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Manifesting a Better World from Within

Peace & Love are an inside job. Real-talk wisdom with Felicia Murrell

What do you see when you see you? What thoughts run through your mind? What self-talk emerges and what of its tone? What sensations course through your body?

  Most of us don’t know how to look at ourselves in the mirror without judgment, ridicule, scorn or derision. Something always seems… less than, not good enough.

Yet we dearly hope to manifest a better world.

  We haven’t been taught how to allow, make room for, or be with. We struggle with the gift of grace, and struggle to express gratitude for our being and all the ways our body has supported and carried us even as it ages, even with its aches and pains. We war against, fighting to change, to make it be what we think it ought to be.

  It's no wonder that we struggle with “AND” – the place where two things can be true, where paradoxes are held in tension, where contradictions, opposing views, and differing opinions are allowed, the place of fluidity that’s less fixed than binaries and the polar extremes of either/or ways of being. Our rigidity, clinging to our certitudes and need for control, can trap us into seeing ourselves, and the world, through a myopic frame where the only view we allow is the one we think should exist, as if we all carry our own personal View-Master™ inside.

  Within that View-Master™ we expect every sight to match what we’ve envisioned. That narrow container filled with images that illicit safety, comfort, nostalgia, euphoria, normalcy. Pictures deeply ingrained in our psyche, formed by our traditions, routines, magazines, TV films, and belief structures. And while the View-Master™ was a child’s toy, even our make-believe was shaped by the reality society told us could exist.

  Intolerant of anything unfamiliar, or do not know by our own lived experience, we fear change, fear difference. And if we fear our neighbors being anything other than we picture them being, we will struggle to love them. Just as we struggle to love our own body as it ages and becomes something different than we’ve pictured it to be.


 The warmongering way of the world mirrors that which is internal. We fight against ourselves, willing ourselves, sometimes beating ourselves, into submission to an image, a belief, some accepted norm through harsh workout routines, extreme dieting regimens or cutting and carving into our flesh through a plastic surgeon’s scalpel. Afraid to allow what is, uncomfortable in the process of change, we attempt to quash anything we deem unacceptable.

  If I am afraid of me, I will also be afraid of you.

If we cannot come close enough to our own selves to tend our broken, hurting places with compassion, we will never have capacity to hold space for someone else’s.

If we are riled by character defects or differences, we will deem others evil, unfit to exist as they are, worthy of the violence wrought upon them. We will wage war against others until they submit to the way we think they should live their life and exist in the world. And we’ll call that domination peacemaking.


A tree seen looking up from a cave.

Is that truly the way to heal our world? Is it the way we heal ourselves? Healing happens when we participate with Divine Love.

  By Love, I mean Source, the Divine Presence or Sacred Reality that is the Ground of All Being. In the Christian tradition, many use the name God. Whatever your faith tradition or expression for the cosmic, universal outpouring of love’s healing energy in the world, and within, this is what I mean by Love.

  As I write in my latest book, AND: The Restorative Power of Love In An Either/Or World: “What is true about God? God is Love (1 John 4:8).

  The experience of Love loving us allows us to feel and then to see. As Love invades our numbed-out parts, awakening us from cloudy misperception to Truth, we are invited to heal and to believe what Love believes about us, to trust in the benevolence and kind intentions of Love. Trust flourishes in the soil of Love. And there, our God image transforms.

  We don’t just decide to see God as loving; Love is who God is. To encounter Divine Love is to encounter our deepest self.

  We are the imago Dei, the embodiment of Love existing in interior freedom, uniquely expressing its beauty, truth, and goodness to the external world around us.”

  In participating with Love, we allow ourselves to be healed. We cannot ask a world to give something we have never learned to give ourselves. We cannot ask for the healing of the world, for the world to be a kind and considerate place or for the world to become peaceable and nonviolent if we haven’t first practiced peacemaking within our own interior world. “First clean the inside of the cup,” says the wisdom teacher Jesus.

  We start first with ourselves. We give ourselves the gift of unconditional acceptance, allowing all of the pieces and parts of ourselves to exist without shame, diminishment or disregard. We see the fullness of our humanity without treating any part of ourselves as an anathema, or relegating any part of ourselves to the margins.

  Interior freedom is a spaciousness that allows us to exist how we are as we are, to know within the depths of our being that we are dearly loved, cared for and held in Love. We can see the whole of who we are without being possessed by our faults or the parts of ourselves we deem as bad.

  While allowing for the process of transformation, we don’t participate with change in negative ways. We’re not using violence to bring about wholeness. We nurture and notice, tend to ourselves with honesty and compassion – cleaning the inside of our own cup. As we learn to give ourselves the gift of interior freedom, to make room for the fullness of our humanity to exist without ridicule or judgment, this practice spills over into the way we are with other people. It becomes a way of life.

  If we never give ourselves the gift of being with our self, of fully seeing ourselves and loving what we see – if we never learn to be with our self in a way that nurtures, if we do not possess this compassionate positive regard for ourselves, we won’t have it within us to give to someone else. The very idea will remain unfamiliar and we will continue to demand some external power structure, system or person in authority wrest control and force change from the outside.


A tendril spirals out of a leaf

 As we are healed, we soften. Surrendering to what is, we push less against the goad. We can own all the pieces and parts of ourselves with compassion and gratitude, allow them to exist, make room for them in our interior landscape without being possessed by them and without being afraid of any part of ourselves. This is self-leadership, learning to accept our self, learning to be with ourselves as we are, how we are without needing permission or validation to exist from an external authority or outside source.

  When we turn toward our interior selves with honesty and humility, noticing and nurturing, tending the space within, Love sets right that which has been misaligned.

For the sake of humanity’s flourishing, we must return to Love. Love, the Source of all being, lives within us. Love has loved us before the foundation of this world. Love is loving us right now.

And there in the experience of Love loving us… down, down in our inner most being, we uncover the truth of our personhood. There, inside the experience of Love loving us, we hear Love call us by name. Beloved. There, we come to see what Love sees: Our self as Beloved.

And if in the inner recesses of my own personhood, I know that I am Beloved. What truth do I discover about you as well?

I am Beloved. You are Beloved. Thus it is so for all sentient beings, we are Beloved.

Love is the alchemy for transformation.


A Practice: Stare at yourself in a mirror. No, don’t look away. Offer empathy for that part of you that has been taught to judge, to not accept or to look away. Eyes wide open. Allow the moment to be. Smile. Let your heart soften toward yourself. Notice how softening feels in your body. Sense where you relaxed. Offer gratitude to yourself for your existence, for your perseverance, for your being. Notice what gratitude feels like in your body.


Felicia Murrell, a spiritual director and certified master life coach, resides in Woodbury, Minnesota, with her husband, Doug. They have four adult children. As a former ordained pastor with over twenty years of church leadership experience, Felicia has spent several years serving churches and training others in various inner healing modalities with an emphasis on helping people become unencumbered to the cares and burdens of life that keep them from experiencing freedom and connection with the Divine.

Felicia also serves the publishing industry as a freelance copy editor and proofreader. The author two books, her latest, AND: The Restorative Power of Love In An Either/Or World (Whitaker House) was released in February, 2024. Learn more at


Sky circle photo by Niloofar Kanani

Tree from Unsplash/Getty Images

Tendril photo by Bogomil Mihaylov

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2 komentarze

31 maj

"Within that View-Master™ we expect every sight to match what we’ve envisioned. That narrow container....." Narrow indeed. Love this comparison!

Odpowiada osobie:

So true! She has a real gift for the fitting analogy.

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