“In This Corner Weighing In At…..”

Have you ever had a conversation with a member of any given brand of church when the subject of another church with a different doctrinal belief has been brought up? Have you ever been told, or believed your brand of church doctrine is the only way to heaven and all other brands are wrong, or at least teetering on the edge of blasphemy? In other words, if I am a member of Church A on the corner and our doctrinal beliefs do not include any other music besides hymns, women must clothe themselves in dresses only, and profession of Jesus as salvation for sinners is mandatory before membership is granted, Church L down the block believes worship comes in many forms, prophetic utterance and speaking in tongues is commonplace, and people fall out under the power on a regular basis, and Church P on the other side of town has a gay pastor, sings songs outside of accepted “Christian” music, and has lively church services, which of these will believe their doctrines are correct and the others wrong? Chances are hypothetical members of all the above churches may walk away believing theirs to be right and everyone else wrong. All will also likely walk away praying for the person challenging their doctrinal beliefs to see the light! Strong images and emotions will be associated with each of the hypothetical churches. We may think, “my church and beliefs are good, right, and we are doing God’s work. The others are not because they are wrong, misguided, perhaps even believe contrary to what our church believes to be God’s commands for His people.” So, if only one of them is right, which one is it? If Jesus is the only way to heaven, how can there be so many differing opinions and doctrinal beliefs? To further complicate the conversation, within the doctrines there are sub-doctrines: “once saved, always saved”, Predestination, or Calvinism, Replacement theology, Pre and Post Millennial-ism, and Escapism theology, to name a few. Now what? The argument, as long as we are all worshiping Jesus as Lord and Savior, is not valid. Many deeply entrenched in their chosen doctrinal beliefs firmly contend others not of their same belief are misguided; perhaps not worthy of hell, but definitely wrong. The prayer then becomes one of enlightenment for the misguided before passing on. I have been witness to many of these same conversations with strict adherents to a particular church doctrine.

Now, consider those who choose to walk the path of spirituality, what many know as “New Age” philosophy. Personally, I don’t think there is anything “new” about the philosophy, except it is likely “new” to many in this part of the world. Secondly, too many have wrongly associated New Age philosophy with mystical hoodoo-voodoo without advantage of actual knowledge; opinions are often based on assumptions, not facts. Within the path of spirituality, essentially there are two core beliefs; we are all part of the Divine Source, and to God we will return, and secondly, we are here to learn, to seek wisdom in order to grow. Beyond these two concepts a whole tapestry of varying beliefs arise. I liken it to a diamond with its many facets, yet all a part of the whole diamond. No one person, or subgroup of like believers has all the answers. And so far I haven’t run across anyone who believes they are right and everyone else is wrong. More often than not one may hear, “put it on a shelf for now and come back to it later.

We are all on a journey, a personal journey with God. We all have innate road maps, so to speak, we start at different places on the journey and our life experiences impact our beliefs. No two people are alike, so how can God speak to all in the exact same way? I have 3 children, all with the same biological parents. They share similar characteristics, and yet they are very different. Even my twins are different in their approach to life. I am close to each of them, and with each I have a unique relationship. One would assume God, being Creator of all mankind, would have unique relationships with each of us.

How can we all dialogue and learn from one another if we all believe the same thing? We are not clones or carbon copies of one another; we are unique creations sharing a created world. It would make sense unique creations would have unique understandings of God. Many I have spoken with over the years believe any belief system outside of fundamental Christianity is of “the devil”, perhaps overlooking the passage of scripture when Jesus is referred to as a heretic or blasphemer because He opposed the Pharisees. The Pharisees believed and taught the strict oral and written law of Moses, going so far as to refer to Jesus as a blasphemer and call for his execution. Why? Because Jesus challenged the accepted belief system. The Old Testament teaches the Jews are God’s chosen people, and yet Replacement Theology teaches Christians have replaced the Jews as God’s chosen people. This subset of fundamental Christianity has its adherents with just as many critics opposing their beliefs on the other side of the Christian fence.

New Age philosophy is opposed by Christianity for several reasons, many of which don’t even make sense. Reasons, like Yoga is evil, energy healing modalities are of the devil, and certainly the very vague assertion we don’t believe in God. I find the last one interesting because most I have talked with or listened to have active and intimate relationships with God that would put to shame many sitting in church pews every Sunday. Do many believe in reincarnation, medium-ship, and the Law of Attraction? Certainly, but not all believe or practice these, yet criticism is not heaped on those who do. The organized religious like to toss in their interpretation of the Spiritual philosophy likening it to belief systems and practices steeped in hatred, and the “anything goes” mindset, neither of which are true for believers in New Age philosophy. Any teaching or belief not based on love and radiating the purity of positive energy is no more accepted by New Age adherents than by the religious. We have not tossed out a moral code. No civilized society can exist without a definable moral code. Violations of the moral code experience the same outcome. The word choices are different, but the result the same; judgment from God in the religious corner, and Karma in the Spiritual corner.  

People will forever be flawed, motivations skewed, but by and large the overriding theme within New Age or Spiritual philosophy is loving all without judgment, tolerance for others and their level of spiritual maturity and knowledge, and belief in God as the purity of love.

I no longer believe the organized religious system of much of the “Christian” world, especially here in the West, is the only way to God. How can I? Within the world of organized religion so many different interpretations of the Bible and varying understandings of God exist, and none, so far, have come forth as the unequivocal, undeniable, final Word from God. Is Spiritual philosophy the final Word? Of course not. What I do believe is we are here to journey with the God of Love…..


The Soul Will Speak…..

“Quiet the mind and the soul will speak” Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati. A dear friend brought this to me one day to get my opinion for an art project she was planning. Ever since the quote has floated around in my brain. I love the profound simplicity of it, eight words strung together whispering the wisdom of the universe.

What is the soul? We like to think of ourselves as ‘having’ a soul, when in fact, we ‘are’ a soul currently living in a body. I believe C.S. Lewis said something to this effect. The reality is we are a soul; many use the term spirit interchangeably with soul. Our souls are eternal, they are the essence, or source of our being; soul is linked to the Divine Source, to God.  The physical body is very temporal, fragile, designed to house the soul for a time so that soul can learn from the experience of being human. From dust the body was created, and to dust it will return.

The mind is not the soul, so what is the mind? It’s difficult to separate the parts of our being because the parts are very interconnected; we are mind, body and spirit. For the sake of explanation, we can think of the mind as basically having 2 parts: the egoic mind and the functional mind. Some include the intellect as part of the mind separate from the egoic and functional minds basically categorizing the mind as both reactive and intellectual. From that perspective we are both reactive and intellectual, as well.

The egoic mind is our ego; the part of who we are that often takes center stage and prattles on endlessly, the prattling known as our “self-talk”, or thoughts, in other words. This side of ego is very self-centered; the negative, critical side of who we are. The ego chatter often acts as “Captain Obvious” stating what already is, or states opinion, and is oh, so judgmental toward most everything, including, and especially toward, self. Ego likes to control, is the voice of fear, usually unfounded fear, and the voice keeping us from stepping too far outside our comfort zone. Our ego can be God-centered, as well, and it all boils down to the emotion attached to each. Human emotion keeps us from rising to our fullest potential, but the other side of emotion we don’t often consider.

God-centered emotion transcends human emotion to seek the Divine and realize our connection, our oneness with God, or Divine Source. The God-centered side of ego is peaceful, quiet, full of wisdom, and patiently waits for us to decide self-centered ego needs to take a backseat and allow spirit to come forward. Since our purpose is to learn from the experience of being human, it would make sense listening is a huge part of the experience, and what are we to listen to? The world is built around catering to the self-centered ego. We would be a lot better off in the short and long run if we could duct tape the mouth of ego shut once in a while! Meditation and prayer is all about quieting the voice of the mind and listening to our soul, or spirit. It is through our spirit the voice of God will speak.

Divine Source, or God, is the purity of love, nothing more, nothing less. Love is all-inclusive. We need look no further for more to fill the cup of love than the purity of God. Within love there is mercy, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, comfort, peace, guidance, security, wisdom, and patience; everything we need for every situation or circumstance in our lives. We are part of Divine Source, an extension of the One, interconnected with the Divine and one another. Because of these attributes I want to learn more, become more merciful, compassionate, and forgiving. I choose to seek higher wisdom and truth.

Organized religion lends positive and negative attributes to the Eternal God, two sides of the coin, as it were. God, the Father, embodies the fullness of love, but is also given to punishment, is harsh and moody at times, demanding, and seemingly inconsistent. Isn’t it interesting these are characteristics of man, as well? Approaching God with this mindset is to approach from the human side of emotion. We are concerned with pleasing God so as not to incur His wrath, accounting for each sin lest one be forgotten landing us in hot water with the Almighty. In other words, our approach is fear-based, focused on me and my behavior, and therefore steeped in human emotion. The more I study spiritual philosophy the more convinced I become man has created God in his image instead of the other way around. The Divine journey leads us to a higher level of understanding, a look at life from the bigger picture, but in order to do so our approach needs to be through divine emotion rather than human emotion. It is here, we find ourselves at a crossroads. Each of us decides how we will approach the Divine; through human or divine emotion. Our decision will decide and guide the journey.

Having spent the better part of my adult life approaching God with fear-based emotion, I decided to change course and approach from divine emotion, from the realization that God loves, understands the limits of my humanity, desires relationship with me more than I desire relationship with Him, and from there I was able to abandon all fear I will fail God and consequently be punished.  Looking back the mindset seems silly now, but oh how easy it is to fall into! We naturally operate from our human-centered emotion. It is only when we become aware there is another side to who we are, the spirit-self, when we have the opportunity to change our perspective, our beliefs, and seek to live from God-centered emotion. For me, in part, this means I no longer feel threatened by people or circumstances I have no control over. I have learned to be compassionate and loving toward self first which allows me to extend compassion and love toward others. Lofty words and ideas for sure; lest any get the wrong impression, I don’t wear flowing robes or flowers in my hair, nor do I prance and twirl through life! I am first and foremost real, don’t mince words with others, and some days I struggle to choose peace over emotional chaos. And, the truth is we are all a jumble of many faces, emotions, and reactions, are we not? No one, and I mean no one living on the earth lives entirely from the spirit because we are all on a journey of learning and becoming. Some are farther along than others, some just beginning their journey, and still others have yet to begin, and may never in this life. But the choice remains before us, nonetheless. If I want to hear the voice of wisdom, experience God, be enveloped and clothed in peace, and begin to see the potential residing within, I must quiet the mind, the ego chatter, for the voice of the soul intertwined with Divine Love whispers the wisdom of the universe…..

Everything I Need to Know…..

Back in the mid 1980’s, Robert Fulghum wrote a book entitled, All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten.  I remember reading it and thinking how profoundly simple and true it was. The book was a compilation of short essays and poems, the title of the book being the first poem. While developed nations like the United States, the Asian countries, and other world powers were jockeying for position in technological advances, education of its young people, and beating their collective chests, those playing in the sandbox were mining nuggets of wisdom without realizing their lifelong implications; kindergartners were fingerpainting, singing Eensy-Weensy Spider, learning about caterpillars and anticipating a butterfly emerging from its furry cocoon, or in the spring, a chick from an incubating egg. Our relationship with the world, it’s inhabitants, and the realization there is a greater power outside of ourselves begins as play and wonder.

Somewhere along the way to advancement, humankind took a detour and decided technology, science, and one-upmanship trumped civility. We could argue man has battled the need to be better than the next person, group, community, or country from the beginning of time, and I would agree, in part, except there always seemed to be a degree of civility to man’s overall behavior not present today. There were boundaries one did not cross, and did not need to be told not to cross. Most of us knew if we couldn’t speak a kind word to keep our mouths shut, not to steal, or destroy something belonging to another, or if we held differing opinions it needn’t lead to guns and bloodshed. The ills, flaws and frailties of man have always existed, we are seeing them in greater degree in the majority versus the minority now, it would seem.

Obviously, we cannot point to one thing, one moment in time when everything changed, or the worm turned, so to speak.  (Fun fact: “even the worm will turn” is a 16th century proverb meaning that the meekest and mildest of us will retaliate when pushed too far) People like to point the finger of blame at the Women’s Movement of the 70’s, wars, abortion, the gay population, Islam, or God taken out of the classroom as the moment the worm turned, but I assure you none of those things hardened man’s heart toward others. No, they are merely targets, focal points to distract from the reason our world seems to be circling the drain. For what it’s worth, I think communication, or more precisely, the lack thereof, is the root of most evil.

We as a society have forgotten how to communicate on a personal level, to listen with the heart, to feel empathy for others. Don’t get me wrong, I use electronic communication as much as the next person, preferring to text over talking on the phone, emailing instead of writing a letter, or walking down the hall to a co-worker’s office. I pay bills and shop online, keep in touch with my kids on the family Snapchat and with friends on Facebook, but the element of human interaction is absent. I grew up in a small town where the telephone service was still a party line, people talked over the back fence, left their doors unlocked at night, paid their bills in person, and met for coffee with friends at least weekly, if not daily. Families sat down together to share meals and discuss their daily trials and triumphs, and I certainly don’t consider those days idyllic by any means. Granted, everyone also knew everyone else’s business and talked about it freely, but even that had its upside. There wasn’t a feeling of isolation like many feel today in our world of instant communication. People’s schedules weren’t packed with activities and obligations, rushing from one thing to another in a frantic quest to accomplish or accumulate more than the next person.

When was the last time you had a deep conversation with another person, friend, or family member and left feeling understood, validated, or connected on an emotional and spiritual level? The majority of our conversations are superficial these days, we hit the high points, offer trite words and phrases hoping they are received as comfort or empathy, or exchange information much like one would after a fender bender when we share the requisite insurance information. We don’t connect on a heart level. And this is where kindergarten and the sandbox come into play.

Kindergarten used to be a time when learning was accomplished through play. We understood the work of learning came through role playing, taking turns, sharing, quietly listening to the teacher read a story, or playing games outdoors during recess. The reality is we learned the more important skills; cooperating with one another, working as a team, caring for others, taking responsibility, and exploring the magic of our world through the five senses. In other words, to communicate. We also took the time to nap everyday; a time to rest and recharge. We all eventually learned the 3 ‘r’s – readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic, some quicker than others, and most of us mastered some degree of technological proficiency.

I was fortunate, my kindergarten teacher was also my aunt. I’m certain in my childlike mind I thought I would have a distinct advantage over other kids, but I didn’t; I was treated no differently than anyone else in the class. I had to pay attention, wait my turn, share, and address her as “Miss (last name)”, same as the other kids. Her demeanor was always patient, kind, and accepting, and it is the same today. If any wronged another, she made sure we apologized, and she reinforced the manners most of us were learning at home. We practiced the basics of human kindness and behavior, products of communication. Today, preschools and schools are busy teaching computer science, math, and reading instead of basic human kindness and behavior, which doesn’t seem to be taught in homes either, so they end up getting lost on both ends. Metaphorically speaking, we have decided it’s more important to build the second story of the house before we put in the foundation and first floor.

It was during this time of playing and cooperating with one another we learned to communicate. The home environment taught us how to relate to our family, elders, the neighbors, and kindergarten broadened our environment to include peer groups, and adults we had never encountered before. Boundaries and expectations were also broadened. We learned them in the home, the majority of us did anyway, and we knew not to cross certain boundaries, and what was expected of us sometimes without having been told. Back in the day, many of us just got “the look” which communicated volumes.

Mankind was created to interact with others and communicate, to appreciate the wonder in the world, to understand there was a greater power outside of self, and to take time to rest. Whether we believe the Bible to be literal or allegorical, the point remains something occurred along the path between living from the spirit and living from the ego. We forget those things from time to time and so the Divine Source, or God, needs to remind us every now and again. Yeshua (Jesus) was and is one of our reminders. Yeshua interacted and communicated with others on a heart level, appreciated the creation, played, took the time to get away, rest and recharge. Kindergarten did that for us, too.

What does communication look like in your life? Is there time to connect with others on a heart level, to live in the moment and watch a butterfly emerge from its cocoon, to rest, or to play…..?

The Clutter is Speaking…..

There are times in life when we are just mentally and emotionally exhausted. Being an empath is not helping the matter either. Empaths pick up on the emotions of others through experiencing the energy around people, objects, and situations. We tend to internalize the energy and emotions, often without even realizing it; absorbing the energies and emotions is exhausting. Some of us are spiritually intuitive, as well, connecting with the spiritual world around us.  This all may sound mystical, or perhaps even crazy, to many people, but I can assure you, any empath will agree, we are not crazy. As a part of the creation as a whole, we are all energetically connected and affected by the energies around us. Empaths are just lucky enough to have gotten a bigger helping; these words brought to you by tongue-in-cheek enterprises.

For many months now, work has been particularly challenging. I love it, but at the same time it is taking its toll, in part, because I am picking up on a lot of emotions and negative energy swirling around . Some days it is relentless. At home, we are in the middle of a remodeling project; not a small one, the major kind where every room is torn up. When I say “we” I truly mean “we”. No contractors or workman are here doing the project. Nope, this is a true DIY (do it yourself). The disorder and chaos is beyond energetically draining! I am positive there is a light at the end of both tunnels however, at the moment, the lights are pinpoints of light barely visible with the naked eye. In my case, the pinpoints require magnification to even be considered pinpoints, since I am of the bifocal age group.

Certainly, people deal with far more life-threatening, life-changing issues than challenges at work or lengthy DIY projects. Few of us get through life without experiencing major life-changing events, and I have had my share. I was well educated in the School of Hard Knocks. No, these issues are more of the irritating variety, like mosquitoes buzzing around one’s head at dusk on a hot, sticky summer evening, or being joined by an unwelcome army of ants at a family picnic. The reality is at the end of the day I am still mentally and emotionally exhausted. I pull inward, go for a walk, breathe in the crisp air and shut the world out. Always, I put in my ear buds and tune into spiritual talk radio to refuel listening to excellent spiritual teachers and healers to learn something not even remotely related to infection control, quality control measures and improvement projects, Medicare Part D (does anyone really understand that??), or DIY remodels One program I heard recently was on Feng shui for the soul, which by the way, was quite enlightening.

Empaths generally seek out nature when it becomes necessary to get away from the onslaught of the energy and emotions of others. The ocean is my place of spiritual renewal and peace, the place I can hear the voice of God in the crash of the waves, and the call of the seagull. The fact the ocean is my space is interesting to me since I was born and raised in the northern climes resembling the Antarctic, and now live in the middle of the USA where the wheat fields bend and sway in the monsoon-like winds of the prairie. Granted, I am a city dweller, but the prairie surrounds even the biggest cities of our fair state. So, I walk to clear my head and spirit. I try to avoid eye contact with anyone I chance to meet on my journey; empaths need a fair amount of alone time, away from as many sensory experiences and people as possible to regroup.

Today, I listened to a program on clutter. Physical clutter is a manifestation of emotional and/or spiritual clutter. Ever given that much thought? I like this particular spiritual teacher; her thing is de-cluttering our lives, and I always take away a valuable nugget of truth whenever I tune in. Everything in the physical world relates to a spiritual truth. When our physical environments are cluttered we need to look inward. What emotions need to be sorted through, are there old thought patterns that no longer serve us, fears needing to be met head on, limiting beliefs holding us back? What are we holding onto waiting to be thrown out? Most of us lug around baggage better left in the landfill. Why? The fears and beliefs are familiar, comfortable, a part of our fabric, or so we think.

In my case, clutter is paralyzing. Work is a cluttered mess, organizationally-speaking, and home is a mess because we are in a major DIY (do-it-yourself) remodeling project. In truth, I don’t have much control over either situation. I am ready however, to relieve myself of clutter, things I have kept for years not needing to be kept. A few things have been thrown out as I run across them, and that is exactly what they are; ‘things’.

We all do it, hang onto ‘things’ thinking one day we will need the them, but do we ever?  It’s not like we wake up one day and ask ourselves where the ‘thing is. No, most ‘things’ get stored in a shed, tucked away in a storage unit, boxed up and put on a shelf in the basement or garage. When we move, the ‘things’ are moved, too, only to be stored, tucked, or boxed in a different location. I have held onto ‘things’ from years spent in an abusive marriage. Why? I don’t even like the ‘things’, but nevertheless they have traveled with me following the divorce.

One day, during our remodel, I ran across a few ‘things’ from a previous life, and really that is how I think of those years. I thought about the ‘things’ for a moment; a few pieces of miscellaneous dishware, a ceramic canister set we had purchased from an art show, a couple of holiday candy dishes, gathered them up and went out to the trash cart. I threw them into the cart, literally, and watched them shatter into a million pieces. Surprisingly, just the act of throwing the ‘things’ into a waste barrel and watching them shatter was cathartic. I was physically letting go of the ‘things’, and all they represented, but I was letting them go emotionally and spiritually as well. ‘Things’ carry emotional energy, good and bad. By ridding ourselves of the ‘things’ carrying negative emotional energy, we are taking the first step toward freeing ourselves from their grip.

Yeshua (Jesus) required time away from the very people He came to teach and mentor. The Bible makes reference to Yeshua going into the wilderness alone, often for days, and weeks at a time, knowing He had to regroup and clear Himself of the negative energies weighing heavily on His spirit.  I believe Yeshua was an empath, too. As fully alive physically and spiritually, He was able to read the energies of everyone with whom He came in contact. It must have been exhausting. What about the clutter? From all accounts, Yeshua traveled light, so the clutter He came in contact with and carried was from the people who sought after Him. Yeshua deeply felt the pain of those around Him. He wept when His friend Lazarus died, angered when wrongs were committed against others, and felt compassion for the lost, the infirm, and those tossed aside by society like so much garbage.

Are you exhausted, feel like you are just going through the motions? Take time away for yourself. Read, meditate, enjoy the creation around you, be kind to yourself. Is there clutter in your life that needs to be removed? What is the clutter saying to you…..?

Through the Looking Glass…..

There is a social psychological concept called the “looking glass self”, coined in 1902 by Charles Cooley. It goes like this – We are who we think others think we are. That’s quite a mouthful, wouldn’t you say? Three components relate to the concept: 1. We imagine how we appear to another. 2. Then we imagine what judgments others are making about our appearance. 3. Finally, we decide how the other feels about us. The imagined assumptions are then internalized to encompass the whole of our being. The ultimate result is that we develop our self-image, or how we feel about ourselves, from these assumptions that are not based upon facts a lot of the time. We tend to adapt our behavior in the company of others based on how we think they perceive us. Ever notice how our image changes in the presence of different people? Explains a lot, doesn’t it?

We all have images or beliefs about ourselves that are deeply embedded. So much so, most of us aren’t even aware how deeply and universally our beliefs about self affect everything in our lives. Physically, we look in the mirror and see the image we believe others see, but the belief is ofttimes inaccurate because the belief is based on assumptions. Women especially, focus on the flaws and imperfections we adopt as self-image; the flaws we believe others see in us. The same would be true of our emotional and spiritual images. Do you keep spiritual beliefs on the down low for fear of being thought of as a “Bible thumper”, or spiritual “weirdo”? Of course, this process is an unconscious process, and we may not be fully aware of the images we have buried in the subconscious, nevertheless, we all are affected to one degree or another. More passive individuals will allow others to define who they are, whereas a stronger personality may form some opinion of self looking through the eyes of others, but will not be dependent upon the image. Makes one wonder if we are ever our authentic self? Does any of us really know who we are?

For those who use the Bible as a reference tool, their interpretations are based on the belief systems and doctrines of the churches they choose to attend, in other words, interpret the Bible based on the doctrines or beliefs associated with a particular denomination, rather than the Bible alone. In many ways, the Bible is a living document in the sense that as we grow, change, or learn, our interpretations change; the scriptures seem to give us new insight into ourselves and others. Turning toward a more focused experience on journey with the Divine, and opening myself to theories and ideas long-shunned or rejected by the church without any discernible merit, I can still appreciate the Bible, especially as it relates to Yeshua (Jesus). I see the Bible as a manual on human behavior and our relationship to self, others, and God.

Using the looking-glass-self theory, the church teaching is that we should see ourselves through the eyes of Jesus. To that end, I am in agreement. Yeshua, the embodiment of the Divine, living on earth as a fully human, fully matured spirit man, was and is our teacher, mentor and example. Applying the looking-glass-self theory, we will form an image of ourselves the way we believe Jesus sees us. One of the two mirrors will reflect back to us the image of what we believe to be God’s opinion, whether we believe ourselves to be filthy sinners saved by grace, born a sinful being without hope apart from the shed blood of a Savior, or a valued, precious spirit, living in a body, having a human experience, and loved fully and completely by God, the source of Divine love. Perhaps the first image evokes feelings of guilt for perceived sin, with a dollop of gratitude for escape from the wages of sin. How will we live and breathe and move within that scenario? For many, whether one chooses to believe it or not, the primary motive to live a life of ‘righteousness is fear; fear of sinning, fear of judgment, fear of not measuring up, or fear of being denied heaven after death of the body. We become dependent on the whim and mercy of a fickle and unpredictable God. Conversely, if one chooses to believe we are on a journey with God, the Divine Source of Love, a journey of learning, growth and empowerment, we will think and act accordingly. In the first scenario, we are at the mercy of a Being who holds all the cards, so to speak. Within the second scenario, we are part of the Divine, worthy and precious, and loved for who we are, right this minute, without judgment or need for discipline or punishment. In either case, we are human and will screw up, fall on our faces, make wrong decisions, and will be just plain ugly at times. How I believe God will handle me at those times will reveal the way I imagine God sees me. Will I feel guilt-ridden whether I even need to own that feeling or not, or will I see any and all experiences as opportunities to learn and grow, to ascend to a higher level of understanding?

Yeshua (Jesus) accepted people as they were, yet saw and encouraged their potential and gifts for the highest good of others. From the scriptures, we see that Jesus didn’t sugar-coat anything while remaining tender toward those who were honestly searching. He recreated the realities of people who had allowed others to define their current reality. The woman with the issue of blood, told by every doctor she was incurable, the lepers shunned and ridiculed by society, forced to walk through the streets shouting, “unclean, unclean” to warn others of their presence, and the woman caught in the act of adultery, labeled as a whore, a prostitute worthy of stoning. Each of these are examples of people who lived the reality others had created for them until Jesus came along and spoke a different reality, a reality filled with life-giving energy, healing energy, transforming energy.

Jesus, the earthly representation of Divine Love, loved and loves today. No one had to be perfect, super religious or spiritual. All were accepted as they were; the messy, lame, blind, and the battered and bruised by life. Even those He chose as His disciples were a ragtag bunch of misfits, but Jesus saw them differently. Peter, the rough, brash, impulsive fisherman was deemed The Rock, destined to become ‘fishers of men’.  All were worthy of love, all were loved, all were seen as precious and shown a new reality, a new self they could view through the looking glass, a self created without judgment about physical appearance, emotional or mental health, or spiritual maturity. Who is it you see in the looking glass? Someone who has been judged unworthy, unintelligent, unattractive, crazy, weird, not good enough, or any number of inaccurate adjectives or labels? Maybe it’s time for another looking glass…..

Through the Door of Love…..

We have more in common with one another than we have things separating us. We are all human, for one. Beyond that, we all have experienced joy, fear, and pain, have felt the sting of humiliation, and rejection, are all passionate about something, we all wake up to the same sky every morning, and fall asleep to the same moon, and we all want to love and be loved. And, most of us believe there is an unseen force, an entity separate from us, yet connected, responsible for our creation or origins, and many share a belief in a heaven, or life beyond our earthly existence. How we view each of these, and what we believe about a presence apart from ourselves makes us different.

Likely, since the dawn of time, there has been dissension among the masses debating and arguing the minutiae and nuances of our belief systems. At the core of our beings we either know, want to know, or are searching for the energy source, the entity many believe is ‘out there’. Man has allowed, and continues to allow, the minute differences to separate us, so much so, wars are fought in the name of being right, people slaughtered in the name of God, and walls built around our sacred beliefs. We call those walls ‘religion’. Let’s face it; we all want to be right.

God is love. Every Christian who has ever darkened the doorway of a church or opened a Bible would agree. On the other side, those who choose the path of spirituality would also agree with that statement. In the 70’s and 80’s the pursuit of spirituality came to the forefront. This group of people were known as “New Agers”. New Age thinking combines theology, philosophy, and nature into a mindset influenced by Eastern thought, religious tolerance, and to a certain degree, moral diversity, or some would say, moral relativism. Now, before the hackles rise and the claws come out, for a moment let’s have an open mind. Just because some people believe in moral relativism, doesn’t mean everyone does.

Within Christianity, no two doctrines are exactly the same. Different ‘brands’ of church have chosen beliefs from the Bible to build their doctrines. One church may emphasize salvation as its principle doctrine, another may stress conformity to the point current culture is shunned, children are raised by harsh Biblical standards of discipline and punishment, everyone dresses in similar styles of clothing, and still others may focus efforts on ministering to the poor, the hungry, the abandoned, and the vulnerable of society, welcoming everyone  through their doors. Some believe only those who have lived a life of ‘upright righteousness and piety’ are blessed and acceptable to God, and some believe God turns away no one. In other words diversity. On the other side of the line in the sand are those who have adopted a broader definition of God, love, acceptance, and spiritual practice derived from a variety of theologies. Diversity.

For most of my adult life we were part of a church ‘family’. Life with an abusive husband, however, systematically being stripped of dignity, and watching my children being mistreated, and powerless to do much about it, the whole idea of church left me a bit cold. (Before judgment sets in, wisdom cautions we do not have the right to judge until we have walked in another’s shoes.) With the passing of time and a fair amount of healing, I was able to see God as separate from church. Through soul-searching I found my way back to God and realized I wanted to journey with Him, wanted a relationship with Him based on love and not ‘rules’. My children showed me the path of spirituality, a journey of love, growth, and peace devoid of fear-based theology and manmade boundaries designed to control more so than provide a foundation of acceptance and understanding. True to my nature I read everything I could get my hands on, researched, and listened to those journeying with God in a different way. Church had taught me to fear those who had chosen to practice yoga, meditation instead of prayer, alternative energy healing modalities, or angel therapy, and believe that love was the only characteristic of God. This entity, this energy, or source of all we know, the seen and unseen, loves without judgment.

The pursuit and study of spirituality is a belief system different from Christianity, yet in many ways, similar. The ‘Law of Attraction’ is prevalent with those pursuing spirituality. We get what we put out there. Granted, a lot of the hype around the concept has to do with financial prosperity, but really the hype is a way to draw people in. We respond to the thought of wealth, do we not? The principle is sound. Jesus taught the ‘law of attraction’; it just wasn’t labeled in that way. ‘Ask and you will receive’, ‘if you have faith the size of a mustard seed’, ‘your faith has made you whole’, and many other similar scriptures throughout the Bible attest to the principle.

Those on a spiritual journey, and those on a more traditional journey with God believe God is love. The Bible provides a glimpse here and there of a journey with Divine Love apart from strict rules and discipline, but for the most part the fear factor precedes or succeeds the love God has for His creation. (I am aware I am using references to God as a male, however, I believe God is neither male, nor female) Man’s need for structure and organization have contributed to the religious construct, as has man’s need to control. It is the control issue I find more concerning. And, in part, believe it is the control issue driving people from the church toward different ways to journey with God.

An open mind is not a bad thing. As sentient beings, we have the capacity to decide for ourselves what resonates with us as individuals.  No two people are alike so why must we all fit into a religious model forcing conformity versus guiding people toward God? Stripping away the walls of control erected by man and viewing Jesus as Divine Incarnate we can see Yeshua (Jesus) in a different light. Jesus taught; He didn’t force, coerce, or threaten. He was compassionate and loving, guiding others toward a relationship with God. It is through this lens a journey with the Divine makes sense for me. Others may need to view the journey from a bit different vantage point, but is their view inferior or superior to mine? No, it is not.

One of the doctors I work with is a Muslim and wears the dress of her culture. Because she is the Medical Director and works closely with our department I know her quite well. She easily and frequently references God – not in a “look at how pious I am” or in a name dropper way, but from the heart. It’s part of her fabric and comes as easily as telling someone her name. Few people were as excited for Christmas and the celebration many equate with Jesus’ birth than she, and she celebrated Ramadan earlier in the year, as well. Many would say because she is not a “Christian” defined by our standard of Christianity, she will not enter heaven. I beg to differ. Sincerity, heart motivation, intention is what I believe matters to the Divine. This woman has genuine concern for others, is not impressed with the letters she worked hard for and carries behind her name. She is a mother and wife first, then a doctor, and makes everyone feel important as if they are a friend as opposed to a number on a chart, or just another nurse among many. She is not a native of our country, and yet personifies the “American Dream”, not in the materialistic way many do, rather through valuing the ideals of America. She has taught me a lot.

Do you feel a tug, a desire to know and journey with the Divine, with God, but don’t feel comfortable or accepted in the traditional church setting? There is a journey for all. “Come to me ALL who are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” It doesn’t say ‘how’ we are to come, or through what religious or doctrinal door we are to enter. God simply says, “Come all”…..

Unlimited Belief…..

Belief is an acceptance of something as true; to believe is to think or have an opinion on a subject, to trust, or have confidence in something. We have a tendency to believe in something just because we think it is unequivocally true, or false, but is it? Often what we believe cannot be proven, we cannot offer concrete evidence of our belief otherwise it would be a fact, right? So is it possible beliefs can be incorrect?

The reason we defend our beliefs so adamantly is because we often feel an emotional or spiritual sense of certainty the belief is true. Beliefs affect us on multiple levels; physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally, so much so that wars are fought over opposing beliefs, globally as well as personally. People around the world since the dawn of time have given up their lives in defense of a belief. What we believe to be true, or false, is indeed very powerful.

We need to believe, beliefs are not necessarily bad things. Beliefs help our brains make sense of the information received and organize our thoughts, and in turn, make sense of the world we live in. They help us form our mindset and interpretation of the world around us. We tend to embrace our beliefs and act on them as if they are true, but what if they aren’t?  It is altogether possible we received bad information, and we are basing decisions and actions on the erroneous beliefs.

Beliefs about ourselves, or life in general that prevent us from trying new things, or stepping outside our comfort zones for fear of failure, are called ‘limiting beliefs’. Repeated thoughts or messages we hear from the outside world, whether family, friends, or others, become a part of our overall fabric. They niggle their way into our subconscious, take root, and before we know it, we have decided to embrace the message or thought. Limiting beliefs begin in childhood. Oliver Wendell Holmes said it this way, “We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible.” Many times they are a result of a negative bias.

A negative bias is a belief, often based on an experience leaving an impression of fear, in some form. They can be a result of a traumatic experience we have had, a tragedy we witnessed, or a cultural mindset, and they are far more powerful than a positive bias. Before we judge a negative bias as bad, they do serve a purpose in our lives. The fear brought about by a negative bias may be important to our survival, therefore providing a degree of protection. If, as children, we are told to look both ways before crossing a street or we may be hit by a car, all we have is a statement, but nothing to validate the statement is true. However, if we witness a small animal running across the street get hit by a car, the experience will set up a negative bias that crossing the street is indeed dangerous. The negative bias becomes a measure of protection for us. Taken a step further, if the experience was so traumatic we are afraid to cross the street ever again despite the knowledge we have crossed safely many times before, the fear becomes the limiting belief. The small animal being hit by the car validates the belief.

Some limiting thoughts may have been comments or statements voiced one time by one person, but the effect caused doubt, or fear, and stopped further growth in its tracks. When I was in the third grade I took piano lessons. Granted, I was like most every other kid; I would rather do anything else besides practice. All in all I wasn’t that bad, but one day my piano teacher told me I didn’t have any natural talent and therefore was wasting her time. Whether or not she said those exact words, that is the message I heard.  To this day I don’t play piano! Why did I let one statement from one person affect me so deeply? Perhaps if she would have said, “maybe we should set lessons aside for a year or so and come back and give it another go” the outcome would have been different? What about a child or teen who is told he/she is worthless? If the child or teen embraces that thought what will life look like going forward?

Growing up we may have heard, “the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer”, or “Enjoy being single. Once you marry the fun ends!” or “adults just work, pay bills, and never get ahead”. What is wrong with these statements? Are the negative statements built on facts? No, of course not, but nevertheless we may believe them to be true. These beliefs are known as collective beliefs; those we have grown up with, but are not specific to us. Collective beliefs, and personal beliefs we have accepted as specific to us, create our reality. We look for evidence to validate the beliefs, and ignore evidence proving the statements false.

Breaking free of limiting beliefs requires us to step outside our comfort zones, re-frame our thinking, and replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. No easy task, for sure. We have to look for evidence to prove our new beliefs, and remind ourselves of the evidence when the old thoughts try to creep back in. If our limiting thoughts have defined who we are as a person because of statements others have made, we need to spend some time figuring out who we are apart from those statements. When ‘I can’t’ comes out of our mouths we need to pause and ask ourselves if we truly cannot do something, go somewhere, or be someone, or is it simply a belief? Limiting thoughts are a product of the ego, the self-centered part of us who likes to be in control, maintain the status quo. The spirit self is the voice of the Divine; encouraging, loving, uplifting.

Yeshua (Jesus) while He walked the earth as a man, was our teacher and mentor opening the door to living by the spirit versus the ego. He chose to see the impossible as possible, create the reality He wanted for others, not allow others to define one’s reality. Yeshua demonstrated a fully awakened spirit, a goal we can reach when He said if we had faith the size of a mustard seed, the smallest of seeds, we could move mountains.  Did Yeshua literally mean mountains would move? I believe if there were a need, it could be done. Rather, the message I hear is the ability is within each of us, within the spirit self, the self in tune with the Divine. The mountains we move are the limiting beliefs we have preventing us to live fully. We choose to allow the spirit to come forth, or stand behind the ego.  

Yeshua declared the woman with the “issue of blood” healed through her own faith. She had allowed medical people around her to decide she was incurable instead of believing she could be well again. Yeshua empowered the woman to see the possibility of wellness apart from the limited beliefs of others she had embraced.

Each of us is a spark from the Divine, created in the image of God, and empowered with the ability of the Divine Spirit. Take a serious look at the ‘I can’t’ statements in your life. What is holding you back from moving the mountains in the way of being who you were created to be, or doing what you were created to do…..?