I don't know which I enjoy doing more, ruffling the feathers of my non-Christian friends by talking about Jesus or ruffling the feathers of my Christian friends by talking about "the Universe." Maybe it's the devil in me, but I feel the need to do both from time to time. Or, maybe it's just because I hate to see labels, which we really intend to bring us closer to Love, in fact create separation between us and other people, and therefore separation between us and the Divine.
We all want the same things. We want to be healthy, whole, and prosperous. We want to feel loved. We want to know love and be love. We want ourselves and our loved ones to be safe and healthy and happy. We want to be appreciated and accepted for who we are. We want to be respected for our beliefs and feel safe in sharing those beliefs.
All of our beliefs, all of our opinions, all of the decisions we make and actions we take, are intended to support our happiness and the love and well-being that we are seeking. We are all entitled to pursue this happiness.
For me the problem lies in identifying with a group and wearing the identity of my group like a suit, so I can distinguish myself from other people in different groups, who wear different suits. Identifying myself with a certain group, that has certain beliefs, often evolves into feeling as though I have to defend those beliefs, defend myself, and defend my group. Granted there's a certain comfort in being part of a group, a security and stability, an innate human desire to be part of a tribe. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. But there's something about a label that inherently separates us, distinguishes us from those "other people" who don't share that label. It automatically says, "I am this and if you are not, then you must be that."
Too many wars, too much human suffering has happened as a result of this, "I am this, you are that. I am right so you have to be wrong," kind of thinking. And that's what doesn't feel good to me.
When I am quiet, still, and with myself and that which I call God, my Higher Self, or whatever name I give the Divine, I'm filled to the brim with loving patience, peace, and a sense of goodness, safety, and well-being. In that place, there is no room for mental chatter, so there's certainly no room for beliefs, opinions, or thoughts about what anybody else is doing or should be doing. I never hear the voice of love say, "Don't hang out with those people," or "Those people are wrong, don't talk to them," or "I think you should disagree with them," or "They are wrong for not believing the way that you do."
Ridiculous! All I have ever heard from the voice of spirit is, "You are loved. I love you. You are perfect. You are whole. You are complete. Forgive." I am suspicious of any voice claiming to represent the God of love if it sounds anything less than loving. That just doesn't make good sense.
I don't think love, God, the Divine, Jehovah, Allah, Jesus Christ, our Higher Selves, the Virgin Mary, or the goddess Quan Yin is, was, or ever will be about separation. That's all I'm saying.
Now having said all that, I hope I haven't pissed anybody off too bad . . . . . . (tee-hee-hee).
I'm learning that the only thing that stops me from feeling good ... is me. It's not my job, the lack of money, my health, my partner, or my social life that affects my good feelings, but my feelings about those things. And more importantly, my feelings about myself with regards to those things.
I would be the last person in the world to judge you for feeling scared about money, frustrated about your health, or angry at your partner. So please don't hear that you're doing it wrong if you're feeling these things.
In fact, I'd say that allowing ourselves to acknowledge these feelings is the best place to start. But often, that's the tricky part. If you're anything like me, you start suppressing your feelings before you're even aware of them. It's an automatic, mostly unconscious response, a habit we've created to defend against bad feelings. Left suppressed and unacknowledged, discomfort grows. You then might start trying to figure out what you're feeling, why you're feeling it, and start trying to fix it. You might even engage in some technique you've learned to get rid of your negative feelings.
While all of these efforts are well-intentioned, they all smack of the same thing ... non-love. They say, "I don't like you feeling. Get out of here. You don't feel good." And, underneath it all is, "I don't like you Shelly, when you feel this way. What's wrong with you? Why can't you fix this? Why can't you be happy?" I wasn't aware of this for a long time. It's subtle. But I've noticed with myself and in my work with others, that underneath that first layer of feelings, is a disapproval of ourselves for having them.
Using non-love strategies to get rid of non-love feelings just doesn't work.
Only love works. Only love heals. Only love can transform non-love energy. Maybe loving my angry feelings or my fearful feelings is a stretch. Maybe I can't love myself when I feel stuck or depressed. But I can start with forgiving myself, allowing myself, and just letting myself be. I can be with myself, comfort myself, and wait for that still small voice which says, "It's going to be okay." Because it always comes, eventually, if I just sit with myself and be with myself, right where I am.
So when I say that I'm the only reason I don't feel good, it's because I've learned that beating up on myself, resisting what's happening, and judging it as wrong, is the only real reason for my unhappiness. My unhappiness is merely a symptom of non-love. And while I agree that loving myself, accepting myself, my life or my situation, the way it is, is not always easy, there's freedom and power in knowing I have a choice .... the choice to love, the choice to open to love, the choice to surrender to love, no matter what.
Much, much love and approval to you, wherever you are and whatever you're feeling,
A good friend has written a summary of our work together. I'd suggested that she journal about her progress, so she'd always have a reminder of how far she has come. I was unprepared for the beauty and simplicity of her words. When I received this email, I was so deeply moved that I asked her if I could share it with you. She said she'd be honored and "if we can help others to take that first step, I would love it." And so, here it is.
When I came to you, I had overwhelming feelings of gloom and doom with . . . . as far as I could see. No reason. I had a home, a job, and was self-supportive. And to me that should be enough to make you a happy person. However I felt very empty and sad. In our work together, I saw that my feelings were coming from years of stories that I felt unable to change or control. So I stuffed all of this until finally at 58 years old I couldn't breathe. I really couldn't breathe. I felt as though it was too much effort to breathe. I remember my first walk into your pasture, taking a deep breath, and at that point I attached myself to that place thinking I had to get out of my world to relax and breathe. Then simply taking deep breaths seemed to be a tremendous help. From that point, doing body scans and talking to my scared little girl and recognizing her I started to feel better, much better.
All the stories I had stuffed because they meant that I was stupid or undeserving, all my trying not to be like the alcoholic that had raised me. All those stories I faced for what they really were came up and I was able to face them and let them go. I gave my little girl attention and listened to her fears and almost immediately she was one with me. Since then I talk to myself a lot and know that my feelings are just energy that I have to allow to pass through my body. But they must be listened to and not stuffed.
I am sure the future will bring up more stories. My hope is that I can remind myself to acknowledge them and process them in a healthy way. I tell myself, "I love you" every day. I will always need to I think because for so many years and so many circumstances I have felt undeserving of love.
So today, I love myself and feel worthy of that love and I feel calm and I feel like I am smiling inside. I have things to work on but I am confident that now I am in a stable place with myself to conquer what comes. I must close in saying it amazes me that I had no idea where to start or what to do. Turns out the answers were IN ME all the time. Thanks Shell.
Thank you friend, from all of us.
Deep at the center of my being, there is an infinite source of love. I now allow this love to rise to the surface. It fills me, it heals me, it makes me whole. It penetrates the cells and tissues of my body, bringing goodness and light to every cell, every tissue, every energy, every chemical.
I allow this love to rise up in me. I don't have to fix anything, change anything, or figure anything out, because this love, my love, knows what to do, I simply let go, let down, and allow the love energy that is always here, always present, to fill up the space I've created.
I allow myself to let go and let it fill me some more, and some more, and more, and more. For I know there is no limit to how much love I can hold and no limit to the power of love to transform all energy that is not love. I surrender to this love. I surrender my clenching, my fears and worries, my grip on other people and future events, and mostly I surrender my judgement of myself, my relentless criticisms, and my denial of the love that I am. I forgive myself, for I know not what I do. I surrender my resistance to knowing, feeling, and breathing the love that was born in me, that is me. When I cannot trust anything else, I know that I can trust this love. For it is pure, and true, and always always takes me where I want to go.
On this Easter day, please join me in surrendering to the all-knowing, all-providing, organizing principle of the Universe. Join me in allowing the love that we are, the Christ in all of us, to rise up and fill us with light, love, peace, and well-being.
He is risen indeed.