Cant We All Just Get Along?

While people often ask this question, our society has been set up to insure this idea of everyone getting along does not consistently happen. From a young age we are trained to see those different from ourselves as our enemy. We are trained to compete against each other.  We are trained not to trust each other. We are trained to blame others rather than taking personal responsibility. We see this in politics, religion, education, sports, economics and in many other areas. One of the things that fuels this “us versus them” mindset is competition. Competition has been around for a long time because it does have some positive aspects such as:

  • Encourages us to strive to be better than we thought we could be
  • Teaches us to set goals and to keep after them
  • Not to give up when things get difficult
  • Keeps us from becoming lazy and mediocre.

However, competition also has some negative aspects that prevent us from getting along with each other. It sets us up to have winners and losers and our value and worth as a person is determined by if we win or lose. Rather than seeing you as an equal, I put you down, instill fear in you, see you as an enemy, verbally attack/taunt/bully you, so I can win rather than you. It is hard to feel love toward another person when you are treating them this way. While competition will most likely always be apart of our culture, I would like to encourage you to consider the benefits of cooperation.

  • You are valued, wanted, loved, and accepted for who you are, not for what you do.
  • You work together to help each other meet your needs or wants.
  • You feel loved whether you win or lose.
  • You can celebrate who you are without having to prove yourself against anyone else.
  • You value other people and do what you can to help others, not just yourself.
  • Because you feel love toward others, you seek to understand them rather than fear your differences.
  • You live with less anxiety when you are not competing against each other.
  • It is easier to trust people when you are working with them rather than opposing them.
  • You see yourselves connected to each other.

As you interact with people this week, whether is it co-workers, friends or family members, start noticing the times you find yourself competing versus cooperating with them. When you find yourself competing, ask yourself why, who is it benefiting, how does it make you feel, how does it affect the one you are competing against, it is helping you get along with others? And when you are can, choose cooperation over competition. Let us celebrate and seek to understand and respect the differences between us rather than trying to prove we are better than someone else. We are all part of the human family, all from the same Creator God Source. We can all get along when we choose to.

 

 

 

 

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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.

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

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.

 

 

A Course in Miracles Chapter 28: The Undoing of Fear

The title for chapter 28 is The Undoing of Fear. Within this chapter are the following sub-titles: The Present Memory, Reversing Effect and Cause, The Agreement to Join, The Greater Joining, The Alternate to Dreams of Fear, The Secret Vows, and The Ark of Safety.

In the concept of time we all live in, there is always a past. We cannot physically return to the past but its effects remain with us reenacted through our thoughts, feelings and actions in the present. For many people, the past contains fearful memories of painful things that happened to them or what they inflicted on others. This chapter talks about how we can choose to continue to live with these fearful memories or we can allow the Holy Spirit to release them out of us. The only reason we continue to have the fearful memories is because we choose to. We believe they keep us safe, protect us from further harm, reminding us that the world is not a safe place and if we are not careful, harm can come to us again. “And if memory seems to serve to cherish ancient hate, and gives you pictures of injustices and hurts that you were saving, this is what you asked its message be and that it is. All of the strange associations made to keep the past alive, the present dead, are stored within it, waiting your command that they be brought to you, and lived again. Nor will the call to wakening be heard, because it seems to be the call to fear.” The call to awaken and give up the fearful memories can be just as fearful as the memories themselves. For you have lived with memories a long time, and to let them go would feel like you are removing your defense system leaving you feeling fearful and defenseless.  When we choose to release the memories, there is nothing for fear to attach itself to. “The Holy Spirits use of memory is quite apart from time. He does not seek to use it as a means to keep the past, but rather as a way to let it go. How instantly the memory of God arises in the mind that has no fear to keep the memory away! Its own remembering has gone. There is no past to keep its fearful image in the way of glad awakening to present peace.”

The chapter also talks about the “gap” that is between sickness and healing. It is up to us how large or small we want this gap to be. The remembering of the fearful memories contributes to the sickness in the body and creates our illusion that we are alone and separated from others. It is God’s desire that this gap be healed and will be healed when we realize we are not alone, we are all apart of each other and of God. “I thank you Father, knowing You will come to close each little gap that lies between the broken pieces of Your holy son. Your Holiness, complete and perfect, lies in every one of them. And they are joined because what is in one is in them all. How holy is the smallest grain of sand, when it is recognized as being part of the completed picture of Gods Son! The forms the broken pieces seem to take mean nothing. For the whole is in each one. And every aspect of the Son of God is just the same as every other part. The beautiful relationship you have with all your brothers is a part of you because it is a part of God Himself. But miracles are the result when you do not insist on seeing in the gap what is not there. Your willingness to let illusions go is all the Healer of Gods Son requires. He will place the miracle of healing where the seeds of sickness were. And there will be no loss, but only gain.”

“Where fear has gone there love must come, because there are but these alternatives. Where one appears, the other disappears. And which you share becomes the only one you have. You have the one that you accept, because it is the only one you which to have.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Course in Miracles Chapter 25: The Justice of God

The title for chapter 25 is The Justice of God. Within this chapter are the following sub-titles: The Link to Truth, The Savior from the Dark, Perception and Choice, The Light You Bring, The State of Sinlessness, The Special Function, The Rock of Salvation, Justice Returned to Love, and The Justice of Heaven.

Justice is a word we hear a lot in our society. When a crime is committed, when harm has been done to us in some way, when unfairness and discrimination occur, when genocide and terror occur, we cry out for individual and global justice. So, what exactly is justice, what is it we really want? I believe we want to be compensated for some type of loss we feel happened to us and we want the person who harmed us in some way to be punished for what they did. We want a winner and a loser. What was taken from us we want to be taken from the one who harmed us. We want them to feel the pain they caused us.  From our 3rd dimensional reality on planet earth, this makes perfect sense to us. However, from God’s perspective, justice looks very different.

When someone does something we deem “wrong,” something that harmed another person, we refer to that act as sin. We have been taught that sin deserves punishment and we call that justice. However, this course teaches that what we call sin, God calls a mistake and so the correct response is correction rather than punishment. Justice is taking the time to understand why this person did what they did and help them learn a better way to respond and interact with people. Justice is holding them accountable through love, understanding, correction, rehabilitation and forgiveness. “Is this a sin or a mistake, forgivable or not? Does he need help or condemnation? Is it your purpose that he be saved or damned? God is wholly fair to everyone. Vengeance is alien to Gods Mind because he knows of justice. To be just is to be fair, and not be vengeful. Fairness and vengeance are impossible, for each one contradicts the other and denies that it is real. It is extremely hard for those who still believe sin is meaningful to understand the Holy Spirits justice. And, they perceive the threat of what God knows as justice to be more destructive to themselves and to their world than vengeance, which they understand and love.”

We learned last week that we like to make ourselves “special” better than others by looking down and punishing those who do not meet our standards of what is right or wrong. All of us are capable of doing evil and harm to others, when put in circumstances that bring this out in us. This course teaches that we are all one, the one who harmed you is your brother and one of God’s creations. To take vengeance on them, to want to punish them, is to want to do these things to yourself. To want to take from them for what they took from you is not justice. “How can the special really understand that justice is the same for everyone? To take from one to give another must be an injustice to them both, since they are equal in the Holy Spirits sight. Their Father gave the same inheritance to both. Who would have more or less is not aware that he has everything. For love and justice are not different. Because they are the same does mercy stand at Gods right Hand and gives the Son of God the power to forgive himself of sin. Without love is justice prejudiced and weak. And love without justice is impossible. In justice, then, does love correct mistakes, but not in vengeance. For that would be unjust to the innocence.”

Everything is based on perception. Everything that happens is neutral until you decide what value, beliefs, thoughts and feelings you want to attach to it. What you perceive as an evil act done to you will appear very differently by the one who committed the act. “Perception is a choice of what you want yourself to be; the world you want to live in, and the state in which you think your mind will be content and satisfied. The Holy Spirit has the power to change the whole foundation of the world you see to something else. And when he chooses to avail himself of what is given him, then will he see each situation that he thought before was means to justify his anger turned to an event which justifies his love. He will hear plainly that the calls to war he heard before are really calls to peace. He will perceive that where he gave attack is but another alter where he can, with equal ease and far more happiness, bestow forgiveness.”

This understanding of justice from heavens perspective is very different from what I have been taught and practice. It seems impossible that we could ever get to the place in our world where we could apply this type of justice on a national or global scale. However, I do believe we could begin to incorporate it into our individual lives in how we treat those who we deem have harmed us in some way. And when enough of us can consistently do this, God’s justice will begin to permeate through our society.

A Course in Miracles Chapter 21: Reason and Perception

The title for chapter 21 is Reason and Perception. Within this chapter are the following sub-titles: The Forgotten Song, The Responsibility for Sight, Faith, Belief and Vision, The Fear to Look Within, The Function of Reason, Reason versus Madness, The Last Unanswered Question, and The Inner Shift.

What we project out into the world around us is like a mirror of what we are thinking and feeling inside. If we do not understand this we will look around at the world we live in and complain about everything we do not like and blame it on everyone but ourselves, expecting others to fix the problems. “Projection makes perception. It is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition. As a man thinketh, so does he perceive. Therefore, seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world.”

As long as I can remember I have been taught to embrace painful situations, that it is through these that we grow and mature. You all know the phrases, no pain no gain. Thank God for the hard times of your lives. If this is what you believe, this is what you will manifest in your life. Reading through this book has caused me to question this idea and change my belief that everything I need to learn to grow and mature can come through happy experiences. I have found this a much more enjoyable way to live. “There is no need to learn through pain. And gentle lessons are acquired joyously, and are remembered gladly. What gives you happiness you want to learn and not forget.”

We have been taught that we have little control over what happens to us and sometimes it does feel like this.  It is a hard concept to accept when “bad” things happen to us that it is because we asked for them. Yet this is what this course teaches. I am still working to fully understanding how this works. “I am responsible for what I see. I choose the feelings I experience, and I decide upon the goal I would achieve. And everything that seems to happen to me I ask for, and receive as I have asked. Deceive yourself no longer that you are helpless in the face of what is done to you. It is impossible the Son of God (mankind) be merely driven by events outside of him. His power of decision is the determiner of every situation in which he seems to find himself by chance or accident. No accident nor chance is possible within the universe as God created it.”

This chapter asks 5 interesting questions:

  1. Do I desire a world I rule instead of one that rules me?
  2. Do I desire a world where I am powerful instead of helpless?
  3. Do I desire a world in which I have no enemies and cannot sin?
  4. Is this what I would see? Do I want this?
  5. And do I want to see what I denied because it is the truth?

Unfortunately, many of us were taught through our society, families and religion that we have little control over our lives, that we are helpless to change anything and that we need to fear anyone who is “different” from us, turning them into enemies. This is what the ego teaches us to keep us in a state of apathy, helplessness and fear. It takes courage to honestly ask ourselves what we really do believe and why we continue to believe these things. The Holy Spirit reveals to us the Truth of God that we are magnificent, creative, powerful and loving people. How different the world will look when we choose to believe this. “Listen to what the ego says, and see what it directs you to see, and it is sure that you will see yourself as tiny, vulnerable and afraid. You will experience depression, a sense of worthlessness, and feelings of impermanence and unreality. You will believe that you are hopeless prey to forces far beyond your own control, and far more powerful than you. And you will think the world you made directs your destiny. Do you not see that all your misery comes from the strange belief that you are powerless? If you choose to see a world without an enemy, in which you are not helpless, the means to see it will be given you.”

A Course in Miracles Chapter 12: The Holy Spirit’s Curriculum

The title for chapter 12 is The Holy Spirit’s Curriculum. Within this chapter are the following sub-titles: The Judgment of the Holy Spirit, The Way to Remember God, The Investment in Reality, Seeking and Finding, The Sane Curriculum, the Vision of Christ, Looking Within, and The Attraction of Love for Love.

I like the way this chapter interprets fear. It defines fear as “an appeal for help, a call for love in unconscious recognition of what has been denied. Fear is a symptom of your own deep sense of loss.” We all innately know that we were created to receive and give love. However, the ego is afraid of love as it understands when love is fully known, the ego will cease to exist. Fear and love are the two root emotions and you cannot feel both simultaneously, so one or the other is always going to dominate. When you deny or minimize your fears, they will continue to hold you under their control. It is only when you are willing to face your fears and allow them to rise to the surface that the Holy Spirit can come in and dispel them. “If you raise what fear conceals to clear-cut unequivocal predominance, fear becomes meaningless. You have denied its power to conceal love, which was its only purpose. The Holy Spirits interpretation of fear does dispel it, for the awareness of truth cannot be denied. Thus, does the Holy Spirit replace fear with love and translate error into truth. The Holy Spirit cannot shine away what you keep hidden, for you have not offered it to Him and He cannot take it from you. Learn how to offer the Holy Spirit everything you do not want.”

One of the concepts that this book discusses is the inner and outer world. This can be difficult to comprehend the first few times you hear it as it is in opposition to what we are taught and what our physical senses tell us. The ego perceives the world as outside of ourselves. This book states that everything we see outside is a reflection of what is happening inside of us, that we do not want to own, and so we project it outward onto the world around us. We feel anger but believe it is not okay to feel or show this anger so we will do and say things to cause the people around us to feel anger instead of us. Because we believe we are not lovable, we will do and say things to push people away from us and then turn around and complain about how lonely we are. We complain about the world around us; wars, prejudice, discrimination, violence without realizing that all of this is being created by us energetically projecting outward the parts of us we do not want to own. It is only when we are willing to go inward and accept all of us, the bad and the good without judgment, for we are all a combination of both, that we will begin to take responsibility for our actions and feel peace, love and acceptance for who we are. We will then start projecting this out into the world around us and the outer world will become a more peaceful, accepting, loving place to live. We create the reality we live in based on the thoughts, beliefs, feelings of our inner world being energetically projected out into the world around us. “He does not realize that he makes this world, for there is no world outside of him. Everything you perceive as the outside world is merely your attempt to maintain your ego identification. You have projected outward what is antagonistic of what is inward. That is why you must realize that your hatred is in your mind and not outside it before you can get rid of it, and why you must get rid of it before you can perceive the world as it really is.”

 

 

A Course in Miracles Chapter 11: God or the Ego

The title for chapter 11 is God or the Ego. Within this chapter are the following sub-titles: The Gifts of Fatherhood, The Invitation to Healing, From Darkness to Light, The Inheritance of God’s Son, The “Dynamics” of the Ego, Waking to Redemption, The Condition of Reality and The Problem and the Answer.

This chapter talks about how our perceptions of truth and reality are based on our experiences which then lead to our beliefs. In Christianity, we are encouraged to understand and accept truth as it was taught and passed down to us through the history of the church. We are not encouraged to question the traditional Easter story or consider anything beyond the literal interpretation we have been taught. This is the week leading up to Easter, sometimes called the passion week in Christianity. Most of you know the story of what happens to Jesus during this week where he goes from being adored on Palm Sunday, to the night he was betrayed in the garden, to the trial, the crucifixion and then to the resurrection. I have always been taught the literal interpretation of this event, that it had to do with sin, sacrifice, forgiveness and eternal life. In this chapter it looks at this week with a higher, spiritual understanding. From this perspective, the crucifixion represents the ego and the resurrection represents Christs victory over the ego through love.

Let me start by focusing on the crucifixion. Jesus spent his life preaching a message of love that was rejected by both the religious and political authorities at that time who represent the ego. They were motivated by fear; that the people would choose Jesus over them, that they could lose their power, that life as they controlled it could change if they could not find a way to get rid of Jesus. They projected their fears onto Jesus by attacking him with words of judgement, hatred and condemnation, inflicting physical pain onto his body. They required a sacrifice, Jesus over the other criminal had to die. Jesus hung on the cross, later buried, symbolic of the ego in complete control with all the power and about to declare victory over the message of love Jesus had taught.

But 3 days later, love won. Jesus was alive, walking and eating with the people in his community. A life that had looked dead was renewed. The one who lived his life in daily communion with God transcended the power of the ego. The darkness of the grave turned into the glorious light of God’s presence.

“The love of God surrounds his son whom the god of crucifixion condemns. Teach not that I died in vain. Teach rather that I did not die by demonstrating that I live in you. For the undoing of the crucifixion of Gods son is the work of the redemption in which everyone has a part of equal value. The resurrection is the complete triumph of Christ over the ego, not by attack but by transcendence. For Christ does rise above the ego and all its works, and ascends to the Father and his Kingdom. Believe in the resurrection because it has been accomplished, and it has been accomplished in you. For we ascend unto the Father together, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, for such is the nature of Gods Son as his Father created him.”

“Each day, each hour and minute, even each second, you are deciding between the crucifixion and the resurrection; between the ego and the Holy Spirit.”