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


    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.


    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 and accept all our experiences, including our traumatic ones. Read more

    Mining the Digital Depths of Friendship

    A woman texting on her smart phone.


    Posted on November 2, 2021 by Jenn Zatopek and Tabitha McDuffee

    In my early teens, I (Tabitha) started making friends online. Before Facebook, Instagram, and ages before anyone recorded a Tik Tok dance, I was active on a popular forum for zealous evangelical youth. We were Christian teenagers eager to “do hard things” and change the world. Many of us were homeschooled and had few opportunities for friendship beyond our generously sized families.

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    The Gift of a Garden


    Posted on October 22, 2021 by Jenn Zatopek

    As autumn arrives, I reflect on the past year and how beauty has saved me. What comes to mind first is not the church (though I am grateful for her fellowship and sacraments), but the accidental garden in our front yard. The goodness of God is cloaked in mystery, which became apparent in the unexpected gift of a family garden we never intended to plant. God has marvelous plans for us, which involve healing and restoration, not only of our tired and weary hearts but also of the land and our kinship to it. Read more

    The Smallest Possible Thing


    Posted on September 5, 2021 by Jenn Zatopek

    While out hiking New Year’s Day on the grassy prairies of the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma, I saw a small toad in a slender crevice of water. The long narrow pool of water was ensconced between two gabbro rocks, solidified roots of ancient volcanoes, formed eons ago when tectonic plates wrestled together on the earth’s shifting surface. The creature had burrowed itself into the grimy sand below the still water and blew bubbles, forming a creamy foam circle the size of a child’s thumb on the water’s surface. . .

    I’d love it if you clicked here and read the rest over at Bearings Online at Collegeville Institute. 

    (Image: The grassy plains of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Jenn Zatopek)