THE AMISH & THE ELEVATOR
An Amish boy and his father were in a mall. They were amazed by almost everything they saw, but especially by two shiny, silver walls that could move apart and then slide back together again.
The boy asked, “What is this, Father?” The father (never having seen an elevator) responded, “Son, I have never seen anything like this in my life, I don’t know what it is.”
While the boy and his father were watching with amazement, a fat, old lady went up to the moving walls and pressed a button.
The walls opened and the lady went inside between them into a small room.
The walls closed and the boy and his father watched the small circular numbers above the walls light up sequentially.
They continued to watch until it reached the last number and then the numbers began to light in the reverse order.
Finally the walls opened up again and a gorgeous 24-year-old blonde stepped out.
The father said quietly to his son… “Go get your mother.”
The theme for this month is: Discover Love
And the Affirmation is: I am a center of divine love, attracting and radiating blessings.
Let’s say that together… I am a center of divine love, attracting and radiating blessings.
And that theme seems appropriate since love is in the air in February with Valentine’s Day is coming up. Are you ready? Have you prepared for an expression of affection to your loved one or ones? Well, I’m starting now.
You are my BELOVED. You hold a special place in my heart and you always will.
Let me explain a bit before I get into my lesson for today. One of my mentors and favorite Unity Ministers was Erica Tranthum. She came to Unity of Harrisburg at the beginning of my spiritual journey with Unity. And I was surprised one Sunday, early in her time with Unity of Harrisburg when she called those of us, there in the congregation, her BELOVED.
How could that be, I asked myself. She hardly knew us, as she was only there a week or two. But I can see now, how important and special one’s first ‘congregation’ can be to them.
So, you are my BELOVED. You are special and important and loved.
Feel it, know it, BE it! (AND in that air of the beloved, let’s do hugs and handshakes!)
And now, onto my topic for today: Not romantic love, but Self-Love.
Why Self-love you may ask? Well, when Valentine’s Day rolls around, most folks think of romantic love. And I will admit, I do too. Even though I do not have a romantic partner at this time, I still feel those feelings, longing for one in my life. I am a hopeless romantic! And so I reminisce about a partner from the past. Or dream of one in the future. It’s normal.
But I wondered a bit about what this topic, LOVE, really is about.
What is love? The dictionary says: a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person, a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend, a person toward whom love is felt; a beloved person.
Why does it have to be for another person?
In Matthew 19:19 Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
And in Luke 6:31, he said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Well, how can we ‘love our neighbor as ourself” or “do unto others…” if we don’t love ourselves?
In fact, we have been told by many masters that we must love ourselves before we are able to truly love another.
Why do you think that is?
Do you love yourself? REALLY. Ask yourself that question. How will you answer it?
We sometimes, on this journey of self-discovery, find some not-so-wonderful things about ourselves. We look in the mirror of our soul for honesty and clarity and see things in our human self that may not be so pretty.
Maybe we did some things that were not very nice. Maybe we were told things that were not true but we believe them anyway, because we didn’t understand, didn’t know better. We see things in others and realize that those same things are in ourselves.
We have been confronted time and again with the damage of prejudices and yet, have we looked to see where those same prejudices lie in ourselves?
We see and hear of the hurt inflicted upon others, but have we looked at the hurt we have inflicted? And not just on others, but on ourselves?
And through all this, can we STILL love ourselves?
Of course we can….. and should! That is a major step to connecting with the ALL that IS.
Jan Phillips said, “If things are to change, it will be because we have dared to be true to ourselves. If every one of us woke up one morning and announced ourselves to the world, the planet would tremble with the force of that courage. Yes, we may be risking our lives, our families, our friends, our jobs — but what is served by our silence? How can we bear this absence of intimacy? How will things ever change if we do not change them?”
She is talking about coming out, but her words are really a benefit for us all.
C. Joybell said something we all should say to ourselves, “For the rest of my life, I am going to be with me and it’s high time that I accept all the great things about me.”
We all have great things about us. We just have to touch them, feel them, acknowledge them.
It’s time to give up the idea of who you think you’re supposed to be, and start loving who you really are.
Marianne Williamson spoke about our fear of success…yes! We ARE afraid of who we truly are. Who and what we can become.
One of my favorite writers, Mark Nepo, in The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have writes: “We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved, and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed and beneath every sadness is the fear that there will not be enough time.
When we hesitate in being direct, we unknowingly slip something on, some added layer of protection that keeps us from feeling the world, and often that thin covering is the beginning of a loneliness which, if not put down, diminishes our chances of joy.
It’s like wearing gloves every time we touch something, and then, forgetting we chose to put them on, we complain that nothing feels quite real. Our challenge each day is not to get dressed to face the world but to unglove ourselves so that the doorknob feels cold and the car handle feels wet and the kiss goodbye feels like the lips of another being, soft and unrepeatable.”
This book has many words of wisdom!
So, this is how we start to learn how to love ourselves. By NOT putting on a front; no false face. No pretensions. Dare, really dare to be who you are.
This is our ministry to ourselves…to be that expression of God that we each are. Each individually, but part of the larger whole, the ONE. The Divine Universe.
We are told in Genesis that we are made in the image and likeness of the Divine, yet, we question, even deny that very truth?
And the real kicker is, we have this inner drive to recognize and connect with that Oneness, yet we deny it at the very same time! What a paradox!
Yet we have no qualms about telling or even showing someone else how wonderful they are. We say we love them and tell them unceasingly how wonderful they are.
Why not direct that same enthusiasm to ourselves?
To love someone is to see all of their magic and to remind them of it when they have forgotten.
We can do that to ourselves too.
Steve Aitehison said, “The amount of love you receive is directly proportional to how much you love yourself.”
How much do you love yourself?
Self-care is a Divine responsibility.
According to Thich Nhat Hanh, “Enlightenment, joy, and peace can never be given to you by another. The well is inside you.”
SO, if the well is inside us, how do we learn to tap into it? How do we learn to love?
If you believe, as I do, that we are love, because we are Divine, made in the image and likeness of the Divine, and God is LOVE, then we don’t learn love, we BE it.
I have learned that love is a verb. It’s the action that shows the feeling that we can identify with. My email signature includes “Loving is the answer” to affirm that belief each and every time I send a message out.
So, if we are looking at self-love, how can we be loving to ourselves?
Here are a few things to do: Take care of ourselves by eating well, exercising, taking time for quiet connection, face our fears, challenge the ego, surround ourselves with good friends, REALLY good friends, don’t be afraid to delve into our domestication….in other words, to question everything.
Understand why you believe what you do. Maybe you really don’t believe it anymore.
Check your integrity.
Listen to your instincts, they are closer to Spirit than you can imagine.
Jim Morrison, yes THAT Jim Morrison, said, “The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.”
He would probably like this quote I found, “When you truly don’t care what someone thinks of you, you have reached a dangerously awesome level of freedom.”
You do not have to be your mother or your father unless she or he is who you want to be. You do not have to be your mother’s mother, or your mother’s mother’s mother, or even your grandmother’s mother on your father’s side. Or you father’s father’s father. You may inherit their chins or their hips or their eyes or their lack of hair on your head, but you are not destined to become the person who came before you. You are not destined to live their lives. So if you inherit something, inherit their strength, their resilience. Because the only person you’re destined to become is the person you choose to be.
WHO DO YOU CHOOSE TO BE?
The truth to the secret of being happy is accepting where you are in life and making the most of every day. And to do that, sometimes that means answering the call, that urge to delve within and find the questions and then search for the answers. Notice I said find the questions first…you may need that before you know what answers you are looking for. (My friend Kath use to say, when she dies, she wants some answers…and I would say, but do you know the questions.”)
We can and should be content where we are, that gratitude is the start, but we also know, we have a glorious journey to look forward to.
Make no mistake, the journey to discover ourselves, to discover our own self-love, can be bumpy at times. But, the rewards are so worthwhile.
What matters most is how YOU see yourself. Perception is everything.
Michael Cunningham said “We are here to be transformed, and to be transformed again and again and again.”
From the Gospel of Thomas, 70:1 “If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you.”
Get it! It’s all within. We just need to uncover it, to bring it forth, layer by layer. Uncover the real you…the Christ within, that Buddha presence. Your hidden Goddess.
I leave you with this prayer for you:
That you have the wisdom to know you deserve goodness;
That you have the discernment to set boundaries of protection;
That you have the imagination to visualize your dreams;
That you have the power of intention to bring those dreams to life knowing the wisdom of your heart holds these gifts are of true self love.