News Flash from Nazareth!

The Associated Press reported this week that archaeologists have found the remains of a home in Nazareth, Israel that can be dated back to the era when the New Testament says that Jesus lived. This is a discovery that could provide tremendous insight into the lifestyle of the people who lived in the city at the time that Jesus is believed to have been a child.

Here’s what we know so far: Nazareth sat on only four acres of land and comprised only 50 homes. According to the Gospels, the Messiah grew up in one of them. For that reason, the timing of this discovery is especially meaningful to Christians. According to Father Jack Karam of the nearby Basilica of the Annunciation—where Christian tradition says an angel told Mary that she would give birth—finding this ancient home during the Christmas season is “a great gift.”

For centuries, theologians have debated whether the man known today as Jesus actually existed. Not only does the Bible contain no firsthand accounts of him or his miraculous acts, they say that his virgin birth, execution and resurrection suspiciously mirror the life narratives of ancient mythical gods. Some say that Jesus might actually have been a metaphor for the Christ spirit within all of us. Others speculate that a traveling rabbi did exist who understood the divinity of man, embraced it, and uplifted others by spreading the word.

Since none of the gospels was written by men who actually knew Jesus or lived during his time, any of these possibilities exist. If someone who was half-human, half-Divine Spirit did walk on the planet, ancient history does teach us that he wasn’t born in December. The Bible doesn’t make that claim and it doesn’t declare that Jesus came to start a new religion.

According to some religious historians, the real reason for the season is that Christian converts, who were accustomed to participating in Jewish or pagan celebrations during the winter solstice, wanted their own holiday during that time of the year. Mythologists also note that December 25 was traditionally the birthday of mythological heroes said to have been the offspring of virgin mothers and pagan gods.

Certain stories and facts are often repeated in the Bible, highlighting the fact that scribes and storytellers liberally borrowed from each other. Remember, this was long before plagiarism laws. Matthew and Luke, for example, copied most of Mark’s book verbatim, but they thought the story was incomplete. Mark hadn’t established Jesus as the Messiah, the only begotten son of God. Matthew and Luke “fixed” that problem by adding birth narratives to Mark’s text. These narratives, written decades after Jesus’ death by men who didn’t know him, intentionally matched Jewish prophesy. Among other things, it was prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, so both set Jesus’ birth in that city. But that’s where the similarity ended.

The Gospel of Luke claimed that Jesus was born in a Bethlehem barn because there was no room in the inn for his Galilee-bound parents. Matthew’s gospel claimed that Mary and Joseph actually lived in Bethlehem, and Jesus was born at home. As theologians have reminded us throughout the centuries, it really doesn’t matter that Matthew and Luke set Jesus’ birth in two different places. After all, when Constantine the Great gathered religious leaders in Nicea to decide which of the hundreds of known manuscripts should be included in the book they would call the Holy Bible, few of those books—and none of the 27 selected for the New Testament were written as or perceived to be historical documents. But once the Council declared this collection to be the “gospel,” perceptions of their veracity began to shift. Complicate that with the fact that none of the original manuscripts existed when the Council met in 325 A.D., and thousands more copies were re-created by hand and translated (never flawlessly) for another thousand years.

So does it matter whether you believe everything in the Bible is the “word of God”? Not really. Over time, Thinkers have figured out that Jesus couldn’t have been born in two places at once. History has revealed that tax time in that region did not occur during December and that Joseph wouldn’t have been required to travel from Nazareth to Galilee to pay taxes at any time.

Now we learn that Jesus of Nazareth  grew up in a city that was a mere four acres in size, leading us to conclude that if the Messiah went missing, it would not have gone unnoticed and there would have been no 18-year gap in the record of Jesus’ life. There probably would have been a town-wide search party; residents in neighboring towns might have joined in, and the mushrooming posse would have been so unprecedented that one of the few literate citizens would have written about it.

What does it all mean? Many have leaped into the numerous credibility gaps in the Old Testament to declare that there is no God. But what if it only reveals that the ancient storytellers were recording their limited idea of what God is and what God does, and their stories don’t capture the essence of the real God?

Many have leaped into the numerous credibility gaps in the New Testament to declare that there was no Jesus. But what if ancient storytellers were merely creating an allegory about what humans would be able to do if they loved each other unconditionally, treated others the way they’d want to be treated, were aware that their souls were perfect, healthy and complete, and that the spirit of God was within them?

Maybe a man named Yeshua did exist who had this awareness, and lived it daily. Maybe he spent three years of his life teaching others what he knew. Maybe his empowering message enraged the Romans and they murdered him in a most humiliating way, and maybe decades later, writers edified this profound man’s teachings by encasing them within the framework of Jewish prophecy and pagan god myth.

At this point, we know more about what didn’t happen than what did. But do any of those facts mean that we have nothing to celebrate on this Christmas Day? Absolutely not.

Whether we believe Jesus was God, man or myth, we can celebrate the Christ Consciousness that has lived since The Beginning and resides within each of us right now. We can celebrate the birth of a period when Christians were defined by how they behaved rather than by the stories they believed.

Today we can celebrate the opportunity to totally transform our lives by patterning our behavior after that of the indisputably legendary Jesus: We can love unconditionally, bring a healing presence to every room and every relationship that we’re in, judge and condemn nothing, forgive everything, and do nothing to anyone that we wouldn’t want done to us.

It’s called non-religious Christianity, a transformative and powerful way to change our lives and save our souls from the consequences of errant choices and hurtful actions. It makes this day and every day a…

Very Merry Christmas!

News Flash from Nazareth!

The Associated Press reported this week that archaeologists have found the remains of a home in Nazareth, Israel that can be dated back to the era when the New Testament says that Jesus lived. This is a discovery that could provide tremendous insight into the lifestyle of the people who lived in the city at the time that Jesus is believed to have been a child. 

Here’s what we know so far: Nazareth sat on only four acres of land and comprised only 50 homes. According to the Gospels, the Messiah grew up in one of them. For that reason, the timing of this discovery is especially meaningful to Christians. According to Father Jack Karam of the nearby Basilica of the Annunciation—where Christian tradition says an angel told Mary that she would give birth—finding this ancient home during the Christmas season is “a great gift.”

For centuries, theologians have debated whether the man known today as Jesus actually existed. Not only does the Bible contain no firsthand accounts of him or his miraculous acts, they say that his virgin birth, execution and resurrection suspiciously mirror the life narratives of ancient mythical gods. Some say that Jesus might actually have been a metaphor for the Christ spirit within all of us. Others speculate that a traveling rabbi did exist who understood the divinity of man, embraced it, and uplifted others by spreading the word.

Since none of the gospels was written by men who actually knew Jesus or lived during his time, any of these possibilities exist. If someone who was half-human, half-Divine Spirit did walk on the planet, ancient history does teach us that he wasn’t born in December. The Bible doesn’t make that claim and it doesn’t declare that Jesus came to start a new religion.

According to some religious historians, the real reason for the season is that Christian converts, who were accustomed to participating in Jewish or pagan celebrations during the winter solstice, wanted their own holiday during that time of the year. Mythologists also note that December 25 was traditionally the birthday of mythological heroes said to have been the offspring of virgin mothers and pagan gods.

Certain stories and facts are often repeated in the Bible, highlighting the fact that scribes and storytellers liberally borrowed from each other. Remember, this was long before plagiarism laws. Matthew and Luke, for example, copied most of Mark’s book verbatim, but they thought the story was incomplete. Mark hadn’t established Jesus as the Messiah, the only begotten son of God. Matthew and Luke “fixed” that problem by adding birth narratives to Mark’s text. These narratives, written decades after Jesus’ death by men who didn’t know him, intentionally matched Jewish prophesy. Among other things, it was prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, so both set Jesus’ birth in that city. But that’s where the similarity ended.

The Gospel of Luke claimed that Jesus was born in a Bethlehem barn because there was no room in the inn for his Galilee-bound parents. Matthew’s gospel claimed that Mary and Joseph actually lived in Bethlehem, and Jesus was born at home. As theologians have reminded us throughout the centuries, it really doesn’t matter that Matthew and Luke set Jesus’ birth in two different places. After all, when Constantine the Great gathered religious leaders in Nicea to decide which of the hundreds of known manuscripts should be included in the book they would call the Holy Bible, few of those books—and none of the 27 selected for the New Testament were written as or perceived to be historical documents. But once the Council declared this collection to be the “gospel,” perceptions of their veracity began to shift. Complicate that with the fact that none of the original manuscripts existed when the Council met in 325 A.D., and thousands more copies were re-created by hand and translated (never flawlessly) for another thousand years.

So does it matter whether you believe everything in the Bible is the “word of God”? Not really. Over time, Thinkers have figured out that Jesus couldn’t have been born in two places at once. History has revealed that tax time in that region did not occur during December and that Joseph wouldn’t have been required to travel from Nazareth to Galilee to pay taxes at any time.

Now we learn that Jesus of Nazareth  grew up in a city that was a mere four acres in size, leading us to conclude that if the Messiah went missing, it would not have gone unnoticed and there would have been no 18-year gap in the record of Jesus’ life. There probably would have been a town-wide search party; residents in neighboring towns might have joined in, and the mushrooming posse would have been so unprecedented that one of the few literate citizens would have written about it.

What does it all mean? Many have leaped into the numerous credibility gaps in the Old Testament to declare that there is no God. But what if it only reveals that the ancient storytellers were recording their limited idea of what God is and what God does, and their stories don’t capture the essence of the real God?

Many have leaped into the numerous credibility gaps in the New Testament to declare that there was no Jesus. But what if ancient storytellers were merely creating an allegory about what humans would be able to do if they loved each other unconditionally, treated others the way they’d want to be treated, were aware that their souls were perfect, healthy and complete, and that the spirit of God was within them?

Maybe a man named Yeshua did exist who had this awareness, and lived it daily. Maybe he spent three years of his life teaching others what he knew. Maybe his empowering message enraged the Romans and they murdered him in a most humiliating way, and maybe decades later, writers edified this profound man’s teachings by encasing them within the framework of Jewish prophecy and pagan god myth.

At this point, we know more about what didn’t happen than what did. But do any of those facts mean that we have nothing to celebrate on this Christmas Day? Absolutely not.

Whether we believe Jesus was God, man or myth, we can celebrate the Christ Consciousness that has lived since The Beginning and resides within each of us right now. We can celebrate the birth of a period when Christians were defined by how they behaved rather than by the stories they believed.

Today we can celebrate the opportunity to totally transform our lives by patterning our behavior after that of the indisputably legendary Jesus: We can love unconditionally, bring a healing presence to every room and every relationship that we’re in, judge and condemn nothing, forgive everything, and do nothing to anyone that we wouldn’t want done to us.

It’s called non-religious Christianity, a transformative and powerful way to change our lives and save our souls from the consequences of errant choices and hurtful actions. It makes this day and every day a…

Very Merry Christmas!

The Bible vs. President Obama?

Several times within the past few days, I’ve received emails admonishing me not to buy a bright yellow T-shirt that says: “Pray for Obama, Psalms 109:8.” If you haven’t read that verse, it says: “Let his years be few, and let another take his office.” (KJV)

In the game of politics and political parties, some variant of this prayer is whispered, shouted, and muttered through clenched teeth—without Biblical reference—throughout the four-year term of any President. When a Republican is in office, Democrats pray for another to take his office, and vice versa.

 

It’s tradition, and it’s no big deal—except in this case, many have decided that the verse on these shirts and bumper stickers is intended to include subsequent verses in that chapter, namely Psalms 109:9-13. These five additional verses, which are referenced nowhere on the shirt, infer that we should pray for God to hurt or kill our enemies—yes, God’s other children. For weeks now, folks have been whipping themselves into a frenzy, concerned that everyone who wears the shirt poses a threat to our President’s safety.

 

I could be wrong, but it seems that the only real threat here is that there are people who actually believe that God responds affirmatively to mean-spirited vengeful prayer requests. But what else are they to believe, if the Holy Bible is the inerrant and inspired Word of God? That means that every word is true, even if those words characterize God as behaving more like Satan and less like The Divine.

 

Over the years, I’ve had a number of circuitous discussions with those who believe in the rage-filled, relentlessly unforgiving, kick your kids out, kill-every-living-thing God portrayed in the Old Testament. Typically, they discount these rants by asserting that God changed in the New Testament.

 

No, it wasn’t that the Jewish rabbi named Yeshua (colloquially known as Jesus) perceived God as more benevolent than the scribes portrayed Him in the Hebrew scriptures. They insist that God actually committed genocide, crammed predators and their prey in the cargo hold of a boat with one window for weeks while bloated human bodies floated all around it, contaminating the water, killing the fish, all the fruit-bearing trees and other vegetation. God did those diabolical inhumane things. But He changed after that, and the New Testament proves it: God decided to forgive all of His children’s sins, on one condition: The Prince of Peace had to be subjected to three days of horrific sadistic torture.

 

Really? Why did Jesus teach that God was unconditionally forgiving before he was heinously tortured, if it didn’t happen until after his death? And why did God want the Romans to savagely stop the good rabbi from teaching that God was a loving Father? His important message and ministry had lasted only three years. If you have the answers, please free me from my confusion.

 

What does this confusion have to do with President Obama, a t-shirt and Psalms 109, you ask? Simply, I think it’s helpful to understand the meaning and implications of scripture before deciding whether or not it has the power to harm our President. As any Bible scholar will tell you, we can’t intelligently discuss or react to specific passages in the Bible if we haven’t read the entire book, have no historical context for the writings, the writers or the politics of the time, and have read none of the large body of theological research regarding the collection of works that comprise the Bible.

 

This reminds me of a link that my friend Rev. Gaylon McDowell shared yesterday on Facebook. The link led me to the YouTube videos from an insightful lecture by New Testament scholar Bart D. Ehrman. It’s divided into 10 segments because of the time limits on YouTube, but I’d highly recommend watching all of them. Treat yourself to some jaw-dropping “I didn’t know that!” moments.

 

Dr. Ehrman is the chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which he calls the “buckle” of the Bible Belt. He has written 20 books about the Bible, including New York Times bestsellers Misquoting Jesus: The Story behind Who Changed the Bible and Why and JESUS, INTERRUPTED: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible. Dr. Ehrman teaches historical approaches to early Christianity and the New Testament.

 

On the first day of class a few years ago, he looked out at the 360 students in his lecture hall and asked three questions:

 
  1. How many of you would agree with the proposition that the Bible is the inspired word of God? (Voom! The entire roomful of students raised their hands.)
  2. How many of you have read The DaVinci Code? (Voom! The entire roomful of students raised their hands.) 
  3. How many of you have read the entire Bible? (There was a hand raised, here and there throughout the lecture hall.)

Ehrman looked at them and said, “I’m not telling you that I think that God wrote the Bible. You’re telling me that you think God wrote the Bible. I can see why you might want to read a book by Dan Brown; but if God wrote a book, wouldn’t you want to see what He had to say?” he laughed.

 

And that brings us back to Psalms 109:9-13. Did God say or even inspire those destructive words? Do these verses really pose a threat to our President or his family?

 

I can’t think of a better time to have a discerning heart than when reading or repeating the Bible. If we put our thinking caps on, we would realize that God wouldn’t give us conflicting directives or portray Himself as bi-polar. For example, an Old Testament scripture about discernment totally contradicts the spirit of Psalms 109: “So God said to him, ‘Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart…’” (1 Kings 3:11-12, NIV)

 

When we are discerning, we can objectively look at a situation, person or written word and determine whether it aligns with what we believe to be true. When we are discerning, we can more appropriately interpret and react to Bible verses.

 

For example, does God brutally punish humans, as is indicated in so many Bible passages, or is 1 John 4:8 and 4:16 accurate when it states that God is love? It’s impossible for the answer to be “all of the above” unless we believe that God is bi-polar and not absolute. We must make a choice.

 

Why? Well, according to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (NIV)

 

If God is love, is God angry and vindictive? If God is love, does God brutally punish? If God is love, does God harshly judge? Would love destroy every living thing on the planet? Can we believe the Flood story and believe that God is love? Can we believe the Garden of Eden story and believe that God is love? Which do you believe?

 

Have you tried the “Would Love do that?” challenge when you read the Bible? It’s my litmus test. When I applied it to the vengeful lyrics in Psalms 109, my answer was a resounding, “No, Love would not do that!” That influenced my response to both the t-shirt and the e-mail.

 

Between you and me: If we believe that God is Love, we really don’t care whether people buy “Pray for Barack, Psalm 109:8” t-shirts and bumper stickers. We don’t even care if they pray the entire mean-spirited chapter. Why? Because they’re spitting in the wind. We know that Love would never respond affirmatively to prayers asking Him to brutalize any of His children.

 

Needless to say, I didn’t respond to the urgent call to forward those Psalms 109 t-shirt e-mails. In fact, they immediately went in the trash, right behind the e-mails asking me to pray for President Obama’s protection.

 

Don’t be alarmed. I have a rationale for that, too: Appeals of this nature presume two things: 1) God is not Love and 2) God has such careless disregard for His child Barack Obama that He will only protect him if we submit a formal request.

 

I am not going to denigrate God by believing that either of these presumptions is true.

The Bible vs. President Obama?

Several times within the past few days, I’ve received emails admonishing me not to buy a bright yellow T-shirt that says: “Pray for Obama, Psalms 109:8.” If you haven’t read that verse, it says: “Let his years be few, and let another take his office.” (KJV)

In the game of politics and political parties, some variant of this prayer is whispered, shouted, and muttered through clenched teeth—without Biblical reference—throughout the four-year term of any President. When a Republican is in office, Democrats pray for another to take his office, and vice versa.

It’s tradition, and it’s no big deal—except in this case, many have decided that the verse on these shirts and bumper stickers is intended to include subsequent verses in that chapter, namely Psalms 109:9-13. These five additional verses, which are referenced nowhere on the shirt, infer that we should pray for God to hurt or kill our enemies—yes, God’s other children. For weeks now, folks have been whipping themselves into a frenzy, concerned that everyone who wears the shirt poses a threat to our President’s safety.

I could be wrong, but it seems that the only real threat here is that there are people who actually believe that God responds affirmatively to mean-spirited vengeful prayer requests. But what else are they to believe, if the Holy Bible is the inerrant and inspired Word of God? That means that every word is true, even if those words characterize God as behaving more like Satan and less like The Divine.

Over the years, I’ve had a number of circuitous discussions with those who believe in the rage-filled, relentlessly unforgiving, kick your kids out, kill-every-living-thing God portrayed in the Old Testament. Typically, they discount these rants by asserting that God changed in the New Testament.

No, it wasn’t that the Jewish rabbi named Yeshua (colloquially known as Jesus) perceived God as more benevolent than the scribes portrayed Him in the Hebrew scriptures. They insist that God actually committed genocide, crammed predators and their prey in the cargo hold of a boat with one window for weeks while bloated human bodies floated all around it, contaminating the water, killing the fish, all the fruit-bearing trees and other vegetation. God did those diabolical inhumane things. But He changed after that, and the New Testament proves it: God decided to forgive all of His children’s sins, on one condition: The Prince of Peace had to be subjected to three days of horrific sadistic torture.

Really? Why did Jesus teach that God was unconditionally forgiving before he was heinously tortured, if it didn’t happen until after his death? And why did God want the Romans to savagely stop the good rabbi from teaching that God was a loving Father? His important message and ministry had lasted only three years. If you have the answers, please free me from my confusion.

What does this confusion have to do with President Obama, a t-shirt and Psalms 109, you ask? Simply, I think it’s helpful to understand the meaning and implications of scripture before deciding whether or not it has the power to harm our President. As any Bible scholar will tell you, we can’t intelligently discuss or react to specific passages in the Bible if we haven’t read the entire book, have no historical context for the writings, the writers or the politics of the time, and have read none of the large body of theological research regarding the collection of works that comprise the Bible.

This reminds me of a link that my friend Rev. Gaylon McDowell shared yesterday on Facebook. The link led me to the YouTube videos from an insightful lecture by New Testament scholar Bart D. Ehrman. It’s divided into 10 segments because of the time limits on YouTube, but I’d highly recommend watching all of them. Treat yourself to some jaw-dropping “I didn’t know that!” moments.

Dr. Ehrman is the chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which he calls the “buckle” of the Bible Belt. He has written 20 books about the Bible, including New York Times bestsellers Misquoting Jesus: The Story behind Who Changed the Bible and Why and JESUS, INTERRUPTED: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible. Dr. Ehrman teaches historical approaches to early Christianity and the New Testament.

On the first day of class a few years ago, he looked out at the 360 students in his lecture hall and asked three questions:

  1. How many of you would agree with the proposition that the Bible is the inspired word of God? (Voom! The entire roomful of students raised their hands.)
  2. How many of you have read The DaVinci Code? (Voom! The entire roomful of students raised their hands.)
  3. How many of you have read the entire Bible? (There was a hand raised, here and there throughout the lecture hall.)

Ehrman looked at them and said, “I’m not telling you that I think that God wrote the Bible. You’re telling me that you think God wrote the Bible. I can see why you might want to read a book by Dan Brown; but if God wrote a book, wouldn’t you want to see what He had to say?” he laughed.

And that brings us back to Psalms 109:9-13. Did God say or even inspire those destructive words? Do these verses really pose a threat to our President or his family?

I can’t think of a better time to have a discerning heart than when reading or repeating the Bible. If we put our thinking caps on, we would  realize that God wouldn’t give us conflicting directives or portray Himself as bi-polar. For example, an Old Testament scripture about discernment totally contradicts the spirit of Psalms 109: “So God said to him, ‘Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart…’” (1 Kings 3:11-12, NIV)

When we are discerning, we can objectively look at a situation, person or written word and determine whether it aligns with what we believe to be true. When we are discerning, we can more appropriately interpret and react to Bible verses.

For example, does God brutally punish humans, as is indicated in so many Bible passages, or is 1 John 4:8 and 4:16 accurate when it states that God is love? It’s impossible for the answer to be “all of the above” unless we believe that God is bi-polar and not absolute. We must make a choice.

Why? Well, according to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (NIV)

If God is love, is God angry and vindictive? If God is love, does God brutally punish? If God is love, does God harshly judge? Would love destroy every living thing on the planet? Can we believe the Flood story and believe that God is love? Can we believe the Garden of Eden story and believe that God is love? Which do you believe?

Have you tried the “Would Love do that?” challenge when you read the Bible? It’s my litmus test. When I applied it to the vengeful lyrics in Psalms 109, my answer was a resounding, “No, Love would not do that!” That influenced my response to both the t-shirt and the e-mail.

Between you and me: If we believe that God is Love, we really don’t care whether people buy “Pray for Barack, Psalm 109:8” t-shirts and bumper stickers. We don’t even care if they pray the entire mean-spirited chapter. Why? Because they’re spitting in the wind. We know that Love would never respond affirmatively to prayers asking Him to brutalize any of His children.

Needless to say, I didn’t respond to the urgent call to forward those Psalms 109 t-shirt e-mails. In fact, they immediately went in the trash, right behind the e-mails asking me to pray for President Obama’s protection.

Don’t be alarmed. I have a rationale for that, too: Appeals of this nature presume two things: 1) God is not Love and (2) God has such careless disregard for His child Barack Obama that He will only protect him if we submit a formal request.

I am not going to denigrate God by believing that either of these presumptions is true.

Oh, NO! Not the seven iron!

What to Do When Someone Does You Wrong, Part II

Perfect timing! A couple of stellar volunteers crept out of the woods this week to give us a real world example of what to do when someone does you wrong. Let’s bow our heads in sincere thanksgiving to a wandering Tiger who repeatedly lost his way, and publicly sacrificed his honorable reputation to demonstrate how it ultimately ruins your golden game.

While we’re at it, let’s observe a moment of silence for his angry mate, shall we? Her soul certainly could benefit from tightening her grip on a response to wanderlust that’s infinitely more evolutionary than a seven iron.

I won’t recap the nuts and bolts of the Tiger and Elin Woods story or the jokes that erupted in its wake. I won’t even address their insult to our intelligence. Did they really think we’d buy the implausible story that she had to rescue him by breaking the rear window of his SUV when any door—including the undamaged one in the rear—probably would have done the trick?

The real value of this sad little drama is the gift it offers our own lives. It is a story about how to act and react with integrity and character, how to honor ourselves by remembering that we are not Lone Rangers. Whatever we call the eternal spirit that gives us life—“The Traveler,” “The Observer,” “The Divine,” the “I Am,” “Allah,” “God,”—It is always with us, within us.

Wherever we go, the omnipresent God goes with us; whatever we do, the omnipresent God experiences it. When we do anything that we would not want done to us, we fail to honor the Divine within us. We temporarily disturb the order that the Divine has established.

Divine Order seeks balance. The Universe depends upon it. Without it, the very planets would spin out of control. When we create imbalance in our lives, we set the wheels in motion for that imbalance to be automatically corrected and for Divine Order to be reestablished. It happens through the spiritual Law of Attraction or, as some call it, the Law of Reciprocity. Plainly stated: Whatever you do will be done to you.

Avoiding unpleasant or painful situations (and people) requires pure selfishness, but not as traditionally defined. In a reap-what-you-sow world, selfishness is defined as actions that focus driven entirely by what’s in our best interest. Temporary gain is not in our best interest. What best serves our interest is doing whatever we can to assure that the Law of Reciprocity does not deliver unpleasant or painful situations into our experience.

The most selfish thing we can do is to treat others well. Selfish people ask: “How would I want to be treated? Is the action I’m contemplating something that I’d want done to me?” The response is instantaneous, and can be trusted to provide the best guidance. Deciding how to act—and react—doesn’t get any simpler than that.

For example, a selfish Tiger would have asked, “Would I want Elin to sneak around and be intimate with other men while I’m away?” The assorted felines (six, at last count) would have asked, “If I were married, would I want my husband to sneak around and be intimate with other women?” Elin would have asked, “Would I want to be physically accosted if I did something that angered Tiger?” If anyone in this cast of characters was selfish, none of us would even know that there was a fire hydrant near the Woods’ driveway.

We have no control over other people’s actions and are not held accountable for how they treated us, only how we treat them, no matter what they did to us. Consequently, it’s in our selfish best interest to focus our attention solely on our actions and reactions. All we should care about is that when the Great Balancer comes to call, He is swinging Sweetness and Light, not seven irons.

Ever since the late Anglo-Saxon period (c. 900-1100) when the concept of individual penance spread to England from Ireland, humans have believed that it is our job to design and price others’ sins. We must make them pay! A thousand years later, we’re still driving into God’s lane, determined to do a job that God is quite capable of doing.

Just last week, Elin Woods plowed a golf cart-sized hole in her original prenuptial agreement, as penance for Tiger’s infidelity. The prenup reportedly awarded her a lump sum of $20 million if she and Tiger remained married for ten years. Instead, she allegedly demanded that Tiger immediately pay her $20 mil. In exchange, she will remain in the marriage another two years. And she gets an even bigger payday if they later split. As one person commented on the Chicago Sun-Times website:

“Getting paid to stay in a relationship? Where I come from, that’s called “prostitution”. If it’s no longer for love, then it’s not a real marriage, is it? Very sad.”

Yes, this is very sad, but it’s also very instructive. How we respond to situations says more about us than it says about the person we’re judging or punishing.

I’m sure that it was not Elin’s intent to stick a gaudy price tag on her body. But she did, and wherever she goes, people will see her and instantly see it dangling from her golden locks. Another dramatic demonstration that you can’t hurt someone else without hurting yourself. Dignity is priceless–and losing it is something that Elin Woods obviously feels that she can now afford, along with millions of other disposables.

Elin and Tiger are reportedly in intense marriage counseling, with thrice-daily in-home sessions. Frankly, one good chat with Jenny Sanford might have helped Elin respond to infidelity in a more dignified and less karmic manner.

Mrs. Sanford, betrayed wife of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, was highly instrumental in building and sustaining her husband’s political career. Despite all that sweat equity and the forfeiture of her own very successful career, she didn’t lunge for her husband’s golf clubs or his bank account after he abandoned her, their four sons, and the entire state of South Carolina to make passionate love to his “soul mate” in Argentina.

First and foremost, Jenny Sanford wanted her errant husband to be a role model for their four sons. By example, she wanted him to teach them what integrity looks like, what being a strong man looks like, and what valuing family looks like.

While Mark Sanford’s behavior was “inexcusable,” she told the New York Daily News, it was not unforgivable:

“Forgiveness opens the door for Mark to begin to work privately, humbly and respectfully toward reconciliation,” she wrote. “However, to achieve true reconciliation will take time, involve repentance, and will not be easy.”

“Mark has stated that his intent and determination is to save our marriage, and to make amends to the people of South Carolina,” she added. “I hope he can make good on those intentions, and for the sake of our boys I leave the door open to it.”

Jenny Sanford is a Thinker. She comprehends that in a reap-and-sow world, we are punished by our sins, not for them. Ultimately, the price we make others pay will cost us in the future—something the soul currently known as Elin Woods will eventually learn.

If she’s really fortunate, she also will learn the difference between power and force. And she will understand, as the powerful Jenny Sanford understands, that when we ask that our trespasses be forgiven in the same way that we forgive those who trespass against us, God and the Law of Attraction/Reciprocity answer our prayer with exact precision.

Oh NO! Not the seven iron!

What to Do When Someone Does You Wrong, Part II

Perfect timing! On the heels of last week’s discussion about what to do when someone does you wrong, a couple of stellar volunteers have crept out of the woods to give us a real world example. Let’s bow our heads in sincere thanksgiving to a wandering Tiger who repeatedly lost his way, and publicly sacrificed his honorable reputation to demonstrate how it ultimately ruins your golden game.

While we’re at it, let’s observe a moment of silence for his angry mate, shall we? Her soul certainly could benefit from tightening her grip on a response to wanderlust that’s infinitely more evolutionary than a seven iron.

I won’t recap the nuts and bolts of the Tiger and Elin Woods story or the jokes that erupted in its wake. I won’t even address their insult to our intelligence. Did they really think we’d buy the implausible story that she had to rescue him by breaking the rear window of his SUV when any door—including the undamaged one in the rear—probably would have done the trick?

The real value of this sad little drama is the gift it offers our own lives. It is a story about how to act and react with integrity and character, how to honor ourselves by remembering that we are not Lone Rangers. Whatever we call the eternal spirit that gives us life—“The Traveler,” “The Observer,” “The Divine,” the “I Am,””Allah,” “God,” It is always with us, within us.

Wherever we go, the omnipresent God goes with us; whatever we do, the omnipresent God experiences it. When we do anything that we would not want done to us, we fail to honor the Divine within us. We temporarily disturb the order that the Divine has established.

Divine Order seeks balance. The Universe depends upon it. Without it, the very planets would spin out of control. When we create imbalance in our lives, we set the wheels in motion for that imbalance to be automatically corrected and for Divine Order to be reestablished. It happens through the spiritual Law of Attraction or, as some call it, the Law of Reciprocity. Plainly stated: Whatever you do will be done to you.

Avoiding unpleasant or painful situations (and people) requires pure selfishness, but not as traditionally defined. In a reap-what-you-sow world, selfishness is defined as actions that focus driven entirely by what’s in our best interest. Temporary gain is not in our best interest. What best serves our interest is doing whatever we can to assure that the Law of Reciprocity does not deliver unpleasant or painful situations into our experience.

The most selfish thing we can do is to treat others well. Selfish people ask: “How would I want to be treated? Is the action I’m contemplating something that I’d want done to me?” The response is instantaneous, and can be trusted to provide the best guidance. Deciding how to act—and react—doesn’t get any simpler than that.

For example, a selfish Tiger would have asked, “Would I want Elin to sneak around and be intimate with other men while I’m away?” The assorted felines (six, at last count) would have asked, “If I were married, would I want my husband to sneak around and be intimate with other women?” Elin would have asked, “Would I want to be physically accosted if I did something that angered Tiger?” If anyone in this cast of characters was selfish, none of us would even know that there was a fire hydrant near the Woods’ driveway.

We have no control over other people’s actions and are not held accountable for how they treated us, only how we treat them, no matter what they did to us. Consequently, it’s in our selfish best interest to focus our attention solely on our actions and reactions. All we should care about is that when the Great Balancer comes to call, He is swinging Sweetness and Light, not seven irons.

Ever since the late Anglo-Saxon period (c. 900-1100) when the concept of individual penance spread to England from Ireland, humans have believed that it is our job to design and price others’ sins. We must make them pay! A thousand years later, we’re still driving into God’s lane, determined to do a job that God is quite capable of doing.

Just last week, Elin Woods plowed a golf cart-sized hole in her original prenuptial agreement, as penance for Tiger’s infidelity. The prenup reportedly awarded her a lump sum of $20 million if she and Tiger remained married for ten years. Instead, she allegedly demanded that Tiger immediately pay her $20 mil. In exchange, she will remain in the marriage another two years. And she gets an even bigger payday if they later split. As one person commented on the Chicago Sun-Times website:

“Getting paid to stay in a relationship? Where I come from, that’s called “prostitution”. If it’s no longer for love, then it’s not a real marriage, is it? Very sad.”

Yes, this is very sad, but it’s also very instructive. How we respond to situations says more about us than it says about the person we’re judging or punishing.

I’m sure that it was not Elin’s intent to stick a gaudy price tag on her body. But she did, and wherever she goes, people will see her and instantly see it dangling from her golden locks. Another dramatic demonstration that you can’t hurt someone else without hurting yourself. Dignity is priceless–and losing it is something that Elin Woods obviously feels that she can now afford, along with millions of other disposables.

Elin and Tiger are reportedly in intense marriage counseling, with thrice-daily in-home sessions. Frankly, one good chat with Jenny Sanford might have helped Elin respond to infidelity in a more dignified and less karmic manner.

Mrs. Sanford, betrayed wife of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, was highly instrumental in building and sustaining her husband’s political career. Despite all that sweat equity and the forfeiture of her own very successful career, she didn’t lunge for her husband’s golf clubs or his bank account after he abandoned her, their four sons, and the entire state of South Carolina to make passionate love to his “soul mate” in Argentina.

First and foremost, Jenny Sanford wanted her errant husband to be a role model for their four sons. By example, she wanted him to teach them what integrity looks like, what being a strong man looks like, and what valuing family looks like.

While Mark Sanford’s behavior was “inexcusable,” she told the New York Daily News, it was not unforgivable:

“Forgiveness opens the door for Mark to begin to work privately, humbly and respectfully toward reconciliation,” she wrote. “However, to achieve true reconciliation will take time, involve repentance, and will not be easy.”

“Mark has stated that his intent and determination is to save our marriage, and to make amends to the people of South Carolina,” she added. “I hope he can make good on those intentions, and for the sake of our boys I leave the door open to it.”

Jenny Sanford is a Thinker. She comprehends that in a reap-and-sow world, we are punished by our sins, not for them. Ultimately, the price we make others pay will cost us in the future—something the soul currently known as Elin Woods will eventually learn.

If she’s really fortunate, she also will learn the difference between power and force. And she will understand, as the powerful Jenny Sanford understands, that when we ask that our trespasses be forgiven in the same way that we forgive those who trespass against us, God and the Law of Attraction/Reciprocity answer our prayer with exact precision.

What to Do When Someone “Does You Wrong”

Is it the season, the recession, the stars, or something in the water? The number of “Somebody did me wrong” stories I’ve heard from colleagues, friends, even strangers in line at the supermarket is multiplying like the fabled fish and loaves.

There is an abundance of emotional immaturity wafting through the ether. Folks are dehumanizing others from one inexplicable extreme to the other: screaming at the top of their lungs or giving them the silent treatment. There are so many adult actors starring in elementary school dramas that it must be a new trend, a frightening one at that.

Almost everywhere we turn, people are treating us in ways that they wouldn’t want to be treated. These larger than life Anti-Christ visitations create imbalance; they make us feel out of control. (Double the wobble when these bad actors can clearly see the spirit of the Anti-Christ in others, but can’t see it in themselves.) Fascinating stuff.

Life really is simple, despite our beliefs to the contrary. We consistently make it complicated and painful by delaying, detouring or completely derailing our Souls’ journeys to their desired destinations. Why? Our egos have made us forgetful and short-sighted, the same combination that transforms gullible people into suicide bombers. Sorry about the imagery, but it’s true.

This is self-inflicted pain that hurts a lot of people unnecessarily. And all of these distressing dramas follow the same pitiful script template:

Somebody Has Done Me Wrong. Again.

by
Woe S. Me

Cast

You: A Soul in a human body struggling to remember that It was created in God’s divine image.

Villain: An ego-driven Soul who has lost contact with the God presence within.

Ego: The personality in every human that focuses the body’s attention on fears, insecurities and threats.

Scene: Anywhere on the planet that the ego can destroy our inner peace
Time: Day or night, in all time zones

Act One: Ego Deceives, We Believe

Scene One: Ego tells us that Life is unfair; only tangibles exist—and oh, by the way, we’re only human.

Scene Two: Ego tells us that there are villains who will make us their victims. These people will break our hearts, hurt our bodies, and (gasp!) they will steal or destroy our stuff.

Scene Three: Ego tells us that we should respond to all villains with wrath, righteous indignation and verbal or physical force.

Act Two: We Forget Core Spiritual Truths

Scene One: Believing Ego, we forget the core spiritual truth that God is within us and we are powerful and divine.

Scene Two: We forget that we should see the divinity in all humans, even if they can’t see it within in themselves—a disability that causes them to act as villains.

Scene Three: We focus our attention on what the villain did, which makes us feel victimized, forgetting that:

  1. We are not held accountable for what others do to us, only what we do to them.
  2. No one can hurt us without hurting themselves. Ultimately, they’re the victims, not us.
  3. We should compassionate about their disability, which causes them to be unkind.
Act Three: We Become Defensive

Scene One: We retaliate against the disabled Soul’s errant behavior with anger, righteous indignation, and verbal or physical force—so blind with rage that we can no longer see God dwelling inside our target, the so-called villain.

Scene Two: We reap what we sow. Our retaliation attracts others into our lives who will be as unforgiving as we were.

Scene Three: We can’t figure out why life is so difficult, and why long-term happiness always seems to elude us.

How often has this teeth-gnashing drama encored on our life’s stages? More accurately, how many times have we chosen to act in this play? When will it dawn upon us that these dramas will replay ad nauseum, until we see the divinity in all things and all people—and consistently treat each situation and person as if God dwells within them.

We’re not going to change our experience or our luck until we learn to respond more divinely to other people’s behavior, no matter how many new brushstrokes they’re painting on the portrait of crazy. (Thanks, Margo, I LOVE that phrase!)

Truth be told, at some point in our eternal lives, we behaved the same way. It’s part of our evolutionary process. Just because we’ve figured out that it’s not in our best interest to treat others like pond scum doesn’t mean that we don’t still have the potential to drag our Boogie Man costumes from the back of the closet. So let’s not get holier than thou by being judgmental.

Darkness gives us the impetus to turn on our Light. These errant behaving Souls—as crazy as they’re acting—play an invaluable role. Quite possibly, we attract these hurtful people into our lives to give us practice in looking for the Christ Light that is in every Soul.

These people are our coaches. They help us practice forgiveness. How could we become good at it if there was no one or nothing to forgive? The reward for our diligence and proficiency is that we will attract more forgiving people and other Beings of Light and fewer Princes(ses) of Darkness. I’d say it’s worth the effort.

Wouldn’t we rather surround ourselves with loving people who respect and treasure us? That requires us to be loving and respectful. It means that we have to treasure every divine Soul, regardless of their outward appearances or bad acting. That doesn’t mean we have to invite them for dinner, hang out or fall in love with them. We can love their Souls…from over here, where Light and Peace and Joy prevail.

This is important stuff: Attracting people who will not disturb your peace requires you to invite the God within you to direct all of your dramas. God is not a screamer. You must listen very closely for the “Still Small Voice” that delivers your divine instructions. You’ll be surprised by the clarity and simplicity of those directions.

Sometimes there is nothing more to learn from a situation, and the “Still Small Voice” might say, “Let go, move on.” Trust what you hear. Do what you’re told. Know that something or someone more respectful, more honorable, more supportive, more joyful, and more deserving awaits the divine you.

Other times, the “Still Small Voice” might tell you to do something to neutralize a situation that someone’s else’s ego has imbalanced. It means that your Soul has agreed to be the channel through which the matter will be resolved for the Highest Good of all concerned. Don’t let your ego get in the way. Allow God, and God alone, to work through you. You’ll know that it’s the Divine talking to you if what you are directed to do is not vindictive, involves no anger, requires no force, and no one is physically or emotionally harmed.

Whatever and whomever you need to complete your Divine Assignment will mysteriously appear. Sometimes they provide resources and information that you didn’t know existed. You didn’t need to know before that moment.

No doubt, the egos of the so-called villains probably want to maintain the status quo. But their Souls and the Divine Spirit within their Souls want their errant behavior to cease—for their own good. Egos only have control over bodies. They have absolutely no power over Divine Spirit. Game over.

What are the implications for you? Understand who you are; be curious about why you’re here. Instead of fixating on the darkness dancing in others’ errant behavior, look for their Light. And by all means, keep your Light on. Since Light and darkness cannot occupy the same space at the same time, your Light will be critical to the healing of that Soul or situation.

Who knows? Perhaps they called you onto their path to help them find their Light. Do a little over-acting: Magnify their Light. Uplift them. Bless them. Or maybe the need was yours: Maybe your Soul blessed you with the dilemma so that you could gain more “been there done that” credibility and “I know exactly how you feel” empathy for others who might reach out to you.

As Iyanla Vanzant wrote, “There Is Value in the Valley.” When someone does you wrong, thank them. They’ve stopped their own evolutionary growth to give you this opportunity to reconnect with the Divine within you, to practice acting as if you are divine, to practice non-judgment and forgiveness.

These so-called villains are not party crashers. Your Soul invited them onto your stage because they were the perfect characters to teach the lessons you needed to learn. Everyone and every situation that arises in your life serves the purpose of your Infinite Soul and Divine Spirit—the real you, the part that was made in the image of God.

You have options. You can choose to focus your attention on creating comfort and abundance for your finite physical body. You can even believe that God sent you here to wallow in paper money and luxurious material items. (Haven’t you heard? “God wants you to be rich.”) But consider the possibility that focusing on temporary possessions on the physical plane is as ego-driven and self-destructive as going into a crowded marketplace with explosives strapped to your body.

Even if you choose that route, your infinite Soul will survive. And it will grow, despite your ego’s antics. Stretching beyond the physical plane is uncomfortable. Growing pains are real. But the Soul can handle it, and it has all eternity to patiently teach you the value of being more visionary, making more divine choices.

The next time someone does you wrong, think before you react. Remember the Law of Attraction/Reciprocity: Whatever you do will be done to you. You will attract souls who mirror your beliefs and behaviors. They will treat you the way that you treat those whom you refuse to forgive.

Take advantage of every painful experience that arises. If you don’t learn and grow from that experience, if you don’t seize the opportunity to rely more heavily on the Divine within you, the one who “did you wrong” won’t be someone else.

What to Do When Someone “Does You Wrong”

Is it the season, the recession, the stars, or something in the water? The number of “Somebody did me wrong” stories I’ve heard from colleagues, friends, even strangers in line at the supermarket is multiplying like the fabled fish and loaves.

There is an abundance of emotional immaturity wafting through the ether. Folks are dehumanizing others from one inexplicable extreme to the other: screaming at the top of their lungs or giving them the silent treatment. There are so many adult actors starring in elementary school dramas that it must be a new trend, a frightening one at that.

Almost everywhere we turn, people are treating us in ways that they wouldn’t want to be treated. These larger than life Anti-Christ visitations create imbalance; they make us feel out of control. (Double the wobble when these bad actors can clearly see the spirit of the Anti-Christ in others, but can’t see it in themselves.) Fascinating stuff.

Life really is simple, despite our beliefs to the contrary. We consistently make it complicated and painful by delaying, detouring or completely derailing our Souls’ journeys to their desired destinations. Why? Our egos have made us forgetful and short-sighted, the same combination that transforms gullible people into suicide bombers. Sorry about the imagery, but it’s true.

This is self-inflicted pain that hurts a lot of people unnecessarily. And all of these distressing dramas follow the same pitiful script template:

Somebody Has Done Me Wrong. Again.

by

Woe S. Me

Cast

You: A Soul in a human body struggling to remember that It was created in God’s divine image.

Villain: An ego-driven Soul who has lost contact with the God presence within.

Ego: The personality in every human that focuses the body’s attention on fears, insecurities and threats.

Scene:   Anywhere on the planet that the ego can destroy our inner peace

Time:    Day or night, in all time zones


Act One: Ego Deceives, We Believe

Scene One: Ego tells us that Life is unfair; only tangibles exist—and oh, by the way, we’re only human.

Scene Two: Ego tells us that there are villains who will make us their victims. These people will break our hearts, hurt our bodies, and (gasp!) they will steal or destroy our stuff.

Scene Three: Ego tells us that we should respond to all villains with wrath, righteous indignation and verbal or physical force.

Act Two: We Forget Core Spiritual Truths

Scene One: Believing Ego, we forget the core spiritual truth that God is within us and we are powerful and divine.

Scene Two: We forget that we should see the divinity in all humans, even if they can’t see it within in themselves—a disability that causes them to act as villains.

Scene Three: We focus our attention on what the villain did, which makes us feel victimized, forgetting that:

  1. We are not held accountable for what others do to us, only what we do to them.
  2. No one can hurt us without hurting themselves. Ultimately, they’re the victims, not us.
  3. We should compassionate about their disability, which causes them to be unkind.

Act Three: We Become Defensive

Scene One: We retaliate against the disabled Soul’s errant behavior with anger, righteous indignation, and verbal or physical force—so blind with rage that we can no longer see God dwelling inside our target, the so-called villain.

Scene Two: We reap what we sow. Our retaliation attracts others into our lives who will be as unforgiving as we were.

Scene Three: We can’t figure out why life is so difficult, and why long-term happiness always seems to elude us.

How often has this teeth-gnashing drama encored on our life’s stages? More accurately, how many times have we chosen to act in this play? When will it dawn upon us that these dramas will replay ad nauseum, until we see the divinity in all things and all people—and consistently treat each situation and person as if God dwells within them.

We’re not going to change our experience or our luck until we learn to respond more divinely to other people’s behavior, no matter how many new brushstrokes they’re painting on the portrait of crazy. (Thanks, Margo, I LOVE that phrase!)

Truth be told, at some point in our eternal lives, we behaved the same way. It’s part of our evolutionary process. Just because we’ve figured out that it’s not in our best interest to treat others like pond scum doesn’t mean that we don’t still have the potential to drag our Boogie Man costumes from the back of the closet. So let’s not get holier than thou by being judgmental.

Darkness gives us the impetus to turn on our Light. These errant behaving Souls—as crazy as they’re acting—play an invaluable role. Quite possibly, we attract these hurtful people into our lives to give us practice in looking for the Christ Light that is in every Soul.

These people are our coaches. They help us practice forgiveness. How could we become good at it if there was no one or nothing to forgive? The reward for our diligence and proficiency is that we will attract more forgiving people and other Beings of Light and fewer Princes(ses) of Darkness. I’d say it’s worth the effort.

Wouldn’t we rather surround ourselves with loving people who respect and treasure us? That requires us to be loving and respectful. It means that we have to treasure every divine Soul, regardless of their outward appearances or bad acting. That doesn’t mean we have to invite them for dinner, hang out or fall in love with them. We can love their Souls…from over here, where Light and Peace and Joy prevail.

This is important stuff: Attracting people who will not disturb your peace requires you to invite the God within you to direct all of your dramas. God is not a screamer. You must listen very closely for the “Still Small Voice” that delivers your divine instructions. You’ll be surprised by the clarity and simplicity of those directions.

Sometimes there is nothing more to learn from a situation, and the “Still Small Voice” might say, “Let go, move on.” Trust what you hear. Do what you’re told. Know that something or someone more respectful, more honorable, more supportive, more joyful, and more deserving awaits the divine you.

Other times, the “Still Small Voice” might tell you to do something to neutralize a situation that someone’s else’s ego has imbalanced. It means that your Soul has agreed to be the channel through which the matter will be resolved for the Highest Good of all concerned. Don’t let your ego get in the way. Allow God, and God alone, to work through you. You’ll know that it’s the Divine talking to you if what you are directed to do is not vindictive, involves no anger, requires no force, and no one is physically or emotionally harmed.

Whatever and whomever you need to complete your Divine Assignment will mysteriously appear. Sometimes they provide resources and information that you didn’t know existed. You didn’t need to know before that moment.

No doubt, the egos of the so-called villains probably want to maintain the status quo. But their Souls and the Divine Spirit within their Souls want their errant behavior to cease—for their own good. Egos only have control over bodies. They have absolutely no power over Divine Spirit. Game over.

What are the implications for you? Understand who you are; be curious about why you’re here. Instead of fixating on the darkness dancing in others’ errant behavior, look for their Light. And by all means, keep your Light on. Since Light and darkness cannot occupy the same space at the same time, your Light will be critical to the healing of that Soul or situation.

Who knows? Perhaps they called you onto their path to help them find their Light. Do a little over-acting: Magnify their Light. Uplift them. Bless them. Or maybe the need was yours: Maybe your Soul blessed you with the dilemma so that you could gain more “been there done that” credibility and “I know exactly how you feel” empathy for others who might reach out to you.

As Iyanla Vanzant wrote, “There Is Value in the Valley.” When someone does you wrong, thank them. They’ve stopped their own evolutionary growth to give you this opportunity to reconnect with the Divine within you, to practice acting as if you are divine, to practice non-judgment and forgiveness.

These so-called villains are not party crashers. Your Soul invited them onto your stage because they were the perfect characters to teach the lessons you needed to learn. Everyone and every situation that arises in your life serves the purpose of your Infinite Soul and Divine Spirit—the real you, the part that was made in the image of God.

You have options. You can choose to focus your attention on creating comfort and abundance for your finite physical body. You can even believe that God sent you here to wallow in paper money and luxurious material items. (Haven’t you heard? “God wants you to be rich.”) But consider the possibility that focusing on temporary possessions on the physical plane is as ego-driven and self-destructive as going into a crowded marketplace with explosives strapped to your body.

Even if you choose that route, your infinite Soul will survive. And it will grow, despite your ego’s antics. Stretching beyond the physical plane is uncomfortable. Growing pains are real. But the Soul can handle it, and it has all eternity to patiently teach you the value of being more visionary, making more divine choices.

The next time someone does you wrong, think before you react. Remember the Law of Attraction/Reciprocity: Whatever you do will be done to you. You will attract souls who mirror your beliefs and behaviors. They will treat you the way that you treat those whom you refuse to forgive.

Take advantage of every painful experience that arises. If you don’t learn and grow from that experience, if you don’t seize the opportunity to rely more heavily on the Divine within you, the one who “did you wrong” won’t be someone else.