Well Meaning But Misunderstood

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If you are wondering what’s wrong with teenagers, adults, society or the world in general, you are not alone.  There are hundreds out there who ask those same questions and hundreds more who claim to know the reasons why.  Do some research and you can find all kinds of opinions, statistics and psychological reasons on the internet, tv, newspapers and books.  The problem is, the ones who claim to know the reasons why the world is a mess are also a part of …well, the same world.  Often when these questions are being asked, there is an added word at the end.  The word is ‘today’.  So you hear questions like,

“What’s wrong with the youth today?”

“What’s wrong with society today?”

“What’s wrong with the world today?”

Have you noticed the peculiarity?  These same questions, with the added word ‘today’, have been asked over and over again over scores of years.  Yet, the world has changed.  Society has changed in many ways and in many countries as well.  This begs the question, ‘What hasn’t changed?’

While there may be several answers to that question, there was one answer in particular that came to me this morning during my quiet time.  It is something that is one of the major causes of contention in any given relationship.  It is that human beings are not always good givers, receivers or conduits when it comes to communicating.  We are all constantly misinterpreting, miscommunicating and misrepresenting one another and what follows is sometimes the laughable statement we sometimes make such as,

“You don’t make any sense!” or “You’re talking in riddles.”

which is often answered in denial.

Jesus is probably one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted individual in history.  His words were misunderstood then and they are misunderstood now.  I can’t help thinking that perhaps when Jesus spoke plainly, his words led to confusion.  Maybe that is why he chose to speak in parables, not to confuse, but to help people to understand the deeper meaning of things.  This makes arguing about religion ridiculous.  None of us can say we know what Jesus was trying to say about everything.  The only clear thing for sure was his love.

I believe that most relationships can be transformed into peaceful, respectful relationships when we truly work hard and patiently at understanding each other.  Yes, there are things which can get in the way and reasons why you need to keep your distance from some individuals. However, there are some relationships which are unavoidable such as family members or those you work with.  There are other relationships which are worth salvaging because it normally works but something went temporarily awry during a conversation one day.  Then there are some relationships which are so great, they are worth nurturing.

In order to improve your relationship with someone, you need to keep the channels of communication open by relinquishing the belief that someone has to be right within a discussion.  The truth is, sometimes it is not possible to work out who is right and other times it’s just we’re not clearly understanding what the other person is saying.  It is better to honor their beliefs, listen with empathy and to have an open mind (you never know, you might learn something).  If it is a case that it is important to get your point across, due so with clarity and respect.  Don’t talk over them and give them the chance to respond.

After you have had ample time to practice respectful, open-minded communication, you might find that you have an all new appreciation for people’s uniqueness. You might even find that ‘loving your neighbour’ has become effortless.

 

On A Dark Night: part 2

More than ten years later, I begun to be aware of other Christians who really loved God, served Him but did not share the same beliefs as those of the fundamentalist persuasion. This wasn’t even a new kind of Christianity but these were Christians of many mainstream denominations.  However, learning that they didn’t view the biblical texts as literal truths shocked me to the core and challenged my faith even though I had never placed my faith wholly in the bible alone.  It didn’t help matters that I learned all this while going through a very difficult time in my life.  So I stopped going to church completely and I clung to God in a rather desperate way, no longer knowing what to believe except that He loved me.  The problem was that the love of God I had been taught was merciful towards unbelievers wanting to repent but conditional to those who already believed (you should know  better).  It was the kind of love that we humans often administer, hence God made in our image.  So I began to doubt that God could yet love me.  I read books of different thoughts and beliefs some by Christians and some not wondering where do I now fit in. I went through this inner struggle for ten years.

The ten years pains me.  It is a confession I guess.  For during those ten years I lived in my head and I served my struggle instead of actively serving others (outside my own family).

But then came the breakthrough.

*On a dark night,
Kindled in love with yearnings–oh, happy chance!–
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest.

In darkness and secure,
By the secret ladder, disguised–oh, happy chance!–
In darkness and in concealment,
My house being now at rest.

After purging much of what I had formerly believed in, my house was at rest and I was able to respond to God once more.  Through writing and meditating, I began to unite with the heart of God and know the depths of his love.

*In the happy night,
In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught,
Without light or guide, save that which burned in my
heart.

So am I a Post-evangelical? Here is where my heart is:

I believe and long for everyone to be in touch with their spirit and have a relationship with God.  I also believe that everyone should be a free-thinker and not have religion forced upon them.  There is no value in believing what others dictate to you so it is important to work out your own beliefs.  I believe one can be aided in this with a spiritual counselor who doesn’t dictate but helps you to work it out. The reason I wish for everyone to be in a relationship with God is because of my own day to day experience which has led me to believe that although we are all capable of loving one another and serving one another and feeling compassion, our loving compassionate nature becomes charged when we are ‘plugged-in’ to God.  However, being plugged-in doesn’t mean going to church or having a particular belief system.  It means uniting one’s heart and spirit to the heart and spirit of God.  It is with unity that we become aware of God’s heart and purpose for us and it is with this unity that transformation begins.  This unity is deeper than being filled with the Holy Spirit but not necessarily exclusive of it.  There is a danger of one getting caught up in the experience in that it can become something which we desire for what we can get out of it. God’s Holy Spirit is a gift not something we should selfishly seek as a sort of spiritual ‘fix’. However, to seek a unity with God is to have the desire to sit at his feet, to learn from him, to know his heart and to allow His heart to transform yours.

*Oh, night that guided me,
Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover,
Lover transformed in the Beloved!

I desire this for everyone because it is wonderful beyond words, essential to one’s spiritual growth, makes life easier on so many levels and can lead to global transformation. However, it is not something you can rush into or rush someone else into. Jesus cared about the heart of a person, the kingdom of God within.

* I remained, lost in oblivion;
My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself,
Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies

*Excerpts from the poem Dark Night Of The Soul by St John of the Cross

Through The Heart Of Ultimate Love

What  is it like to see the world and all of creation from God’s perspective? I know this seems like such an odd question to ponder upon but somehow while my mind was flitting about in the early hours of the morning, my mind found rest on that thought.  When my mind wanders it is a fast wandering. Strangely enough, I am not a quick thinker normally but give my mind freedom to wander just before going to sleep at night or just as I am waking up and my mind will shift into warp speed.

This morning, my mind meandered its way to thoughts on the trinity and how Jesus came to earth because of his love for us.  I tried to envision this–the world, humanity and the decision to become man all from God’s perspective and surprised myself with my own inability to imagine just what that is like.

First, there is God and there’s the world and all in it and He created it.  The image that first came to mind was the cover of a science fiction book I read when I was a teenager.  The cover showed a Scientist looking at a tiny modern world. Seeing it from that perspective, a huge God looking at his tiny world which he created felt enormously detached to me.  I mean if you were in this Scientist’s shoes, would you want to become small, enter into the world you created as one of your own creation, suffer and die all for their sake? It’s like  me deciding to live in an ant colony. Bear in mind please that these are the sleepy thoughts during the sleepy hours of the morning for me.  My mind may be on warp speed but it still isn’t quite awake.

I then realized the scale of my image was all wrong. God isn’t a giant holding a tiny art project in his hands. He already was in the world with his creation before Jesus ever put on human clothing. So I began to imagine what that was like–to be an omnipresent God living with mankind.  God created everything in the world.  He created all living creatures and humanity.  He is everywhere, mainly unseen but seeing all. He sees the hurt and suffering people inflict on each other. He sees the malice, the wars, the pride, the scathing judging of others–He sees all this not from the perspective of a giant peering down from the sky nor from the perspective of a psychic seeing it all telepathically through the mind’s eye.  He sees it as if He is experiencing it himself.  When the man was beating his wife, God was there like a witness in the room, seeing it all up close; and God was seeing it through the heart of the  man doing the beating; and God was seeing it through the heart of the wife taking the blows.

When the religious leader advised the king in God’s name to stone the old woman for stealing fruit from the royal orchard, God was there as a witness, knowing all that is in the hearts and minds of the king, the religious advisor and the old woman.

When Pharaoh decreed that all newborn males should be thrown into the Nile, God was there too–witnessing it through those that slain the babies, Pharaoh hearing the reports, the mothers screaming for their babies and the babes themselves.  He was already among us grieving yet looking at us in love; wanting not to condemn but to help, to show us the way of His kingdom so we can end the suffering.  He hated the sin but He did not turn away from it.  He was there experiencing it and then sent himself through His son Jesus so we would know the extent of His love and our potential and commission to realize the kingdom of God on earth.  He had been there all along and then He humbled himself to be one of us and to experience what we experience in the flesh.  That is His love for us.  None of us have that great of a love for our neighbours.  Yet still I ask, if it were us, would we have made the same decision? Would we have chosen to become human during those times? Would any of us be able to look upon a murderer, a sadist, a rapist, a murderer of hundreds of children–in love?

I have heard some individuals attempt to explain the gospel like this: Sin separates us from God because He is so holy and cannot look upon or be in the presence of sin.  All sin is punishable by death so God sent His son to die for the punishment of our sins. What rubbish! In fact, it is blasphemous. How can God be omnipresent and still be separate from sinners? God does not shy away from seeing our sins,  He is there always and is loving always.  In fact, He is love always and He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Love is expansive and God is the ultimate of that expansion.  The absolute, ultimate Love.

An Honest Look At Christmas

HonestlookatChristmas

What does it mean to have a ‘merry Christmas’? Why are we expected to be so merry?  I ponder this as I sit here in my living-room having finally brought in our Christmas tree from the garage along with all the other boxes and plastic storage containers containing our various assortments of Christmas ornaments and decorations.  It is morning as I write this and my back is aching not from having brought the decorations in but by the accumulated and growing stress over the past few weeks of my multitude of tasks in preparation for a ‘merry Christmas’. I wanted to have a frugal Christmas and I must say I have done it but in order to give meaningful gifts that don’t cost much money it needed quite a bit of creativity.  Creativity costs time. First of all, it needed time to plan what to give. I had no plan.  I thought the month of December would be enough to plan and execute but it wasn’t.  The month of December may have been enough time to shop and create some DIY gifts but it isn’t enough to plan off the cuff what I am doing while creating, shopping, decorating and baking.  Planning should have been done WELL in advance …say September.  I probably should have had the gifts all done by end of November and the tree put up before advent began.  To try to do it all in a rush in December was not my wisest decision. So although I have saved hundreds of pounds, I have paid the cost in other ways. What I wanted and hoped for this Christmas was to give my family and friends a ‘merry Christmas’ but with minimal stress to myself.

So what does it really mean to have a ‘merry’ Christmas? The Cambridge dictionary defines merry as: happy or showing enjoyment; slightly drunk (UK). The Oxford dictionary defines it as: cheerful and lively characterized by festivity and enjoyment (and also slightly drunk). The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines merry as: giving pleasure; full of gaiety or high spirits; marked by festivity or gaiety. So I guess basically whoever coined the phrase, “Merry Christmas” wanted to party, get a bit tipsy and have a good time.

Source

Picture source: imcargade

Two things spring to my mind as I reflect on this.

1. Christmas is only one day a year but if there is a party to be had then that takes weeks of preparation and how merry will the stressed-out organizer be?

2.Have we all forgotten that Christmas is for reminding ourselves of the birth of Christ?

While I began the start of December reflecting on the sacrifice of God becoming human for us, this reflection gave way to the preparation of giving a ‘merry Christmas’. If I am being honest, most of us only think about the incarnation on rare occasions.  Yet, here before us we have a great opportunity. We have the opportunity in the holiday of Christmas to remember and reflect upon the birth of Christ.  God put on human matter because He loves us so much and deemed us important enough to make this sacrifice. Usually, it is the crucifixion that people tend to view as God’s greatest sacrifice and of course I agree it was an incredibly huge sacrifice but I honestly think that becoming human in the first place was the biggest sacrifice and expression of love ever. The bible says all things were created through Christ (Colossians 1:16; John 1:3). He who created the entire universe and all within and without and all living creatures and human beings did so in love and in power; but when He Himself became human, He did something which may seem to us as grossly humble.  He did it by being born through one of His creation and took upon Himself all the flaws and faults that being human entails. Yet also in doing so, he honoured humanity enough to show solidarity with us even to the extreme measure of taking on mortality at the same time revealing to us that all humans can now partake of divine life. He who is wholly God became wholly human as well. How that is we may never fully understand. God in us and we in God.  The idea of it boggles the mind.  I cannot explain it but I experience it and embrace it with joy for this is how much God loves us.

Do I now wish for a merry Christmas? No, I have changed my mind and only wish for a Joyous Christmas–a Christmas where bliss resides in the spirit  is what I wish for myself and all of you.

Joyous Christmas!

 

 

Strengthening Our Inner Potentiality

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Image Source

Pure Potentiality

No matter who you are, what disabilities you may have been born with or acquired later in life, whether you were born into loving families or abusive ones, there is one fact which is true for all of us.  We were born with potential.  Every one of us has the potential to be successful in life.  By successful I mean creating your life in a way that brings you happiness and fulfilment. Being successful also means you have learned to love and receive love in return.  Jesus said there are two commandments: to love God with all your heart, soul and mind and to love your neighbour as He loves us.  (Luke 10:27) When we do, we receive love in return and become filled with joy and the love and joy expands outwards to others. However, in order to love everyone and to love purely, we must learn to do so. We have this potential.  It is in our make-up.  We are created in love with the innate potential to love. Love and Happiness then become our muse and inspire us to do greater things.

Show him the door

Yet, sometimes we fall into despondency and despair when terrible things happen.  The ability to love can often become hindered when we ourselves are raised without love.  If we were raised by overly critical or contemptuous parents, we learn to hate ourselves.  Some of us may have learned self-hate in the school-yard even though we may have had loving parents. For others it may be that we slowly start to dislike ourselves when we have experienced some form of perceived failure or have been criticized by others in the workplace when we are adults.  Sadly, we each have an inner voice which harshly judges us. If we listen, this voice grows louder.  This voice hinders us from being our best.  The voice tells us  we can’t succeed or we are unlovable or unattractive or not smart enough.  The good news is that potentiality is still within us.  It is only dormant.  In order to awaken our potential, we have to silence the Accuser (that judging voice inside us).  When we start to think negatively about ourselves, recognize it for what it is, a judging voice that will hinder our goals in life and come in-between our relationships.  This voice does not speak the truth. It is the voice of the Accuser.  If the Accuser was a real person and just walked into your room right now and began to berate you and put you down, what would you do?  Would you tell him that he is so right and then break down crying?  What would you rather do?  Think about it.  Personally, if someone came into my home and started to talk to me that way, I would show him the door.  I would let him know that he is not welcome here.  We can do the same when our negative thoughts appear.  We can (inwardly) tell it to shut up and go away and then replace the negative judging thoughts with thoughts of affirmation.  This works because all successes begin with love.  You have to love yourself enough to  want to change your thought patterns.  We can then move forward in life.

Send in the Cavalry!

Now, to be fair, this isn’t always easy.  For one thing, it takes some practice.  Another thing is that sometimes you have more than one accuser in your head.  You may have a whole market place of accusers who are all yammering at once, making you feel pretty unconfident.  In a scenario like this, you will need to pray (Mark9:29) and you may have to implement more than one strategy to silence them all.  In some cases, this may require help with a Therapist or Spiritual Mentor.  Another very effective way is to use meditation to focus on statements of affirmation.  The more positive thoughts about yourself you bring into your inner market place, the more negative thoughts begin to leave.  (Picture an old Western town where the guys in black hats have taken over the town but then the cavalry turns up and the guys in the black hats are chased away on horse-back).  I will be posting a meditation example for this type of inner walk later this week.  The thing to remember is not to allow yourself to despair and realize that you can succeed in turning around your thinking process.

 

With So Much Love And Adoration…..

When my son Brandon was about two years old, he would often wake up in the morning before I was ready to start my day.  Being pregnant back then with my sixth child caused me to need a lot of sleep and I found myself rising at later times in the morning.  That is to say I tried to but it is impossible to ignore a toddler who is awake and ready to start the day. What I often did was to pick Brandon up and bring him to bed with me in the hopes he would go back to sleep himself.  He would nuzzle close, place one chubby thumb in his mouth and with his other hand caress my face all the while murmuring, “Mommy, Mommy.”  With so much love and adoration, how could I possibly go back to being asleep?  I have never risen from bed in the morning so happy and content as I did in those days.

 

Brandon

There is something about small children that makes me feel their spirits are more pure and not yet tarnished by the woes of life.  Jesus spoke about the importance of being like a child.  The more I contemplate this, the more I see why.  When we are small, we love our parents unconditionally and quickly forget when they anger us.  Then comes a certain time in our lives when we begin to perceive more and more faults within our parents and others.  I think for me it began between the age of nine and eleven.  When we are still young we learn that people aren’t perfect but rarely find fault with ourselves.  Then we enter adolescence and find all we perceive as faults within ourselves….you know, the ones nobody else sees.  If we decide to take the spiritual path of love and wisdom, we begin to discover what our true faults are only then to discover that there are no faults, only ways we have to learn to love and grow better.  One such way is realizing that we must grow younger.  Like Brandon when he was two, we need to look at individual people with love and see right to their spirits and know that’s who they are.  Have you ever had someone look at you that way and see your real self?  It’s the part of you that you know intimately and hope that others would see…but they often do not.  If you have ever had that experience then you know that what comes next is that you begin to yearn to be who you really are.  You end up courageously allowing yourself to shine through. You begin to trust and love people more and see the true in others.

When we begin to love and receive so much love and adoration, how could we possibly go back to being asleep?

Re-post from the Guardian: The Bethlehem Story….

This gem of an article written by Giles Fraser was printed in the Guardian newspaper here in the UK.  Its profound message is simply explained and so well worth reading to the very end.

The Bethlehem story takes us deeper into what it means to be human

It is the ordinary, human state of baby Jesus that brings home the idea that Christianity is about humanism
Nativity scene Balboa Park San Diego California

Photograph: Craig Steven Thrasher/Alamy
‘The Magi travelled from the east to seek out the extraordinary. What they found was a child.’

It is not the present that they expected. Nothing close. They wanted the sort of God who would drive out the Romans. They wanted the sort of God that would set them in positions of power and authority. They wanted the sort of God who would answer their questions and make them feel good about themselves. No, it was nothing vaguely close.

Freud attacks religion for presenting us with a permanent and all-powerful father figure who will look after us and provide us with boundaries, thus to replace the father we lost in childhood. It is a neurotic technique of anxiety reduction, helping us psychologically to manage an out-of-control world. But the God discovered by the Magi and the Shepherds could not be more different. Not just God as human, but – just to rub in the point about powerlessness – God as a human baby.

Such a God just cannot function as the focus of anxiety reduction. It is almost as if the creator of heaven and earth has resigned his job as warden of the universe and reincarnated as the very thing that some human beings had wanted God to help us escape from: the raw limits of human existence. From here on in, for Christians at least, God is not to be set against humanism, but seen as its fiercest advocate.

And as God himself furiously throws out his unco-ordinated limbs and screams in need of food and shelter, as all babies do, so it begins to dawn on the little Bethlehem gathering that the responsibility for human care could not be subcontracted to some power in the sky.

In an astonishing use of the Greek word kenosis – meaning emptying – the writer of the letter to the Philippians explains the incarnation in terms of God emptying himself, making himself nothing. Little wonder some theologians have felt the psychological impact of Christmas to be almost indistinguishable from the psychological impact of the death of God. As WH Auden asks, desperately: “Was the triumphant answer to be this?”

At the end of the Tempest, Prospero gives up all his magic powers thus to make his way in the world as a mere human being. I find it a profoundly Christian and kenotic moment because, as I understand it,Christianity is, among other things, a sort of slow training in weaning human beings off their powerful belief in magic. Magic, we might say, is the denial of necessity, the denial that there are things about human existence – like death – that we cannot change by waving a wand or reciting a spell. This has nothing to do with Harry Potter – magic is the refusal of human limit. Which is why I would want to argue that there can be just as much magic in science as there can be in religion.

Yes, of course religion can be especially susceptible to it. But the attempt to transcend the constituent limits of our humanity is just as evident in the absurd fantasy of cryogenic deathlessness or the peculiar imagination of post-humanism. Technology can be as much a shelter for the belief in magic as religion ever was. And often with far less self-critical vigilance – as if the vague presence of science constitutes a fail-safe prophylactic against fantasy. Indeed, the psychological fantasy of magic is at its most powerful when it works in places where it is least expected.

What happened in Bethlehem was something quite different. The Magi travelled from the east to seek out the extraordinary. What they found was a child. Something perfectly ordinary and perfectly extraordinary at the same time. A source of salvation not by magic but by taking us deeper into the very question of what it means to be human: love, kindness and generosity. And there they found God.

Twitter: @giles_fraser

Jesus, Our Emmanuel

picture source

picture source

Christmas can seem like a mystery in so many ways.  Here we have a tradition that many people like to follow based on a belief that fewer people who follow the tradition actually believe.  Yet, the magic seems to exist  to some extent even when the belief is not always there.  Why is that?  Some may argue that it’s the decorations—the twinkling lights …the Christmas tree;  others may say its the gifting but can objects bring this much happiness? Surely we can decorate our homes any time of year.  Surely we can buy ourselves a gift which can make us feel happy. Yet somehow it is not the same as it is at Christmas time.  Why is that?  What is it about Christmas that makes the happiness feel something more…more rosier, warmer, deeper, thoughtful?  We may not know or understand but something deep within us knows even when our conscious mind does not.

Mathew 1:20-23

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”  (which means “God with us”).

Think about this for a moment: What is the greatest gift you ever gave someone?  I don’t mean the most expensive but the greatest?  Personally, I LOVE giving gifts.  It is one of my favourite ways to celebrate Christmas.  I love to choose special gifts for people and I get pretty excited when I think I have found the perfect gift.  However, when I think about this question, my answers would have to be things that hardly cost me anything.  For instance, I taught two of my children how to read.  One of them couldn’t focus for very long and the other often saw letters and words backwards and couldn’t follow along the line of a sentence.  I am so happy that they grew up loving books! Other gifts I have given is hospitality, prayer, a hug, a smile, home baked cookies, a visit to someone who was lonely, some free babysitting and a flower.  I’m not bragging.  These are simple gifts that  we all give to each other from time to time.  These types of gifts can all be summed up simply as this: We are giving ourselves.  Isn’t that the greatest gift we can give?  Isn’t it even more wonderful that God gave us Himself through the birth of His son Jesus?  Oh but this wonderful gift from God is so much more than our humanly gifts we give.  His smile is MORE than ours.  His embrace MORE than our embrace.  He loves us but it is MORE than how we love.  His love is eternal and never falters or fades.

The name Jesus means “the Lord saves”.  It is the greatest , most mysterious thing that we could ever imagine.  The creator of all, a holy and almighty being made Himself to be as humble as we are, even as far as allowing Himself to be birthed from a human woman, one of his creation.  He did this because He is love and His love is for us. He wanted to save us from sin.  He does so by giving Himself to us.    Why?  The first reason is because sin hurts us.  He wanted us to stop hurting ourselves and each other.  However, when we allow ourselves to open up to God’s spirit, we feel the need to make retribution. It suddenly becomes clear to us that we need to make things right.  God and us working together slays our sins.  I am pretty sure God doesn’t want us to go on feeling guilty either because guilt keeps us from experiencing God in our lives more fully.  That brings me to the second reason why God wanted to save us from sin.  The opposite of sin is righteousness.  Righteousness means being in a right relationship with God.  What that means is we can have a better, more fulfilling relationship with God.  What that therefore means is that God humbled Himself and became one of us because He wanted a better relationship with us.  THAT’S how much He loves us! That is the real message behind Christmas.  So whether we have been aware of it or consciously thinking about it, I believe somehow at Christmas time our spirit knows and the happiness which is rosier and deeper actually has another name–JOY.

 

Being REAL in Sibling Relationships

At Aylesbury pond

From top left Brittany, Tara, Brianna, Dustin
At bottom: Brandon, Jadzia

My daughter Jadzia is turning 18 in less than two weeks.  However, her birthday celebration has in a way started last Friday with a trip to the US provided by her sister and her husband.  Tara is the oldest of my six children and has always taken her role of eldest sibling seriously.  When she was growing up she was like a second mother to them even as far as making sure rules were enforced and kept.  She was also a big believer in fairness.  At times she backed up her mom and at other times you would see her playing defending lawyer for any one of her siblings.

I love it when my children are together reminiscing, laughing and getting along.  Of course, they didn’t always get along.  There has been at times teasing, biting, scratching, swearing, shouting, doors slamming, cold-shouldering, grabbing, kicking, hair-pulling and lots of arguing!  Sometimes the other five children engage in some bad behaviour too.  Yet they all manage to grow up with a strong bond with one another.  A big part of the reason for this is that Tara first modelled it and then some of the others followed suit.  Sibling bond is more than obligation.  It’s a love choice.  They have spend enough time with each other to affect the shape of each other.  They have learned patience and that a soft answer can dispel wrath.  They have learned  that an act of kindness gains appreciation and an act of kindness in return.  They have learned that their witch-y sister and their beastly brother is not all that bad.  They have developed skills in dealing with one another and learning from one another.  When they were young they didn’t dare speak of fondness for their siblings but as they grew, one by one started to speak of love for their siblings…not in their presence at first but in time they begin to declare it to them.  Some of my children have already done this already.  Some are not there yet.  However, gone are the days when one grabs a toy from the other while commanding them to ‘Share!’  Gone too are grudges.  Now they sit with each and tell the stories of the wrongs done and laugh at them because all is forgiven.

As I ponder on this it brings me to thoughts about my past post on When We Become Real and causes me to wonder what is real within a family.  Tara is being a real sister.  Being Jadzia’s biological sister doesn’t make her a real sister. She has earned that badge by her unconditional love and acts of kindness.  If Tara had been unforgiving and unloving or wanted nothing to do with her siblings, you couldn’t say she was a ‘real’ sister to them.  Likewise, if she was their step-sister or if they had all been adopted but they had a strong loving bond for one another, then they have the right to be called “REAL brother” or “REAL sister”.  I have also seen Tara be a ‘real’ sister to her friend Jennifer who she grew up with.  I have seen Tara’s love stretch and extend to her sister-in-laws and brother-in-laws.  Being a sister or brother doesn’t have to stop and start at home.  It can be expansive! As part of the human race, we can look at one another as family. We can call each other brother, sister, mother, father. We won’t be given these titles unless we have earned them.  In Mathew 12; 47-48 Someone said to Jesus, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers!…Jesus of course meant no disrespect to His own mother and brothers but was trying to make the point of the strong family bond that can exist within all our relationships even those outside our family.

How do you start to form real sibling relationships? Hopefully, you start at home if you are able to.  You start by focusing your attention on the good in others.  You accept them for who they are.  You appreciate them and accept whatever good they offer you whether it be a simple compliment or love.  You align your personality with your spirit so that you begin to view them in truth.  If you choose to view only their fallibilities, their mistakes, their short-comings, then you will not be able to see their true selves nor their potentialities and you place obstacles between you so that no possibility of unconditional love can grow.

So I ask you to think about this…Are you being real?  Are you being  a real brother or sister to your siblings and to others?  Who are your real brothers? Who are your real sisters?  Who has earned that title in your heart?  Have you told them?  What a blessing you give them by simply telling them how you truly feel about them!

Communication Of Mind, Body and Spirit

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This morning I found myself pondering about the three parts of man…body, psyche and soul.  I find it funny when I find myself asking questions about something I thought I knew all about.  Still learning….still wanting to ask questions, to dig deeper to know and understand more.  I don’t even care that much if I ever know the answers.  I am just enjoying the journey.

I was thinking about how the three parts of us communicate.  Our mind (psyche) communicates with language and emotion.  It is always talking, judging and expressing emotions.  It is also the decision maker.  It may communicate with the body by saying….’Hug her! She needs it!’ Our body communicates through pain and sickness and bodily urges.  For instance, when it needs food, it communicates this by feeling hunger.  Our spirit seems to work like a radio wave where we often receive knowledge or wisdom or advice from God.  Our intuitive side is part of that.  It is how our soul communicates with our mind and sometimes our body….RUN!

Sadly, I see too how often we may communicate negatively to ourselves and this can be detrimental to our physical/emotional/spiritual health if we listen.  If our mind is always putting ourselves down, then it is just possible that our body and spirit may believe it. For instance, say you look in the mirror and you (psyche) tell yourself, “You are so ugly!  Nobody can possibly like you.  Not only are you ugly, but you keep saying stupid things!  That’s why nobody smiled at you today and that’s why you didn’t get that promotion.”  Soon your body reacts.  Your shoulders start to slump a bit forward.  You stop making eye contact with people and you stop looking after your appearance. You may lose weight. At first your spirit puts up a big fight.  “You’re not ugly!  Those people didn’t smile at you because they were all having a bad day when they found out that there were going to be some redundancies happening.  They were probably thinking there was nothing to smile about.  Of course they like you…” etc However, if your spirit starts to believe all the negative thoughts that the mind is saying, it may respond despondently.  In time, you may feel a lack of faith or hope.  Our spirits sink.  Our spirits gives up.  We may lose the will to live.  This is what depression is.  It is when our spirit succumbs to the negative thoughts and emotions of the psyche.  It then finds it hard to hear God and detect His love.  We become lost and we feel so far away from God even though we are in fact not.

The good news is that God is all about saving the lost (Luke 19:10).  God often uses our mind, body or soul to save us.  For instance, our mind may experience something or learn something that raises our level of consciousness.  It then turns inward to the soul and the soul responds in ecstasy.   Our soul may start to reach out to God and suddenly experiences God’s love and our mind is filled with awe and then you find yourself changing your thought patterns to more positive ones.  Your body may respond by giving a little skip or dancing in jubilation.  If we are struggling with remorse for something we have done that was wrong then we only need to ask God for forgiveness.  Psalm 103:8-12 says

8The Lord is compassionate and gracious,

slow to anger, abounding in love.

9He will not always accuse,

nor will he harbour his anger forever;

10he does not treat us as our sins deserve

or repay us according to our iniquities.

11For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is his love for those who fear him;

12as far as the east is from the west,

so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

As far as the east is from the west….so our transgressions don’t exist any more.  That is God’s grace for us.

There often seems to be a delay right before we are about to make a bad choice that causes us to pause and reconsider.  If we are tempted to drink too  much or smoke too  much, our mind will argue with ourselves giving us time to think it over before lighting up or pouring that drink.  When our mind starts to judge, our spirit may speak to us and we may stop and consider.  It can also sometimes mean that our spirit wants to meditate for hours or go to church every day but our mind may say, ‘Whoa!  Your family needs you or you have to go to work.”  There almost always seems to be a chance for us to change our minds from doing something which isn’t right.  We may choose to ignore it but the choice is there.

Spirituality is our mind, body and spirit working together for our whole being to keep us from harm and from causing harm.  We can succumb to temptation through our mind, body or spirit.  Being whole means all parts of us have to work together under the spirit and protection of God’s love.