Who are the Others?

Jesus taught that we could not love our neighbor until we first loved ourselves (Mark 12:31). The past few blogs were about loving ourselves so today I am going to start blogging on relationships, how to love those “others, our neighbors.”

So, who are these “others?’ Those you like and those you don’t. Those who believe like you and those who don’t. Those who think, feel and act like you and those who don’t. We are trained in our culture to put everyone into categories and then associate with the ones most like us and avoid anyone we deem different. But that is not what Jesus did. He associated with the rich and the poor, those in the temple and those outside of it, those who were healthy and those who were sick, those in the city, those in the country. Jesus understood the concept that we all came from the same source, Creator God, so we are all connected to each other. Everyone is our brother or sister. And when we mistreat one, we are mistreating ourselves. For everything we do, say, believe, think, feel has a ripple effect on everyone else. So, while we think “this is my life” and “I can do whatever I want” the reality is, while we have the freedom to make our own choices, our choices do affect people beyond ourselves.

Following are some things I have noticed about our relationships with others:

  1. We like to focus on fixing the other person rather than focusing on our own stuff.
  2. We project our own stuff onto other’s, so we don’t have to face it.
  3. We look to others to make us happy when true happiness can only come from within.
  4. We love to pass judgement on others.
  5. We think we know what is best for others and attempt to convince them of this.
  6. We fear those who are not like us instead of seeking to understand them.

Every day as we interact with others we can choose to bless, love and serve them or we can choose to harm, manipulate or control them. We can accept people for who they are and seek to understand them or we can judge them and attempt to change them. We can hold things against them or we can forgive them. The Bible teaches that people will know us by our love, it is genuine love for each other that will draw people to the God of Love.

Remember, when you meet anyone, it is a holy encounter, you are both God’s children.

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Free to be You

Once you can love yourself, you have the freedom to be yourself, something few people are able to do. Why is it so hard to be you? Could it be that most people have no idea of who they really are? So many people live their lives trying to please others to earn love or approval. They believe the lie that if they can look and act like everyone else, wear the right label, live in the right neighborhood, make enough money, or hang out with the right people, they will be happy, loved, and at peace. They look to celebrities, sports figures, or the popular person at school or work to define who they are, what they drive, and what music they listen to. They look to the media and allow what they see and hear on television, the Internet, movies, or books influence how they feel about themselves. They play the comparison game and can always find someone better looking, with a better job, making more money, or with a better-looking man or woman.

  • Who makes up these rules?
  • Why is it that those who buck the system and choose to be different get bullied and made fun of?
  • Why do we as parent’s stress conformity over uniqueness with ourselves and with our children?

Your identity and value cannot be based solely on what others think of you, because their thoughts and feelings toward you can change by the hour, day, or week. If you judge yourself by what others think, your self-worth goes up and down like a yo-yo, and you struggle to consistently feel stable or peaceful. You are kept on this emotional roller coaster by fear of what others will say or think about you. If you are different, if you do not conform, if you do not agree, if you choose to look, act, think, or believe differently, you could be rejected rather than loved. You become a people pleaser. You focus on what you think you will lose rather than on what you will gain my being yourself. Loving self is learning how to stand up for you and confidently be the person God created you to be even when others may not like or love you.

Fall in love with who you are and embrace your authentic self. Start with something small such as wearing a style of clothes or a hairstyle that expresses who you are. Listen to music, read books, or eat food that you really enjoy rather than live out the expectations of others. You may not win a popularity contest, make the most money, or die with the most toys left behind. However, you will enjoy your life, get to do what you love, and spend time with those you love and who love you in return. And you will be free—free to be you.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you somebody else is the greatest accomplishment” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Why is it so Hard to Love Me?

Jesus taught that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. (Mark 12:31). So if we  do not love ourselves, we will have a difficult time loving others. In last week’s blog I wrote about how some of you were taught that loving yourself was selfish. Today I am going to give you a few more reasons why you may struggle to love yourself.

  1. You have been taught to focus on everything that is wrong with you. You especially see this in the media messages that show “perfect” looking people. You are taught to compare yourself to others and can always find something that does not measure up and needs to be fixed. Then the sales pitches come in about all the things you need to buy to make yourself feel better, so you can feel happy. The subliminal message is that you cannot love yourself unless you are perfect or happy. The truth is God loves you just as you are with all your imperfections, so you can choose to love yourself just as you are!
  2. Some of you may have had negative words spoken over you. You were told you were too fat/skinny/tall/short/boring/stupid/the words are endless. As children growing up you interpreted these lies as truths about you and they continue to control your life today. It is time to start speaking positive words of love over yourself.
  3. Religions often teach that because you are a sinner, you are not worth loving. However, when you receive the truth Jesus taught, you are free, and sin becomes a choice rather than your identity. You can now see yourself as God sees you—through the image of love rather than the image of sin.
  4. You all have parts of yourselves that you deem “bad” which you believe disqualify you from loving yourself. You may try to cover up and pretend the “bad” parts of you do not exist and fear you could be shunned by others if these parts were revealed. However, we are all made up of good and bad. We all do things we later regret. When you can freely admit your imperfections and not judge yourself harshly for them, they will lose their power over you. God’s love can then come in and heal these parts of you.
  5. You were taught that thinking highly of yourself was being prideful. It is only prideful when you are boasting about yourself because inside you feel insecure so are trying to find a way to build yourself up in the eyes of others. There is nothing wrong with taking pride in something you have accomplished or done well.
  6. You do not see yourself as God perceives you. You were created in the image of Creator God. Therefore, you are an amazing, creative, powerful, loving human being. You are worthy of loving.

When you choose not to love yourself, you are essentially telling God that he made a mistake because you are not worth loving. Have you ever created an artwork, a recipe, a song, or a solution to a problem that you loved but others did not like it? How did you feel? Hurt, angry, frustrated, sad? Perhaps this is how God feels when you do not love the unique person he created you to be. As you go through this list, make note of any that you resonate with and then pray and ask God to help you work through the reasons why you do not love yourself. If you need to, seek counseling so you can learn how to love yourself. Remember the words of Jesus, you cannot love others until you first love yourself. This is why it is so important that we learn what healthy self-love looks and feels like. Since God created you, the very presence of God resides within you and wants to express itself through you. You are worth celebrating! You are worth loving!

“When I loved myself enough, I began leaving whatever wasn’t healthy. This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs and habits – anything that kept me small.  My judgement called it disloyal. Now I see it as self-loving.”      Kim McMillen

Self-Love or Selfishness?

Jesus taught that we could not love our neighbor until we first loved ourselves (Mark 12:31). Why is it so hard to love ourselves? For many of us it is because we were taught that loving our self was being selfish and being selfish was wrong. So, I want to define for you the difference between self-love and selfishness.

Self-love is living life from a place of love, abundance, inner strength and peace.

  • You respect and appreciate who you are.
  • You love and accept both the good and the bad parts of you.
  • You have a sense of humor and do not beat yourself up when you cannot do everything perfectly or please everyone around you.
  • You forgive rather than shame yourself.
  • You no longer need to look to others for validation
  • You live your life the way you want to rather than according to other’s expectations of you
  • You are humble; you know who you are, so you have no need to flaunt it before others.
  • You are teachable, able to receive constructive criticism or appropriate discipline, knowing it will make you a better person.
  • You do not let people harm, use, or abuse you.

Selfishness is just the opposite of self-love. It is living life from a place of fear, lack, insecurity and worry.

  • If you do not get it first, someone else will.
  • If you do not protect it, someone will take it.
  • If you do not put yourself out front every time, no one will notice you.
  • If you share, there could be nothing left for you.
  • You put others down to make yourself look good.
  • You allow people to mistreat and abuse you.
  • You do something only if it will benefit you in some way.
  • You see yourself as a victim

If you want to be able to love yourself more, I would encourage you to seek out counseling. It will help find out where the selfishness is coming from and how to transform it into self-love. When you love yourself, you will be happier, and those around you will enjoy being with you.

“You’re always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.”
Diane Von Furstenberg

Loving God

Jesus stated that the greatest commandment was to Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. I believe this means that we are to love God with everything within us, with everything that we are, nothing held back. So why is it so difficult for us to consistently love God this way?

I believe it has to do with our perception of who God is. Most of us were raised to fear God, that God was just waiting for us to do something “bad” so he could punish us in some way. That God was an angry, punitive, judgmental God. And if this is your view of God, it makes sense that you would struggle to love God for you would always be fearful of doing something that could cause him to pull his love away from you. When you are being “good” you believe he approves of you so you can love God, but when you are being “bad” you believe he disapproves of you so you pull away from God.

Humans have a way of projecting God into their image. Because we are shown conditional love on earth, we assume God is the same way with his love. Then we make the mistake of assuming that God is a person, a man, a human like us, therefore thinks and feels like we do. Reality is God is a spirit, an energy of love and is nothing like a human being/body. God is the highest form of love, the Bible states that there is no fear in God. And if there is no fear in God, God is incapable of doing something to instill fear in you. Fear does not exist in the higher realms, it is a man made feeling relegated to planet earth. God has given us free will, the ability to make whatever choices we want. And while there is no punishment from God for our choices, there are natural consequences that come from our choices. If you choose not to study for a test, there is a good chance you may not pass it. If you choose to be mean to people, you may have a difficult time keeping good friends. If you invest your money wisely, you will receive more money. If you drive drunk, you could cause harm to yourself or others. God’s love for you is the same regardless of whether your choices are good or bad. God’s love is continuously shining on you, it is impossible to turn it off but you can choose to refuse to receive it.

The only fear we are to have toward God is one of reverence, awe and gratitude for who God is and his great love for us. When you have this kind of reverential fear toward God you want to be in his presence because you understand his unconditional love is just that, unconditional. There is nothing you could ever say or do to cause him to love you any less or more than he does right now. Therefore, you feel safe in his presence and can relax and allow a loving relationship to develop and flourish between the two of you every day, regardless of what is going on in your life. And when you have this kind of a loving relationship between the two of you, the desire to do evil, bad, selfish, harmful things to yourself or others, fades away. When you are living from love, these things lose their appeal. Therefore, you choose to do good, not because you fear God’s punishment if you do not, but because you are so filled with God’s love, you have no desire for ‘bad” anymore.

Oh, to be Free…

How many rules/laws does a society need?  And why do we need so many? In our American society we have so many rules/laws it is impossible to obey or enforce them all. While we do need some basic ones to ensure safety such as traffic laws, and some so people know what is expected of them in different situations, many of our rules/laws stem from fear and keep people in a place of opression.

We are taught that we need these rules/laws because we are born with a sin nature. Left on our own, we will naturally gravitate toward harming others to insure our own survival. We can look around our own society and through history to see how this manifests on a global scale and on a personal scale between individual people. However, I would disagree with the reason behind this need for rules/laws. I believe we need these rules/laws because of the beliefs we have about each other that are rooted in fear. When we see ourselves as separate from each other, when we believe we must compete against each other, when the only love we know is conditional, we live from a fear based survival mode, protecting self above all others. If I believe you can hurt me, I need laws to protect me from you. If I believe in lack, I need laws to insure my needs get met.

God created us with free will because he wanted us to be free. And yet all these rules/laws prevent us from being free. We have all these other people/agencies/ governments telling us what we can or cannot do, attempting to legislate a moral code. God is limitless and without restriction of any kind. We were created in God’s image to be free. When limitations are placed on us we naturally rebel against them. Intuitively we know we were created to be free.

But what would happen if we changed our beliefs and believed that we all come from the same source, God. That we are all interconnected, all brothers and sisters. That nature, animals and everything else God created was an expression of God.  That what I do to someone else, I am doing to me and I am doing to God. Now we are living from the law of love Jesus taught, and manmade rules/laws are no longer necessary. I do what is right, not because a law tells me to or I fear punishment if I do not obey the law. I do what is right because I love God, self and others and know that when I harm you, I am harming myself and the greater society in which we all live.

I believe as a human species we are designed to evolve from fear based beings to love based beings. From fear based beliefs to love based beliefs. From the need to live by man-made laws/rules to live by the higher spiritual Truths of God I blogged about last week.

I believe we are in a place where we are ready to make this leap. There is so much fear and control in the world today, people are feeling fearful, defeated and disempowered. But the way to be free and empowered is not by enacting more rules/laws. It happens when each one of us as individuals choose to move from fear to love in what we believe and in how we choose to treat each other. It happens through a divine spiritual connection to the one who created and loves us, the Source of all that is. Do not look to governments or religions to save you. The root of all the problems in our society is a spiritual one. When enough of us individuals choose to reconnect to God/Source/Love, the society around us will slowly begin to shift in a more positive direction.

 

 

 

Truth

A truth is an understanding about something that never changes. It is a constant that we can always depend upon to guide us through life. It is true for everyone regardless of gender, nationality, religion, age, social status, etc. It is not created by man. It was put into place when God created life. It is true not just for life on earth but for everything God created in the multi-universe. It is something that you discover as you journey through life and it resonates deep within your being. You cannot discredit truth. Truth is truth, and it can neither be proven nor disproved. It simply is. Truth is often referred to as Universal Law or Higher Spiritual Law or Truth, and supersedes any man-made belief systems we create. Following are some of these Truths:

There is only one God: The existence of a creator, source, being from which, everything is created from and held together by.

God is Everywhere: Since God created everything, the presence of God resides in everything. That which is far away in distant galaxies and in the soul of every human.

God is Love: Therefore, there is no reason to fear God, there is no judgement or condemnation from God.

The Law of Love: Love is who we are at our core, and when we operate from love rather than fear, everyone benefits. Love God and love others as you love yourself.

The Soul is Eternal: Humans are eternal spirits who have always been and always will be. On planet earth your sprit lives in a human body but will continue to live beyond this earthly existence in a soul body.

The Law of One: Because everything was created by God, we are all interconnected to each other and what we do, say, think and feel affects everything within us and beyond us. Do unto others as you would want them to do onto you.

The Law of Vibration or Attraction: Everything is vibrating energy and what you put out is what you will attract back into your life. You reap what you sow.

The Law of Abundance: There is no lack in God and when we live by this law everyone’s needs will be met. The earth was created with plenty of resources for everyone. The problem is man lives in fear so hoards things rather than living from love and sharing things.

Every Truth is based on love because love is who God is
Love is all there is
Love is the ultimate reality
Choose love

Beliefs

A belief is a man originated idea about how something works or what something means based on observation, knowledge and experience. And we need these beliefs to help us understand ourselves and the world around us. They determine the choices we make in life. They help hold a society together. But we can get into trouble when we refuse to revisit beliefs to see if they need to change. When we have been living with certain beliefs for so long, it is scary to consider letting them go or changing them when they no longer serve us. They have become part of our identity and give us a sense of security. They are the box in which we live.

Scientists used to believe that by the time you were an adult, your brain was set and could not change. We now understand that the brain is constantly changing as we go through life.
We used to believe women could not vote or work, now they do both.
We used to believe the world was flat but now believe it is round.
Some of you were told you were stupid, not worth much and you believed these things about yourself because they came from authority figures. But as an adult, you can choose to change them and believe you are a smart, capable person.

But there is one area we are usually told where beliefs are not allowed to change and that is religious beliefs. Even though there is plenty of evidence that some of these beliefs are wrong and no longer serve us, we continue to hang onto them because we have elevated them to Truth. We have built institutions around these beliefs so to change a few of them could cause too much controversy and disruption. We have associated these beliefs with God and so believe that if we change them, God is going to be displeased with us and punish us in some way. We are told not to question these beliefs because wise men from thousands of years ago received these beliefs from God so they cannot be changed. However, what we fail to understand is that beliefs are associated with the culture and historical time of when they originate. This is one of the reasons why beliefs need to change as the human civilization continues to advance in our knowledge and understanding of who we are, what our purpose is, who God is, and how we impact each other and the world around us. It is easy to confuse a belief with Truth, especially with religious beliefs, which is another reason why we refuse to change them.  A belief can be revisited and changed to adapt to new knowledge and experience. Truth, however, remains the same and next week I will write about how Truth differs from belief.

An old belief is like an old shoe. We so value its comfort that we fail to notice the hole in it.” Robert Brault

 

 

 

The Root of Shame

Shame is a feeling and belief that there is something inherently wrong with you. It is not that you did something bad, it is that you are bad at the core of who you are. I used to believe that shame came out of the relationships people had with parents or other adults while growing up who failed to love them and spoke negative, hurtful words over them. And while I still believe that to be true, I now realize that there is an even deeper root for shame. It is the belief religion teaches us that we are born sinners, we come out of the womb with a sin nature. My belief about this started to change when I witnessed the birth of my grandchildren and realized that they were born in perfection. Beautiful beings of love. We are all created in the image of Creator God who is the source of all life. If we say we are born with a sin nature, it would mean that God is sin, not love. What we believe about ourselves will determine everything about us. I want to show you the following comparison about these two beliefs, born in sin versus born in love.

Looking outside of self for answers because no good thing resides in me, I need some type of a savior figure to save me from myself.
I am perfect and complete just as I am, created in the image of God which is love. I am “saved” when I realize and embrace this Truth and begin to live it out.

I am unable to love myself because I am not worthy of love due to my sin nature
I can freely love myself because as God’s child, I am worthy of love.

Sin is my identity, so this is what I am conscious of all the time, perpetuating my shame
Love is my identity, so this is what I am conscious of all the time, extending love to myself and others

I live with feelings of hopelessness, stuck in this condition of sin
I live with feelings of hopefulness, free to experience and enjoy my life

I continuously beat myself up when I do something I deem sinful
I love myself even when I make mistakes, it is an opportunity to learn and grow from the experience into a better person

We are often very fearful about giving up beliefs that we were raised in as being truth. In fact, the church and fellow Christians may attempt to shame you if you consider changing the beliefs you were taught. But I am at the place in my life where I realize, if a belief is not based in love, it cannot be from God and I need to have the courage to release it and embrace what resonates as Truth deep within my being.