Over the next several weeks we will be introducing you to the faces behind the words and art here on Being Human! Our goal with these interviews is to offer you a small glimpse into their heart, hear some snippets of their story, and build connection with one another through our shared humanity. Rob Bell likes to say, “The real art is: Can I look far enough inside of you to find me?”
May you discover surprising commonalities, seek to understand, and practice empathy as you read their responses.
With that said, we’d like you to meet Felicia Murrell. She is a certified master life coach and former ordained pastor with over twenty years of church leadership experience. She also serves the publishing industry as a freelance copy editor/proofreader and is the author of Truth Encounters. Felicia resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her husband, Doug. Together, they have four adult children.
Now onto the questions!
The first question is always this: What emotions, images, thoughts, or ideas come to you when you hear the phrase “being human”?
When I hear the phrase “being human,” I think fully alive, present in your body in conscious participation with the Master Weaver in the dance of life.
I immediately see the image of humans traipsing through a field of wildflowers with their arms flung wide, mouth agape inhaling the breeze, and head thrown back in utter abandon.
To me the image is the gift of our humanity – the unguarded moments of naked vulnerability, surrender, and awe that clog the pores of our bodies desperate to exist without shame or judgment.
In your evolution and growth as a human – what are 1 or 2 moments that stand out to you as transformative in your perspective on life and/or your relationship with the Divine/God?
I have two key moments that pretty much define my before and after:
One is the experience of God loving me. Not just knowing about God as love as a theological concept but a mystical experience of God loving me. This experience changed my entire being and helped me develop a trust in God that is the anchor for my life. It is forever a love letter written on my heart that tethers me to Love even as I live and move and have my being.
The other key moment happened almost a decade ago. I felt very clearly Spirit was asking me to hand to her everything I believed to be true about God and she would give back to me what is Truth. Although I didn’t know it at the time, my consent to this invitation was like the pull on a loose thread that began to unravel the ways in which I was deeply entrenched and entangled in a slave master’s version of Christianity. It had me parroting Christianese sound bites and repeating lots of thoughts and beliefs that were not my own, colonized theological ideas that did not contribute to my or anyone else’s liberation but instead kept me oppressed and dependent upon a system where someone else, usually a pastor told me what to think, how to think, what to believe and who was in or out, good or bad.
Clearly, I understand more and more why Jesus wrote in the sand. There are things in print, even within my own book Truth Encounters that I no longer ascribe to or believe. But they too are a part of my journey and my evolution, so I honor the path even as I move on from its narrow beginnings to a more universal, inclusive, affirming vision of Divine Love. Like Sampson, I’ve seen my pillars of certainty collapse, crumbling everything in its wake. Thankfully, Love is a sure foundation that remains strong amid the rubble. The beauty of that collapse was learning to find my footing in freedom, which for an Enneagram 8 is a scary thing. But the Divine has shown me that Love is the structure in which freedom is governed. I can trust myself and others when their freedom splashes onto the banks of Love. This was pivotal for me learning and releasing: Can I trust Love with the other? When I see someone harming themselves or others, can I trust the voice of Love in guiding my response? Do I understand that Love is fluid, it is unique and active? Sometimes Love pursues. Sometimes Love pauses.
Participation with Love is more like a dance than a manual with fixed steps that will always be the same. Love requires that I be awake, alert, not sleep walking through life.
Love allows for my mistakes and failings and those of others. When I see people’s disregard, can I trust Love to bring them into the truth of their being or do I rush in – dominate, subjugate, manipulate and twist their agency to turn the story and events of their life into what I need it to look like to feel safe? There are no guarantees that I get what I want. Am I truly ok with that? How do you live okay in the unknown? For me, trust flourishes in the soil of Love but without the experience of God loving me, I never would have been able to get to this place of surrender.
Why do you think it is so difficult for us as humans to accept our innate wholeness and dignity? What (moments, books, experiences, etc.) or who has helped you along in this journey?
What you believe to be true about God frames every part of your existence. We who are made in the image and likeness of God are always looking for the image of God to be mirrored back to us. Sadly, what we too often see are the parts of our humanity and religious experience that resemble knotted thread more than seamless stitching. And without a reflection of wholeness and dignity, it’s sometimes difficult to accept your own. This is largely a result of the lie of separation upon which the whole industry of body shaming and body terrorism exists.
The myth that we are separated and flawed keeps us chasing carrots, addicted and consumed by the next fix or the next thing that will heal us, restore us, thin us, free us. Whatever will repair our shattered image of ourselves and restore us to wholeness, that’s what we most desire.
We’ve been taught to fragment, cut off, hide, bury, or deny anything that does not fit our image of perfection or society’s standards for purity. Healing our God concept and healing the image of how we see ourselves is crucial to accepting our innate wholeness and inherent dignity. My book, Truth Encounters chronicles my journey to wholeness and living loved. I believe that until we are anchored internally in Divine Love, we will continue to seek external validation and affirmation of our inherent dignity.
What are some things you do to nurture your soul and practice self-compassion?
Solitude is regenerative for me, as are walks through the local botanical garden. I love flowers and color and find that my soul comes alive in the presence of both. I also draw energy from urban centers; I love the clamor and hum of its vitality, which I’ve missed being able to visit during COVID. Trips to museums and green spaces as well as the beach are life-giving for me. I engage in the Buddhist practice of Tonglen when I find myself being harsh and critical and need to practice self-compassion.
What are you currently reading and/or listening to that we need to know about?!
Thurman, Thurman and more Thurman. Howard Thurman has become my sage and ancestral guide during these times. I strongly recommend Anchored in the Current by Gregory Ellison and Thurman’s trilogy of meditations: Deep is the Hunger, Meditations of the Heart, and The Inward Journey. And everyone, EVERYONE needs to read his book, Jesus and the Disinherited. As in, move it to the top of your “To Be Read” list and read it next!
Ikigai (ee-key-guy) is Japanese for “the reason you wake up in the morning,” and their supposed secret to a long and happy life. What currently makes you excited to wake up and be alive in this world?
What makes me excited is simply this: I get to be alive today in the dance of Love. I get to be alive today in the dance of Love with you. I get to live curiously. I get to live content. I get to live compassionately. I get to live in conscious participation in the Dance of Life. I don’t live a driven life.
I no longer participate with folding in on myself and sabotaging opportunity by playing small or catering to feelings of deservedness. Neither do I strive toward some lofty ambitious goal of being that is also created by ideals of counting and measuring or however the world deems success for the day.
I am content to live in the grace for this present day and look forward to seeing what unfolds as it unfolds even if that’s just the normalcy of another day. What makes me most excited (other than good food, good wine, and great sex) is that I am at home in my body and learning each day how to live more fully into that yes.
Wow! Thank you Felicia for sharing with us!
What did you take away from today’s interview- be it a phrase that stands out, a book to read, a practice to try, or simply a hush in your spirit that you too are human and you have found another companion for your journey! Let Felicia know by leaving her a comment or any questions below. Then peruse some of her poetry on Instagram or her words here!