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Hold Em or Fold Em

Posted March 30, 2013

Holy Week is a heckuva story. Triumph and devastation, friendship and betrayal, death and life. On Easter morning, we get the happy ending.

Whether you believe it really happened or not, the story sticks because it reflects our own life experiences.

My favorite part is not the happy ending but the sweating blood, when Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, wrestling with himself about going through with arrest and crucifixion. He seriously thought about skipping out, the Bible tells us. “Let this cup pass from me” is the Bible equivalent of “Do I haaaaave to??”

Most of us have been there.

Haven't you wrestled at times with wondering whether to press forward or just to cut and run? Should you stay in a difficult job? Stay in a painful relationship? Are you learning and growing from the experience, or are you just stubborn and crazy to keep trying?

How do you know?

Sometimes quitting is the better choice. Sometimes you've done all you can do with a person or situation. Sometimes your work — or your love — is complete.

But other times, it's darkest before the dawn. (Cliches become cliches because they're so often true.) Sometimes the most difficult periods of our lives turn out to be the richest and most growth-ful, although we don't always know until later.

When I talked about this at my church on Palm Sunday, I suggested listening for the voice of inner wisdom. But I wanted to offer you a little more.

I turned to one of the young women I've been following online, Amy Ahlers, who makes a living helping people sort out the voices in their heads. I've told you about her before. She founded the Inner Mean Girl Reform School to help women stop being so hard on themselves. And her antidote to the inner mean girl — the voice that says you're too old, too fat, too dumb or whatever makes you feel unworthy — is to go within and ask, “What does my inner wisdom know?”

Amy wrote a blog post recently offering practical tips on how your inner wisdom might speak to you when you don't know whether to quit or keep going, to leave or stay. It's especially hard for those of us who believe in holding to a vision, she said. After all, the people who inspire us focused on their vision against all odds, despite all obstacles, until it became a reality.

But sometimes the only sane thing — and loving thing — to do is to quit. Resign. Say good-bye. Give up. LET GO.

Here is Amy's list for how you know:

QUIT and LEAVE

When you think of leaving, you feel relieved.
Your trusted loved ones look at you like you're crazy.
You're pretending not to know it's time to leave.
You feel worried, anxiety-ridden and hopeless.
Leaving feels loving.
You need permission to quit.
Staying feels insane.

STAY and STICK IT OUT

When you think of leaving, you feel regretful.
Your trusted loved ones feel inspired by what you're doing.
You're pretending not to know it's time to trust.
You feel nervous, excited, optimistic.
Leaving feels like sabotage.
You need permission to stay.
Staying feels brave.

Please note: You may fall into the It's Time to Stay category today, and 3 months (or 3 days or 3 minutes) from now find yourself in the It's Time to Quit place. This is about following your Inner Wisdom.

That has been my experience, too. I have gritted my teeth to stay in some situations until — ping! — one day I knew I was free to go. Even should go. That it was better for me and anyone else involved.

And that is my thought for the day. Sometimes letting go and moving on is the right, best, highest decision you can make. Other times, you keep praying in the garden even when you know the Roman soldiers are on their way to find you.

Much as I have argued with the “you'll just know” answer to life's problems, you really are a divine being with access to God's wisdom. It's the true and loving voice that speaks inside you.

And look how well it turned out for Jesus. The happy ending to his story is our story, too

Question: Do you have a story of listening for guidance that ended well? Please comment for all of us. We need your inspiration!
   

Another Bout with Jesus

Posted March 22, 2013

Every year, as we get close to Easter, I begin to wrestle with Jesus. Again.

I've gone round and round with the guy. Did he rise again? Did he not? Does it matter? Who was he? What did he really say? What does it all mean?

I can drive myself crazy with questions. Which I kind of enjoy. I will try not to drag you through it with me.

But I heard something the other day that struck me as a succinct diagnosis of what has happened to Jesus through the centuries and perhaps why he seems so hard to understand now. This came from E.J. Niles, a minister at Unity Village, who was applying an old quote from the women's movement to Jesus. It was this:

“A pedestal is as much a prison as any small, confined place.”

We long ago confined Jesus to a pedestal. And by “we” I mean the Jews he left behind, the gentiles who heard about him and converted, the earliest Christians who tried to live by his teachings, and billions of others since then.

We claimed he was perfect. So pure that his mother was a virgin. So powerful he could die then walk out of the tomb. His words were stretched and mangled to back up any political point of view, and his real teachings of love and inclusivity were overlooked in favor of any utterance that could be used to condemn others.

We contrived a Jesus too small and too far away. Elevated him to a pedestal while claiming to honor him, but instead imprisoned the radical transformation he introduced to the world. Locked him behind the bars of “only begotten son” and went about business as usual.

Question: What would it take to get Jesus down off the pedestal now? And what difference would it make to the world?
   

Would You Say You Are Beautiful?

Posted March 14, 2013

The music director from my church, Kit Holmes, told me something so disturbing last summer, I've been pondering it ever since.

We were conducting a retreat together — some of you were there at Lake Geneva — and she led us in a song she had written, a little ditty really, a joy song. “I am whole, I am healthy, I am wealthy, I am wise, I am wonderful, so wonderful, yes I am.”

On the second verse, everyone turns to someone else and sings “you.” You are whole, healthy, wealthy, wise − but the lyrics are a little different at the end. “You are beautiful, so beautiful, yes you are.”

Kit told me she originally wrote “I am beautiful” into the first verse, but when she started leading the song in different groups, people just flat-out would not sing that phrase. They could not say they were beautiful. Kit could see and hear from the the stage that HALF of each audience dropped out of singing because they were unable to form the words: “I am beautiful.” So she changed it.

Isn't that sad? But… are you able to claim you are beautiful? Easy to say about someone else, right? Even if they're not physically attractive, you can see the beauty in them, the divine light. Apparently many of us just can't see it in ourselves.

I have a couple of thoughts about this. One is that when we sing the words “I am beautiful” — well, I don't know about you, but my mind immediately goes to the magazine models and movie stars who set the standard for beauty in the world these days. I don't measure up.

I could probably sing “I am beautiful” because I've learned over the years to affirm nearly anything, no matter how ludicrous or unlikely it seems. But that doesn't make me believe it.

The other, sadder thought is that while I can see the divine light in others, I forget I have it, too. Where you are concerned, I know it doesn't matter what you look like, what you weigh or how old you are. Whether you are wearing makeup or a tie. Whether your hair is uncombed or you have bags under your eyes. Whether you appear to be healthy or wealthy or wise. I know you are God walking the earth!

But me? That nagging voice says I'm not good enough. I'm okay, mind you; I just don't qualify as “beautiful.”

No wonder I speak and teach so often about living in divine consciousness, knowing the truth of who we are, remembering that the same spirit that was in Jesus is also in each human being. I believe it for you! But I struggle to include myself. I guess it's arrogant to think I am soooo special that God's creation skipped me somehow, that divine law doesn't apply to me.

Have you mastered this? How do you hold onto the awareness of your divine inner beauty no matter how you look or what you've accomplished? Add a comment and let us know! (Click that tiny blue number below.)


PS - You would love Kit Holmes's music. She's a well-known singer-songwriter in Austin, and we're lucky she's willing to drive out to our little church in Wimberley on Sundays. Here are some samples of her songs. Scroll down four or five songs to “Hold You in the Light” — my all time favorite — and grab a hanky.


PPS - Thanks for filling out last week's survey! If you haven't had a chance yet, here it is.
   

Five Common Mistakes with the Law of Attraction

Posted March 1, 2013

Bashing the Law of Attraction is trendy. Countless spiritual teachers set it up as a straw man – they say it's shallow, materialistic, magical thinking – in order to tear it down and substitute their own enlightened ideas.


So let me start by saying: I believe in the Law of Attraction. It's real. It works. And it is spiritual law, which elevates it beyond an ancient belief. It's a key to the mysteries of our lives.

I don't even have a problem with describing the law in consumer terms. The fact is, you can attract abundance in any aspect of life. But what better way to draw attention to a spiritual teaching than to promise riches? A house or car, you can see. Love and peace of mind are harder to measure and nearly impossible to depict on videos like The Secret.

There wouldn't be so much argument about the Law of Attraction if there weren't so many people working with it and, apparently, struggling. Acknowledgment that our thoughts exert tremendous power in our lives seems to be widespread. Success in getting what we want, not so much.

Here are five common mistakes in using the Law of Attraction:


MISTAKE #1 - Doubting the law really works.

Think that doesn't apply to you? Nearly all of us have an area where we gasp and brake against believing we are the creators of our experience. Sometimes because we don't like what has shown up. Sometimes because we fear we're asking too much.

The Law of Attraction can be a hard sell.
  • I know longtime spiritual students who, if pressed, will confess they suspect it's just pie in the sky and a reckless way to manage money. (The law isn't reckless; its misuse can be.)
  • I also know people who once believed that thoughts have power but now feel so beaten down by circumstance, they've decided events are random and victims are everywhere.
  • Then there are the people who will adamantly tell you: There is a God, and you're not it!

Actually, you are. Humans are made in the image of God, and God is, if anything, a creator. We carry out God's ongoing creation on the earth. It's an awesome responsibility, not an ego trip.


MISTAKE #2 - Focusing on what you want.

Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is within you, already complete. The Buddha said manifestation occurs when conditions are right, like a garden prepared to nourish seeds. Those timeless teachings are not the same as making a vision board. They're about awakening to the universe of abundance, knowing your oneness with all things. Consciousness is prepared before desire takes hold.

“Each of us has this magnificent, magical life force coursing through every single cell,” writes Anita Morjani in Dying to Be Me. That's God within, the energy from which we create.

Or as wacky Mike Dooley puts it (Notes from the Universe): “The reason your thoughts are so powerful is because they're how you aim ‘God.'”

We don't have to focus, visualize and affirm diligently if we remember our very being is divine, and we are aiming the power of God at whatever has our attention.


MISTAKE #3 - Getting stuck in longing or lack.

This is an understandable mistake. You want something precisely because you don't have it. Believing it will show up someday can keep you focused on “not here yet,” like a child miserably counting the days until Christmas.

Think of it instead like a package from Amazon. Most of the time, you're not desperate for its arrival. Worrying won't bring it any faster, nor will tracking the package in transit. It will be here soon enough, and you'll enjoy it when it arrives. When you think about it, you vibrate with the thought of “on the way” instead of “not here yet.” You might even forget you ordered it.


MISTAKE #4 - Looking outside yourself for results.

Again, attraction happens first in consciousness. After that, the physical manifestation is almost incidental. Believe it or not, you will feel rich before you are rich. You will feel loving before The Right One shows up.

It's also important to remember the universe is answering your deepest desires. What occurs in your life might be something you have attracted for your soul's growth. It might be moving you into position for mind-blowing developments later. You just don't have the whole picture yet.


MISTAKE #5 - Fearing certain desires are unacceptable.

Our society is rife with the belief that it's okay to want some things and not others, that good is rewarded and bad mustn't be. This leads to the above-mentioned straw man — some desires are labeled materialistic, selfish or greedy while others are considered pure and well-intentioned.

I've even known people using the Law of Attraction who believe the universe responds only to good intentions. In other words, you won't get rich if you're going to use money for nefarious purposes. I wish!
  • The universe isn't checking motives. It's only matching energetic vibrations, so the people who feel deserving of wealth get wealthy. Those who expect love are loved.
  • Poverty is not more spiritual than wealth. Solitude is not more spiritual than a party. Believing you're a bad person for wanting what you want is exactly what keeps it from you.
  • There's no such thing as too much. Tell Donald Trump there's too much money. Tell a 3-year-old there's too much happiness. We live in an unlimited universe, remember?

Now, if making a wish list and constantly focusing on it isn't the right way to use the Law of Attraction, what is?

Prepare the ground to receive by staying connected; live with a sense of oneness and wonder.

Let desires surface from your deepest heart, knowing desire itself means the thing or condition is available to you.

Focus fiercely but briefly, then let it go. Let it unfold. You don't have to make anything happen. Your magnificent life force is handling it all.

PS - What are your struggles with the Law of Attraction? Or have you found a key to shifting consciousness so that now you're living a charmed life? I'd love to hear about it! 'Cause I preach this a lot better than I practice it. (Click on the tiny blue number.)
   




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