Friday, November 25, 2011

Diamond in the Rough

"I allow creativity to express through me.  According to legend, Michelangelo insisted that his part in creating David – his masterpiece of sculpture – was only to carefully chip away at the marble, uncovering the David that lay within.  Within me there is also a masterpiece awaiting expression.  As I chip away at limiting thoughts that hinder my creativity, beauty and innovation flow froth.  Something within me is waiting to emerge.  During my prayer time, I listen for what is seeking expression; then I joyfully engage with whatever surfaces.  Creativity takes many forms:  writing, music, art, dance, business ventures and inventions.  The possibilities are limitless.  As I quiet my inner critic, I invite my creativity to come alive and I create my masterpiece.  ‘Everything created by God is good.’ 1 Timothy 4:4.”  (Daily Word, a Unity Publication)

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Don’t give up on me; God isn’t finished with me yet.”  Or that you’re a diamond in the rough, which the Urban Dictionary defines as, “Someone (or something) that has hidden exceptional characteristics and/or future potential, but currently lacks the final touches that would make them (or it) truly stand out from the crowd. The phrase is metaphorical and relates to the fact that naturally occurring diamonds are quite ordinary at first glance, and that their true beauty as jewels is only realized through the cutting and polishing process.”

From the moment we are born, we are uncut diamonds who spend our whole lives being cut, sanded, and polished.  The only problem is that most of us just aren’t even aware that we have that magnificence within each and every one of us just waiting to emerge.  Perhaps, we’re told our whole lives that we’re ugly, have no talent, will never amount to much, and so on.  We believe it and, therefore, that beauty remains hidden for most, if not all, of our lives.  We develop a poor self-image, self-esteem, and self-worth, and then these become our identities and the way that we see ourselves. 

But the Bible states that we are made in the image of God; not in physical form, but the essence of who and what God is.  We were put on earth to learn to be the greatest expressions of who we were meant to be!  For some, we learn this lesson early and our lives are filled with wonderful adventures, joy, satisfaction, and great accomplishments.  We control life.  For others, we seem to struggle our whole lives because we let life and others control us, and no matter what we try to do, we’re just always struggling. 

Many lose hope and give up, because they believe they do not have a choice.  Anthony Robbins, a well-known motivational speaker, once said “Never take away a person’s hope because that may be all they have left.”  But as long as people do have hope, they’ll keep on trying. 

Life is a process of ever unfolding lessons, surprises, and adventures.  If every person could just know the magnificence that is within, because it is the magnificence of God who put it there, then think of what we could accomplish in our lives!  No matter what we went through in the past, we know that it doesn’t have to dictate our future.  I like to say that you can either be a victim of your past, or a hero of your future. 

I love to read celebrity autobiographies and it’s amazing how so many of them had to go through such hardships in their lives before seeing their dreams come true.  Some had the most horrendous childhoods.  Many of them have grown to be the most gracious humanitarians who give of themselves and their money unselfishly.  I think of Angelina Jolie (actress), who did not have an easy childhood at all, and how she’s grown into one of the most beautiful women in the world, as well as one of the most respected humanitarians.   Ashley Judd (actress) also had a hard childhood, and today, she is involved with so many humanitarian organizations.  Oprah Winfrey is another one.  They don’t just pay lip service or only give their money.  They go to the people and walk among them.  They discovered their magnificence!

It is my wish that each and every one of you can go within and discover that inner brilliance, majesty, and grandeur, that is the truth of who you really are.  You are a masterpiece waiting to become the greatest expression of who you were meant to be.  A diamond in the rough!  Believe it!  Know it!  See it!  And let your splendor shine!  As it says above, “Everything created by God is good.”  And so it is!

(Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper.)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Everything is in Divine Order

“My life is unfolding in perfect order.  If I am feeling overwhelmed, I may have difficulty recognizing that divine order is at hand.  I remind myself to release my need to know how things will work out and trust the Universe for right outcomes.  I turn to nature for an example.  A soft caterpillar plods through countless hazards to find food.  Over time, he wraps himself in a cocoon, transforms his body, and pushes himself through a tiny opening to stretch and fill out his new butterfly wings.  Observing the process, I see why each phase is necessary.  I see order in his unfoldment.  My evolution is even more complex and miraculous.  With renewed calm and appreciation for the order present in all life, I continue on my path of transformation.  ‘Put things in order…and the God of love and peace will be with you.’” (2 Corinthians 13:11)  (Printed from The Daily Word, a Unity publication.)

Through my writing and speaking, I can only share what I believe.  Everything I think and believe is based upon my own life experiences, the wisdom I’ve gained, and how I see things through my own perspective lenses.  It’s that way for each of us.  What we believe…is.

I believe that everything is in divine order.  Everything happens for a reason and everything is as it should be.  Or as some in Unity like to say, “We are in the right place, at the right time, right now.”  Everything I experience in my life is for my own soul’s growth.   I believe that God is in every one and every thing.  That’s hard for some to comprehend, but once I got it, I understood.  God doesn’t cause what we go through because we have free will, but S/he’s still in the midst of it all. 

I also believe that there is always a bigger picture; things we can’t know or see.  Since I believe that God is in all that is, I know I can look for the good that is in or may come out of every situation.  We may not see it at the time, if at all, but it’s there.  When we get to the ‘hindsight part,’ we can look back and say, “Oh, now I see why I went through that!”  I know that it’s made me a stronger and better person because of it.  I gained so much more wisdom and knowledge, and learned a little bit more about myself.

It’s not always easy.  Sometimes, when I’m going through something, I feel like I’ve stepped into a spot of quicksand, and I’ve sunk so far in that I can’t see above the muck.  I call it “being stuck in the muck.”  But it’s my choice whether I want to stay in the muck, or reach in to that infinite wisdom and power that is within me, and pull myself out of it.  Sometimes I have to ask for help, but I make the choice.  Some people feel they don’t have a choice, but even that is a choice.

Our souls are here to learn, to remember, and to help each other on the path that we have chosen here on earth.  People (and situations) come in and out of our lives doing what they came here to do.  Not all of it feels good.  In fact, at times, it can appear outright ugly. 

One thing I learned that made a huge impact on me is that everything is one energy:  good/bad, ugly/beautiful, right/wrong, and so on.  It is only when we humans attach a label to it that makes it what it seems to be.  Nothing has meaning except the meaning that we give to it.  The thoughts we choose will make or break us, because it is those thoughts that assign those labels.

Not too long ago, I started to go into fear by what I’ve been seeing in our religion, politics, and other world situations.  Then I heard the words from Spirit say, “It’s okay.  I’ve got it all under control.  Let me handle it.”  I have to trust those words to be my truth.  I have to trust that we, as a nation, a people, and a world, are in a birthing process, and like any birth, we have to go through the birthing pains.   We can kick and scream as much as we want, but that will only give us more kicking and screaming.  Or we can look for the good, know that we are in the cocoon stage of life, and that soon, that beautiful and miraculous butterfly will soon emerge.  It is then that we can look back and say, “Oh!  Now I see why I/we went through that!”  It’s all in divine order, and all is well.  God is in charge.

(Published in the Cookeville, TN Herald Citizen newspaper.)


Bless the Children

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."  (Matt. 19:14)

I believe that Jesus is the epitome of pure, unconditional, perfect love.  I also believe that when children are born, they are also born of that same love.  They were born geniuses, and they came into this world knowing who they were. 

Then as they began to get older, they began to learn something completely different.  One of the first words they learned was ‘no’ and they began to learn what they couldn’t or shouldn’t do.  They began to learn that their identity was something completely different than what they knew when they were born.  They began to be “humanized” by the adults who raised them. 

This “humanizing” is part of the process of life that we learned from our parents and others around us, who learned it from their parents, and on back through the beginning of time.  Parents, and other caregivers, teach their children based upon what they know, what they were taught, and many of those lessons came from their own experiences and perceptions of what they believed life to be.  Many had great upbringings.  Many didn’t.  Parents can only do the best they can with what they know at the time.

Jesus, as well as all the other great Spiritual teachers throughout time, knew the value of children and how precious they are.  When Jesus’ disciples tried to keep the children away from Jesus because they didn’t think He could be bothered by them, Jesus rebuked them by telling them in a parable of the sheep, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones.  For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”  (Matt. 18:10).

So many of our children are suffering in ways we never could have imagined in our time.  Child abuse is at an all-time high.  Bullying is out of control and is causing some children to commit suicide.  Many children do not feel safe at school, and in some areas, children have to go through metal detectors.  Gang activity is high.  Many children are not getting enough to eat.  The number of children on antidepressants and other mood altering drugs is unbelievable.   Depression is being diagnosed in children as young as three!  And there are one to three million runaway and homeless kids living on the streets in the United States alone!  Buddha said, "What's done to the children is done to society."  It’s true.  Our children become adults and the cycle starts all over again. 

Some say that our children have it so much easier than previous generations.  Maybe; in some ways.  But children today have a lot more distractions than when we were in school.  My generation only had three TV channels, kids played outside most of the time, we could walk to school and play in the neighborhood because parents didn’t have to worry about us, and most of our outside activities were school related.  Today, kids are bombarded with countless high tech products, which include iPods, cell phones, computers (games, internet, etc.), they have easier access to drugs and alcohol, the divorce rates are high and many kids come from a one parent family, and when there are two parents, both of them work, and the list goes on.  It comes at them from all directions and from many sources.

So, what’s the answer?  It seems so overwhelming that it’s hard to come up with any one answer.  But we can start small.  How many times a day do you tell your child that you love them, that you’re proud of them, and that your life is blessed because they are in it? How often do you listen to them without judging, and really show an interest in their interests?  Do you encourage them to be who they want to be or do you try to make them be who you want them to be?  How much time do you spend with them? Even if you and your children aren’t getting along at the moment, you can still begin with just saying the words, “I love you.” 

Just as Jesus saw all children as blessings, it is up to us to see all children as blessings, and not just our own children. You can say an encouraging word to any child of any age.  Help other children who may need it.  There are children all over the world making a difference because they had someone to believe in them.  Sometimes, all it takes is one person to change a child’s life for the better.  Could that person be you? 

(Published in the Cookeville, TN Herald Citizen newspaper)