Motown Series Part 1 – “I’ll Be There” & “Reach Out, I’ll Be There”
Welcome back to Unity Spiritual Center!
And welcome to our Summer Series based upon the music of Motown!
As we meet each week and listen to and discuss the music and the message it brings, I hope you will pay more attention to the music you hear as you drive, the songs that pop into your mind as you go through the day, and maybe even the music that enters your dreams.
What I’d like for you to do is tell me what those songs were. I plan to use some of your ideas for the last lesson in this series. SO, send me a text or email with the songs that are playing in your head, and I’ll take a look at what you have been hearing or playing.
There can be much to learn in the music that is part of our lives.
Here at Unity, we often think of the Positive Music that the many musicians bring to us, including our own Greg. But messages can be found in many, many places.
Over the years we have looked at some interesting and fun things over the summer months: The Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter, Children’s Books, the Beatles just to name a few.
So I thank Rev. Sandy Boyer for sharing her idea of using Motown music as our muse for this summer.
We are going to start with two songs with the same general message:
“Reach Out, I’ll Be There” by the Four Tops and “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5.
Both have similar messages, that we are not alone, that we have support when we are open and willing to receive it.
And here are the words to the Four Top’s song, “Reach Out, I’ll Be There”
Now if you feel that you can’t go on (can’t go on)
Because all of your hope is gone (all your hope is gone)
And your life is filled with much confusion (much confusion)
Until happiness is just an illusion (happiness is just an illusion)
And your world around is crumbling down, darling
Reach out come on girl reach on out for me
Reach out reach out for me
I’ll be there with a love that will shelter you
I’ll be there with a love that will see you through
When you feel lost and about to give up (to give up)
Cause your life just ain’t good enough (just ain’t good enough)
And your feel the world has grown cold (has grown cold)
And your drifting out all on your own (drifting out on your own)
And you need a hand to hold, darling
Reach out come on girl reach out for me
Reach out reach out for me
I’ll be there to love and comfort you
And I’ll be there to cherish and care for you
I’ll be there to always see you through
I’ll be there to love and comfort you
I can tell the way you hang your head (hang your head)
Your not in love now, now your afraid (you’re afraid)
And through the tears you look around (look around)
But there’s no piece of mind to be found (no piece of mind to be found)
I know what your thinking,
You’re alone now, no love of your own, but darling
Reach out come on girl reach out for me
Reach out reach out… just look over your shoulder
I’ll be there to give you all the love you need
And I’ll be there you can always depend on me
Just take a moment. It really isn’t hard to see & feel the connection to our Spiritual selves in these songs. As we relate the words to the God of our understanding, we know that God is always THERE—always HERE.
It is not God who has moved, but us. As we go through our lives in this human form, we often step away from what our hearts are telling us…that we are not alone, that Spirit is always with us.
We grew past the God of our childhood, that angry God, even vengeful at times. The Hebrew Bible tells many stories of our spiritual growth, through the trials of being a spirit in human form. At that time, we were babies in the growth of our soul. We turned away from Divine Spirit, thinking we could do life on our own, like the folks did with the Tower of Babel.
That journey through the Hebrew Books, The Old Testament, was the first lesson on what it means to be a soul having a human experience. We were given tools to help us learn how to get along, how to live in peace, but mostly, how to trust God.
When we grew enough, Jesus came along in the New Testament and taught us the truth of Gods laws, that we just need to love.
Then we recall that God is available within each and every one of us. We remember that God brings us peace because God IS peace. God is Love and we are a part of that love, as we express ourselves as God through-out our day.
Here’s the Reading I selected for today…
God comforts me and fills me with peace.
Whenever you need me, I’ll be there with you. You don’t need to look for me, for I am the joy that lives in your heart. You don’t need to seek me in places or circumstances, for I am the love that continually vibrates in and through everyone and everything.
Whenever you call, I will answer. Even before you ask, I know what your need is and I will answer your need in a way that will help you grow through whatever it is that you are experiencing.
Let my strength carry you through every circumstance of your life. Trust in me with all your heart, and I will transform your life with great joy and peace.
God is LIFE. And if we just reach out to that life, we can & will experience the love and support of that Divine Spirit that binds us all together.
Reach out in thought. Instead of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” how about adding “Think unto others and you would have them think onto you.”
Remember, our thoughts create our world, Principle 3. So it only makes sense to not only treat others well but think of them well also. Reach out to others in mind and action and attitude.
Everyone is important in this thing called life. Let’s treat each of us as such. Reach out and BE the person we can be, or as we often see, I pray I can be the person my dogs think I am!
These two songs also remind us to reach out and express more love, more joy, more enthusiasm…more LIFE!
Reach out to others. Maybe it’s time to be more of a friend than you have been. Maybe it’s time to be of service to your family, your community, your world.
We are so grateful for those of you who are in Service to Unity Spiritual Center. Don’t shy away from being a part of this wonderful, loving Community. We have so much to give and share.
I’ve mentioned many times about one of my mentors who would remind me that “God is in the yearning.”
Sometimes your thoughts are so consumed with your souls yearning to be closer to God, it can almost hurt. We are being pushed forward to know ourselves more and to be more.
That Christ Presence within us all is our connection to our authentic self. We can only be as close to Divine Spirit as we are willing to be true to ourselves, to being authentic.
Are you willing to be you? Are you ready to reach out to the higher being that resides in each and every cell of your body?
I’ve said time and again, to get closer to God, to Divine Spirit, we must know ourselves. We must be willing to not just reach out to the God of our understanding, but to also reach in. Willing to truly know who we are and what we are…we are of the Divine, our Creator. And we are creating our lives. So, if you are not satisfied with this life of yours, reach out to Spirit, to yourself and to others and make the change you need to be the person you wish to be.
It’s never too late.
Welcome back to Unity Spiritual Center!
And Great Independence Day to you all!
Did you know that July 4th has only been a Federal holiday since 1941? Officially, anyway, as a paid Federal Holiday. It was declared a Federal Holiday in 1870. Of course, it has been celebrated since the American Revolution.
Back then, some colonists celebrated the day by holding mock funerals for England’s King George III, as a way of reinforcing America’s victory over the British monarchy.
Some folks think it should be celebrated on July 2nd, since independence from England was voted on then, but the delegates didn’t adopt the Declaration of Independence until the 4th.
Now, of course, it is celebrated on the Monday closest to the 4th…longer weekends and more sufficient work weeks!
From a political or social point of view, all people are ‘supposed’ to be free. Our Bill of Rights state that. We know, in reality, that that does not exactly present itself as true. Unfortunately, many are challenged too often by inequality, prejudice, and threats on person and property by those who see themselves as superior, better than.
And this is one of the reasons we ask each week, “What is mine to do?” Because only each of us individually can answer that.
But let’s chat about another type of freedom.
The freedom we have with Spirit.
We lay hold of our freedom when we grasp the truth of freedom and give up all belief in bondage. Bondage, that favorite word of Emilie Cady, famous New Thought Author of “Lessons in Truth.” We are free when we realize that Christ within us has set us free from every enslaving belief or habit. Our freedom becomes a reality when we accept it as true for us. Our belief in bondage disappears when the truth of freedom is established in mind.
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.“
We set ourselves free from any belief that would bind us. Our freedom becomes clearer to us as we meditate upon the spirit of freedom within us. In order to be free, we set others free too.
“I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me.”
― Nelson Mandela
BECAUSE FREEDOM is the right of every human, it is natural for us to rebel to first realize the true source of freedom, that source of freedom is the triumphant Spirit of God dwelling in us all. A realization of our inherent power over everything in our life is necessary to the attainment of a consciousness of freedom. Even as our heart cries out for freedom, so can we assert our freedom through unifying ourselves with omnipotence. Then can we rise up in faith and claim our birthright of freedom. By knowing ourselves to be a child of God we become the master of habit, circumstance, condition, & environment. Then is freedom ours in manifestation as well as in Spirit and in Truth.
I HAVE freedom of spirit. We all do. Nothing can hinder or obstruct our spiritual growth and unfoldment. Let us now let go any thought of ourselves as separated from source, God. Centered in Divine Spirit, we are poised, free, and happy.
I have freedom of thought. AFFIRM We are free to think the thoughts of our own choosing. This is what Genesis tells us, we have dominion over all the Life on earth that represents our thoughts, on every level. What a challenge this can be, and what a privilege! Because God has blessed all of us with divine intelligence so we can sort out, evaluate, accept, or refuse the thoughts that come into our mind.
I have freedom of self-expression. AFFIRM We are free from past mistakes or shortcomings, free to make a new beginning, free to press forward into the satisfying, fulfilling life that we have been created to experience. I am free to be the kind of individual that I want to be, and so are you. I am free to express the self that God created—wise, loving, productive, & capable, and so are you.
As we prepare to celebrate July 4th, let us celebrate our freedom! We give thanks for our individual freedom, for freedom wherever it is expressed in the world, and for all freedom -loving people everywhere.
We give thanks for the freedom to express our true nature as children of God, inheritors of health and wholeness. We are not bound by past mistakes, imperfect images, or another’s’ negative opinions.
We are free to express and experience all the good that God has created for us. We are free to govern our own thoughts and activities. We are free to live up to the best that is in us.
We abolish attitudes that would bind us to unwanted habits. We are capable of making right decisions. We are free to live by the divine principles of freedom.
IT HAS been said that true freedom is not freedom from something but freedom for something, freedom to do or to be something. Turn yourself in the direction you wish to go.
In your divine self, your Christ self, you are not bound or limited. You are free to grow and unfold; you are free to express the talents and abilities within you. You are free to live healthily and happily, free to go forward day by day in peace and joy.
We acknowledge the individual freedom of people to be the best that they can be.
Freedom, true freedom, is of the spirit and is not limited by circumstances or conditions. Freedom can never be taken from us by other persons nor given to us by anyone else. The source of true freedom is found in the Spirit of God, which is within us. We are meant for freedom.
When we know that we are free because we have the source of true freedom within us, we have a sense of freedom, no matter what we are doing, no matter in what place we find ourselves.
Freedom is gained through prayer and meditation. It is gained through spiritual development experienced in communion with God in the silence.
Affirm: From my times of prayer and meditation I attain a spiritual power that enables me to rise above every limitation or restriction in my life.
Whatever your beliefs on personal freedoms, pray that our country can come to a place of equality, compassion, and freedom for all.
This morning we conclude our review of our Mission, Vision and Values Statements.
This has been an important reminder of who we are, what we stand for and what we hope to mean in our Unity Family, our Community and our world.
Several years ago, we held a workshop to determine our Mission, Vision and Values. As I recall, we had great participation & feedback on developing the statements we chose.
Our values are principles or standards of belief that motivates us to act in certain ways.
Inclusive– We celebrate diversity unconditionally as an expression of Spirit.
Not excluding any particular groups of people: Two weeks ago, I spoke to you about Pride Month, celebrating the acceptance, and achievements of those people who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community.
We also got to review the Unity Statement of Diversity and Inclusion:
Together we embrace our individuality. We celebrate our uniqueness with full acceptance of all people, including every expression of the Divine. We come together with love and compassion to be a light for all. We stand together in Unity.
It is not only the LGBTQ+ community that we include in our Ministry here at Unity Spiritual Center of Coastal Delaware; it is everyone. Gay, straight, bi, non-binary, different cultures, different abilities, different folks. We strongly and truly believe we are all One.
Spiritual– We honor all people and their paths to Divine Source.
Relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things; things of a spiritual, ecclesiastical, or religious nature
It’s about non-religious experiences that help them get in touch with their spiritual selves through quiet reflection, time in nature, private prayer, yoga, or meditation.
It’s correlated with better physical and mental health, including better sleep, lower blood pressure, and an overall lower rate of mortality. Higher levels of spirituality have also been linked to increased compassion, strengthened relationships, and improved self-esteem.
Galen Watts–An instinct toward spirituality appears to be deeply ingrained in humans.
first, that they believe there is more to the world than meets the eye, that is to say, more than the mere material. Second, that they try to attend to their inner life — to their mental and emotional states — in the hopes of gaining a certain kind of self-knowledge. Third, that they value the following virtues: being compassionate, empathetic and open-hearted.
Accepting– We are open and receptive to new ways of thinking, doing and being.
It means to Believe or come to recognize (an opinion, explanation, etc.) as valid or correct;
I like the word acceptance rather than tolerance. I stated at the beginning of the month that I do not care for the word tolerance. And I do not believe anyone would if they looked carefully at the two words.
One of the accepted definitions for tolerance is the allowable deviation from a standard.
I am NOT a deviation. And neither are you. I am a child of God, a divine being, a spiritual being having this human experience. I do not want to be tolerated, I wish to be accepted. Everyone’s desire is to be accepted for who they are.
So we at Unity are willing to listen to new ideas, to read new books and have conversations with others about different ideas. We seek to understand.
Supportive– We care for the community by giving of our time, talents and treasures.
This means providing encouragement or emotional help to our Unity family and the greater community. We agree to be a support in time, talent and treasure so Unity can continue to be a presence & support here in Delaware.
We at Unity wish to be a supportive family to our friends and Unity congregants. We also wish to be supportive to our community through our out-reach programs and our support through our tithes to community and to greater Unity.
Please know that we as a Unity Family are here for you. Reach out to us and let other shear from you as we all go through human experiences.
Please also understand that to be supportive means to support Unity Spiritual Center of Coastal Delaware in every way…time, talent, & treasure. All of you have been made aware of the rent increase here at this Center. That means that, to maintain a presence, we all must step up to aid in maintaining it.
It also means to show up in every way that calls to you. I would love to see you all here in person at the Center. And on those days when you cannot make it, let us know that you are there on FB, joining in with us as we sing and here comforting words in the Message of the day.
Let us know you are there to support us.
Safe– With love in our hearts, we are free to be our authentic selves.
Safe means to be protected from or not exposed to danger or risk; not likely to be harmed or lost. This goes along with being accepted and supported in our Unity Family. We wish to be accepted for who we are, not matter how we express ourselves as long as we are respectful of others.
It also means that we maintain a safe space for us to gather, to discuss different ideas, to sing and to support each other.
Loving– With open hearts, we embrace the best in each person.
To be loving means to feel or show love or great care.
This too, goes along with the other Values. If we are being true to who we truly are, then we are loving, we are accepting; we are supportive.
My mantra throughout most of my life has been, love is the answer. I changed that to loving is the answer, because I came to believe that love must be an action word. Our 5th Principle, we must put action to what we believe.
I am wondering if this discussion of the values we have chosen for Unity Spiritual Center of Coastal Delaware has prompted you to consider what your own personal values are.
Sometimes our personal values are what we have grown up with. However, we often will question those when they go against what we learn as we step away from our families and make a life separate from them.
My values, my integrity is much different than my family. I have lived a very different life than most of my brothers and my sister. And not only because I identify differently from them but also because I have been exposed to many different cultures and lifestyles.
It’s important to know your values, to know what determines your ethical choices.
Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work.
They (should) determine your priorities, and, deep down, they’re probably the measures you use to tell if your life is turning out the way you want it to.
When the things that you do and the way you behave match your values, life is usually good – you’re satisfied and content. But when these don’t align with your personal values, that’s when things feel… wrong. This can be a real source of unhappiness.
This is why making a conscious effort to identify your values is so important.
Values are guides to human behavior.
Abraham Maslow, the groundbreaking psychologist responsible for the hierarchy of needs, also noted that they’re an integral part of self-actualization.
Values reside within. Rather than being created, they’re discovered.
Values are usually fairly stable, yet they don’t have strict limits or boundaries. Also, as you move through life, your values may change. For example, when you start your career, success – measured by money and status – might be a top priority. But after you have a family, work-life balance may be what you value more.
As your definition of success changes, so do your personal values. This is why keeping in touch with your values is a lifelong exercise. You should continuously revisit this, especially if you start to feel unbalanced… and you can’t quite figure out why.
When you define your personal values, you discover what’s truly important to you. A good way of starting to do this is to look back on your life – to identify when you felt really good, and really confident that you were making good choices.
Step 1: Identify the times when you were happiest
Find examples from both your career and personal life. This will ensure some balance in your answers.
- What were you doing?
- Were you with other people? Who?
- What other factors contributed to your happiness?
Step 2: Identify the times when you were most proud
Use examples from your career and personal life.
- Why were you proud?
- Did other people share your pride? Who?
- What other factors contributed to your feelings of pride?
Step 3: Identify the times when you were most fulfilled and satisfied
Again, use both work and personal examples.
- What need or desire was fulfilled?
- How and why did the experience give your life meaning?
- What other factors contributed to your feelings of fulfillment?
Step 4: Determine your top values, based on your experiences of happiness, pride, and fulfillment
Why is each experience truly important and memorable? You can check out Core Values List: Over 50 Common Personal Values (jamesclear.com) to aid your search.
Step 5: Prioritize your top values
This step is probably the most difficult, because you’ll have to look deep inside yourself. It’s also the most important step, because, when making a decision, you’ll have to choose between solutions that may satisfy different values. This is when you must know which value is more important to you.
- Write down your top values, not in any particular order.
- Look at the first two values and ask yourself, “If I could satisfy only one of these, which would I choose?” It might help to visualize a situation in which you would have to make that choice. For example, if you compare the values of service and stability, imagine that you must decide whether to sell your house and move to another country to do valuable foreign aid work, or keep your house and volunteer to do charity work closer to home.
- Keep working through the list, by comparing each value with each other value, until your list is in the correct order.
Step 6: Reaffirm your values
Check your top-priority values, and make sure that they fit with your life and your vision for yourself.
- Do these values make you feel good about yourself?
- Are you proud of your top three values?
- Would you be comfortable and proud to tell your values to people you respect and admire?
- Do these values represent things you would support, even if your choice isn’t popular, and it puts you in the minority?
When you consider your values in decision making, you can be sure to keep your sense of integrity and what you know is right, and approach decisions with confidence and clarity. You’ll also know that what you’re doing is best for your current and future happiness and satisfaction.
Making value-based choices may not always be easy. However, making a choice that you know is right is a lot less difficult in the long run.
Core values are those that are most meaningful, residing at the core of being. Core is defined as “the part of something that is central to its existence or characters,” The image of a seed sprouting is a useful metaphor for growth and self-actualization: there is a place within where the truth of our core values resides.
Not only that, but core originates from the Latin cor, which means heart. Bringing this terminology together gives us “qualities that reside in the heart, shaping who it is you are here to become.”
Due to their significance, core values play a big role in motivation. Why do you do the things you do? It’s likely there are core values that act as intrinsic motivation, below the surface. For example, having a dream to become a millionaire might be less about cold hard cash, more about a core value of freedom and independence.
Take some time to at least ponder your values, your integrity. It is very important, and once you do, you will find that making choices along the way become easier because you KNOW yourself and what is important to your heart.
Let’s Talk about Mission & Vision
Let’s Talk about Mission & Vision
So, today and in two weeks, I thought we should review what we stand for…our Mission and Vision this week and our Values next.
We’ve been repeating them for that last month or so, during our Service, for two reasons, at least.
One is to remind us of what they are and two, to remind us of WHO we are.
Some of you were present when we had a Visioning workshop, to determine what our Mission, Vision and Values would be. And now, as we remind ourselves of what we determined they should be, we also review them to make sure they still fit.
Our Mission: We explore spiritual consciousness in a loving, accepting community through teaching and living universal spiritual principles.
What does that mean to you? Not to our physical space, but to YOU?
Think about it for a moment…..
Now let’s look at each part of the statement:
‘explore spiritual consciousness’
I would guess that we can all agree what ‘explore’ means: inquire into or discuss (a subject or issue) in detail,to examine or evaluate (an option or possibility)
We have all explored many times in our lives, and many different things. When talking about exploring here, we are attempting to discover who we are, what we identify with, what we believe. And not to just BE that, but to actually see if it fits.
Consciousness is an Awareness to feel the presence of this physical existence and beyond. It’s an Awakening to a non-dualism. It is a dimension beyond the mind and physical body. It is a light within you nor any object as the light that shines within you. Light itself is a consciousness, which means there is no dualism, it is One. Consciousness is an Openness.
‘loving’; feeling or showing love or great care. Our Unity Community certainly does show great love for each other, for our greater community and our world. We do this by welcoming others into our Service and Community as they choose to check Unity out, to see what we are all about.
We do this by reaching out to our Unity family and, in turn to the greater family and community by helping each other, by holding space as we each encounter our personal ‘growth opportunities,’ and by our outreach to the greater community by our tithes, and collection of needed products, by our Clean-up crew caring for our environment outside as well as doing our part for the environment as much as possible inside our space.
‘accepting community’: tending to regard different types of people and ways of life with tolerance and acceptance: the act of accepting something or someone
What does this mean to you?
Personally, I’m not wild about the word tolerance, I don’t wish to be tolerated. I don’t mean that everyone need meet me with open arms either, but know me as I am, not as others wish I was.
We in Unity try our hardest to be very accepting of all races and cultures, and orientations. That does not mean we do it all the time, but we sure do try our hardest AND we forgive ourselves and ask forgiveness of others when we miss the mark.
Unity traditionally, hasn’t done the best in this regard, historically, but they are making amends and I certainly try my hardest to follow through with this part of our Mission.
‘through teaching’: and how do we do this? By our Sunday Services, and our classes. By the books we promote and the messages we share online and in conversations.
- ‘living’: and by living our Truth, our 5th Principle It is not enough to understand spiritual teachings. We must apply our learning in all areas of life, incorporating them into our thoughts, words, and actions.
- We show the world who we are, sometimes a moment at a time through our actions, toward ourselves and others, and the whole of the world.
‘universal’ of, affecting, or done by all people or things in the world or in a particular group; applicable to all cases. Universal Laws are all encompassing. They are not physical laws that we discover as we learn more, like finding out about Black Holes.
They are Spiritual and govern everything and everyone.
‘spiritual principles’; Spiritual principles are timeless Truths, not tied to any specific religious, philosophical, or spiritual tradition. Spiritual practices reflect how we live them and vary based on the specific religious and spiritual traditions we adhere to.
Our Spiritual Principles are:
God is everywhere and always present in every circumstance. This divine energy underlies and animates all of existence.
- Human beings are innately good because they are connected to and an expression of Spirit.
- Our thoughts have creative power to influence events and determine our experiences.
- Prayer and meditation connect and align us to our own spiritual nature and to God.
- It is not enough to understand spiritual teachings. We must apply our learning in all areas of life, incorporating them into our thoughts, words, and actions.
Here is the reading I choose for today…
I give expression to the Christ Spirit within me in thought, word, and deed.
My mission, my calling in life, is to give expression to the Christ Spirit within me. Then whatever I do will be done from the wisdom of my soul, from divine love and understanding.
No matter what may be ahead this day, I will go about doing what I am called to do by the Christ of my being. Then I know the pure satisfaction of letting the divine within me become a part of my thoughts, conversations, and actions.
The Christ Spirit within me is unlimited wisdom, love, and life. As I open myself fully to giving expression to divine qualities, I relate well with those I know and those I am just getting to know. In answering the call of the Christ, I am also honoring the Christ
Next, let’s review our Vision Statement: We embrace a positive path for spiritual living to create a kinder, more compassionate world.
As you read the statement are you following it?
Do you embrace a positive path for spiritual living? Are you creating a kinder, more compassionate world?
In other words, are you doing your part to be part of the solution or have you missed the mark some, and are creating part of the problem?
We all miss the mark from time to time. We get caught up in our stories, our history. We forget that we only have NOW. No past, no future.
Oh, there is history. We all have memories. But are our memories dictating our lives or are they just reminiscences of some past day or person, and we can smile at the love we shared with them or recall the lesson we’ve learned from the past situation so we do not repeat it again and again.
And our future is not something we need to focus on, only prepare as needed, but live each day. Be present.
What happens if we are not in the NOW? WE may miss important happenings. May miss important lessons. May miss the beauty of each moment, each flower, each smile.
Welcome back to Unity Spiritual Center!
It’s great to be back with you. I had a nice break, got to visit folks in PA. And I never get done what I hope to when I take a break, whether it’s a sabbatical or a day.
First, I ask that you take a moment and refer back to our Opening Statement…what is mine to do? That question I ask you to contemplate each week and pray that you do. And then, when you realize what is yours to do, put feet to your prayers, because prayer without action is nothing but idle words.
Only you can determine what is yours to do, whatever the question…whether gun violence or the environment or how much money to spend on your grandkids! Contemplation and prayer followed by steps forward.
Did you know, according to science…we on average have 4000 weeks in our lives. At this point, many of us have way fever that that, myself included. So, figure out if you are doing what is yours to do. And if not, then search your soul to find that magic thing that makes your heart & soul sing. Then, Principle 5…put feet to that prayer.
You may be aware that June is Pride Month. Much like Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and many other minorities, the United States has honored many different minorities to shed light on the achievements these groups have made in a country where they often faced discrimination.
I can imagine that many of you have had or know someone who has experienced discrimination, often based upon stereotypes. I have experienced many instances, myself. It can be unpleasant.
And so I would like to bring some awareness to this month and the minority group we honor, the many folks who identify as Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual, Non-binary, and all the forms that, as humans, our sexuality and gender identity expresses.
These different months, honoring the cultures and contributions of the different peoples is an important reminder that we all have something to offer to our communities and our country and our world.
There are many things our world would be without or at least farther behind in development if it were not for members of the LGBT+ community and their scientific and industrial contributions. Our computers, IPhones, even helicopters! People like Alan Turing, Tim Cook, and of course many actors and scientists and athletes.
The point being, in every culture, we have received many helpful and, in some instances, life-saving cures, due to the many contributions made by this group of folks.
But that recognition is only part of the reason we celebrate Pride.
The 1950s and 1960s the United States was an extremely repressive legal and social period for LGBT people. And I can imagine, decades prior to that also.
I can recall my experiences as I realized that I was, at the very least, bi-sexual. The things authorities used to harass members even suspected of being gay were frightening, and in some instances, life threatening.
There are many documentaries and films about the lives of LGBT+ folks. Some include “Paris is Burning”, “The Boys in the Band”, “Moonlight”, and “But I’m a Cheerleader” which talks about conversion therapy which was often pushed on teenagers by their parent and Religious communities.
Another good documentary, if interested, is “The Bible Tells Me So”, about homosexuality and its perceived conflict with Christianity, as well as various interpretations of what the Bible says about sexual orientation.
Most people understand that the Bible does not mention homosexuality and, in fact, if the verses that are promoted against it were truly understood in their historic and cultural significance, there is no statement against it.
We often forget that our Way-Shower, Jesus, was all about Love…not hate or prejudice.
So, this month we celebrate Gay Pride to promote self-affirming, equality, individual dignity and the increased visibility and therefore understanding of our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters.
This is to counter the shame and social stigma that have been a part of our lives for too long. And, unfortunately, it is still. And sometimes it seems as if it is going again, against all the forward progress we have made.
If we have to continue to fight for equality, no matter the minority, then this is not the United States that our constitution claims it to be.
What started out in 1969, as riots that broke out after a raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York City and continues to today, Pride marches on a much larger public scale.
Although there were signs of protest prior to Stonewall, the movement became more focused and public after that riot. The LGBT community began to organize and to fight back. Interestingly, LGBT and Women’s movements used the Black Community for equality as a starting point and reference.
Three presidents of the United States have officially declared a pride month. First, President Bill Clinton declared June “Gay & Lesbian Pride Month” in 1999 and 2000. Then from 2009 to 2016, each year he was in office, President Barack Obama declared June LGBT Pride Month. Later, President Joe Biden declared June LGBTQ+ Pride Month in 2021. Donald Trump became the first Republican president to acknowledge LGBT Pride Month in 2019, but he did so through tweeting rather than an official proclamation.
“I call upon all Americans to observe this month by fighting prejudice and discrimination in their own lives and everywhere it exists.–Proclamation by U.S President Barack Obama, May 28, 2010
Obama designated the Stonewall Inn a national monument, too. “Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights,” he said in a statement. “I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country, the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us.”
Although the belief system behind LGBT+ Pride is to promote love and acceptance for everyone, no matter what their gender identity or sexuality is, not everyone sees it that way. Pride events are frequently met with the question, “Why isn’t there are a straight pride month?”
LGBT+ Pride is meant to celebrate the new attitude America, as well as the rest of the world, has about gender and sexuality. People in the LGBT community have been shunned and ostracized for years and years, and finally are at a point in our culture where we can accept and celebrate other sexualities. It’s not that we shouldn’t be celebrating heterosexuality, it’s that we’ve never lived in an America where doing so was unacceptable. LGBT+ pride is a triumph for America to see how far we’ve come as a country, and a way for us to honor people who have risked their safety and their lives to make the world a more loving and acceptable place for people of all sexualities. Although we’ve come a long way, we still have quite a bit of work to do to ensure that everyone can safely and happily celebrate their identities, not just during June, but all the time.
Why is being able to be ourselves important? I believe to be able to connect with our higher self, we must know ourselves and accept who we are. Even if we acknowledge that there may be something we would rather change, we must know and accept ourselves first. That is how we become authentic.
We want to live authentic lives as much as possible.
My struggle for acceptance of myself and by others was long and is still something I work on. I have come to accept myself on many levels, but understand that, as long as I am in physical body, there is work to do.
When I realized my sexuality, some people supported me and others did not. It took my family a long time to, at the very least, tolerate me. I really dislike that word. I wanted to be accepted!
I was kicked out of the house by my father. Separated from my siblings, the youngest two who I considered MY kids because I had raised them until I went off to college.
That was hard.
But in that separation, I got to accept more and more of me. I had to be careful, because it was still illegal to teach and be gay.
I did find acceptance from friends and eventually had some reconciliation with my family. I worked hard to be a part of that family, even though I was never really completely a part of them.
My Mother finally came around and we had a wonderful relationship when she passed. Something we both worked on. It’s that 5th principle!
They were grateful for my becoming more honest with them. But some friendships ended. They weren’t built on truth but on a false self I had projected.
The important people in my life, and I would suspect, most LGBT+ folks, are happy to know the real me.
AS Rev. Michael Gott has stated:
The other thing that saved me was Unity. I wasn’t necessarily the most understandable person when I was younger. I had a lot of anger and hurt by my family and the religion that I tried and tried again to find some solace.
It took a bit of time, but finally a friend told me about Unity. I started attending and soon was taking classes to eventually become licensed and to be able to spread the word here.
In Unity, we believe God is absolute good. And because all people exist within and as part of this divine energy, each of us is also inherently good.
I am also incredibly grateful to be a part of a spiritual community that recognizes my uniqueness as a gift from God.
This path to authenticity has been so healing for me. I believe it is universal.
Unity Leaves No One Out
Unity extends an explicit invitation to members of the LGBTQ+ community, who we know have often been rejected by spiritual communities because of who they are or who they love. Through prayer, publishing, and community outreach, we are committed to respecting the dignity of every human being—and that includes their gender identity/expression.
The Unity movement is open and welcoming of all individuals regardless of race, color, gender, age, creed, religion, national origin, ethnicity, physical disability, or sexual orientation. We invite you to read our formal (yet ever-evolving) statement of diversity and inclusion.
Together we embrace our individuality. We celebrate our uniqueness with full acceptance of all people, including every expression of the Divine. We come together with love and compassion to be a light for all. We stand together in Unity.
We see many symbols for Pride, the most prominent is the Flag:
Original flag and is representations
Hot Pink symbolizes sex
Red equals life
Orange symbolizes healing
Yellow stands for sunlight
Green represents nature
Turquoise equals magic & art
Indigo stands for serenity
Violet represents the spirit of LGBTQ people
We all might want to keep in mind that someone you love could be a member of the LGBTQ+ Community.
THERE ARE NO STRANGERS. I AM CONSTANTLY AWARE OF THE LOVING CHRIST IN ALL PEOPLE.
Ye are no more strangers . . . but ye are fellow-citizens . . . of the household of God. EPH. 2:19.
WE NEED never feel timid or hesitant, for there are no strangers. The Christ is the same in each of us. He looks on us lovingly through the eyes of other persons, just as He looks lovingly on other persons through our eyes.
In the heart of every person with whom we are not yet well acquainted, there abides the divine friend, the Christ. He is waiting for us to behold Him, to recognize Him. He is waiting for us to express good will to Him.
It is as though He were saying: “These persons are not strangers. I, the Christ, am coming to you in a new guise. You know Me. Look for Me. Silently let My Spirit in you speak to My Spirit in all whom you have thought of as strangers. My Spirit, the Spirit you share, is a friendly Spirit, an understanding Spirit. As you depend on my Spirit, you will find there are no more strangers, there are only new friends, blessed friends.”
Watch your thoughts, watch your words, watch your actions.
“Give Yourself Away”
Welcome back to the conclusion of our Lenten Series, “Thou Shall Not Suffer; 7 Steps to a Life of Joy” by Rev. Mark Anthony Lord.
I really enjoyed this book and I really hope you have also. And just maybe, something resonated with you through these 7 weeks.
I think this chapter titled, “Give Yourself Away” is very appropriate for this Easter Sunday.
The Buddha tells us, “A generous heart, kind speech and a life of service and compassion are the things that renew humanity.”
And really, isn’t that what these 7 steps were about? Steps to bring out the humanity in ourselves by getting to know ourselves and by being better humans to those that we share this world with, all life.
Winston Churchill has stated: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
Rev. Lord suggests that we are here on this physical plane to master unconditional love for ourselves and others. It is ours to do, to completely accept ourselves as one with the God of our understanding, and to accept all we are so we can continue our growth to wholeness on earth and connecting to our true spiritual being.
Mark tells us that we must grow to see that every person is the beloved, an expression of God, and it is our duty to help others in any way we can.
He tells us it is our responsibility to remove the suffering of another when we have that opportunity.
Rumi has said, “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
This river is the life of God. God, as life, gave and will give fully and freely forever.
And we, being One with this Divine Energy, can and will only know ourselves when we too, do what that Divine Power has done, give of ourselves.
We feel alive when we make someone else’s life better.
Think about that…when was the last time you helped someone? Pg. 109
Gather that feeling within you and let it grow and expand through your being.
Now, turn to your neighbor and share that feeling that love.
We don’t need big, sweeping acts of heroism and generosity. Simple acts making one person’s life better is just as beautiful and important.
Rev. Lord tells us about karma…that belief that what you put out into the world returns to you.
But he dissects it even further. Physical Karma is when we help others through our words and actions. Right words are words that do not minimize or hurt others. A good intent must be matched by right words.
Right actions are sacred and help others in the simplest ways. Opening a door for another, carrying a package, letting the car ahead in the lane of traffic all make others feel good and you get the benefit of a calm heart.
Psychological karma is earned through right thoughts and emotions. It’s not just “Do onto others as you would have them do unto you” but “think about others as you would have them think about you!”
A negative thought is about another but it is happening in your mind and body…therefor YOU suffer the effect. Remember, every thought is energy in motion…it extends to and affects those around you.
The realm of thought is powerful and creative—thoughts create our world.
Spiritual karma is about helping others to grow spiritually…doing spiritual practices, praying, volunteering at your Center and in your community. All these and more help to move us along our spiritual plane.
The more you give, the more you have and the less you need. We are to be a vessel through life energy flows. Be grateful for all you have….personally and as a member of humanity. It’s so much more than we even imagine.
Our feelings of scarcity are ego based. When we share our gifts with others, no matter how small it seems, your contribution expands into more. That is what BLESSING is all about.
Giving and Receiving
THE DIVINE LAW OF GIVING AND RECEIVING IS ACTIVE IN ME AND MY AFFAIRS. I GIVE FREELY AND RECEIVE BOUNTIFULLY.
THERE IS a definite law of giving and receiving. This law is based upon a consciousness of the Truth that God is the eternal substance in which all things take form. When we invoke love in our giving, we give divinely and we receive richly and abundantly. When we share our good in the spirit of love we are not anxious about receiving; we simply work in accord with the divine law, knowing that there is plenty to supply the demand. Giving in the Spirit we may be assured of having plenty from which to give, for Spirit substance is unlimited and inexhaustible. Enlarging the channel for giving also increases the capacity to receive. The good giver is also a good receiver, for he must give in order to receive. Let us keep the channel of our mind open to receive our blessings from God’s unlimited storehouse of good.
Luke 6:38 (NIV) says, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
A GREAT Palm Sunday to you. You received a pussy willow stem this morning, honoring the custom of Ukraine, in place of Palms. Just one more way we are showing our support for those folks fighting for their freedom, something we often take for granted.
Rev. Mark Anthony Lord’s book, “Thou Shall Not Suffer – 7 Steps to a Life of Joy,” has given has many ideas to ponder and some helpful exercises and suggestions to improve the amount joy in our lives.
We have talked about “Getting a New God,” “Forgiving Yourself & Others,” “Love Yourself Madly,” and “Surrender” last week.
Your ‘homework’ was to fire your old God and then hire a new one in your 1st week. Then you were given the task of creating the 70 X 7 Forgiveness Circle…how did that go?
The third week was all about loving yourself, and Deepak Chopra showed us 7 ways that loving yourself actually means and we followed that with 15 way to love ourselves.
Week Four had us looking at what we wanted and we had a couple of exercises to find out about that.
Last week we looked at what surrender actually means on a spiritual level, and you were asked yourself to list your expectation for all your family, friends and co-workers.
And just for fun, what are your expectations for yourself?? Add that to your list of exercises to do.
Now, on to our discussion for this week, “Generously Receive”.
Why do you think Rev. Lord is talking about Receiving before Giving?
Not that hard to figure out, really….you can’t give away what you don’t have.
Or as Rev. Lord states it, “You can only give to the extent you can receive.”
Mark gave an example of an older woman who needed help after surgery. SO friends and family brought meals, walked the dog, mowed the yard, drove her to her appointments and all the time she would say, “Oh, you don’t have to do that” or “I’m so sorry for being a burden.” Even after her recovery she still referenced the aid she received with gratitude but also, guilt…”I just felt so bad that people had to go out of their way.”
She, like many of us, struggle with receiving. Giving is so much easier, is it not?
Part of our issue with receiving is we don’t feel we deserve it. Or then we feel obligated to reciprocate.
We have been taught to feel unworthy from an early age, so we deflect compliments, refuse a helping hand and many other ways that the Universe is offering support.
I can give you a personal example…I was a giver, always doing for others and doing things myself. Not generally asking for help. That is until I needed to have my knee replaced. Then I had to learn to receive the assistance into and out of the car, sometimes even up steps, I was working on the yard and my friends came to help finish the rock edging along the side of the yard, another came to massage the leg to help relieve the swelling.
This was just the first step in learning to accept help when I really, really needed it.
There were more to follow, almost as if the Universe was insuring that I got the message…it’s ok to receive assistance, just as its ok to give it.
But sometimes that’s a hard lesson. Instead of receiving the blessings of the Universe, we have been domesticated to make it shameful and embarrassing to need help. Our false sense of strength is, meanwhile, crumbling inside. That old belief, “Only the strong survive” is Old, way outdated.
The new era of being vulnerable and accepting help is smart, honest, and empowering. Honoring your needs and allowing them to be generously met create greater accomplishments and make you feel loved, connected, and cared for.
Being fiercely independent isn’t the name of the game anymore.
Ernest Holmes once said, “You are either attracting or repelling according to your mental attitudes. “
Your mental attitudes of being worthy or unworthy, happy or unhappy, open or closed, trusting or skeptical are all causing your natural ability to receive, expand, or contract.
Admitting our need for help, support, love, care, attention, and guidance is the first step in receiving generously.
Say this affirmation: As a child of God, I am a divine creation, worthy of all good.
Our ego refuses to admit it has needs. Thinking like, “I don’t need you!” Or, “Forget it! I’ll do it on my own!” are rebellious stances out of fear and false pride. They block our receiving and we suffer.
Here are some more rebellious statements that come from ego: “I can’t find anyone to help me;” “I’ll just do it myself;” “There’s no solution;” “I know he’ll forget to do it;” “I’m sure she won’t remember she said she’d help;” and the biggie, “I always attract losers.”
These diminishing phrases block our ability to see and receive solutions.
Any sound familiar?
In order to receive, we need to become comfortable with this truth: YOU NEED. You need all day long. We all do. It is our nature to need and then to have our need fulfilled by receiving. It is a circle of life—need it, receive it, fulfill it, and then start all over again.
Here’s the reading I choose for today:
I am worthy.
Perhaps I feel that I am not worthy of some good that I truly desire. I may have let seeming mistakes or harsh judgments of me by others cause me to be self -critical. To begin feeling worthy, I must believe in my true self, that worthy person that I was created to be.
What is there that is inherently good about me? I am a spiritual being, for Gods spirit of life and wisdom is within me. Knowing my worthiness does not make me feel better than anyone else, for I also know that the spirit of God is within each person. When I feel worthy, I know that I am a divine creation, and I can recognize everyone else as such.
If someone in the past has labeled me unworthy, I now know that this is not true. When I get in touch with who I really am a spiritual being I begin to think, talk, and act according to the best that is within me. I am worthy of expressing and receiving the goodness of God, and I do.
We are worthy of God’s love and help
So if we have determined that we are worthy, then why are we not receiving all the gifts our Creator has for us, just waiting for the asking?
Obviously, we block the receiving. We place limits on how we will receive, who will be giving to us what we need. But not only that, we say who, what, when, where and how!!!
You have probably done it too. You have the idea of what you perfect mate should look like, what their job is, even what car they drive!!
Or maybe it’s actually the car you’re dreaming about, a specific make, model, color, engine size, the color of the interior….every possible detail. What if the perfect car comes along, everything you have on your list but in interior color scheme? Do you take it?
There’s a story of a woman making a vision board, looking for her perfect mate. She had all the pictures and words cut out of magazines and made up her board and then placed it at the perfect place to see daily. A few months later, she found a man who looked just like the one in the picture, and they got together. Later she discovered he was an alcoholic….the picture had him holding a can of beer.
Watch what you wish for!
Maybe it would be prudent to let the who, the how, the when to the Universe. There are many channels from which our good may come to us. But our source is always from God. It can look like the job, our family, one of our friends…but it’s always God.
“I believe and am open to receive.” And then be open and watch what happens. You must believe.
Here are some other thoughts for you to help you know yourself, and what you want, and how to be a better person.
1. Have Realistic Expectations
Part of our problem is the common tendency to have unrealistic expectations. There’s nothing wrong with having an ideal scenario or outcome, but overly lofty goals or hopes when you have a hard time controlling the outcome is self-defeating behavior.
People can become quickly discouraged and frustrated, thinking they have failed when they haven’t or given up when they’ve just lost steam.
We often have expectations of other people, and when they fail to meet them, we become frustrated, hurt, or angry. You can’t control others, so manage your mental health by releasing expectations that others resist.
2. Find Your Inner Peace
If you’ve watched high-tension action movies or cooking shows, there’s a lot of multi-tasking and intensity. But the people seem relatively calm, even with all the chaos and tension.
Achieving that equanimity in high-stress situations is difficult but not impossible. Many people use meditation as a daily practice that helps them reach that center of calmness.
You can also spend quiet time in nature or even take a few minutes for mindful breathing to find your source of inner peace.
The more you practice, the easier it will be to return to that source during times of stress.
3. Develop Clarity of Thought
To have a healthy mindset, you need to think clearly. Confused, unrealistic, or negative thoughts hinder your progress in achieving your goals. If you can think clearly, you can plan clearly and manage your time and resources better.
To practice greater clarity, look at a situation first using the facts and ask yourself, “What is true about this?” and “How do I think and feel about this?”
Be clear on the outcomes you want to achieve, and regularly check to ensure your actions lead you to the results you want.
Also, monitor what you put into your mind that could impact your clarity of thought. Reading or listening to negative information that can distract or discourage you doesn’t contribute to a healthy mindset.
4. Strengthen Your Concentration
Concentration is just as crucial as calmness. You need it to honor your goals and dreams. But to concentrate, you need to pay attention and focus for long periods.
Our digital distractions and overscheduled lives make it difficult to focus. It’s up to you to manage these distractions to build concentration.
Meditation can help strengthen your focus muscle. So can activities and games that require sustained focus. Getting enough sleep, exercising, and even listening to classical music can help.
5. Practice Courage and Determination
When you think about courage, you might believe it means having no fear in the face of danger. That’s simply not true. Courage means acting despite fear.
Otherwise, fear controls you and won’t let you push through. Fear can appear as an anxious thought or a full-blown panic attack, but the result is the same. You resist, procrastinate, or passively allow an opportunity to pass by.
Determination is a character quality that allows you to push past fear. You have your goal fixed in your mind, and your tenacity and drive overcome the fear of tackling the goal.
It’s daunting the first few times you act in the face of fear. But with time and experience, you realize that fear is almost always a smokescreen.
6. Develop a Compassionate Outlook
Compassion is the feeling of concern and care for the suffering of others, even people you don’t know. You feel compelled to alleviate their distress because you are aware of the commonality of the human condition.
You develop a healthy mindset through compassion by connecting to others’ pain, enhancing your resilience.
Compassion also extends to you and your distress. Self-compassion allows you to move past your mistakes and flaws without harsh judgment and self-criticism.
7. Focus on Good Nutrition
Eating should be for pleasure as well as nutrition. Some people take eating as a day-by-day habit, and it’s often the best way to start eating healthier.
Healthy eating improves your physical and mental well-being and contributes to longevity. Simply knowing you are treating your body well by feeding it nutritious meals can improve your self-esteem and confidence.
8. Get Plenty of Restorative Sleep
When you’re young, it’s easier to deal with not getting enough sleep. As you grow older, getting the right amount of good quality sleep can make or break your day.
It’s hard to be positive, focused, and clear-headed when tired and bleary-eyed.
Chronic sleep deprivation has a lasting impact on mental health and can even lead to depression. A healthy mindset requires prioritizing good sleep routines and getting 6-8 hours of sleep every night.
9. Exercise Every Day
Exercise keeps your body healthy, works your heart, develops muscle, and relieves stress. Even the most exercise-adverse can benefit from low-impact cardio, such as using a recumbent bike, which you can do while listening to music or watching tv.
Walking is another easy exercise that you can enjoy outside in nature or indoors on a treadmill for convenience. The best weekly combination of exercise includes strength training, cardio, and stretching.
Best of all are the feel-good chemicals your brain releases while you exercise, including endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. They make you feel happy and get rid of chemicals that make you feel anxious or stressed.
10. Manage Stress
Chronic stress is detrimental to a healthy frame of mind. It leads to mental and physical health problems and makes life feel joyless. It can also negatively impact your relationships.
Some people deal with stress by exercising, but it’s not always possible or desirable to exercise during stressful events.
Even if you exercise regularly, you should have other ways to manage your stress that work in your daily life or at work. Stress balls are a useful tool, as are breathing exercises and short meditation sessions.
Once you alleviate the initial stress, you can try other means, such as talking to a therapist, taking walks, or playing with a pet. The important thing is to address stress as soon as you notice it.
11. Developing Positive Relationships
Having the right people around you is essential to feeling optimistic and confident. You want supportive, healthy-minded people in your life to inspire your growth toward wholeness.
Find people who encourage your journey to a healthy mindset and help you stay with it.
Nay-sayers and toxic people who criticize and put down your ideas and choices will make you feel bad about yourself.
Being with people just for companionship or for fear of being alone can make you accept bad or even abusive behavior. It can take a dramatic toll on your mental health and self-esteem.
As you learn about healthy-minded people, you can decide whether you want someone in your inner circle or even as an acquaintance. It’s good to socialize with many people, but avoid those that make your life worse rather than better.
Having a healthy mentality is not just a trend – it’s a lifestyle. With these healthy mindset tips, you can start practicing positive habits that may turn your life around.
Your exercise for this week is look for ways you are blocking your abundance. Do you push away compliments? Do you make others guess what you need?
Every time you say “no thank you” to someone trying to help you, you really are saying “I can do this alone. I am not open to receive.”
We are winding down with our book on the 7 Steps to a Life of Joy. Have you been working the exercises? Are you feeling more joy?
Joy is an after-effect of working on our spiritual path. It’s really not something that is influenced by outside events like happiness.
Joy is an inside job.
So, I do hope you are working because it works if you work it.
This next step from Rev. Mark Anthony Lord is Surrender.
I know many people go right to giving up all that you are, all that you have, when you think of surrender. This is what the dictionary states: the action of yielding one’s person or giving up the possession of something especially into the power of another.
This is what we usually think of when we hear the word surrender….like
No Surrender: My Thirty-Year War, Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda, one of the last Japanese-born soldiers to surrender in World War II.
Onoda had been stationed on Lubang Island in the Philippines when it was taken over by U.S. forces in February 1945. Almost all of his comrades were killed or captured, While his fellow evaders were eventually killed, Onoda held out for 29 years, dismissing every attempt to coax him out of the jungle as a trick.
His primary motivation for not surrendering was his devout belief in the Japanese military code of discipline and honor. Because of this, he had been ordered by his superiors to never leave his post until he received a specific order enabling him to do so.
In 1974, the Japanese government sent its commanding officer to Lubang to order Onoda to surrender. When Lieutenant Onoda stepped out of the jungle to accept the order, he did so in his dress uniform and sword, with his rifle still in operating condition. Even in surrender he maintained his discipline and retained his honor.
We are discussing a different meaning to surrender. Rev. Lord says it this way: “In its deepest sense, it is giving up all the fixing, figuring out, managing, and controlling that keep you bound in chronic fear and confusion.”
Quite a different definition. He continues, “Its letting go of every part of you that thinks it has to make life happen either for yourself or another. It’s trusting life so implicitly that you never question it. It’s living fully in the moment with no worry or concern for what will happen next and no expectations on how you or others are supposed to act.
That is pretty amazing.
Here it is again: “Its letting go of every part of you that thinks it has to make life happen either for yourself or another. It’s trusting life so implicitly that you never question it. It’s living fully in the moment with no worry or concern for what will happen next and no expectations on how you or others are supposed to act.”
Think on that a bit.
Have you ever done that? Do you think you could do that?
At this point in many of our lives, we are striving to do that. I pray you are achieving it at least some of the time. On this physical plane, I know it is a difficult thing…trying to control our reactions to the happenings of our daily lives.
When you surrender to the God of your understanding, you get to be who you truly are and so do the rest of us.
Wouldn’t that be amazing? No longer boxed in a corner, ruled by your internal voices telling you who you should be and how you should act and judging others by that same voice.
THIS is God’s will for us.
Many people ask; well, what exactly is God’s will?”
The simple and wonderfully easy answer, God’s will is for good for all concerned.
Our Creator’s will is for us to be happy, free, and living an amazing life.
To have your most amazing life, you, and me, must let Spirit in. We must have faith.
Faith—one of our 12 Powers. Faith—“The ability to believe, intuit, and perceive,
the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
Faith is the power to create our reality by our perceptions, our beliefs, and our interpretations. Seeing is believing, and yet believing is seeing.
In “Growing Through the Four Levels of Faith” by Ellen Debenport; she tells us that Faith falls roughly into four levels.
Level 1: Hope
Hope is not as strong as faith, but sometimes it’s the best we can muster. Hope acknowledges that things might get better; it expresses a wish.
The problem with hope is that it also acknowledges things might not get better, and it stems from resistance to the way things are now. We hope things will change and be different. It’s perfectly human, but it’s low-level faith.
Level 2: Blind Faith
“Everything will be okay,” or “God will provide.”
Blind faith may be the best we can do, and it certainly feels better than despair.
However, blind faith can become magical thinking with a big dose of denial. It also doesn’t require our participation. We just wait for some kind of intervention from outside of us.
Level 3: Understanding Faith
Spiritual maturity brings about understanding faith. Just as we now understand why the sun seems to rise in the east, we have learned who we truly are and why we can trust life.
We know the ancient teachings that God is all there is, and we are part of the whole. Our thoughts have creative power, so we are key participants in life’s unfolding. We are never separate from an infinite presence, and we can act from the awareness of our spiritual identity.
All our thoughts and choices can be grounded in our understanding of spiritual principles.
Level 4: Knowing
The deepest faith is also the simplest: knowing.
We don’t struggle to adjust our thinking or believe in good instead of bad. We just know.
We know we live in a universe of abundance. We know health is our natural state. We know the universe is biased for good, and most things work out for the best, at least in the long run. Call it grace.
In faith, we focus on the good we know is present, even when we can’t see it yet.
When we surrender, we let go of the results of our actions
This is not to deny or ignore what is happening around us. It’s like focusing a camera lens on a single bud in a trampled garden. It’s noticing the first leaves on a tree while it’s still cold outside. It’s remembering all the times past when something we resisted turned out to be exactly what we needed or had asked for. It simply arrived in a package we didn’t recognize.
Surrender happens when we know that we don’t know.
Our job is: think about what you want, feel good, let God do the rest
The universe is a yes machine
Try to not make things happen but allow them to happen. Allow life to happen for you.
We are under the illusion that we control everything and everyone…all of humanity is part of this great illusion. We were never in control!
The truth is we are all vulnerable. We know our life on this planet is temporary, but instead of embracing this truth and allowing it to generate present-moment appreciation, we hide in fear by trying to control that which is uncontrollable.
For example: the moment we find a fault in another, we are trying to change them. We judge and think they should be different. Why do we make their ‘fault’ our problem?
Remember…whose business is it…mine, yours, Gods?
We lose our sense of peace every time we work ourselves into a state of worry over someone else’s choice.
The reality is nobody changes anything about themselves just because someone else thinks they should.
However, if it is part of your job to help others make healthy choices and even deter them from dangerous ones, then it is your responsibility to do so from a place of love and acceptance. Control does not do this.
Also, your self-care should never be compromised. You are not a doormat.
Sometimes we trap people, often those we love, with so many expectations. Expectations almost always cause disappointment. What we believe to be the issue is more often than not, what the other believes it to be.
For most people. Surrendering will occur over time and in layers, like peeling an onion. You’ll experience a bit of it and feel wonderful and then discover as time goes by that there is another layer to release.
A few experience complete surrender of control and expectations in a moment…ex. Byron Katie and Eckhart Tolle who awakened in an instant.
Your exercise for this week: Inventory your expectations.
Think of the different people in your life and write down your expectations for them. Parents, siblings, spouse, boss, co-workers, friend….as many people who are a big part of your life and as many expectations as your hold them to. No stopping or thinking, make this a continuous exercise for each person.
After you have completed your lists, take a break. Then go back and look over your lists. Are they really reasonable? Where you aware of all these expectations? What is your next step?
“Want What You Want”
So how have you been doing with this conversation, so to speak, with Rev. Mark Anthony Lord? Lots of interesting ideas and suggestions to help us get to know ourselves better and connect with our Higher Self. And THAT is what we truly want. It may come in different forms but deep down we know it’s to be closer to Source.
So, let’s see what Rev. Lord has for us today.
This chapter is titled “Want What You Want.”
And he brings in the verse from Matthew, 7:7-12, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
He suggests this verse holds the key to ending much of our suffering. A promise of support, abundance, great freedom
Have you asked? Have you knocked on the door three times as Jesus did?
Better still, do you know what you want?
I ask for what my heart desires and prepare to receive God’s good.
What do I truly want for my life? This is an important question. At times I may find myself waiting for God to deliver my good, yet I haven’t even considered what I really want. What is my heart’s greatest desire?
My heart’s longing originates in God. When I reflect on what I want to do, who I want to be, and where I want to go, my heart’s desire is revealed. It may unfold in an instant or slowly over time. The key is to ask, seek, and then patiently wait for clarity.
Today I ask myself, What do I truly want? In the stirring of my heart, God speaks to me and leads me to my right path. I listen for answers with eager anticipation.
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.—Psalm 37:4-5
The Universe is a yes machine. Just ask, with feeling, with determination, with belief and especially, with faith.
The Universe doesn’t ask you to reconsider your thought, it just looks into your heart.
We learn that being selfish, wanting what we want wasn’t good
Now we are mixed with feeling of uncertainty…not knowing when it’s ok to want & when it’s not.
Eventuality our wanting becomes mixed with guilt, shame, fear, should and shouldn’ts, judgments & greed.
“When wanting something for yourself is judged so severely it can forever alter the way you view your needs and desires, causing you to hide and deny them.”
Our society has made it almost a sin to take care of ourselves. The vision of helping others at the expense of ourselves was, & still is to a degree, considered holy, Godlike.
Think about all the “prophets, the masters, those people who devote their lives to helping others—Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Buddha. They were all living off of the earth, off of the goodness of others, not thinking of themselves, only of their calling.
Helping others is good, when we help family & friends, it is truly from our hearts
This is ‘love in action.’ It is not suffering. We do for others because it is the right thing to do.
The word sacrifice means to make sacred.
When we know it is the right thing to do, to look to others instead of ourselves, we don’t feel deprived…we feel fulfilled. We are making it sacred.
God is working through us. And it feels like it too, special. Sacred.
We are all selfish, we all have our own interests. And they are all different. You have yours and I have mine. You might not care for my selfish interests. But they are mine. I may not care for yours, but they are yours.
You are really the only person you can influence. It is your business to think about yourself, care for yourself, and want what you want…..no need to justify or explain.
That does not mean you can harm another or destroy property.
I love Byron Katie’s question: Who’s business is it? Mine? Yours? Gods?
Check yourself first about what is good and true for you
Rev. Mark tells us a percentage of our wanting comes from suffering-subtle and not so subtle beliefs of unworthiness, lack and limitation, doubt and worry. This discomfort is pushing you to want more, to change and grow.
Remember, the universe says yes to your wants, but also to the core, generating ideas and feelings from which wanting comes. A percentage of your wanting comes from beliefs of unworthiness, lack and limitation, doubt and worry.
It’s never a good time to want something when you are feeling fearful. Fear creates more fear. The same with thoughts of lack, feeling unlovable, feelings of regret, anger, worry.
So what can we do? First and foremost, become aware of your feelings. Take a breath, and place your attention of what is happening to you in this present moment. Remember to be in the NOW. (are you in the Now, now? Listening?)
Now look around….find something good, something beautiful…a flower, the ocean, the tree slowly waving in the breeze. A child enjoying playing in the sand, lovers walking hand in hand. Sun setting in beautiful colors. The playful kittens in the room or your dog tugging on a toy.
There is wonder and beauty all around us, if we just open our eyes.
You want to shift your energy from the sad or angry mood you were into something better, appreciation, gratitude.
Have compassion for yourself. If you are fearful or angry, get up and move around. Go for a walk, or a run, if you can. Clean the house. Weed the garden. Walk the dogs.
OR, work through those feelings, whatever they are. They are legitimate feelings, and in our work on self-love, it is important to know, understand what these feelings are all about.
Don’t deny yourself or judge the experience…just feel.
There is no right or wrong way to want, only your right relationship to it.
True freedom comes when you can fully embrace all that you want with no justifications, excuses, shame, or denial.
Imagination is one of our 12 powers, some feel the greatest. So it’s natural to have it, to use it.
Of course, we know we all can’t have everything we want,
Some people try to fill a hole inside themselves with ‘things’ in their attempt to provide safety, attention, or even escape. Just because one wants something doesn’t mean they can have it, or even take it.
Do you recall the lessons on the 10 commandments? Thou shall not steal. If something is not yours, it’s not meant to be yours…go get your own! Your own car, house, friend, wife or husband….
Hoarding, over spending, behavior that causes pain & suffering to another is no freedom, it is the misunderstanding and misuse of wanting.
Allowing yourself to want what you want, without causing any harm to yourself or another, will create within you a deep feeling of contentment that has nothing to do with having more….you will love what you have. Gratitude for what you have opens the possibility for receiving more.
You are able to discern what is really important for you. What is really important for you?
“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13)
Isn’t that wonderful? It says, in essence, “Whatever it is that you want, if you ask for it in Jesus’ name, you’ll get it.” The promise is so straightforward, and there are no qualifiers. No if’s, and’s or but’s. There’s no, “As long as it’s a good idea…or “Just so long as it doesn’t seem greedy…” It doesn’t say any of that. It says, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that I will do…”
Let me tell you something, our Creator is not glorified by poverty. God is not glorified by illness. The Divine is not glorified when you feel guilty or unworthy. Spirit is not glorified when you run around playing the victim.
God is glorified when you stand up and acknowledge who you are and claim your birthright.
And who are you? You are a divine being, a child of God the Most High, a person who deserves to have every good thing that life has to offer.
Now, it may be that some of the things are hard for you to accept. They might be the opposite of what you’ve been told all your life, and you might feel that you can’t just transform your thinking instantly, as if by magic. Learning a brand new way of thinking can take some time and concerted effort, so I’d like to introduce a practice that many people find helpful in changing a long-held mindset: affirmations.
And here is a great one: “It brings my Divine great joy to fulfill my every dream and desire.”
Try writing some affirmations for yourself. Make it personal in present tense. And then believe, have faith in your God and in yourself.
Here’s an exercise for you to help you to understand why you didn’t receive what you thought you wanted. Make 2 columns on a piece of paper. AT the top left side write “What I didn’t get that I wanted” and at the top right hand side write “why”.
Be honest with yourself and see what you come up with, you may be surprised what you discover.
After you have discovered and understood the whys of not getting what you thought you wanted, make another list, this time listing “What I did get that I wanted” and “Why.”
In each instance, can you see the Universe at work? Did you discover self-sabotaging patterns? Could you see how some things were not meant to be & be ok with that?
An interesting exercise….let me know how you make out.
“It doesn’t matter how much you want. What really matters is how much you want it. The extent and complexity of the problem does not matter was much as does the willingness to solve it.”
“Love Yourself Madly”
When did you start loving yourself?
Or maybe I should ask, have you started to love yourself?
We have been taught from our birth to look outside ourselves for love and acceptance. And that has been ingrained generation after generation after generation. Look to your parents and grandparents. Did they love themselves? Did they take care of themselves? Maybe a little.
Or maybe as they grew older and realized that it was past time to look to themselves for love and acceptance, because unconditional love and acceptance was so very hard to find from others.
We were always taught to be good, do whatever was asked to receive a bit of love. We tried so hard to be perfect in this physical world.
I don’t know of any person who is perfect.
Yes, we are perfect as spiritual beings, but when we have this physical cloak we call a body and live in this dualistic world, there is no perfect human.
SO, today, Rev. Mark Anthony Lord is asking us to “Love Yourself Madly.”
Think about how you were growing up. Didn’t you try to do what was asked of you, even if it wasn’t what you wanted? Now I’m not talking about being nasty or a trouble maker, breaking the law.
What I’m asking is, did you follow what was expected of you? Let’s say you grew up in the 50’s & 60’s like I did. Were you encouraged to be whom you wanted to be or was it expected that you follow the traditions of your sex and class?
I was told, “Girls don’t do that.”
That was sports, or hang out or go into town alone. And our town was small.
To this day, I don’t know how I got my parents to agree that I could go to college, even tho I had to pay my way.
Eventually, many of us realize that our needs are important too, and it is up to us to see to them. We realize that we too, are worthy.
Instead of abandoning bits of ourselves to satisfy others, we come to realize that it’s our turn to be whom we were meant to be.
How long has it taken you to realize that you have been downplaying your wisdom and accomplishments in order to make others feel comfortable?
It is past time for us to be ourselves.
Our society is outmoded; self-respect is considered selfish. It’s not. If you don’t honor yourself, who will?
We don’t have to be someone else to be loved and appreciated. “Imagine what the world would be like if everyone truly loved themselves and sourced their own affirmation, recognition, and respect from within.”
“Every time you look outside yourself for love, recognition, or approval, you are abandoning yourself.”
Think about that…how does that feel to you?
We’ve heard this many times already, you must love yourself to be able to love others. And I would think many of us would refute that. “How could you say I don’t love my friends, family…?
It made me wonder if I was loving with conditions?
“A Course in Miracles” talks about ‘special love’ and ‘holy love.’ Special love is what we would normally think of when we talk about loving a friend, or spouse, or even a pet.
Holy Love is in all of us. It’s always available and has no contingencies…any person, place or thing. Holy Love can be shared without possessing and it includes everyone.
Our healing comes in casting a net of holy love over our entire self that allows every single, separated part to come home into the light of acceptance.
Here’s the reading I choose for today:
I bless others and I bless myself.
Do you bless others but never think of blessing yourself? Do you forgive others, but do not think of forgiving yourself? Do you obey the commandment to love your neighbor, but do not think of loving yourself? It is time to remember to bless yourself.
Bless yourself today. Bless your body; it is Gods holy temple. Bless your mind, heart, and soul. You are a child of God and your capabilities are unlimited.
Sometimes memories come back of happenings wherein you wish you had acted or spoken differently. You cannot change what is past but you can know that God has turned it into a blessing and forgiven you. Bless yourself with the balm of forgiveness.
Bless yourself and love yourself. You have done some fine things in your life. The Father has many important things for you to do. He can do so much more through you if you love, forgive, and bless yourself.
Carl Jung: “The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.”
Are you fearful of your true self? Ask yourself WHY?
Our minds have pounded us with enormous amounts of self-recrimination and judgment. We must begin to listen to what we are thinking and saying to ourselves in a nonreactive way.
We can’t change the past but we can realize that it has no real power of its own.
Byron Katie would ask, “Is it true?”
If you are present, in the NOW, it is not true….it’s in the past, in the story you are telling yourself.
When we love ourselves, we have an appreciation for our own worth or value. We don’t need affirmation from others and we don’t need them to tell us that we are good enough, smart enough, attractive enough—we simply know. As a result, we have positive views about ourselves and feel good about who we are most of the time. We also tend to have higher levels of self-worth, self-esteem, and self-confidence.
“Finding yourself is not really how it works. You aren’t a ten-dollar bill in last winters coat pocket. You are also not lost. Your true self is right there, buried under cultural conditioning, other people’s opinions, and inaccurate conclusions you drew as a kid that became your beliefs about who you are. “Finding yourself” is actually returning to yourself. An unlearning, an excavation, a remembering who you were before the world got its hands on you. Emily McDowell
What does loving yourself actually mean? Deepak Chopra
Loving yourself means loving all of yourself (your quirks, flaws, imperfections) and accepting every single part of you that you cannot change. It means finding peace within your body and soul.
Step 1: Make Contact with Your Inner Self
This implies paying more attention to self-care. Through meditation, self-reflection, or contemplation, and the experience of quiet at least a few minutes every day, you make contact with your inner world. You learn to appreciate and enjoy it.
Step 2: Honestly Face Your Inner Obstacles and Resistance
Most people don’t like to face their weaknesses and flaws because they judge against them. But you are human, and you will find that your sense of insecurity and anxiety represents feelings from the past that can be healed. In fact, they want to be released if you will give them a chance.
Look inside and let the process of releasing begin. Healing can proceed along many avenues—from therapy and support groups, to energy work, massage, mind-body programs, and various Eastern medical approaches.
Step 3: Deal with Old Wounds
One could also call this advanced healing. As old residues of negative emotions are released, you find that you are stuck with resentments, hurts, and scars that must be dealt with. Beneath the scar such wounds feel very fresh. It takes help from someone else who understands the situation to go into these dark places—it could be a close friend, mentor, confidante, priest, or therapist. The work can be done safely, without anxiety, and once you start, there’s a tremendous sense of exhilaration, even triumph in the process. Just find someone who has walked the path successfully and sympathizes with you fully.
Step 4: Forgive Your Past
You shouldn’t jump too quickly into forgiveness. It’s all too easy to pretend to yourself that you forgive old hurts and abusive treatment, when in fact what you are eager for is to escape the pain. The absence of pain, achieved through healing, gives you the right foundation for deep, lasting forgiveness. Self-acceptance is required first, and the realization that you—and everyone around you—has been doing the best they can from their own level of awareness. This can be quite a challenge when someone has hurt you deeply, but you can’t fully separate from wrongdoing until you accept that others are trapped inside a reality they can’t escape.
Step 5: Accept where You Are Right Now
This, too, is a stage you shouldn’t jump into too quickly. The present moment isn’t free of the burdens, memories, and wounds of the past. They must be attended to before you can look around, breathe easily, and love the moment you are in right now. A good beginning is to catch yourself when you have a bad memory and say, “I am not that person anymore.” For the truth is that you aren’t.
Step 6: Form Relationships where You Feel Loved and Appreciated
The path to unconditional love isn’t meant to be lonely. You should walk it with people who reflect the love you see in yourself. You are likely to look around at some point and realize that not everyone among your family and friends are in sync with your aspirations. Without rejecting them, you have the right to find people who understand the path you’re walking and sympathize with it. They are more likely to appreciate you for who you are now and who you want to become.
Step 7: Practice the Kind of Love You Aspire to Receive
We all wish to be loved. But the only way to realistically find “the one” is to be “the one” yourself. Like attracts like, and the more you live your own ideal of love, the more your light will draw another light to you. This single point, I am told, has helped most people find their love.
Here are some steps to loving yourself:
- Use daily affirmations. Affirmations work to help boost your self-esteem, which in turn, contributes to your goal of fearless self-love.
- Stop your negative self-talk. Adding fuel to the fire of unhealthy thinking patterns is the habit of negative self-talk.
- Challenge social expectations. While working towards fearless self-love, we need to be mindful of social influences.
- Build your strengths. If social influence plays a role in how we shape our motivations, we run the risk of focusing our attention in areas not honoring our unique gifts.
- Focus on your success. We each have a tendency to focus on the negative events in our lives before remembering the positive.
- Practice self-compassion. One of the most vital ways to grow self-love is through the act of self-compassion.
- Live gratefully. A grateful heart brings a joyful spirit. Gratitude is more than affirmations and positive self-talk.
- Find the humor in life. Life is hard and if we spend too much time thinking about all those hardships, we are bound to suffer.
- Don’t forget to smile. Seeking a fearless self-love should include smiling. Loving yourself is striving to reach your fullest potential.
- Ask for help. Allow others to lighten your load so you can focus on the most important tasks.
- Set boundaries. If we don’t set the standard for how others treat us, then other are allowed to treat us however they feel.
- Stay home when needed. If you struggle with holding boundaries with yourself and others, maybe your self-care is lacking.
- Share your true feelings. Self-love asks us to be raw and honest with ourselves. Honest with your true values, morals, wants, and needs.
- Surround yourself with goodness. Seeking a fearless self-love is a full-time job. All aspects of your life need to stay focused on your ultimate goal – self-love and happiness.
- Remember that you are loved. Affirmations, boundaries and positivity can help to increase your self-love.
None of these two lists, however, remind us to take care of our bodies. We have heard it many times, our bodies are the temple housing our Christ Spirit.
“Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live.”
Self-awareness begins with you here and now in this moment, in every moment of your life. Kriyananda Swami
Acording to Mr. Activated, these need to be eliminated:
Envy prevents you from focusing on yourself
Ego prevents you from learning from others
Anger prevents you from seeing clearly
Ignorance prevents you from making good choices
Fear prevents you from seeking opportunities