a few moments of reflection, she replied, “I’ve learned I need to take care of my self.”

I replied, “I would say exactly the same thing. These past eleven years of anguish, guilt, and shame have taught me that throughout the first forty years of my life, I cared for everyone but me.”

So that begs other questions: How does one take care of oneself? Isn’t that selfish? Aren’t we supposed to deny our self?

In this letter, I want to briefly consider the question: How does one take care of oneself? All three questions in the previous paragraph deserve deep thought and lively conversation.

In order to take care of oneself one must know oneself. You would think we could get this. After all, the two thousand-year-old Ancient Greek aphorism has made the rounds of most of the great thinkers of history.

Arguably, as I previously mentioned, we are a tripart being. From Merriam Webster Dictonary: The body is the organized physical substance of a person; the soul is the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life, the spirit is an animating or vital principle held to give life to physical organisms or the immaterial intelligent or sentient part of a person.

This is where it gets interesting. I would switch the definitions of soul and spirit. How about you?

Could the health of our being (the qualities that constitute our existence) mean getting to know our self, taking care of our self, thereby insuring our body, soul, and spirit are whole rather than fragmented? Now that’s a weighty question, huh?

Could this be the reason we exist? Jesus in the Hebrew Bible seems to suggest this ideal. In the book of Mark, in what he calls the second greatest commandment of all, he says, Love your neighbor as yourself. Here loving yourself seems to be the prerequisite for loving others.

How can we love and care for others unless we first love and care for our self?

So this brings us back around to wholeness.

What does wholeness mean to you for your body? To be physically sound and healthy?

What does wholeness mean to you for your soul? To be emotionally sound and healthy?

What does wholeness mean to you for your spirit? To be essentially sound and healthy?

Could it be this profoundly simple? That the purpose of life is to realize one’s own potential, to follow one’s own perception of the truth, and to become a whole person in one’s own right?

To be, or not to be, that is the question.

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New Post: Ten Things That Rocked My World In 2016:

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Ever Wondered What Exactly is Kalien Retreat?

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The re:Create Conference is an encouraging & refreshing place to gather with people celebrating who they really are.

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Join me LIVE tomorrow at 11—11:20am CST as I guest on @WorshipTT#WorshipTeamHangout  Discussing Topic:"Surviving Unhealthy Churches"

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Just finished a new original artpiece for #TheHawksNest inspired by Hemingway. #Kalien I utilized wood found and reclaimed from our 52 year old barn. 
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