What Doesn't Move Mountains
I've been thinking about something I read recently.
"And the world shall be built on mercy, and faith shall create heaven on earth."
That led to me thinking about these last 20 months, and all that has happened. Then for some reason, a news headline from the year 2000 popped into my head: STORMWATCH 2000! Ya, I sat glued to my tv that day to wait for that crazy storm they were promising. Well - it sprinkled. I do remember that!
I know that you know that the media has always followed the premise "if it bleeds, it leads." Basically, the more drama, the better (for their ratings, that is).
But fear and drama eat at our faith. They eat at our relationships, our creative expression, and the way we show up; for ourselves, and each other, in this world.
And guess what? When we are in fear, we become very controlling. I know when I'm in fear, all of a sudden I want to tell everyone what to do and how to live their lives; how to vote, eat, pray, love, and how to be well. As if I knew better than the force at work within them.
When we are controlling, we are not walking in faith.... we are walking in conditions, problems, and limitations.
So it's not from fear that we build a beautiful world. That would be impossible because that beautiful world comes from inspired action (which comes through faith, not fear). When we try to control others, we are not making the space for heaven on earth. We are just digging ourselves deeper and deeper into fear.
Mercy is what gives us a foundation of love, and builds our world. And having a little mercy for each other always goes a long way to restoring faith.
And it's only faith that moves mountains. There are no stories about fear moving mountains.
It's faith that paves the way.... blesses our day, and creates heaven on earth.
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Social media has really changed the way we can all share our voice. No matter your interest, you can have a platform to share your ideas, thoughts, and opinions.
At first I was pretty excited about the opportunity to share my own voice. But what I discovered was that rather than feeling good about sharing any wisdom, I fell into the trap of needing people to agree with my opinion.
This often happens when we feel compelled to share our opinions with people who didn't ask for them.
There is a truth around sharing opinions that every salty old codger I've ever known has shared with me:
Opinions are like.... er... the anus... everyone has one.
Reasons we share opinions:
We want to be of help:
We may have experience in a particular situation that could be helpful to someone else.
To get approval:
When we share our opinion, and everyone comments on how smart we are, we get a little hit of dopamine. That's a hormone that makes us feel happy. The downside to this is that we become addicted to seeking approval to receive more hits of dopamine.
We need to be right:
We hear that someone has an opinion that differs from ours. So we decide we need to jump in and correct them. We'll feel the need to share our opinion and set them straight. We'll rarely change their mind, however, everyone that already agrees with us will jump in and comment on how smart and wonderful we are, and how anyone who disagrees with us must be a total moron. And of course, that gives us another dopamine hit.
When we are sharing our opinion with others for the wrong reasons, we cease to be a source of wisdom. And the difference comes down to this: We share for someone else's sake or we share for the sake of our own agenda (needing to be right or get approval).
When we are sharing for the sake of others, at some point in our interaction, we've received an invitation to share. Someone may be curious, or seeking answers, and they want to hear about our experiences.
Being invited into this interaction is an honor, and we show respect by sharing without an agenda. This gives the other person the freedom to receive our opinion, or our wisdom, with discernment.
In my own experience, when I've shared my opinion for the sake of hearing my own voice, and needing to be the smartest person on the internet, it never feels like I'm bringing more light and kindness into this world.
We don't have to know everything about everything. Most of us are not experts when it comes to viruses or politics. And our opinion about those things don't really matter. What makes us a force for good in this world is how we show up with each other, regardless of our opinions.
One of the foundational practices at Unity of Yucaipa is prayer. We use prayer to ask for things; guidance, peace, healing, and well-being. We use prayer to ask questions; how to be of greater service, what to do next, how to have more compassion, or how to create a new experience. We pray for ourselves. We pray for others.
I can remember a minister from my childhood saying "there is no wrong way to pray." As a child I appreciated this, because I always worried about getting things right.
As an adult, I can agree with this to some extent. I can't really say that there is a wrong way to pray, but through my experiences in prayer, I can say there is a way to pray that brings us more peace, and a way to pray that may bring us less peace.
For example, if we desire a certain, specific, experience, and it doesn't happen right away, we may think our prayer wasn't answered. Or that the answer was a "no." So we end up feeling less peace in our life.
We may pray for someone else to change (because we think we know best). And when this doesn't happen, we feel less peace because they didn't change to our specifications.
Maybe we prayed for a particular presidential candidate to win in the last election, and that didn't pan out. So we feel less peace about the state of our country.
Or it may be that we wanted to pray for something, but didn't have the faith that our prayer would be answered, so we don't bother with prayer.
One of the most powerful prayer practices we can do is hand over our problem, and however we think it needs to be specifically solved. We surrender it to that same Power that created worlds, and animates all the life on this planet, and works through every heart, and is the inspiration behind all inspired action.
I've come to believe that prayer is a lot like taking a road trip. I may desire to drive to Santa Fe, yet get in my car and head north instead. It could be that I end up in Fresno or Seattle. However, eventually I'll notice I went off in the wrong direction. And I can make the choice to head south again toward my destination. Some turns bring me less peace, and some turns bring me more.
In my prayer life I may forget and lose hope, or doubt, or even feel disappointed in outcomes. But every despair reminds me that I've simply made a wrong turn, and I can make a new prayerful choice.
Here's one of my favorite prayers for pivoting: Thank you Mother-Father-God for reminding me of the Light of my own True Nature. Blast me with the feel good sunshine energy that is Divine Truth. Thank you! Thank you, thank you, thank you.
If you'd like to amp up your own prayer life, please join us at Unity of Yucaipa for our Amp Up Your Prayer Practice workshop Saturday, July 31st, at 1pm. Click here for the information.
If you were to ask anyone if they believed complaining could fix things, they’d probably tell you yes. After all, it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the oil, right?
And I used to believe this too, until Joan Bacon (Unity Minister 1987-2006), brought up the idea of giving thanks in everything.
When Paul said in his letters to the Thessalonians, “be joyful always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God,” he wasn't just spewing positive thinking rhetoric. He was giving instructions to experience greater faith and find the peace of God within us.
So where exactly does complaining fit in?
In 2007 I decided to participate in my first complaint free living challenge. I thought it would be easy! But it turns out that complaining is sort of like having bad breath; you only ever notice it when someone else has it.
I discovered through this challenge that complaining, in general, doesn't fix things. It doesn't deepen our relationships, or help others see our point of view. It doesn't improve our health or wellbeing. It does not increase our faith or our experience of the peace of God within us.
The reason that complaining doesn't make our lives better is that complaining puts all our focus on problems, so we'll walk by sight instead of faith. Like Job, when we take our eyes off God, we suffer because we lose sight of the wonder that is God.
My own complaint-free journey had a profound effect on my spiritual life. Now I notice right away if I am going into "complaint mode," so I can shift my thinking to praise and appreciation. And I've learned that all it takes to fix problems is to simply be clear on the facts.
If I'm at a restaurant, and my coffee is cold, I don't have to complain to my friends or family about how cold my coffee is. I don't have to tweet about how my server must be trying to ruin my day with that cold coffee. I just tell my server, "my coffee is cold, could I have a warm-up?" My problem is solved. And I didn't have to make anyone feel bad in order to fix my problem.
Giving up complaining can be difficult, because through complaining we often gain sympathy and attention. But complaining is just a habit, and as Job once demonstrated, habits can be changed.
If you are ready to shift your thinking from complaining to radical appreciation, I hope you'll join us at Unity of Yucaipa for our first ever Complaint Free Bootcamp. Click here for more information.
When we speak of faith, it's often within the context of religion; faith in God.
But I know many people who are not particularly religious, yet still embody faith; faith in self, in their partner, in humanity, in good triumphing over evil.
When we embody faith, we turn our focus toward what we want to create; we'll see God working through our lives, or we'll feel we can handle whatever may come our way.
Lack of Faith
Lack of faith turns our focus to all we see wrong in the world. When we focus on problems that we have no control over, our own frustration grows. The more frustrated we feel, the more disempowered we become.
It's the feeling of disempowerment that leads to judgment and hate. This is because when you lack faith, it can suddenly feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.
Lack of faith leads to division; me vs. you, us vs. them. When you see separation between yourself and an "other," it becomes very easy to blame, judge, and hate. In fact, divisiveness is the direct path to hate.
Walking in Faith
But when you walk in faith, you are walking within the truth that there is something greater at work, not just in your life, but everyone else's.
Again, this faith doesn't have to be religious. Someone may have faith that their choices will make a difference in their own life, and that will expand out into the lives of their family, and community.
Here at Unity, because we are spiritually based, we put our faith in the Divine that works through us, for us, as us. We believe God to be an everywhere present force, even in the people who we don't agree with, or who we think make choices that miss the mark. And yes, even the people that we flat out don't like.
When we walk in faith, we experience greater personal empowerment. We understand that it's not up to us to fix every wrong we see. Rather, through our kindness, compassion, mercy, and understanding, we call forth God through us, and through the conditions that surround us. This leads to greater wholeness, connection, and cooperation.
When we walk in faith, we allow the force that created worlds to do good through us. And we remember that others, no matter what we personally think of them, have that very same force working through them too. And it's not up to us to decide what they should or shouldn't be doing.
We can choose to judge. Of course that's always an option. However, our choice to love will call forth a brighter future for all of us far more quickly than our blame and judgment ever could.
Big, big love,