Is forgiveness a matter of life and death?

You accept God's forgiveness by extending it to others--A Course in MiraclesMost of us believe that we’re granting someone a favor when we forgive them. In reality, we’re doing ourselves a favor: We’re freeing ourselves from the grip of any negative energy associated with the incident.

When we forgive others, we also are making a conscious choice to defer to what some call the Law of Reciprocity, the Law of Attraction or karma. We are trusting that in a “what-goes-around-comes-around” world, hurtful behavior will be naturally balanced at the most perfect time and in the most perfect way.

Allowing every soul to receive what we’ve given isn’t punishment or reward; it’s merely balance. It’s divine fairness.

Forgiving others also is a conscious decision to heal ourselves so that we can progress on our path instead of being stuck in someone’s stupid. Forgiving someone does not endorse or excuse their behavior. And it does not let them off the hook. They own their behavior, and they alone will be held accountable for everything they do.

It reminds me of the time I was walking out of my office and a concerned staff member called me back. I’d left my wallet on my desk. My response: “I have way too much work on my plate to add the task of monitoring someone else’s karma.”

As far as I was concerned: If someone came into my office without permission and stole my wallet, oh well. They had just signed a requisition for someone to violate their space and steal from them. It’s what happens whenever we do something to someone else that we wouldn’t want done to us. That’s why the rule is golden.

There’s no better time to be selfish than when deciding how to respond to someone’s harmful behavior. The most selfish thing we can do is to avoid creating any negative karma of our own by trying to even the score. The Divine doesn’t need our help in restoring balance. If there a role for us, something we must physically do, we will be guided. You’ll know that it’s Divine guidance if it is spoken calmly and you feel a sense of peace while hearing it and following the directions. If the words or directions cause you to feel angry or hurt, it’s not the Divine talking, it’s Ego.

Forgiveness does not heal relationships with anyone but yourself, and does not require that you remain in the friendship, marriage or other partnership, job or other organization. Once trust is lost, it takes more than forgiveness to restore it–and restoring trust is the other person’s job, not yours. But while forgiveness cannot necessarily heal a relationship, not forgiving might physically harm you.

Harboring anger and resentment linked to cancer

A study published in the November-December 2012 issue of Cancer Nursing: An International Journal for Cancer Care and cited on the US National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health website suggests a link between forgiveness and illness:

“The observed relations between religious characteristics and attitudes of guilt and forgiveness suggest that a careful examination of the role of religious beliefs and values is relevant in the clinical care of patients with cancer, both in the setting of early and advanced disease.”

Metaphysical lecturer and bestselling author Louise Hay, who claimed such a link in her 30-million copy bestseller, You Can Heal Your Life, focused specifically on cancer 20 years later in her book, Cancer: Discovering Your Healing Power. Hay asserted that resentment, criticism, and guilt create and maintain illness. And she presented forgiveness as the key to resolving diseases such as cancer.

We will not be held accountable for the way others treated us, only for the way we treated them, no matter how they treated us.Now, how do you feel about forgiveness? Inspired you to drop everything and start forgiving everyone who’s ever “wronged” you? There are things that have happened to us that we can’t recall or that we’ve protected ourselves from by stuffing those memories in the farthest reaches of our subconscious minds. If those situations are not healed, they can resurface—sometimes violently.

The situation is further complicated if you believe that you are a soul that is temporarily wearing a body. There could be thousands or millions of situations to forgive that are outside of our conscious awareness. To cover that possibility, I like to say: “I forgive myself for causing harm and I forgive everyone throughout my eternal life who has ever harmed me. I release all anger and negative energy that have chained me to those situations and souls.”

Life has dramatically taught me the transformational power of forgiveness, and I eagerly encourage others to reap the benefits of the practice (and it is a practice). Years ago, I created Forgiveness Coupons for one of my Drama Queen Workshops groups. The coupons were such a hit that I posted them on my website as a free download.

Right now, I’m in the process of a “gut rehab” of my original site, after remodeling it several times over the years. But some elements must follow me to the new domain. Among them, these precious coupons.

As I say in my workshops: “How would we experience the power of forgiveness if no one ever did anything that required it?”

I invite you to download the coupons as many times as necessary. Share them freely. Heal yourself and your loved ones—and as you practice forgiveness, be mindful not to do anything that would trigger self-forgiveness or the forgiveness of others. Balance makes no exception for you, Dear Soul.

Forgive us, for we know not what we do

Forgive us, Father, for we know not what we do.

Each Palm Sunday, I am even more sensitive to the fact that for the next week, millions will unknowingly demonize God and believe that they will be mightily blessed for doing so. I’m sure you’re wondering: How in the world can someone demonize God and not know it?

As simply as I can explain it, we can be fully aware that we’re doing something (walking, driving or standing somewhere) without giving it a conscious thought. We frequently do things without thinking about why we’re doing them—or the meaning and implications of our actions.

For example: All of us have found ourselves in a room and wondered, “Why did I come in here?” Or while in the process of doing something, we suddenly ask, “Why am I doing this?”

On rare occasions, we ask, “What does it mean that I am doing this?”

Death by torture: Divine or demonic?

This week we will frequently hear the phrase, “Christ died so that we might live,” as if he lay down on a slab, closed his eyes and stopped breathing. No one ever says, “God gave Jesus to the Romans to be sadistically tortured to death for sins he didn’t commit.” If they did, would it change our perception of God?

God-so-loved the worldWe unconsciously declare, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Have you thought about the meaning of this Bible verse and others that proclaim that Jesus “died for our sins”? Would you like to? Let’s do a Drama Queen Workshops-style thinking exercise:

Scene:

Front door of a beautiful suburban home. A business executive and single father, who has returned home a day early from a business trip, hears loud music and raucous chatter coming from his basement as he opens the door. He walks past beautifully appointed living and dining rooms, then into the huge kitchen, and down to the basement.

As he gets to the foot of the basement stairs and his eyes adjust to the darkness, he surveys the room. It looks like a scene from Sodom and Gomorrah:

Teenagers are drinking alcohol and dancing wildly. A few have passed out on the floor and on the sofas. Four guys are gambling at a table in the corner.

Near the laundry room, two boys are raping a drunk girl in the shadows. One kid, who was severely beaten after vomiting on a classmate, is lying in a pool of his own blood, lifeless.

The father is outraged! “What the hell is going on here? Mandy! Mandy, where are you?”

Screaming kids start scrambling, trying to escape up the stairs. He blocks their exit.

His daughter stumbles over friends to turn off the music and runs to him, stammering, trying to explain. Dad doesn’t want to hear it.

Mandy begs for his forgiveness; but forgiveness is out of the question. She falls to her knees, head bowed, in tears.

Dad is so angry, he can barely look at her. He asks, “Where’s your brother?”

“He left for that spiritual retreat today, remember?” Mandy murmurs, sobbing.

Dad raises an eyebrow. “It looks as if you are the one who should have gone!”

“I’m sorry, Dad. I don’t know what I was thinking. Please forgive me. Please forgive all of us,” she says, making a sweeping gesture across the room.

Her friends are now too afraid to move.

Dad thinks for a moment. Looking into the faces of the frightened teens, his tone softens.

“Because I love you so much, I will forgive you—but only on one condition: When John returns, I’m going to have him arrested and slowly tortured to death. His murder will wash away all your crimes. Everyone who believes that I have done this as an act of love will be forgiven of their misdeeds. In fact, they will live forever. So go tell everyone you know.”

That’s our drama. Now, ask yourself:

How would you respond to the father’s forgiveness offer if you were one of those teens in the basement: Would you accept it? Would you be grateful?

Is it an act of love or sadism to have an innocent child sadistically tortured to death so that the guilty children can escape punishment for their own misdeeds?

Why do we believe it is an act of love if God does it?

If a parent loves his guilty children so much that he would protect them by having his innocent child tortured to death, how does he feel about his innocent child?

If we insist to others that God had His innocent child tortured to death, are we proclaiming that God is good or evil?

If we believe that torturing an innocent person to death—for any reason—is a good thing, what does it say about us?

Needless to say, I’ve given this matter considerable thought, and I have concluded that declaring that God does something that Love would not do actually demonizes God. So during Holy Week or any week, I will repeat only one verse from the Bible’s crucifixion narrative: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:24)

The greatest cloning feat in human history

Dana Carvey's judgmental "Church Lady" character. "Well, isn't THAT special?"

Dana Carvey’s Enid “Church Lady” Strict:
“Well, isn’t THAT special?”

The condescending attitudes of those who believe that God solves problems by drowning, burning, torturing and threatening to excessively punish His children throughout all eternity used to make my blood pressure rise. I’ve been met with outright hostility and judged as a hell-bound heathen because I steadfastly refuse to believe that God would do anything Love would not do. Is it really diabolical to believe that God is consistent, not capricious?

Take a Deep Breath…

Instead of angrily going to the “You worship a sadistic genocidal despot, and you have the nerve to look down your nose at me” place, I’m making an effort to understand why so many believe that God is so vile.

Maybe people are so judgmental and think they’re so special because they believe that God is judgmental and exclusionary. But it’s mankind that seeks differences between himself and others, discriminates against others, and feels superior to others. More than likely, he long ago cloned God in his image.

Establishing an exclusive path to God perpetuates man’s belief in divine discrimination (an oxymoron, if I ever heard one). It goes like this: I’m on the only path to God; you’re not. As Saturday Night Live comedian Dana Carvey’s smug superior-dancing Church Lady character, Enid Strict would say, “Well, isn’t THAT special?”

What “One Path” Really Implies

This “One Path to God” theosophy presumes a few things:

  1. God is not omnipresent spirit: He (always “He,” in the image of his creator) is a stationary, man-like being who lives in Outer Space and occasionally venturing out to banish, condemn, murder or eternally torture His kids.
  2. God turns His back on unfavored children: Billions are wandering aimlessly because God didn’t show them the path home.
  3. God is a hypocrite: God wants humans to do as He says, not as He does. He sent Jesus to tell us to forgive 70 times 7, love our enemies, judge not and condemn not. Meanwhile, He drowns, tortures, threatens, judges and condemns…with love.

God’s Fingers Crossed behind His Back?

Another critical one-path belief is that God’s forgiveness comes with strings attached. They say three conditions must be met:

  1. God’s only innocent child must be sadistically tortured to death;
  2. Everyone else must believe that the innocent child was barbarically murdered instead of us;
  3. We also must believe that torturing an innocent man to death is an act of divine love. If we don’t believe it, they say, God will inhumanely torture us throughout all eternity.

Would Love do that—or have these Believers completely redefined Love?

Unfair father

Man has made God in his image, awash in qualities that we consider undesirable, criminal, even despicable in mere mortals. In fact, He bears a strong resemblance to our so-called “enemy,” Satan. Despite that, many have embraced this diabolical image of God—maybe because they haven’t really thought about what they believe. They simply believe.

Have you thought about it? Say “Amen” if you:

  • Worship and adore a father who doesn’t tell all of His children how to get back home.
  • Admire violent, vindictive dictators.
  • Relish the opportunity to be with someone who solves problems by killing and torturing people.
  • Love it when someone is unfair, threatening or judgmental.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

A Bag Lady’s Holy Week

Bag LadyRarely do I want to be that one, the bag lady. But for the next few weeks, I’ll be happily living out of suitcases. The first stop on my journey is the Balcony of Life, where I will stay until Easter is good and over. 

In years past, I’ve tried to tough it out and remain on Earth’s stage during Holy Week’s incessant demonization of the Divine, even though the bludgeoning of God’s holiness annoys me to no end.

As Einstein said, “Doing the same thing, and expecting a different result, is insanity.” So this year, I’m changing course: Rather than take myself there, I’m bringing myself here—to the Balcony. Memo to Self: Install an escalator! There’s no graceful way to lug all this stuff up these stairs.

Hmmm, even from the lower balcony, I can see what a blessing the soul we knew as Trayvon Martin has been for race relations in America. He has both awakened us to our tendency to label, judge and respond to another member of the human family based on superficial characteristics such as skin color and attire. He also has stirred our conflicted sense of justice.

As a species, we are still evolving, still trying to resolve our love-hate relationship with violence and vengeance. Sometimes brutalizing an innocent member of our human family is unacceptable to us. More frequently—in fact, daily—brutality is absolutely OK with us.

Why is the murder of one innocent child of God reviled and the brutal murder of another revered?

Trayvon’s murder falls under the unacceptable category. Hundreds of thousands of citizens in this mostly Christian nation have taken to the streets in outrage over the inhumanity of vigilante George Zimmerman and the insensitivity of the non-vigilant Sanford, Florida Police Department. We clearly revile injustice and violence—except when we’re giddy and grateful for it.

During this, the holiest week on the Christian calendar, we will attend vigils, wear hoodies to church, and post cathartic sentiments on social media in protest of the death of this innocent child and its subsequent cover-up. Then we will get down on our knees and thank God for sending another innocent young man to be slowly and sadistically tortured to death so that the guilty could be forgiven.

Let me play that back for you: According to ancient reports, God was so vehemently opposed to forgiveness that “He” stooped to the barbaric and distinctly human practice of sacrificing a live and innocent being before “He” would forgive the guilty. Yes, it’s the same God that wants mere mortals to forgive 70 times 7.

No one’s protesting the inhumanity, injustice or hypocrisy of this alleged act of God. No one’s demanding evidence that Love would do anything inhumane, unjust or hypocritical. No, instead we’re jumping for joy that we are washed in the blood of Jesus. Isn’t that part of a satanic ritual? Where does the Divine fit in that?

Can we legitimately scream for justice in Trayvon’s murder, when we’re not demanding the same for Jesus’s insanely brutal death? Can we credibly call for Zimmerman to be arrested and tried, but continue to give the Roman soldiers a get-out-of-jail-free card?

All of us carry baggage in our heads. Some of it is information and beliefs that harm us or others. We drag it from place to place and it blurs our ability to see Truth. Perhaps it’s time to let some of it go—starting with all illogical thoughts that demonize God.

From where this bag lady is sitting, if I am grateful for anything this Holy Week, it’s that God really is Love, and that Love forgives absolutely and unconditionally—no matter how much or how long we’ve repeated tales that The Divine does anything demonic.

Forgiveness is Only a Math Problem

Pop quiz: What’s 70 times 7?

No, it’s not 490! It’s the number of times we’re supposed to forgive those who offend us. Oddly enough, more than two thousand years after a profound and rather revolutionary Jewish rabbi taught this lesson, most of us—even those who profess belief in this man’s teachings—still can’t do the math.

Should we blame the teacher? I don’t think so. He delivered his lesson quite clearly and simply. I’m more inclined to believe that the problem lies in the text. It is more than a little confusing, as evidenced by the findings of a recent Gallup poll.

Researchers found that 49% of Americans believe the Bible, the text from which our views of forgiveness are founded, is the inspired word of God. But these same people don’t think it should be taken literally. Clearly, someone’s confused.

Man swears on Bible

The truth and nothing but the truth, so help me...

When did we stop taking Truth at its word? And, I’m sorry, if God inspired texts that can’t be taken literally, what was the point of the divine inspiration? Heck, mere mortals could have simply made up some stuff.

Actually, 17% of the poll respondents think the text was totally man-made, a collection of legends and fables. My guess is that the latter were merely brave enough to say what the 49% were thinking. If we do the math, 66% of us have discovered that the Bible contains information that is untrue, conflicting or incorrectly recorded.

The implications are tremendous. When overlook obvious errors in the text and call it the Word of God, what are we saying about the credibility and trustworthiness of that Word?

Some scholars take this very seriously. For the last 53 years, for example, Orthodox Jewish researchers at a Jerusalem university have been poring over ancient manuscripts, separating the wheat from the chaff. They’re trying to strip the Hebrew Bible down to its oldest and most authentic text. So far, they’ve unearthed evidence that people have been toying with the Bible for centuries. According to a report on this pivotal research called The Bible Project, scholars have concluded that

“This text at the root of Judaism, Christianity and Islam was somewhat fluid for long periods of its history, and that its transmission through the ages was messier and more human than most of us imagine.”

That explains why it took more than five decades for the team to complete a mere three books of the Bible. And we think we’re reading The Word of God.

The messy and human transmission (and let’s not forget tampering) is precisely why I think we can’t wrap our heads or arms around the famous rabbi’s lessons on forgiveness. The tampered text, in not so subtle ways, actually teaches us to be unforgiving.

Noah's Ark cartoon

©2010-2011 ~tawfi2 (Mohammed tawfik on deviantart.com)

As kids, we learn that God does not forgive

One of the earliest stories in the Bible is of the Great Flood. For centuries this alleged genocide has been romanticized, most recently in whimsical children’s books. At a very early age, we learned about forgiveness from this story: The Almighty God, Who could do anything “He” desired, preferred to sadistically “destroy everything living thing” [Genesis 7:4] rather than wave the wand of forgiveness over the humans in “His” creation. Not sure what the animals and plants did to deserve this fate.

Of course, our parents and religious teachers didn’t highlight God’s lack of forgiveness; but it is the unmistakable raison d’être in this ghastly story. Instead, we were served a sugar-coated version of the tale, complete with beautiful cartoons depicting the smiling faces of wild but happy animals patiently prancing onto the ark in a polite queue or peeping out of portholes as if they were on a Mediterranean cruise. 

Wait a minute! Portholes? According to the story, God ordered Noah to put only one window in that massive vessel—and, excuse me, it wasn’t in the cargo hold. But happy faces are great subterfuge to keep us from realizing that they were about to suffer a punishment worst than death. What child wouldn’t be horrified by the image of carnivores and herbivores crammed into the same dark space? It was nothing less than a Happy Meal for the predators whose prey had no chance of escaping. If kids could figure that out, certainly God could.

And can we talk about poor Noah and his fam? Those poor folks were not only forced to live with the aroma of wild animals and fecal matter; they also suffered the trauma of smelling the stench and, if they could get to that one window, seeing thousands of bloated bodies—infants, children, adults, the disabled and elderly—floating around them for weeks or as much as a year, depending upon how long it took the water to recede, which depended upon which verse of Genesis you read. If their preservative-free, unrefrigerated food supply could last that long, who in the world could eat under those conditions?

Common sense questions are rarely asked by Believers because thinking and questioning are truly the enemies of “blind faith.” In fact, they are considered heretical. (If you think I’m being sacrilegious, simply pick up the copy of whatever version of the Bible you have right now and tell me how many times the facts change in the Flood story, from verse to verse.) So just in case God really is a genocidal maniac rather than the unconditionally forgiving father of prodigal children, we’ve decided to believe some or all of these stories, even the second major lesson in forgiveness, which is even scarier.

Another Lesson: Forgiveness Requires Suffering

This one’s probably going to make some Christians uncomfortable. The most unforgiving (as in not Christlike) among them might even throw rotting tomatoes into the balcony, dramatically proving my point: Forgiveness is an elementary math problem that we haven’t been able to learn, despite having a Master Teacher. But if we’re ever going to solve this math problem, someone’s got to speak truth to those who would try to control our thoughts and beliefs through fear. Needless to say, the Loud Mouth got the assignment.

Like the Great Flood story, we’ve sugar-coated Jesus’s brutal murder by claiming that he died for us. In this story, as we’ve created it, God’s shows “His” love, mercy and forgiveness in a most peculiar way: God loved “His” bad kids so much that, in the barbaric tradition of those who wrote the story, “He” gave Jesus as a live sacrifice, sending “His” only innocent child to be slowly tortured to death.

We refuse to see that this story, which claims that the only condition under which God would forgive the guilty is by inhumanely brutalizing the innocent, portrays God as satanic. Worse, we promote the idea that if we believe that God placed Jesus in the hands of the sadistic Roman soldiers, “He” will  forgive our sins. The cartoon below graphically demonstrates how this principle works.

Murderer meets Victim in HeavenWrong Lessons, Well Learned

And that, Boys and Girls, is why we need a refresher course in multiplication. It’s almost impossible to learn to forgive 70 times 7, as Jesus taught, when we’ve been told for thousands of years that 1) Forgiveness is not really divine and 2) If the Divine forgives at all, there are strings attached. And oh, by the way, sometimes those strings have human blood on them.

Refresher Course is Open if You Are

It’s never too late to learn elementary math, as many have discovered in the transformative Drama Queen Workshops, where we free ourselves from the drama of Earth’s myths—beliefs that portray us as separate us from each other and from the Divine. Let me share the truths that seem to speed the path toward knowing Self, trusting God, and attracting a steady flow of Divine Guidance:

  1. Life is always fair.
  2. God is never far.
  3. Death is not “The End.”
  4. Absolutely nothing is unforgivable.

Spirit presented them to me as the Drama Queen Workshop Principles. The fourth principle is the most transformative for every Soul. Forgiveness will absolutely change your eternal life, release you from the chains of anger and resentment that have bound you to your offenders since The Beginning. Do we really want to spend time with those who have hurt, disrespected or abused us? The only way to release them is to forgive them.

Forgiveness comes so naturally when we understand the other three DQW principles. When we realize that we are eternal souls that embody the Divine Spark of Love that we call God, Allah or other revered names, it’s easy. When we understand that in a what-goes-around-comes-around world, Life is always fair, it just happens. When we know that we will receive what we give, at the most perfect time in our eternal life, because death of the mortal body is not the end of us as immortal souls, we don’t hold onto thoughts, anger  or resentment about what the other person did to us. We know we won’t be held accountable for the way they treated us, only how we treated them, no matter how they treated us. We release ourselves and move on.

We’ve ignored what Jesus reportedly said in most of the New Testament in favor of scriptures portraying Godliness as unforgiving and mortally vindictive. Let’s not turn a blind eye toward “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven” [Luke 6:37], “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive our trespassers” [Matthew 6:12] or the unconditionally forgiving father in “Prodigal Son” parable [Luke 15:11-32]. Forgiveness appears as a recurring theme. It is the good news. God is Love is the good news. Love forgives unconditionally: Good news.

Despite these scriptures’ message that forgiveness is something we do for ourselves, we believe we’re doing our offenders a favor. We act as if we are giving them a gift they don’t deserve when, in fact, we are only hurting ourselves. We deny ourselves forgiveness when we withhold it. If we want to our sins to be forgiven, we must forgive others for theirs—as many times as necessary, as many times as we’d want to be forgiven. Yes, even 70 times 7, although I certainly wouldn’t recommend remaining in the proximity of a such a repeat offender.

Hope is alive! Just as we learned when we were agonizing over our multiplication tables, practice makes perfect. Lessons are always easier to learn when they’re fun, so I invite you to download a supply of Forgiveness Coupons from the DQW home page. Make a game of forgiving unconditionally. See for yourself that forgiveness really is divine. And discover, while you’re at it, that you are, too.

I love you!

Let’s exonerate Pope Benedict XVI

Wednesday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that hateful, hurtful, homophobic speech by a church that oddly enough calls itself “Christian” is protected as a First Amendment right seems to have eclipsed other really big church news: Pope Benedict XVI has exonerated Jews for Jesus’s death.

Pope Benedict's new bookAccording to the Associated Press, the revelation was unveiled in excerpts from Benedict’s upcoming book, “Jesus of Nazareth-Part II.” If this declaration had been reported by The Onion, rather than the AP, I would be able to wrap my head around it. But this was not satire; it was just…well, sad.

Reportedly, the Pope’s new book explains biblically and theologically why there is no basis for “claims that the Jewish people as a whole were responsible for Jesus’ death.” Wait a minute!

As a whole? Hmmm, is that like: Saudis, “as a whole,” were not responsible for the September 11 terrorist attacks? (Fifteen of the 19 suicide terrorists were Saudis.) Or is more akin to: Iraqis, “as a whole,” were not responsible for 9/11? (Not even one terrorist was Iraqi.)  There’s a big difference.

Methinks the Pope hath forgiven too much; he has actually perpetuated the un-Christlike myth that the Jewish people killed Jesus. Anyone who’s read the New Testament or has seen a movie about the crucifixion knows that the Jews did not commit the crime, just as the Iraqis had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11. By dismissing the facts, the Pope’s grandiose forgiveness of the Jews is as much an attack on an innocent people as America’s violent invasion of Iraq to “free” its people.

Centuries before Benedict put pen to paper, it was an indisputable fact that the rabbi we know as Jesus was tried in a Roman court and suffered an inhumane execution at the hands of Roman military torturers because the declaration that he was the King of the Jews was a threat to the Roman empire.

So why isn’t the Pope forgiving, oh I don’t know, the Romans who conveniently live in the city surrounding his walled compound? That loving gesture would be such a warm and fuzzy highlight to this year’s Lenten season. Forgiving the innocent, not so much.

But here’s the beauty of his declaration of forgiveness: What Benedict unwittingly has highlighted are the impossible-to-connect dots that form the foundation of our beliefs as Christians—and the gaps that simply cannot support us, except through blind unquestioning faith:Connect the Dots puzzle

Dot #1: Jesus’s life purpose. For centuries, the Church has taught that God sent Jesus to Earth to do a couple of really important things. One was to spread the good news that God is Love, and does not do things that Love would not do—i.e., is not intolerant, violent, punitive, unforgiving, condemning and judgmental. Jesus also taught that the kingdom of God is within. We don’t have to go anywhere to find God, and we are not an abomination, filthy rags or unacceptable to be in God’s presence. Wherever we are, God is—truly good news.

Dot #2: Jesus’s fulfillment of his mission. What theologians tell us is that Jesus’s Good News ministry lasted all of three years. With today’s technology and air travel, the good rabbi could have spread the word to everyone in the entire world in that time. But he didn’t get very far on foot and donkey before it was time to complete his other important task: Be brutally slaughtered for crimes that he didn’t commit.

Dot #3: Barbaric live sacrifice demonstrates God’s love. This is a critical dot. The premise here is that God loved us, His guilty children, so much that He sadistically forced our innocent brother to die a protracted and excruciatingly painful death so that we wouldn’t have to. Christians generally protest unfairness, particularly an innocent person being executed; but we’re glad as hell that it happened to Jesus because…

Dot #4: Jesus died to save us from eternal damnation. We Christians rejoice that we are “washed in the blood of Jesus,” a satanic concept, to be sure. But more damning, we believe that contrary to Jesus’s famous parable in which a faithful father excitedly rolled out the red carpet upon his sinning child’s return, God’s forgiveness has strings attached: Only sinners who believe that God inhumanely subjected Jesus to a slow and tortuous death will be spared worse treatment throughout all eternity.

Those who believe that God is Love—and believe that Love would not do something so barbaric and satanic—will regret that mistake throughout a God-awfully painful eternity. Which brings us to…

Dot #5: God’s orders should be obeyed. So many dots, so little time. Let me simply cut to the chase: If the Pope believes what Scripture tells us to believe, exonerating the Jews is utterly oxymoronic. What is he forgiving them for exactly: Following God’s orders?

And that, dear Thinkers, is the question of the day: If the Pope believes that God ordered Jesus to be brutally tortured to death, and he believes that the Jews obeyed, I’m wondering if Benedict couldn’t have exerted his authority as a spiritual leader more effectively by forgiving Christians for reviling the Jews for centuries.

In the interim, why don’t we simply exonerate the Pope?

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.

Why it’s not as bad as you thought

Friends periodically share bits of wisdom from their e-mailboxes that they think will make me shout, “Amen!” One of my recent favorites came from my friend Jean Hill, who passed along a post from life balance expert Mary LoVerde’s “Words of Wisdom” newsletter. In it, Ms. LoVerde recounted the experience of meeting U.S. Airways pilot Chesley B. Sullenberger, III. It was Captain Sullenberger who skillfully executed that miraculous landing on the Hudson River last January, saving all 155 physical bodies on board.

Thinkers probably noted that I didn’t make the claim, as many news outlets did, that Captain Sullenberger saved 155 lives. That’s because he didn’t, not really. It’s impossible to save a life. Life is invisible, invincible and eternal. Physical bodies, on the other hand, are a different story. On occasion, there must be some intervention so that they can continue to be seen in the physical world. And that’s what Captain Sullenberger heroically did. But I digress…

During LoVerde’s brief chat with Captain Sullenberger, he described the death-defying crash landing. He recalled that, seconds after he brought the Airbus A320 aircraft to rest on the icy river, he and co-pilot Jeff Skiles turned to each other and said in unison, “Well, that wasn’t as bad as I thought.”

Ah, yes. How often do we discover, after we’ve been through the fire, that the adrenaline-pumping journey wasn’t as bad as we thought? All we could see when the flames were nipping our heels and hind parts, were that we were catching sho-nuff hell. 

For many years, that certainly was the case for me. As I have detailed in my books, many of my life dramas have had minimal entertainment value: divorces (no, the “s” was not a typo), loss of a multimillion dollar contract, foreclosures, evictions, negative cash flow and mounds of debt, un-Christlike co-workers and employers, non-paying clients, relationships with silly boys wearing men’s bodies, and the deaths of loved ones. None of it was the least bit pleasant until I decided to see those experiences differently—yes, even the deaths of those who are near and dear to my heart were no longer painful.

Changing your perception will change your response. I’ve taken you chapter-by-chapter through the epiphanies that rose to meet me during my “spiritual sleuthing” expeditions, my investigations of the behind-the-scenes causes of my unpleasant dramas. In every case, I concluded, “Well, that wasn’t as bad as I thought.” In fact, the drama was actually good because every situation delivered a blessing—most notably, a deeper understanding of myself, of Life, and of God.

When you understand the difference between life and Life, power and force, when you know who and what you are, God no longer works in “mysterious” ways. Nobody goes through life on Planet Earth without challenges. Nobody. Based on your understanding, you will respond to those challenges by:   

  • Concluding that you’re a victim;
  • Fighting the current condition by leaning on your limited human understanding; or
  • Patiently trusting that what you’re experiencing right now benefits you in some way, and asking for the guidance necessary to move on.

Each response reflects your understanding of who you are, what Life is and what God is. As the late Emmet Fox, a profound New Thought Christian minister, once said: “There’s no such thing as undemonstrated understanding.” In other words, what you understand is evident in the outer world. 

What I understand is that every life experience has a purpose. Because I believe that God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent Love, I understand that whatever happens, no matter how potentially painful, lovingly serves me in a powerful way. Nothing happens to me, it happens for me.

Recently, several persons have revealed a surprising lack of integrity. That’s good information to know. At an earlier time, I would have responded to them very differently—probably with anger and pain—because I had a different understanding of Life and God. I’m sure I would have judged them. I would have strung together a series of adjectives that described them as less honorable than I—as if I’d never done anything dishonorable. Please. They were just showing me what it looks and feels like from the other side. The appropriate response: Empathy and forgiveness because I’ve been there, and done it. How can I be unforgiving if I want to be forgiven?

I don’t have to understand the reason everything happens. My understanding tells me that there was one—and a good one at that. For all I know, the reason might have been to give me an opportunity to balance out my own errant behavior or practice reacting in a less judgmental, more Christ-like manner. After all, how do you reach enlightenment? Practice, practice, practice.

Those of us who desire to grow spiritually (and what soul doesn’t) are bound to attract negative people and woeful drama. These bad acts and actors serve us in mighty, mighty ways. We bless them and we love them for working on our behalf. They’re not doing anything to us; they’re doing it all for us. Yippee!

And there’s an additional benefit: I have discovered that I am consciously aware of how peaceful I am, even as these situations are occurring. How empowering is that? It’s not an “I’m more enlightened than you are” moment. It’s a “Yes, I remember when I wasn’t totally honest” moment.

C’mon now, we’ve all had crazy moments. Some of them might have been crazier than others; but all of them had one thing in common: They did not reflect the God in us. So who are we to get mad or judge somebody else’s crazy?

Empathizing with the other person—loving and forgiving them, even if I don’t like them or their behavior—doesn’t generate the negative energy in my soul or poisonous chemicals in my body that anger and resentment do. Aside from pitting out a perfectly good silk blouse, an angry response revisits me as an angry response when I err. Ultimately, my understanding serves me more powerfully, and reduces my cleaning bill. 

Understanding Life and God gives us the confidence to trust that the Law of Reciprocity will balance all behavior perfectly—and it will direct our path so that we will respond appropriately and in a manner that does not put us on a collision course with the Law.

Whatever you’re going through right now, what is your understanding of it? Does your understanding bring you peace or fear? Worry and fear constrict the body. What solutions can flow through to you if you are not chatting regularly with the God within you, and leaving yourself open to receive the guidance you need? I’m not talking about telling God what you want. I’m talking about listening, really listening. Then act on the guidance you’re given.

Chesley Sullenberger demonstrated his understanding of the Law of Aerodynamics when he bravely landed that plane on the Hudson. Notice what understanding you demonstrate when confronted with a crisis, and see if you don’t more frequently conclude: “Well, that wasn’t as bad as I thought.”

Love you. Mean it!

——————————————————————————

Love the Loud Mouth LIVE at an Upcoming Event in Chicago!

If you missed the three-day Women’s Conference in June, I have good news: By popular demand, authors Shirley Lawson, Stephanie Wilson-Coleman and I will conduct sessions at “The Women’s Conference Follow-Up” on Saturday, September 19. This time, it’s in Chicago, at Power Circle Center, 9350-64 S. South Chicago Avenue.

This special event is presented by the Training, Development and Networking Team of the Alpha Omega Sisterhood, a ministry of the Power Circle Congregation, the Rev. Joseph E. Hill, founder and senior minister.

For more information and to register for only $40, visit Drama Queen Workshops.