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    On Trauma and Healing: Part 2

    Summer sunset at Mount Bonnell in Austin.

    Posted on July 28, 2022 by Jenn Zatopek

    Although unprocessed trauma affects us deeply, I can’t help but think about the unexpected gifts that reside there, the burgeoning awareness that this life one lives at the heat and cold of trauma is not the full story but one that has shaped us into who we are. Traumatic memories cry out for us to notice them: they vie for our attention because the body seeks to collaborate with other souls for wholeness. This is why these hard memories come to us unbidden, seeking liberation and learning for you. The fact that you are reading this essay tells me that you are drawn to that which will help you open to healing. 

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    The Gift of the Holy Spirit

    Red poppies against a blue sky.

    GUEST POST FOR THE GLORIOUS TABLE

    Posted on June 2, 2022 by Jenn Zatopek

    As I consider the wondrous gifts of Pentecost, I am humbled by God’s amazing compassion towards us, but I’m also reminded of recent loss. During the second year of the pandemic, I lost three close friends, all Christian women who ended our connection in terribly damaging ways. How grievous it is to lose a friend—as heartrending as losing a lover, a parent, or a beloved pet.

    How can followers of Christ act this way? Don’t we have the Holy Spirit? Of course, I know I have spoken harsh, angry and hurtful words when my feelings overwhelmed my ability to listen to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. So how can we practice our faith in compassionate ways, even when someone has prompted strong emotions within us?

    The beauty of God coming to us in Acts shows us the way forward: the Holy Spirit comes to us through Christ, who unites us with God! At Pentecost, we celebrate this marvelous gift as the birth of the Christian church, a new way of life for all, “pouring out my Spirit upon every kind of people,” to share and unite around a new community rooted in love and belonging. (Acts 2:1-21 MSG). We have access to God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who longs for us to seek solace, rest, and companionship in him (1 Cor. 3:16-17). God’s divine breath lives through us, and as we focus on following his will for our lives, we allow peace, goodness, and love to naturally arise (Gal. 5:22).

    We practice this new way of being rooted in God’s love by accessing the wondrous Holy Spirit through meditation. . .

    I’d love it if you clicked here and read the rest over at The Glorious Table. 

    Image: Unsplash

    On the Blessings of Nature

    Posted on May 28, 2022 by Jenn Zatopek

    I wrote a well-written essay two years ago and stalled out on publishing it here on my blog. Why, you ask? It was not chosen for publication at several online magazines I submitted it to, and I felt ashamed of it. Why am I publishing it now? Because we need to honor our gifts and do the opposite of our shame and fear! It’s never to late to put your work out there, even if it’s a few years late!

    I wrote this essay about a month before the Covid-19 pandemic swept through our land, writing away in my tiny windowless office at the university I worked at. I hope you enjoy this blast from my past and that you take time to share your wondrous art with the world!

    ***

    On the cusp of spring, I attended a small women’s retreat in a neighboring county. Nestled in a hilly suburban neighborhood, the parkland spans over 600 acres of fertile woods and prairies in the middle of the ever-expanding Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Upon arrival, I prayed for courage and left my car, joining the other women at the small clearing on the far side of the woods. All had welcoming smiles for me, and I was again surprised, dismayed, and relieved that my lively imagination—while trying its best to help me cope by envisioning the worst—was (thankfully) wrong again.

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    Our Original Goodness

    Posted on May 19, 2022 by Jenn Zatopek

    So much of what we want is a quick fix to end our suffering, and it’s only natural to want that because difficult emotions are painful to feel. From a neuroscience perspective, these painful feelings are the direct result of unconscious emotional knowings learned in our distant past. We carry these emotional knowings with us in a part of our memory that is largely unconscious (known as implicit memory), and these knowings are learned from a multitude of interactions with our caregivers, family, friends, and the culture we live in. These emotional knowings drive our actions on an unconscious level, and because we are wired for learning and growth, we will act according to what we know to be true in our lived experience.

    Of course, we act this way: it is all we have ever known.

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    Practicing Compassion for Ourselves

    GUEST POST FOR THE GLORIOUS TABLE

    Posted on February 17, 2022 by Jenn Zatopek

    With tears streaming down her face, my client said, “I don’t know if I’ll ever be free of this way of being, of feeling like no one cares about me.” I sat still as she shared her despair, listening with compassion and deep faith. She talked about how, as she was growing up, her parents were not fully present with her, how their way of showing affection was through invalidation and a steady stream of criticism. She carried their voices within, and the inner critic drowned out the voice of love that lives within all of us.

    Her story was one with which I was all too familiar. . .

    I’d love it if you clicked here to read the rest over at The Glorious Table. 

    Image: Giulia Bertelli, Unsplash

    The Great Belonging Book Review

    Lost Lakes on a snowy day.

    GUEST POST FOR THE PRESBYTERIAN OUTLOOK

    Posted on February 9, 2022 by Jenn Zatopek

    The pandemic ushered in a new way of living, highlighting our need to connect as we work, worship and gather together on screens. Even with the relaxation of social distancing restrictions, loneliness beckons. Writer and spiritual director Charlotte Donlon has written a timely response for such a time as this in her new book The Great Belonging. Part spiritual memoir and part guide, Donlon approaches loneliness as a helpful messenger rather than something to be feared, denied or ashamed of. Donlon’s insightful essays weave back and forth in time, centering on the power of loneliness to help us remember our belonging to ourselves, each other, art, place and God.

    I’d love it if you clicked here and read the rest over at Presbyterian Outlook

    Image of Lost Lakes, Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma by Jenn Zatopek

    On Trauma and Healing: Part 1

    An image of a snowy mountain landscape in the late afternoon.

    Posted on January 31, 2022 by Jenn Zatopek

    We live in extraordinary times of great change, reminding us we are embodied creatures, spirit and matter coalescing in a wondrous kaleidoscope of lived experiences, hidden dreams, inchoate longings, and windswept memories. We are not just our thoughts and feelings but beings whose lives are meant to fully inhabit, accept, and honor all our experiences, including our traumatic ones. Read more