Facing Fears

I am writing this on Halloween afternoon/evening.  I have exactly 30 minutes to crank this out before getting the girls ready for trick or treating.  It seems like an appropriate day to talk about fears.

Today at church the title of this post was the theme of our lesson.  First I had the kids write down their fears on a slip of paper and put them in a basket.  We went around the room and drew slips, reading each fear.  We put the fears into two categories – Real or Irrational.  Our list looked a little something like this:

spiders, roaches, being trapped, falling out of a plane, losing all my friends, heights, failing in school, missing school

With only one exception (which I could argue still didn’t necessary belong in the “real” category) we put all of the fears into “irrational.”  We decided that even the ones that seemed very real, like losing all our friends or failing school, were still very much within our control.

I had chosen the bible verse Isaiah 33:6

And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure.

I had spent some time with this verse trying to decipher what I felt it meant.  This I think is an excellent way to read the Bible.  Instead of counting on those newer editions which include someone else’s easier or shall I go as far as to say “dumbed down” translation, try to come up with your own.  I’ve been doing this myself for the past two lessons I’ve taught and I’ve had the children do it in small groups.

To me this verse means that using my wisdom and knowledge will bring me stability.  I can save myself a lot of anxiety if I apply logic, common sense, and history when I am facing a fear or worry.  When I’m in tears driving over a high bridge (because I’m the one who listed fear of heights), I can logically remind myself that it is incredibly unlikely that my car will suddenly tumble off.  When my husband forgets to call while he’s on a business trip, I can settle myself down with the thoughts of all the times he’s traveled and returned home safely. I can find strength in that as well as the respect I have for the Omnipresent and Omnipotent force guiding my life (fear of the LORD).  I know that whatever comes my way is a bridge I’m meant to cross that will make me stronger.  The divinity within will lead me through.

So much of what we fear is change itself.  We’re often afraid to make a move because success or failure are equally as scary.  But I do think that in many cases our fears are meant to be pushed through.  We can either dive into them and make those life-changing decisions or we can sit back and wait until we are dragged along.

So take a moment to let go of one of your irrational fears, imagine it inside of a balloon and release.


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A Few Days With Jesus

Some time ago, maybe two years, I reached out for spiritual answers through “automatic writing.”  This is a much more woo-woo way of saying soul-writing or journaling.  It was at a point where I was quite certain I needed a spiritual teacher.  I’d been informed by various people that everyone needs a real-life teacher.  You can’t get there with books alone.  I asked my journal, or asked God through my journal, who would be my teacher.  The answer that came into my head and onto the page was JESUS.

At that time I’d just bought A Course In Miracles which is supposedly a curriculum by Jesus (through Helen Schucman). I started reading the text but didn’t complete it and didn’t even begin on the student workbook.   The book is a lot to grasp, I’d say in parts it is as tricky to decode as the Bible.  And to some extent I was as skeptical of it as I am the Bible.  After reading over 700 pages of it (it’s over 1000 pages) 400 pages of the almost 700 page text, I put it aside and have only thought of it on a few occasions.  (One of those occasions was when I was bringing the blog back and I considered making it an ACIM themed blog.)

So the idea of learning from Jesus through A Course In Miracles has been a seedling in my brain for a while.  This week I read the last two books in the Reflections of the Christ Mind series by Paul Ferrini.  Just as Helen Schucman before him, he feels and claims that the content of his books came directly from Jesus.  When you read it you feel as if you are having a modern day conversation with the Savior himself.  The teachings are exactly what resonates with me and nothing like what I heard in the Baptist church that reminded us again and again that without accepting Christ we’d suffer for eternity in Hell.

The last book in the series mostly came from Paul Ferrini himself.  He talked about how he came to accept Jesus as his teacher.  He was raised Jewish and wasn’t necessarily open to the Christian concept of the son of God.  But in a moment of darkness in his life, a voice came to him and guided him.  Later he would realize this presence was Jesus.  Along his path he found A Course in Miracles and although skeptical of it’s origin found that the teachings were in line with the Christ he knew.  Through reading what was in essence his testimony, I came to understand the true meaning of accepting Jesus Christ as your savior.  It is not a process in which you take a vow and start going to church.  Instead it is about going within, asking Christ to guide you, and being open to that guidance without inserting your ego into the mix. We really can know Jesus.

I had such an experience some time ago (of truly feeling Jesus was with me).  I’d had an encounter with someone who had accused me of worshiping false Gods and being a voice for the devil.  But what I felt in my heart was that I’d learned that I could commune with God and Jesus in silence.  I’d even felt that a lot of what came to me through meditations, books I found, and people I met were messages about Reality from God.  So after this run-in, I wanted to prove to myself that Jesus was with me too.  That night in bed I asked Jesus for a sign.  It may have all been in my head but I swear that I felt the palms of my hands and my feet tingle.  In the next moment I heard “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Since that night I’ve still struggled with my relationship with Jesus.  Because of the religious influences in my life it is often hard for me to separate the loving, forgiving brother and wayshower with the God up on the cross that I am supposed to bow down to.  In my attempts to analyze this I’ve even questioned his very existence at all.  This week I had the opportunity to hear a call in the form of those books.  It reminded me that there is a teacher out there for me and all I need to do is commit to finding quiet time to commune with him and follow the example he set.  The Christ is within all of us, it’s just up to us if we want to meet him there.

Thrown For a Loop

I came across this article on one of the blogs I read regularly.  I took the time to read it and quite frankly, I wish I hadn’t.  It has filled me with questions, or maybe just one BIG question, and a week later, I can’t stop thinking about it.  At this point, you’ve probably yet to click on the link so I’ll fill you in on it’s subject matter.  The article addresses the idea that perhaps a real person named Jesus, who did all those things we are told he did, did not actually exist.  The information that supports this theory is that there is nothing recorded by anyone who lived at the same time that Jesus lived that testifies to any of what we’ve learned.  Everything that we know of Jesus was recorded by people who lived 50 years or more after he died.  So everything we have taken as fact and in some cases based our life upon is at best hear-say (stories passed down through generations) and at worst lies.

For me, I am a skeptic and these days apply common sense first when posed with questions.  I’ve already admitted at least one thing I don’t believe about Jesus’ life and I could probably name a few more.  I don’t accept the Bible as the be all and end all.  I look at it as a piece of literature.  There are many great truths within literature, meaningful messages and even historically accurate settings, but that doesn’t mean we should call the literature a textbook (unless of course we are studying literature).  I had always thought or believed in a historical Jesus, even if I wasn’t sure about all of the stories of his life.  I assumed the facts were there to prove his existence.    This article has thrown me for a loop.

Recently I wrote my first post about Jesus and I mentioned at the end how I feel like I can commune with Jesus.  If I am meditating (or even not meditating) I can ask Jesus for guidance and if I’m listening and aware can get an answer.  So what does this mean exactly, if the article is correct?  With whom am I communing?  Then I had this thought: What if Jesus is a state of mind?

In Hinduism people pray to and call on the power of the various Gods and Goddesses.  There is Ganesha, the son of Shiva and Parvati, the God with an elephant head, who is known as the remover of obstacles.  Kali is the Goddesses of death and transformation.  She has many arms and carries decapitated heads in at least one of them.  There are many others, but those two are my personal favorites.  Their stories are myths and metaphors.  That is understood because hybrid elephant and octopus people do not live amongst us.  But still they are prayed to.  When people think of these Gods and Goddesses, they call forth the aspects and characteristics that are represented.  They believe in the energy and they experience it.  So what if Jesus is like the Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism?  What if he is merely a symbol of all that man can be and do?  What if he is whatever we want him to be?  To me, he is unconditional love, compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance.  For someone else, he is salvation and God in human form.

I guess I will continue to wonder about Jesus.  I want very much to be convinced he was a real person who taught all the lessons I have learned.  I want the author of that article to have missed or overlooked something (or maybe someone to send me a link to snopes that says the whole thing is a lie).  There is another thought that goes through my mind though.  Imagine for a minute that our world is destroyed and a new breed of humans arrive to recolonize.  Along with many aspects of our history, they happen to find a copy of Forrest Gump.  After watching that movie and all of it’s historical accuracy, would they realize that Forrest was just a fictional character or would they write him into the history books?

Jesus To Me

In honor of Good Friday and Easter weekend I’ve decided to finally write my thoughts on Jesus.  I didn’t go to church when I was very little and by the time we started going, I think Sunday school lessons were beyond the basic bible stories.  I’d also guess that I spent more time mentally rehearsing what I was going to say to Jay (the boy I had a massive crush on) after the service then I did listening to the lesson.  So up until I started going to Unity Eastside, what I knew of Jesus was the story of his birth, his death, and that you were supposed to ask him into your life in order to be “saved” or “born again.”  So in essence Jesus’ birth was a miracle and his tragic, inhumane death was for me and all the rest of us sinners to keep us out of hell.

When I started going to Unity Eastside, I was presented with a whole new idea of Jesus.  One of the first things I learned is that Jesus is a master teacher and way-shower.  He did not come to Earth in order to become THE WAY to God, but in order to show and teach us how to find God.  We were not meant to worship him, but to follow him.  The second idea I was presented with was the Christ Consciousness.  In Unity we are encouraged to embrace the idea that we are all children of God and contain within us the same divinity that was in Jesus.  Jesus reached God Realization to a degree that is arguably “higher” than anyone else (though I’m sure every religious person would say the same of their prophet), but we are all equally capable of that kind of enlightenment.  We all have the “Christ Spirit” within us and it is up to us to decide if we can put the little us’ aside and live from that place which Jesus lived.

Growing up I suppose Jesus was presented to me as God.  We prayed to him and in his name, but he was also the son of God.  It’s all so very confusing and of course very easily explained by the Christmas story.  Because it really makes all the sense in the world that two people who were very much in love and engaged got pregnant without ever having sex and were told by an angel that the baby was actually the son of God.  You see the angel part I believe completely.  I believe that I am God’s child (however you describe God, which to me is the energy and consciousness of the Universe) and so are my children and everybody else on this earth.  If I had gotten unexpectedly pregnant it would be awesome and not at all surprising if an angel interceded to make sure I understood the value of this life within me.  What I have an awfully hard time swallowing is the whole immaculate conception pregnancy without sex thing.  It sounds to me like revisionist history at it’s finest.  Just another way to make sex dirty, because of course the mother of Jesus had to be a clean and pure virgin.  So what I’m getting at (as blasphemous as it may sound to some) is that to me it only makes sense that Jesus was conceived and born just like the rest of us.  It doesn’t make him any less God’s son or any less of a mystic and master.  I think that any truth teaching you come across despite the religion it is based on will acknowledge the powerful life and message of Jesus.

Which brings me to my last point.  Why do we spend so much energy focused on his birth and especially his death, when the real value Jesus brought to humankind was the teachings he presented in life?  I’d say that Jesus has saved me, but he did not do that by dying on the cross.  I do not find comfort in his suffering and painful death.  He has saved me because I have discovered some of his most valuable lessons.  I have learned that the kingdom of God is within me.  I have learned that I do not need to go to a church to find God, but I can sit in silence and connect with Spirit there.  I have learned that I can have a real relationship with Jesus, because we are all spirits and souls and none of us ever die.  I can call on Jesus for guidance and if I am quiet and still I can feel or hear his answer.  I do not need Jesus’ forgiveness to keep me out of Hell, I need to forgive myself and my fellow man so that I am not living in the midst of it.  Finally and above all, I need to strive to live and move from a place of compassion and love for everyone.

*Before I ended meditation tonight I asked Jesus to help me write this.  I asked to be lead to the right scripture to go with this post (remember, I’m not a biblical scholar).  I was led to the following two passages.  The first I believe was a message just for me to address the fear I had in writing this.  The second was for the purpose of the post.

From Acts Ch. 18 9-10 “Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:  For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee:  For I have much people in this city.”

From Luke Ch. 17 20-21 “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:  Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”

Love and light to you this Easter weekend….

Jesus

I decided for today’s Sunday quote that I’d flip open the bible (that Heather gave me for Christmas) and write down the first red letter phrases I saw.

St. John 12:44-47

Jesus cried and said, “He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.  And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.  I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.  And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.”

Resolutions?

I don’t really believe in making resolutions.  I’ve only ever been successful at keeping a resolution once and that was about 9 years ago.  But if I was going to make them, here are some of the things I’d like to do/be/achieve this year.

1.  Lose 20 pounds by eating healthy and exercising every day.  (Even if I don’t lose the 20, I still want to eat healthy and exercise daily because I just feel better and my body works better when I do.)

2.  Meditate twice a day totalling at least 40 minutes every day no matter what!

3.  Read from the Bible (thanks Heather), A Course in Miracles, or Joel S. Goldsmith for at least 10 or 20 minutes a day.

4.  Start volunteering once a month with a friend from church at The Shelter feeding a meal to the homeless.

5.  Write a novel!

6.  Continue to post on the blog daily.

7.  Journal each day especially about all that I am grateful for.

8.  Keep in touch with people.

9.  Keep the house clean and clutter-free.

10.  Practice yoga at least 3 times a week.

11.  Set a schedule for internet “checks” and stick with it!

12.  Last but absolutely MOST IMPORTANT is to spend more quality time with the girls and Mark!!!!

So now that I’ve made the list, I am surrendering it!  Some of it will happen because it is meant to and some of it will not.  As long as I am aware enough to hear the still small voice and to pay attention to the signals my body sends me, I should be just fine.  I have a good feeling about 2010, that is for sure.  2009 was a year for change and rebirth, 2010 will be the year for me to discover who I am and what I’m capable of now!