Tag Archive: changing others


English: Two teen is kiss

English: Two teen is kiss (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am grateful that I am finally learning the difference between being kind and loving and being a doormat!  I can seek to be forgiving and to understand why someone does something hurtful to me but that does not mean I have to stick around and allow them to continue harming me.  I may be one with humanity and the universe but that doesn’t mean I must be a personal friend with each and every soul at this moment in my existence.  Sometimes it is a matter of my own personal growth to choose to love myself enough to walk away.  And instead of making me a bad person that action will make me a better person.  As I get better at loving myself I get better at loving others.  And there are times when the most loving thing I can do for someone else is to show them by my absence that cruelty, unkindness, and extreme narcissism are not to be tolerated.   For the first time in my life, I am processing choosing to end a relationship or relationships which are spiritually, mentally, and emotionally unhealthy for me without guilt or shame  or self-hatred.  I am congratulating myself for personal growth and strength to say, “Enough is enough.”  It feels good to make a loving decision on my own behalf and stick to it.  I am thankful, so thankful, I am finally–finally–learning to let go of negative people and negative emotions on this journey of discovery into gratitude and love.

  • Love! (feetfirstbook.wordpress.com)
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Ending War

Hands Passing Baton at Sporting Event

Hands Passing Baton at Sporting Event (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You have wounded me.

But I can see

my wounding

is from

your own pain.

I refuse

to allow

this relay race

of passing

this baton of hurt

to continue

for even

one more lap.

I will keep

this baton.

I will return to you

loving kindness

and

forgiveness.

And

I will not

concern myself

over

whether you

“get it.”

I

will leave that

between

you

and

God.

Bullying on IRFE in March 5, 2007, the first c...

Bullying on IRFE in March 5, 2007, the first class day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lynda Frederick did not forget the bullying that happened to her 25 years ago in High School, so when her high school reunion group created a Facebook page to announce it, she used the opportunity to share with all her classmates how they treated her.

Lynda posted a poem on her Orange Glen High School class Facebook page. On it she wrote:

The little girl who had to walk to school while others rode the bus
Instead of asking why… you picked on her
The little girl who had bruises and was dirty
Instead of asking why … you picked on her

After this was posted, she didn’t expect the reaction from her former classmates. Some were brought to tears and then they created a scholarship fund in her name and raised $800 to fly her back to California for the reunion.

“I got an outpour of calls and messages, people stepping forward that I don’t even remember that said ‘I know I was one of those that picked on you and I’m so sorry,’” Lynda Frederick said Friday. “It was overwhelming.”

Lynda explained how during her time at school the other children would throw rocks and things at her and would spit on her. Frederick graduated from school early and then moved to New York and had three children, but the days being bullied in high school never left her.

Former classmate Shawn Gordon, of Escondido, said he got tears in his eyes when he thanked her for the anti-bullying message and showed it to his teenage daughters.

His memories included a time when he saw Frederick being bullied.

“One bully tried to keep tripping her,” he said. “I could have said something; never did.”

Lynda Frederick has now been able to connect again and find forgiveness from those children who have now grown up to be adults. ”We can’t fix yesterday but we can try to fix today,” Frederick said. “That’s my new motto.”

**********************************************************************

You can find the link for the blog where I found this post below:

http://bullyinglte.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/bully-victims-facebook-poem-moves-her-classmates-25-years-later/

The link for the original blog for this post is below.  Please join Marc and Angel.  They write my absolutely favorite blog.

20 Bad Habits Holding Good People Back

A change in bad habits leads to a good change in life…

Here are twenty bad habits many of us repeatedly struggle with:

  1. Expecting life to be easy. – Nothing starts easy; everything begins at some level of difficulty.  Even waking up in the morning sometimes requires notable effort.  But one beautiful thing about life is the fact that the most difficult challenges are often the most rewarding and satisfying.
  2. Overlooking your true path and purpose. – What really matters in life is not what we buy, but what we build; not what we have, but what we share with the world; not our capability but our character; and not our success but our true significance.  Live a life that makes you proud – one that matters and makes a difference.  Live a life filled with passion and love.  Read A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.
  3. Chasing after those who don’t want to be caught. – Do not chase people.  Be you, do your own thing and work hard on your passions.  The right people who belong in your life will eventually come to you, and stay.
  4. Not asking for help when you know you need it. – No matter how far you’ve gone down the wrong road, you can always turn back.  Be STRONG enough to stand alone, SMART enough to know when you need help, and BRAVE enough to ask for it.
  5. Letting one dark cloud cover the entire sky. – Take a deep breath.  It’s just a bad moment, or a bad day, not a bad life.  Everyone has troubles.  Everyone makes mistakes.  The secret of happiness is to count your blessings while others are adding up their troubles.
  6. Holding on to things you need to let go of. – Letting go doesn’t mean giving up, but rather accepting that there are things in life that should not be.  Sometimes letting go is what makes us stronger, happier and more successful in the long run.
  7. Spending time with people who make you unhappy. – People can be cruel, and sometimes they will be.  People can hurt you and break your heart, and sometimes they will.  But only YOU can allow them to continuously hurt you.  Value yourself enough to choose to spend time with people who treat you the way you treat them.  Know your worth.  Know when you have had enough.  And move on from the people who keep chipping away at your happiness.
  8. Not making time for those who matter most. – When we take things for granted, these things eventually get taken away.  Too often we don’t realize what we have until it’s gone.  Too often we are too stubborn to say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong.”  Too often it seems we hurt the ones closest to us by letting insignificant issues tear us apart.  Appreciate what you have, who loves you and who cares for you.  You’ll never know how much they mean to you until the day they are no longer beside you.
  9. Denying personal responsibility. – You’re getting almost everything you’re getting right now based on the decisions you have made; and you will continue to receive the same things until you choose differently.  You always have some element of control.  There are always other options.  The choices might not be easy, but they are available.  You will not get a different result until you exercise a choice that forces you to grow by habit, by action, and by change.
  10. Letting everyone else make decisions for you. – Never allow someone or something that adds very little to your life, control so much of it.  You’ve got to stop caring about what everyone else wants for you, and start actually living for yourself.  Let go of the people and things that continuously hold you back and no longer serve you, because you only get one shot at life.
  11. Giving up who YOU are. – Remove yourself from any situation that requires you to give up any one of these three things:  1) Who you are.  2)  What you stand for.  3)  The goals you aspire to achieve.  Read Quitter.
  12. Quitting as soon as things get slightly difficult. – An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward; and such is life.  When life is pulling you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to eventually launch you forward in a positive direction.  So keep focusing, and keep aiming!
  13. Doing too much and pushing too hard, without pausing. – Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never find it, but because they never stop long enough to enjoy it.  Sometimes we are so focused on what we want that we miss the things we need most.
  14. Discrediting yourself for everything you aren’t. – STOP discrediting yourself for everything you aren’t.  START giving yourself credit for everything that you are.
  15. Running from current problems and fears. – Trust me, if everyone threw their problems in a pile for you to see, you would grab yours back.  Tackle your problems and fears swiftly, don’t run away from them.  The best solution is to face them head on no matter how powerful they may seem.  Either you own your problems and fears, or they will ultimately own you.
  16. Constantly mulling over past hardships. – You’ll never see the great things ahead of you if you keep looking at the bad things behind you.  To reach up for the new, you must let go of the old.  You are exactly where you need to be to reach your goals.  Everything you’ve been through was preparation for where you are right now and where you can be tomorrow.
  17. Denying your mistakes. – Remember that most honorable people of all are not those who never make mistakes, but those who admit to them when they do.  And then go on to do their best to make the wrong things right.
  18. Expecting your significant other to be perfect. – Remember that you will never find a PERFECT partner to love you in the exact way you had envisioned, only a person who is willing to love you with all that they are.  Someone who will accept you for who you can and cannot be.  And although they will never be PERFECT, finding a partner like this is even BETTER.  Read The Mastery of Love.
  19. Focusing on the negative. – Positive thinking isn’t about expecting the best thing to happen every time, it’s about accepting that whatever happens is good for this moment, and then making the best of it.  So stay positive, and hold on to what’s truly important.  Let your worries go.  No matter how you look at it, some outcomes just don’t make sense right away.  Choosing to carry on with your goals through this uncertainty is what matters.
  20. Never allowing things to be good enough. – We are human.  We are not perfect.  We are alive.  We try things.  We make mistakes.  We stumble.  We fall.  We get hurt.  We rise again.  We try again.  We keep learning.  We keep growing.  And we are thankful for this priceless opportunity called life.

Photo by: Luigi Caterino

Marc and Angel’s blog can be found at the following link:

http://www.marcandangel.com/2012/05/03/20-bad-habits-holding-good-people-back/

   

This is a rather long article and I am posting it without my usual insertion of photos and illustrations.  I am reposting it exactly the way it was originally done.  It is well worth the investment of time it takes to read it.  This article is a real eye-opener and I hope you feel that way too.

I was honored to be asked to deliver a sermon (really a speech) with a theme of bullying during services at my place of worship recently. I thought I would share the speech that I gave with you. It’s a bit lengthy, but I thought the subject matter appropriate to share… (~Alan Eisenberg)


The bible reading this week is AHAREI MOT, which in Hebrew means AFTER THE DEATH. This is because it takes place right after the Death of Moses’s brother Aaron’s two sons. The reading is also maybe even more significant, because it is also the origin of the YOM KIPPUR ritual.

Interestingly and possibly even intentionally, this reading takes place about 6 months after and equally six months prior to our YOM KIPPUR. It’s as if to say that we should remember that making atonement is not just a once a year event. It has always been a challenge for me to understand the idea of the once a year atonement. I know that some of us believe we have the other 364 days to build up our mistakes so that once a year we can ask for forgiveness, and then even then, we only ask it of god. While in other religions, they go weekly to confess their sins and ask for atonement, but again, only to god. Why to god, as if he is going to tell the people who most need to hear it.

Why do we struggle to say the words ANI MITZTA’ER … Hebrew for I’m sorry! Why is this so hard for us to do? And what does it mean to others when you say it to them, sincerely, and meaningfully.

David Brin, an American science fiction author, has one of my favorite quotes on the subject. He said: Why must conversions always come so late? Why do people always apologize to corpses?” The author Harriet Beech Stowe said it as well when she said “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and for deeds left undone.”

 How often I have seen this as the truth. How many of us regret the moments we didn’t say I’m sorry. I was 21 when my grandmother died. She had lived within driving distance of us my whole life. I had spent summers with her and shared many special moments during my childhood. When I was 21, I was in college and she and I had drifted apart.  For many reasons not spoken here, we had argued recently and I didn’t apologize. And then she was gone and I could no longer tell her what I wanted to.

ZAY MOYKHL! That’s Yiddish for I’m sorry and a language she spoke often to me. Unfortunately it was typically to tell me that I was MESHUGEH (crazy). Being a fan of movies, I often quote them sometimes to the pleasure or dismay of others. I find comfort in the lines from movies, because they help me to understand that others go through what we all do. When it comes to this idea of waiting to say you are sorry, I drift to an unlikely movie, “The Sixth Sense”, which is mistaken as a scary movie, when it is really about discovering a power to help others and do good. And no, it’s not that the guy is dead at the end. And if I just ruined that for you, you should have seen the movie 10 years ago anyway. At the end of the movie; the boy who has the power to talk to the dead tells his mother that his grandmother, his mother’s mother who had passed away years ago, has been talking to him. The boy’s mother and his grandmother had a falling out years before and the mother was suffering with guilt from it. He tells his mother that the grandmother wanted to tell her something. It was an answer to a question the mother asked every time she visited her grave that went unanswered. The answer from the grandmother was“EVERY DAY”. The boy asks his mother what question she asked when she visited the grandma’s grave. His mother says the question is “DO I MAKE HER PROUD?” At that moment in the movie, the mother is able to release the pain she had carried with her all those years.

But in life, we don’t get to talk to the dead and they don’t get to answer us. It is ironic that this is the week I have been invited to deliver this D’Vor Torah, because I contemplate this question often when I speak to groups about bullying. Since 2007 I have chosen to take on the cause of helping others cope with the pain and suffering they feel from being bullied. I speak to groups and have a website of stories and information to try to help others. I started this to help myself, because I too had been a victim of bullying as a child and knew the long-term suffering this was bringing to others. I realized that the theme I would share when I spoke was one of trying to teach and promote empathy and find forgiveness. Because it is in heart and head that we carry the burden of the pain of cruelty and also the guilt of what we did. I had no idea in 2007 how this decision would change my life.

I decided my first action would be to write down all of the stories I remembered from those years of bullying. I grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts in the 1970s and this is where it all took place. This is important later. I wrote my stories onto a website. I did it just for me to release these things from me and put them to rest. But it would not be so easy. A few years later, I was invited to speak about my stories. This was also very difficult and the pain of those memories would come back to me. You see, I believe we never really forget the wrongs done to us, we just store them in the back of our minds and put them in a deep place. But they build over time and without the apology, without someone making amends, I believe they make us a harder person. But over the last five years, it seems many have found my site and find hope in the words posted there. What I never expected was that those people I knew in Lexington would find my stories as well and that I would have to confront these words. . .I’m sorry.

The first person to find his story was actually my best friend from those years. I knew he had found them, because he started replying to other posts with his memory. But he hadn’t found his story. You see he had hurt me as well. One Halloween, he and my other friends had taunted me from the woods and ran off, leaving me to walk home alone, no candy in my bag. Looking back as an adult, it doesn’t seem that bad. But our memories are from the age that things happen. He read his story and then I received his note directly to me…30 years later.

He wrote: “For what it’s worth, and what I recall of that night, it was just kids being kids… I think we were all just being goofy with the mischief of the night, being Halloween and all…and I will say I am sorry if your feelings were hurt.”For those young people in the audience, can you imagine getting a note from your friend 30 years later apologizing? I couldn’t and was embarrassed I had put him in that position. But you know what, I felt a little better. I called him and we talked for hours after that. We still do today. A little repair.  Pra-stEE-te…That’s Russian for I’m Sorry.

I had hoped that would be the last. I never really expected anyone to read my site anyway. Who am I? Just someone trying to work his way through life. I then was looking through my old Bar Mitzvah book one day and saw that there was a boy in it from Lexington who I couldn’t recall our times together. I knew his name, but not the times we spent together. He found me through Facebook one day and wrote to me recounting all the good times we had. He particularly reminded me of the time we blew up our toys with firecrackers. Don’t tell anyone I did that though. He wrote: I must say that you moving away was one of the saddest events to me. We became such good buddies so fast. I have an unbelievable amount of memories hanging out together, doing sleepovers, and just being generally mischievous…

It bothered me not to remember him, his memories were so vivid of me. Then I discovered why. In his second note his explanation told me when he wrote:

I remember being incredibly sad when you moved away. I got over it of course, but there’s always been something about it in the back of my mind that’s bothered me. Specifically, what happened at the end of 7th grade when we had a fist fight at school. As far as fistfights went, it wasn’t unusual. Even for friends, because usually they can move on and endure that kind of stuff. But what’s bothered me since then (and I was just thinking about it only a couple of weeks ago before you contacted me) was how that injured our friendship, and then you moved away before we could really set it completely right. That was a mean day for me, and one which I really wish I could have back.

And since a window of opportunity doesn’t always open for long, I have to use our reconnection to tell you now how incredibly sorry I still am for what I did to make that fight happen, for every blow struck against you, and for whatever mean (and I mean in the low-class, uncaring, dirty, and despicable sense) action or words that were used by me, before or after. ut I’ve always known that my part in that event was a sin, and one which I still hold onto. I have never forgotten about it.

32 years later. That guilt was still with him every day. And I had blocked him from my memory, because the pain of losing one more friend during those years was too much for me. We talked and shared our feelings. He was able to say sorry in person and I did too. Even though I didn’t remember, I was sorry. But to me I thought “what if I hadn’t made my site and found him?” Would that still haunt him to the end? Do we all have that inside us. But for me, a little more repair.

Finally, I want to share this more recent story that took place in December. By far, it was the hardest story for me. You see there was a moment in time when I was the bully and the guilt was in me. During Hebrew school class one day we put tacks on one of the kids chairs, not a few, like ten. We thought it would be funny. When he sat down it wasn’t. I felt bad about doing it. See he was the one who got picked on then and I was the one participating in it. I shared that as well on my site. Well, it seemed in the five years since I started it, my site and stories had been read by many and at what would have been the 25th reunion of the high school in Lexington, Massachusetts, it seems they were talking about me, the bully expert who writes about the bullying that happened there. It seems to some, I was a local hero to write about what happened to not just me, but I would find out to many. It seems that the boy, now a man, who we did the tack attack to heard as well and found his story on my site. I knew he did, because I heard from his friends, who wrote not too kindly to me. It was my turn to have to reach out and say I was sorry. I was racked with guilt…31 years later. I called him. I said the words…I’m Sorry…I expected anger. What I got was a wonderful conversation with an old friend who was happy for my call and for sharing our stories. He had it far worse, but he used it for strength. He repaired a bit. I repaired a bit. We talk often now…it is behind us.

I feel lucky to have had these three experiences for saying I’m Sorry. Many of the negative feelings that I started with five years ago have left me. I think in some way, I have helped others do the same. This weekend, I saw the documentary called BULLY that just came out. I wish I could tell you much has changed, but it seems not. In it, an awkward 14-year-old named Alex is beaten daily on the bus and ignored by all. His mother asks him “doesn’t it bother you, doesn’t it hurt you?” He just says in calm anger, “I really don’t think I feel anything at all anymore”. So what happens next to him, to others. There are many stories of children, young children, that commit suicide from bullying. It is too late to say I’m sorry after that and many are left with the guilt. I think it interesting that this weekend’s reading deals with Aaron and this loss of his children. Is this where the origin of Yom Kippur starts? What does that do to an individual…to society? These are rhetorical questions I ask often as I contemplate the issue of bullying.

What difference would it make if we just said “I’m Sorry” more often and meant it when we said it. As I and some of my elementary school friends have learned, it’s never too late to say you are sorry. It changes lives. And I can tell you it feels good just to say it and move on…

Jammer!…Oprostite!…Tevechi…Anteeksi…Desole…Gomen Nasai…Przepraszam!… Samahani…Xin loi… ANI MITZTA’ER…I’m Sorry.

************************************************
The blog site for this post contains a host of useful information on bullies and bullying, including hotline numbers.
To view the blog where this post originated, please follow the link below:
A Bully Free Zone sign - School in Berea, Ohio

A Bully Free Zone sign - School in Berea, Ohio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I attended an anti-bullying rally, walk, and party at my daughter’s school.  I commend highly all the students, families, and school personnel that were present.  Accolades especially to Channel 15, here in South Carolina, who realized it was an event worthy of some coverage.  That being said, I must admit that I was shocked and disappointed by the attendance.  All schools from  primary through high school were involved.  I expected there to be an enormous turn-out for such an important event.  I expected families to realize how horrible bullying in this country has become and to welcome this opportunity as a teaching opportunity to instill values in their kids.  No wonder there is such a problem when more families cannot take a few hours on a Saturday to come out and show their kids that they do not tolerate these or any other types of hate crimes.  And yes, I said crimes.

Bullying is different in some crucial ways than it was when I was a kid.  It is often no longer one-on-one, but a gang of childrenon one child.  It is no longer name-calling and maybe a scuffle or fist-fight.  It is daily torment.  It is facing assault and battery every day.  Can you imagine trying to work under such conditions?  It is broken bones from toilet seats being slammed on your fingers, or being pushed so fiercely, you break your ankles.  It is having your face pushed in a used toilet into someone elses’ feces.  This is horrifying to me that children are committing these crimes on children, and you need to be aware that it is an epidemic in our society.

this is my own version of what bullying looks like

this is my own version of what bullying looks like (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you think your child has never been bullied, sadly, you are probably wrong.  They were probably too humiliated to share the problem with you or don’t think you can do anything about it.  Children are killing themselves every single day because they can no longer take the daily punishment they undergo at the hands of these bullies.  Our kids are committing suicideand we sleep in on a Saturday morning instead of using the opportunity to take a stand and make a difference.

My kids didn’t want to go.  I made them go.  And we had a great time.  But I will tell you something else.  We listened to some other kids and parents describe unbelievable acts of hatred and violence and my kids realized where that bullying behavior can go if not stopped and stopped immediately.  We all felt our hearts hurt and they know, more than ever before, exactly where I stand on the subject.  My kids would never stand by and watch another child get bullied without intervening, even if they can only report it.  They know it is wrong.  Have you talked to your kids about bullying?  Have you asked what they have witnessed at school?  Because I guarantee you they have witnessed it.  Have you had the guts to ask if they have ever been bullied or bullied someone else?  I welcome your input on this topic and look forward to discussing this further on my blog.  Being bullied is not a “character builder.”  It is a crime.  How do you think it should be dealt with?  What can we do as families, as parents, as school personnel and as a community to end this violence?  Check back as I explore the dynamics of helping our kids learn to accept themselves and others in a healthy way, how to overcome being bullied, and how to overcome being a bully!

A Prayer for the Eyes of God

A Love Hate Masquerade

I have been hate and evil and war and death.  I have held them in my heart and mind and soul and body, radiating them throughout this blessed universe.  I have collected pain, hoarding it to myself until it festered with pus, stinking and rank with dreams of revenge growing from my subconscious until the paths they leave in my soul are worn from use like a well-trodden path in the woods.  I have spent my hours, days, years, haunting those paths, all the while yearning for release.  My body and my life have been ravaged and crippled by all of this chaos to where I would hardly be recognizable to my Creator.  Judging my fellow man in self-righteous ego, I have tried to make up for my non-existent self-esteem by lowering others beneath me.  All the while, so blind and deaf and insane I could not see that the only one being judged and lowered was myself as I fed the endless cycle that kept me hating myself, abusing my own spirit.  Until the day I awoke.

I had always thought of myself as a loving, responsible person, but when I truly discovered Love and Peace and took ownership of my life and destiny, the blinders fell layer by layer from my being.  I saw that the greatest judgement and hate I had reserved for myself.  Miserable from the aching, gnawing, empty, gaping hole in my soul, I could not even begin to give love to anyone else.  I stopped pitying myself and lamenting my circumstances.  I declared an intent to live a year of practiced, intentional gratitude.  And bit by miraculous bit my life began to transform.

An artist's impression of our home galaxy - th...

An artist's impression of our home galaxy - the Milky Way. Our solar system is one of billions in the galaxy. And the galaxy is one of billions in the universe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just imagine for the sake of argument that there is no such thing in the universe as bad.  What if the only thing that makes something bad is mankind’s perception of it?  And what if that perception is wrong?  The scriptures tell me that God works ALL things together for good.  And the longer I live, the more I am able to see that there is always something good that comes of every situation no matter how dark it appears to be.  Life is like a giant tapestry and we are each a thread being woven together by the Master Craftsman.  We only see from the underside, and from the underside of the tapestry,  it looks a mess.  The only one that sees the complete picture from the right side is the Creator.  Once in a while we may get glimpses, but mostly, we are hanging out underneath, unable to make anything out clearly, concentrating on all the other threads’ frayed ends and mishaps.  Some threads are short, with only a few stitches, but they are essential.  Others seem hugely important and turn out to be just some background shading.  But everyone has a part to play in the total creation.  It is far too easy to judge it a mess, but the day will come when we get to see the creation from the right side, and we will be blown away by it’s breathtaking beauty!  We will see our own honored places in the whole and will marvel at the importance of some of the most common colors of thread.  This is the Master’s masterpiece.  And when we can learn to stop worrying about the whole thing, or even what everyone else is doing, we can finally begin to find all  those things for which we yearn.

Español: Fresco en la Capilla Sixtina.

Español: Fresco en la Capilla Sixtina. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have learned that the more I love and appreciate God’s creative genius in creating me, the more I can appreciate it in all mankind.  I fill myself up with love by being in the presence of love every day.  Does that mean four hours on my knees?  Maybe it does for some, but God did not put me together that way.  I find my best meditation and prayer in the woods or on the beach, walking.  That is where I am best able to center myself and open up to my Creator.  That is also where I am most likely to hear His Voice.  Maybe you commune best while doing dishes, or while dancing, or while interacting with children–where you find your connection is as unique as you are.  Sometimes you can only find your quiet in the midst of great noise.  Just don’t give up!  Keep trying until you find it because nothing else in life will ever be as important or can truly give you joy.  Through my connection I have gained so much wisdom about myself. And others.

Love ? I love love love you.

Love ? I love love love you. (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

I am so greatful for the eyes God has opened from inside my soul.  Eyes which look with better vision at all the universe’s children, eyes that see as only a Creator can see each member of humanity, every living and created thing.  God’s people.  My people.  Our Beloved.  How can I hate?  How can I judge?  How can I harden my heart to any of these children the Creator has mad in Divine image?  How is it that I would harden my arrogant heart and not feel my Master’s heartbreak at the broken, hurting body–created in perfection in God-Mind, yet suffering as in death and war and disease in the famine of their own souls?

I pray to be a light this day.  I pray to be Love.  Make my lips sound only kindness.  Make my heart bestow only love.  Make my soul be the peacemaker.  May my feet wander where the Lord will lead me to serve all Creation.   May my hands and my back labor with all their strength to make a positive difference so that when my day or life is done I will hear my God’s  words to me, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Love

Love (Photo credit: praram)

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus' description of himself "I am the Good Shepherd" (from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 11). This version of the image shows the detail of his face. The memorial window is also captioned: "To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of William Wright. Died 6th November, 1932. Aged 70 Yrs." (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This article is from the March/April 2009 issue of Unity Magazine.One of the most important questions we can ask ourselves is “What am I?” The answer determines our self-concept, which influences the boundaries of our personal growth and development.

Those who have embraced ancient wisdom teachings, such as Unity, accept that who and what we are is more than what can be seen with our physical eyes or described through the five senses. There is a part of us that can never be endangered or destroyed and is our true nature and being. It transcends our history, human lineage, and false concepts that we have accepted for ourselves. When we live from that awareness, we fulfill the life that God sees when God sees us. It is a life that reflects our divine purpose, in which we contribute our unique gifts and talents to our world.

One person who fully contributed his gift to the world and arguably fulfilled his divine purpose like no other before or since is Jesus the Christ. Yet we are reminded by the apostle Paul that if the Spirit that dwells in Christ Jesus is in you, you too will be lifted up (Rom. 8:11).

We drop the if off the statement because the Spirit that dwelled in Jesus or in any avatar throughout history does indeed dwell in us. We don’t just worship and believe in Jesus, we believe what he says—you are the light, and the kingdom of God is within. When we fully embody that truth, we will be lifted above any circumstance we may face or experience.

Death does not have the final word
The Easter story demonstrates that there is something within us that was here before we incarnated and remains after seeming death. Death is not the end of life, rather the continuation of the life process. Jesus proved this in the great demonstrations known as the resurrection and the ascension. Jesus’ essence was so spiritualized that he was able to say “the Father and I are one.” He was serving as a reminder that there is no separation between us and Spirit. It is the recognition that there is only God; all else is just an illusion.

Resurrection follows crucifixion. No life escapes this process. The Easter story is about an old way being crucifiedso something new can be born. This is not a

Jesus Christ Crucifix

Jesus Christ Crucifix (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

once-in-a-lifetime event. When someone experiences a divorce, the death of a partner, loses a job, or experiences a shift in external circumstances, an old identity dies so a new one can be born.

We look to Jesus as a model for how to resurrect from our own crucifixion experiences. The Easter story is a reminder that no matter what seems to happen to us, it does not have the final word. We can look beyond appearances and recognize that there is a divine plan unfolding. Our task is to hold on to that vision until our life bears witness to truth that liberates us and sets us free.

Accessing the eternal dimension
In the Easter story, Jesus gives us clues on how to access this eternal dimension and spiritualize all aspects of our life. To help us with this process, we ask, What did he do? What was he thinking? What was his way of being in the world?

We start with the realization that he prayed all the time. He often stole away from the masses to keep his communion with Spirit high. He did this as a way of life and not just in an emergency. Nowhere in the Scriptures does it say, “There was an emergency and Jesus went to the mountain and prayed.” No. He prayed all the time and, as a result, when the big moments came, was “prayed up.”

Since he was in constant communion with the presence of God, when seeming betrayal in the form of Judas took place, Jesus was ready. Note: it was a seeming betrayal. Judas is often unjustly maligned. But without Judas sacrificing himself, Jesus would not be remembered today. Sacrifice means to

"The Judas Kiss", (Mark 14:45) by Gu...

"The Judas Kiss", (Mark 14:45) by Gustave Doré. Judas kisses Jesus in order to betray him to the guards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

make sacred. Judas is often condemned as the one who loved Jesus the least. In fact, he may have been one who loved him more than anyone. He served as the catalyst for the glad surprise of the resurrection to take place.

For this purpose I was born
The King James Version of the Bible quotes Jesus as saying during the crucifixion experience, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” However, the Lamsa Bible translation suggests that the original Aramaic language does not say that. In the Lamsa Bible, Jesus says “It is for this purpose that I was born.” This suggests that Jesus was fully aware that this was his great moment. It was the moment he was waiting and preparing for all his life.

It’s like an Olympic champion who has prepared and trained for years to reach the final race and, just before the event, is asked, “How does it feel to be getting ready to perform before thousands of people in the stadium and millions watching on television?” And the athlete responds by saying, “This is the moment I’ve been waiting for. I was doing all the things I needed to do to prepare for this moment—waking up and going to bed early, eating nutritious foods, practicing, lifting weights. All of that was for this moment.”

This was the case for Jesus and is the case in every moment of our life, when we realize that whatever we’re going through, we are not to shirk from any situation or circumstance that seems to overwhelm us. It is in such moments we are to remember who we are spiritually—we are spiritually made in the image and likeness and out of God. When we see from this vantage point, we will stand and say “For this purpose we were born.”

In other words, we can say this situation is an opportunity to go beyond our self-imposed boundaries. This opportunity is calling for the highest and best within us to shine as never before.

So we see the seeming betrayals in life from that vantage point and begin to practice a new way of being in the world. We no longer see ourselves as victims but as the vehicles of pure Spirit.

Resurrection follows forgiveness
Any resurrection is built on the consciousness of forgiveness. Only then can we see the gift in the seeming betrayals in life. When people or situations betray the pictures that we have in our mind of how things should be, that is when we must invoke the consciousness of forgiveness.

So we hear Jesus saying “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” and examine its meaning. Perhaps surface mind is saying “Please, they knew exactly what they were doing.” Now I’m going to try to forgive them anyway because it’s the right thing to do. However, I’m not going to ever believe they didn’t know what they were doing (whoever they might be).

We can see the Jesus statement of “forgive them for they know not what they do” from a different perspective. Our critics or so-called enemies are really our best friends in disguise. Such people push us to new levels of being and make us do things we wouldn’t likely do without their assistance. Such people make us pray when we don’t want to or when we don’t have the spiritual discipline to do it on our own.

An angel comforting Jesus before his arrest in...

An angel comforting Jesus before his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At such moments, those people who seem to be against us don’t know what they’re doing. They’re actually making us become so large for God and access dimensions of our being that we would not be able to touch without their help. In fact, if they really knew how it was going to be so good for us, they wouldn’t do it. So we forgive them, for they didn’t really know what they were doing. They are supporting our own resurrection process and helping our life become fully supported by Spirit. We realize there is only God, and we don’t need anything else.

The now moment is what counts
To further augment our own resurrection and ascension process, there are additional things Jesus the Christ said on the cross. There were two thieves on either side of him, who represent the past and the future. One thief is living in the past when he says to Jesus, “I know I deserve what I’m getting because I know I’ve done a lot of negative things. However, you don’t deserve this, Jesus.” He identified with all the negative things he had done in the past. The other thief said to Jesus, “What’s going to happen to us after this experience?” This thief was lost in the future

However, Jesus being between the two thieves represents the vortex of creativity where heaven is revealed on earth. It represents the here and now. Jesus said “Today, thou shalt be with me in paradise.”

Jesus is saying a couple of things to us. First, it is not the past that determines our current experience; it is our thought about the past determining our current experience. That’s because a thought cannot be in the past. If we have any thoughts moving through our mind—and we constantly do—they are right now affecting every aspect of our being—physically, mentally, and emotionally. Right now we’re either getting younger or aging, depending on what we’re giving our attention to. It’s not the past doing this; it’s our present thinking about the past that is affecting our life. Because we have the ability to name things, we can name it all good, even if we cannot see the good in it right now. When we do that, our life begins to immediately change because as withinso without.

Crosses above Lee Abbey The crosses (represent...

Crosses above Lee Abbey The crosses (representing the crucifixion of Jesus and the two thieves) are used by the Lee Abbey community that owns the land for their Good Friday drama, but they appear to be left in place throughout the year. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then there are those who hang out in the future worrying about what’s going to happen. They’re concerned about whether their plans are going to work out and projecting their thoughts about the future. But that thought of worry and doubt is in the now moment and becomes the experience they’d been worried about. Our present thinking is simply a sneak preview of our upcoming experiences. If we want to get an idea of what life is going be like, we simply have to look at what we’re thinking about right now.

By saying, “Now thou shalt be with me in paradise,” Jesus is seeking to bring our attention to the present moment. It is in the present moment that the Christ presence returns. When we realize that the Christ is not a person, but that part of God in all of us, we become fully aware that Jesus, the man, is not coming back.  The Christ presence is within us and returns when we allow it to be the activity of our awareness. When we do, we live with awareness: That which is within us is greater than that which is in the world.

Pontius Pilate as a symbol of external circumstances
In the Easter story, Jesus and his experience with Pontius Pilate has a very symbolic meaning for us. When we read about the characters in the Bible, they represent something in or about us. The greatest value of the story is its spiritual rather than its historical significance—although there is history in it.

Pontius Pilate symbolizes the external circumstances that at times seem to be overwhelming. Pilate thinks he has power over Jesus and asks him several

An original card from the tarot deck of Jean D...

An original card from the tarot deck of Jean Dodal of Lyon, a classic "Marseilles" deck. The deck dates from 1701-1715. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

questions. However, Jesus’ response is essentially that the power does not lie with Pontius Pilate, but with God. It didn’t matter what Pontius Pilate did, and ultimately he decided he didn’t want to be bothered, so washed his hands of the whole deal. Jesus in that moment was demonstrating that no situation, circumstance, or external authority figures had any power over him.

In your own life, you may be facing some kind of Pontius Pilate. There may be someone in your life who thinks they can control or manipulate you. You may have a boss who thinks he or she has the final say-so about your prosperity or happiness. People think that if they are in or out of your life, your joy is dependent upon them. You may have allowed them to think that. There may be all kinds of Pontius Pilates running around thinking that they have the final word on your life.

But having fully devoted yourself to God, you’ll say and do what you will; it does not matter. Whatever happens will pull the highest and best out of me because I’m going to sacrifice my littleness so my authentic Self will come through. A new birth is about to take place.

The message for our time
The entire universe is asking that we be our true selves. To do so, we must go within to that which is real, indestructible, has never been born, and can never die. Jesus talked about that when he said “call no one on earth your father.” There is but one Presence, and that Presence is within you. When our attention is on it, it begins to express as our life—our real life.

When we look at our world, we see the seeming betrayals. They are the modern-day crucifixion experiences—man’s inhumanity to man, wars and rumors of war, economic breakdowns, and the challenges we face across the planet. At times we may think it’s beyond hope and it will never get better.

However, it was for this purpose we were born. God transforms our world a little at a time by means of us. God needs us to shine God’s light to make this world a better place. When we let our light shine, we will rise above any crucifixion experience and the entire world will celebrate the Easter of our hearts and we will rise.

Easter is not merely the celebration of the life of Jesus. He reminds us that we are capable of doing even greater things than he did. We love and celebrate the master teacher by practicing his principles, living his teachings, and following his example. When we do, our life shines and glorifies the power, the presence, and the love of God. All of us emanate from that loving presence. When that is our self-concept, we will be able to say as Jesus did, “When you see me, you see the presence that sent me,” and you will experience Easter every day of your life.

Easter eggs

Easter eggs (Photo credit: StSaling)

James Trapp is President and CEO of Unity Worldwide Ministries.

Crystal Room

Crystal Room (Photo credit: waving at you)

Sitting in my Crystal Room, I gaze about me trying to focus.  Sometimes it seems that the world can skew my inner vision more than my outer.  My “Spirit Vision” becomes blurry and I forget exactly what I am.  Spending time in my Crystal Room helps me remember.  I find a clear crystal and as I gaze into it, my reflection gazes back at me.  But this is not the ordinary reflection I see in my bathroom mirror:   the reflection colored often by my own insecurities and the lies I tell myself when I view the world with my pessimistic lenses over my eyes.  No, this reflection is true, eternal, and an accurate view of who I was created to be:  who God sees when He looks at me.

god

god (Photo credit: the|G|™)

I am a breathtaking creature of Light!  Being created in the image of God, being filled with His Spirit, I possess all the qualities of my Creator, just as Christ does.  I am Divine Love, Divine Joy, Divine Peace.  I am kindness, patience, understanding, wisdom.  I am good.  My unique personality is filled with the many gifts God placed within me.  To deny these gifts as I often did in the past, is to deny God.  Scripture tells me God places gifts in all his children.  Including me.  To refuse to acknowledge my gifts is to refuse to be who I am.  My light cannot shine if I continue to cover it in shame or false modesty.  God is so generous.  He has blessed me so richly with such amazing and wonderful gifts.  How can I use them for the good of mankind if I won’t allow myself to even acknowledge I have them in some misguided notion of false modesty?

When I study the scriptures and other holy texts, I can search and get an accurate picture of just who God sees when He looks at me.  The bible tells me I am the apple of God’s eye, God’s jewel, the fragrance of Christ.   I am His special treasure, a crown of glory, a Prince’s daughter, Christ’s ambassador,  a royal priest, more than a conqueror.  I have eyes like doves, enchanting tresses, am fair as the moon and clear as the sun.  I am a new creation, the beloved, a garden enclosed.  I am the perfection of beauty!

Yeah.  I especially like that last one too.   Wow.  That is exactly how God sees each and every one of us.  And not only is this how I should view myself, it is how I should view others.  It is how we should view one another.   Look at the people around you.  Look at your loved ones.  Look at the ones you struggle to love.  Look at the ones you struggle not to hate and the ones you are secretly or unashamedly glad to hate.  Now realize that they are the perfection of beauty to God.  The apple of His eye.  A royal priest.  Can we shave away all the junk and gunk from this world, clear away all that occludes their inner, hidden light to see that reality of what God made them to be?  God will give us those innocent dove-eyes to do so.  When we can look in the mirror and recognize the crystal-clear reality of who we, ourselves, are, we can begin to let go of others.  Let them walk their path without our input or judgement.  God is taking care of that stuff.  And let’s face it:  it is going to take all our energy to be our own lover.  Yes.  You read that right.  We need to be the lover we dream of someone else being– to ourselves!  We need to value, appreciate, nurture, and care for ourselves as we wish someone else would do.  That is truly loving ourselves.  And who better to love me than me?  I know my innermost needs and wants as no one else ever will.  Who better to love you than you?   When we can meet our own needs we no longer pressure others to do so and they are then free to be themselves.  Then we can truly learn to love and appreciate them for exactly who God made them to be instead of who we need them to be.  It is ageless wisdom that tells us that we can never truly love another until we have learned to love ourselves.  Unloved, we become desperate to find someone to meet our needs, constantly pressuring others to conform to our idea of who they should be.  Constantly demanding that they give to us what we should be giving to ourselves.  How did our vision ever become so skewed as to think it is wrong to care for our own needs?

Two mice; the mouse on the left has more fat s...

Two mice; the mouse on the left has more fat stores than the mouse on the right. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Learning who and what I am, knowing what sustains me, fulfills me, delights me, fills me with joy–and nurturing myself in a healthy, happy fashion sheds the weight from my soul.  As I have allowed myself to love myself–I find my appetites and cravings have changed.  I no longer cram myself with senseless, unneeded excesses.  I don’t have to stuff myself with addictive properties like food, sex, alcohol–whatever.  There is no longer an empty gnawing space driving me to shove anything into it just to fill it.  The sheer weight of that empty space was such a burden!  The only thing big enough,sufficient enough to fill it once and for all is love.  Real unconditional love that only I can truly show myself.  When I filled that space up properly, I sealed that gaping hole and the weight dropped from my soul.  Then it ironically dropped from my body, too.  I have lost over 160 pounds in the last year.  I believe I have been on just about every diet known to man.  I can look at a plate and calculate the calories, diabetic exchanges, grams of protein, carbs, fat, etc.  I know about brown fat and yellow fat and resting metabolism and cardiac exercise and toning exercise.  I have even had a gastric bypass.  Nothing worked.  Now, when I finally accepted the outside and turned my attention inward, I discovered my outside was only a reflection of the weight I had been carrying around in my soul.  I have discovered that, for me, the key was to lose weight from the inside out.

I have also discovered that the more I learn to love myself, the more I become the person I have always truly wanted to be.  And guess what??  Turns out that the person I have really always wanted to be is pretty much the person I have always been underneath the dirt and garbage of this world all along.  My true inner being of light.  I am the perfection of beauty!  And so are you.  If you don’t know that yet, it is time for you to spend some time in your own crystal room gazing into a clear crystal until your own image becomes crystal-clear.  Look in that mirror until you see the perfection of beauty, then turn those dove-eyes out upon a whole new world!

unconditional.

unconditional. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Photo of a cloud illuminated by sunlight.

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There are days when I so miss my mother, my sweet, sweet brother, Scottie, my nephew, Jimmy, my grandmothers and grandpas, my dear friends and my soulmate, my two precious babies that have crossed the veil.  I was ten years old when I attended my first funeral.    I still remember the kick I felt deep in my gut when I saw my Grandpa laying in his casket.  That was the moment true fear of loss gripped me.  From then on I knew that everyone I loved could be ripped from me with no warning.  I never really feared death for myself.  But oh, how I dreaded and trembled at those heart-wrenching losses.   After that, death seemed to hound me.  Both grandfathers and my dad’s only sister passed away all in the same spring.  Then my dad’s mother, my great-grandmother, my brother, my soulmate, my first baby, my old boyfriend, my mom’s mother, my youngest child’s twin, my surrogate father, my nephew, my dear friend, Kay, my mother, and my best friend from college.  Others I knew had passed in between these major losses, including a six-year-old boy whose funeral tore everyone up.  The grief just seemed to compound, never really healing.  Just a wound that reopened and grew deeper with each successive loss.  Pretty soon it seemed I had more loved ones in the cemetery than in the world with me.

English: Visit To The Mother-In-Law Visitors t...

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I do not know how others handle multiple losses.  The truth is I wasn’t really handling them.  My weight spiraled to a top known weight of 380 pounds on my 5’2″, small-boned frame.  Depressed, anxious, ill, confined to a wheelchair and a hospital bed.  I was certain I would soon die too.  It is really only in the past year that I have made my peace with death–learned to embrace it and not fear it.  I have been a christian as long as I can remember,  having accepted Christ at a very young age.  I have always been drawn to spiritual things.  But it wasn’t until my mother passed in 2006, that I began to explore further than the teachings of my local church.  I began to study the Qabalah, the third book of Moses.  My studies expanded to metaphysics, eastern religions and eastern medical practices.  I even delved into subjects like spiritualism, reincarnation–anything, really, that dealt with the Spirit.  Maybe I was trying to find some connection to all I felt I had lost.  I knew there were times I sensed my brother’s and my mother’s presences around me quite distinctly.  Was I imagining things?  Was it wishful thinking?  Was I going crazy?

English: sunlight on water, Bay of Skaill Desp...

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But when I think of how grateful I am to have known them, loved them, been loved by them; I am overwhelmed with the goodness of God. I celebrate these fine saints who served mankind well. I celebrate their spirits, their lives here and hereafter. I celebrate the future when I will not part with them again, but will spend eternity as one. And I celebrate those precious moments when I sense them here with me still. I am swallowed by memories that live so brightly in my soul, for a brief chance of time I am transported across years and the boundaries of death to live with them again. I feel their energy surround me, sense their touch, their smell, the sound of them until I can almost see them before me. And that veil becomes so thin it is almost transparent and I know. I know. Eternity waits for me full of more love than I can comprehend because love never dies. It waits for me on the other side.

This Fulmar rode the wind of an advancing stor...

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I spent a four- month vigil at my mother’s bedside, never leaving her day or night, watching as she faded from this world into the next.  It was an awful, most precious, holy, yet heartbreaking communion with her and God.    Yet there was a sweetness to each moment we stole from death.  We had all fallen asleep the night she passed, on the couch, on the floor, and in a chair by her bed.  I startled awake looking immediately to her bed where a nurse bent over her with a stethoscope.  She had just taken her last breath.  What was it that awakened me?  What awakened my brother just seconds after me?  I believe it was the spiritual being of our beloved mother, pausing to kiss us each goodbye before winging her way to heaven.  I remember leaning down the day before and whispering into my mother’s ear, “Do you see him, Mama?  Can you see your boy in his red sweatsuit?  I am sure he’ll be right next to Jesus!”  And I watched in amazement as her eyes panned back and forth behind her closed eyelids, searching some plane I could neither see nor to which I could  go.

Today, as I was walking through the surf  on the beach, I was reflecting on the sheer exhultant joy I feel to be up, walking, free of the wheelchair in which I sat for seven years.  What effervescent euphoria this freedom is!  The icy tide rolled over my feet as my toes pressed into the sand, the sensations welcomed by me to the depths of my soul.  I felt the same as I did when I was 16 and my parents handed me the car keys for my first solo drive.  Freedom!  I am free of that broken body that had held me prisoner all those years.  That is when it hit me.  This must be what death feels like.  Free at last from an earthly vessel that holds us back, we must fly heavenward in sheer joy at being set loose.  Suddenly, death changed for me.  It is not a losing, but a winning.  My mother must have soared to be unchained from a body that was so sick.  Her light shining full-beam, undimmed by flesh, unfettered by time or earth.   Stopping to kiss each of us, did she do cartwheels in the sky, zooming over like a shooting star?  As I watched the seagulls dance in the waves, I could see my loved ones dancing on the light-waves of energy eminating from their beings.  What a party must be going on next door!

English: Aurora Borealis (1865), painted by Fr...

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Do not fear to lose your loved ones; they are always with you.  Do not fear for them; they wing their way across the heavens, liberated from bondage.  Darting to and fro with the frolick of a child splashing in a puddle of  water, they must course through time and space with a freedom for which our own souls must somehow long like some dimly half-remembered, fantastic dream.  And they fly through the love of every soul who has ever drawn breath, basking in the warmth and light, multiplying it with their own, and waiting joyously for the arrival of the hour of our change.  Death is not separation.  Death is union.  Death is not loss.  Death is love.  Death is not the end.  It is a new beginning.  It is the answer to every prayer every person has prayed since the dawn of time.  Death is true life in disguise.

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