|UNITY OF VANCOUVER
3814 FRANKLIN ST. VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON 98660 360-696-0996
TLC for Our Relationships
Reverend Bernadette Voorhees
July 10, 2022
All Rights Reserved
TLC FOR OUR RELATIONSHIPS
Welcoming and Opening Thoughts to center on God and introduce today’s topic.
Some people live their lives as if they believe life is more about doing than being. There are some philosophies that would say life is mostly about being and doing is secondary.
Jesus taught that life is a balance of doing or being of both. He would take time apart from the busyness of everyday life to consciously reconnect with God, just like we are doing now. We are here in this room, today, by Divine appointment. This is not just another service and another day. It is a time for us to draw apart, reflect and commit to what we can become by committing to infusing all our relationships with God as Divine Love.
There are affirmations and prayers on your program this morning for you to use during meditation and to help you to follow along with the main points of this mornings’ lesson.
Now, please rise and let’s sing ‘Surely the Presence.’
PRAYER / MEDITATION
I invite you to relax your body and mentally feel your seat supporting you in comfort, warmth, and peace. Now, I invite you to place every care you have in God’s hands. Turn them over and resolve to refuse to steal back from God what you have just given to God to solve. With cares and worries lifted from your human mind, feel a lightness beginning to ascend in you as you are lifted to a higher level of awareness inside yourself where you become open to the awareness that there is a higher power at work in you and that there is a higher purpose to your life for you are a spiritual being. Realize this statement to be true for you by claiming your true nature and saying to yourself, “I am a spiritual being.” Now say it to everyone in this room with the conviction of the Spirit that empowers you, “You are a spiritual being. You are not bound by anything in the past, nor can you be bound by anything in the future.”
You are beloved of God. You accept the gift of God’s love when you agree to become a channel of Divine Love into this world. Affirm with me: May Divine Love come forth through me, in an inexhaustible way.” (In the silence of prayer.)
“Be ye not conformed to this world but be ye transformed through the renewing power of Spirit.” In prayer, ask God to bathe your human mind with divine love. Communicate your willingness to allow the shift from Ego to Essence to occur by saying to God in prayer, “God, I give you my human mind. I lift it upwards to you in prayer. Infuse my human mind with Your Divine Mind. Flood my human mind and every low place and every thought within it with Divine Love. I ask and receive in the silence of prayer. (pause)
Because I am one with God, I am love. Enriched by Divine love, I live in the realization that I am a spiritual, loving being guided by the light of God and empowered through the life of God. My life is now changed and charged with the unifying power of God moving through me as Divine Love, Light, and Life.
Through the activity of meditation and prayer, you become more receptive to your oneness with God and thus more God like because you are exercising your free will to choose to take the time to identify with your Essence or Christ self and the qualities of God that are your spiritual inheritance rather than continually focusing your awareness on just your human personality and Ego self. As you take time to nurture your relationship of oneness with God on a regular basis, the people around you will notice a change taking place in you. They are no longer just dealing with your outer face and ego personality. They are attracted and drawn to you because you are God centered and God’s love in manifestation. Doors open to you as all people become as friends. Nothing can block your good because nothing can block God. Not even your own human self can stop the good, God is sending to and through you for no past memory you cling to, or past human hurt has power over God. God’s love fills you to bursting and you have no choice but to give it out, automatically, and gratefully to all.
Along with this greater feeling of total love moving in and through you, there is also a new depth of healing which you feel flowing to and through you from God. You are becoming the radiant individualized expression of Divine Love, God created you in Its image and likeness to be on the visible, physical plane of Earth as It is in the invisible realm of Heaven. People are attracted to you because you realize and affirm, “It is not I who does the work but the presence of God as love expressing through me who does the works.” As the lower areas of your consciousness are flooded with God-love, all is forgiven. Every moment this silent shift from Ego to Essence occurs is a sacred moment. Acknowledge it by simply saying, “I accept this shift.” In Jesus Christ's name . . . Amen.
TLC For Our Relationships
There are a lot of people who have been conditioned to think that they can and must make it through life on their own. They have been conditioned to think this way by the authorities and elites in our society. They have been taught that they don’t need a spiritual family or any other kind of community in their lives, especially a church or spiritual community of any kind. Occasionally, we hear from someone our Caring For Each Other Team has written to by sending them a birthday or a thinking of you card. The individual calls the church to say thank you and that they were very “touched to receive, a card or a cheerful, positive note from their Unity of Vancouver spiritual family. They were thankful to be remembered and thought about when at times they felt that they had been left behind and put on the shelf and forgotten.”
According to the Bible and present day science, life is all about relationships. One Presence and Power means, that everything is in relationship to everything else. Experiencing our connection of oneness to each other and finding a sense of belonging is biologically as important as food and drink. For example: Zoologists have found that tadpoles are so deeply influenced by their social need for companionship that a lone tadpole regenerates an injured body very slowly. But if placed with fellow tadpoles, it’s healing powers increase by 300%. At the University of Chicago, they studied mice and found that a single mouse grows very slowly, but when mice are raised in contact with other mice, they grow about 10 times faster than mice on an identical diet raised in isolation.
After reading this study I thought, maybe there is a much deeper meaning to Jesus’ saying, “Where 2 or more are gathered in my name there am I in the midst of them.” Perhaps Jesus is referring to the attraction we feel to just being in the company of “like minded, people.” As I speak from the Christ within me to the Christ within you a light may go off on inside of you. You might realize that as you grew up you were programmed with a message that for you to become a mature adult you needed to be independent. For many of us, this meant learning to stand on our own 2 feet and that it is a sign of weakness to be needy in any area of life.
In my many years in psychology and ministry, I have found that people become needy and dependent because they are so torn inside between an inherent spiritual instinct to connect deeply with others and the Ego’s personality’s need to repel what we have been conditioned to believe keeps us dependent rather than helping us to learn to be interdependent with others. In some people this conditioning is so strong and the battle raging inside of them between the pull of their invisible Spiritual Essence and their visible Ego body and personality is so intense that they don’t learn how to just ‘be’ in a relationship. They are much too busy watching and guarding and withholding parts of themselves, which are all forms of doing, to just be present in the flow of Divine Love at that moment and in that relationship so of course, relationships don’t appear to work for them. But in truth, they are working just fine. All paths lead to God, some are just a bit rockier than others.
There is an old story about a mature couple seated in their car, waiting for a traffic light to change. In front of them, in a much older car was a young couple; the young man, was sitting in the driver’s seat and a very pretty girl was seating almost on top of him. The middle-aged lady said, “Oh, George, isn’t it nice to see them so close? Do you remember when we used to be like that? Her husband, seated behind the wheel, made no immediate reply other than to grunt. Then suddenly, as if a great light had gone off in his mind he said, “Well, I haven’t moved.” We all need to do a little moving from time to time to be in closer and better relationships with each other. And whatever relationships our lives are a part of, if they are worth staying connected to, they are worth cherishing, nourishing, and honoring. As a Psychologist and Minister, I have watched people squander their precious time by being at odds with each other and then, finally, at the end they deeply regret it. There have been times when I have been at the bedside of someone dying who said, “If I just had more time, I would heal the relationship with my son or with my ex-wife. I would tell them I was wrong to withhold my love and set conditions on it. I would tell them I love them and that I regret the times I did not express my love.”
I have seen people dwell on their past relationships to the extent that they neglect their present relationships and just like the woman in the story, they nostalgically remember being closer to someone else in the past. Some people dwell on past grievances, so they don’t have to move away from or give up a cherished Ego viewpoint to become love in the present moment. This kind of thinking means you are still stuck thinking that the he or she out there is what is causing you to love or not to love. If you live from the outside in rather than from the inside out you are giving away your spiritual power, which is your Divine Birthright as a child of God.
It is human to think that you need a perfect person to love perfectly, which is ironic because Jesus had many of his deepest relationships with imperfect people. Often the people closest to him came to him with lots of baggage. They were often people who found it difficult to love themselves. Do you ever find it difficult to love yourself? If you do, you will also find it difficult to love others. We must totally accept the belief that we are created in the image and likeness of God.
In our oneness with the one, we are unconditionally loved by God. God cannot judge or attack Itself. We must be filled to overflowing with that awareness, so that we begin to freely offer to give it to others and to encourage them to simply love, for love’s sake. That is what it feels like to be God’s love in action.
Being God’s love in action is loving unconditionally without any expectation of receiving anything in return. When you realize your oneness with God, you realize that like God, you can also experience yourself on 3 realms of being. God manifests itself differently on the 3 known realms of being just like H20 maintains the same chemical elements whether it is expressing as ice, water, or steam.
As the voice from the burning bush said to Moses, who represents the transformation of our intellect from a total belief in separation from God that blindly worships the things of the outer world by transforming them into false idols and Gods. The voice said, “I am that I am.”
In other words, “I am whatever you want me to be.” God simultaneously expresses Itself on the 3 levels of being as love, lover and beloved. When you choose to center yourself in a relationship of oneness with God as Divine Love flowing through you, you will no longer be stopped by anything the mental or emotional realms of mind can throw at you. God as Divine Love pours into you and out through you touching everyone in your life and uplifting and healing every part of your life. There is a continual circulation of energy between you and God.
Mary-Alice Jaffola was co-head of Silent Unity for a few years. She shared this powerful story at a church service I attended at the Unity Village Chapple. “Among the many letters we receive at Silent Unity asking for prayers to have needs met, we occasionally get a letter of thanksgiving.”
In 1991, a woman reporter was reading the personals in her newspaper, “The New York Times.” She enjoyed doing this, but on this day one specific ad really caught her eye. It read like this: “Henrietta, do you remember me? We met and courted at Lake George, in 1938. I’ve never forgotten you. Please call me, Irving.” The reporter couldn’t get the story out of her mind, so she called Irving and said, “Tell me the whole story. What is going on here? You didn’t see or talk to this woman from 1938 to now, and you are still trying to find her?” “Well, he said, “we were young and very much in love,” Irving said, “But Henrietta’s parents objected to our relationship and stopped it by sending her to Europe.” After the passage of much time, Irving finally gave up his dream of finding his true love and married someone else, but that marriage never had the magic that his relationship with Henrietta did. So, when his wife died after many years of a good marriage, he once again began to think about his magical relationship with Henrietta and he decided to place an ad in the Personal Section of the newspaper. He made a commitment to himself that he would really try to find and rekindle his magical relationship with Henrietta.
The Times Reporter wanted to write the story of Henrietta and Irving for the paper, but the Editor of “The New York Times” said, “No, that’s not the right material for us. It will not interest most of our Readers.” Two years later, the Times Reporter was on a very crowded New York Subway Car sitting next to an elderly woman. The Reporter was reading the Personals Column when the woman next to her chuckled and said, “Well, honey, are you looking for a new husband?” The Reporter said, “Oh no, I just read them for fun.” The older woman responded saying, “Not me. I’ve never read them. I don’t believe in it. It’s just too corny to believe.” The Reporter said, “You’re right.” But it was a very long subway ride they had together, and to pass the time, the Reporter found herself telling the woman the story of Irving and Henrietta’s lost love. As she told the story, to her surprise, the woman, started to cry – and not just ordinary crying, but actual shoulder shaking sobbing. As huge tears rolled down her cheeks and she was crying almost uncontrollably, the Reporter ended the story saying, “I wish I could give you a happy ending, but I can’t. I wish I could tell you that Irving found Henrietta, but I can’t because that is not the case.
Either Henrietta is dead, or she lives in another city, or she doesn’t read the personals.” The sobbing woman grabbed the hand of the Reporter and said, “It is the third choice, my dear. May I have Irving’s phone number? I am Henrietta.” Henrietta and Irving met again and found that the magic between them was still there. Whenever they got close to each other the energy between them seemed to come alive as an arc of static electricity sparked between them. So, with no one to object or stop their magical relationship and dream of being together, they soon married and are living their magical happily ever after.
Socrates once said, “By all means, marry. If you get a good spouse, you’ll become happy. If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.”
So, what is TLC for our relationships? Giving TLC to your relationship means giving the deepest Tender Loving Care to yourself and your relationship.
T stands for Trust. If your relationship does not have trust, it doesn’t have the first and primary ingredient. Trust is the inner experience and the outer reflection of the experience of inner Trust is honesty. It is agreeing that no one in the relationship will play mind games.
L stands for Loving. Loving is a verb. We are created in the image and likeness of God to be givers and not takers. This means we must invest and learn to nourish all the levels of our whole self, our body, our mind as our intellect and emotional natures, and the Spirit of Light that we truly are into our relationship. How do you to do this? It is simple. Every day, do something to make the other person’s life better. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, but it must be something to demonstrate that you know that you are more than just the body your consciousness inhabits for a span of years.
Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth.” In today’s words, he is saying something like, “Life is what we put into it and not what we think we can get out of it.” Imagine that your relationship is a bank account and all you ever do is take money from it. If you only take out of it and never invest anything back into it what will happen? You will eventually completely deplete it. We must see our primary relationship as something to invest in. In fact, we must see all our relationships in this way.
C stands for Communication. Communication is the third vital ingredient of putting TLC into our relationships. There are many kinds of communication. There is emotional and romantic communication, as well as intellectual or mental communication. There is also physical and spiritual communication, which includes God in your relationship and prayer.
For example, if I take two pieces of my hair (symbolizing two people) and try to create a braid, the minute I let go, it unravels. However, if I add a third strand of hair that braid stays put. Always remember to add God to all your relationships. If possible, pray and/or meditate together. Prayer is the highest form of communication we have. If for some reason it isn’t possible to pray with each other then, pray for each other. And not the kind of prayer that says, “Oh God, please change her or please make him realize the error of his ways.” That kind of prayer isn’t prayer at all. It is an attempt at trying to manipulate God and an attempt to get the other person in the relationship to agree with your point of view.
Prayer is seeing the situation and the other person in the relationship from the highest point of view and that always begins within by focusing your awareness on your relationship of oneness with God and praying like Isaiah did when he said, “Show me Thy ways Lord. Teach me Thy paths and lead me in Thy truth.”
To change Isaiah’s prayer into today’s language, pray to God by saying, “I am willing to be more loving, God. Release my mind and heart from the bondage of human expectations, conditions, and judgment. Help me to understand so that I might be a vessel overflowing with You as divine love.” Pray in this manner first for yourself. Once you have cleared and readied the soil of your consciousness you are ready to pray with and for others. Always begin by praying for the highest and best to happen in the other person’s life.
Experts say that a good marriage of ten years duration has of at least 30 minutes of good communication a week. Good communication is trying to experience some type of communication with your significant other without the distraction of the TV, stereo or radio playing in the background or while one or both people in the relationship are eating and trying to talk over the newspaper they are also trying to read. In bad marriages, it goes down from there. We must make a commitment to making a communication with God and with each other a priority in our life. We must make a commitment to not only speak to our significant other but to listen to them with our whole heart and soul and to hear what the other person is saying and trying to communicate back to you.
I want to share with you from John 10 where the writer is talking about Jesus being the Good Shepherd. “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter by the sheepfold by the gate, but climbs in by another way, and is a thief and a bandit.” (John 10:1) What the writer is saying here is that there is a right gate by which to enter, into right relationships and as Jesus has said many times before “that gate is narrow and hard to find because that gate is Divine Love.” So, if you aren’t in a relationship to fulfill your divine purpose, which is to love unconditionally on Earth as God loves you in the invisible realm of Heaven then ask yourself, “What am I trying to give or invest into this relationship?” “What am I trying to get or withdraw from this relationship?” Then the writer goes on to say that you are a thief and a bandit if you are trying to ‘get or withdraw from the bank something that is not yours by right of consciousness.
The speaker continues to explain, “The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gate keeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers. Jesus used this metaphor with them because everyone had witnessed the close and loving relationship that existed between a shepherd and his sheep, but they did not understand what he was saying to them about it.” (John10:2-6) They didn’t understand the meaning of his metaphor as he said, “Narrow is the way, and few are those who find it.” So let us take a closer look at it.
Sheep know the Voice of their shepherd. There is instant recognition, and they instantly rise to follow him. When the sheep belonging to another shepherd heard him call their names, only the sheep belonging to that shepherd rose to leave the fenced pen to follow their own shepherd. It was a beautiful metaphor to the simple people who lived in the time and Jesus and who delighted and drew comfort from His stories.
In today’s culture, no one wants to be called a sheep, but in the time of Jesus, his listeners understood the close and trusting relationship that existed between a shepherd and his sheep. Here Jesus is using the word ‘sheep’ in the highest sense of the word in his time. When we become followers of God as Divine Love, we have an instant recognition and response to the call of Spirit as the still small voice within us. It doesn’t matter what your face looks like, or what your voice sounds like. If you are coming from Divine Love, others know, and instantly feel a connection with you and want to be around you. Establish relationships built on trust.
Remember, in Luke, the story of the good shepherd? In this story Jesus uses a similar analogy to teach how an individual leaves the 99 sheep in his herd to go out to seek and to find the one sheep that’s lost. What does that mean?
Let’s say that you and I have a relationship. There are 99 things that I think are right about you but there is one little thorn in there. “You leave the cap off the toothpaste, and it is driving me nuts.” So, I leave the 99 sheep who listen to me and go out in search of the one. In other words, I allow this one splinter to really build up and to grow into a log between us. I leave the 99 good things I see in you to go out in search of the one that is lost. In other words, you love and cherish your own opinion and judgments more than the opinion and judgments of other people, and even more than God. In Luke, Jesus once again uses something everyone is familiar with and can relate to. Jesus uses the relationship between a shepherd and his sheep to reveal a different meaning to different people who came to hear him speak. In the Gospel of Luke Jesus is saying, “Don’t destroy a relationship that is almost perfect to defend your opinions and value judgments of another.” And if you are on the receiving end of this teaching, you can always communicate with your loved one in prayer. Give them permission to be and learn and grow. Don’t insist on proving them wrong. As Paul says, “Love insists not on its own way. But is patient and kind.”
Trust in the one. We are all in a relationship of oneness with God and therefore with each other. In your mind’s eye, imagine a wheel. There is a center hub and multiple spokes going flowing out from the one. We are all individualized expressions of the one even as we are also connected to the one at the hub of the wheel.
And if find yourself doubting your connection of oneness to God and the power of prayer, draw the image of the wheel with its hub and spokes and once that image if firm in your mind, reflect on the story of David and Goliath. You don’t need to drop a bomb on somebody when a slingshot and a little white stone will do the job. (Metaphysically, this means to throw divine ideas at our enemies.) Often, we think of ourselves as someone who is living from our heart, but, when we are with other people, if we get very honest within ourselves, we often sit back and become very analytical. We think about a person we are in a relationship with, and we begin to judge their motivations, their words, and everything about them against our own pure intention to unconditionally love them and others and they often come up lacking. We need to reverse this inner trend of seeing and judging with our intellect to seeing and loving with our hearts. Even if you only judge another in your mind and never actually speak the words, they will intuitively feel your discontent with them in the atmosphere around you and the energy coming from you toward them.
You might think that offering unconditional love in today's’ world will leave you defenseless and you are right. You get the meaning of this message. To consciously embody your Spiritual Nature, you must be brave enough to open yourself up like a flower and to let love flow from you just like a flower freely gives its fragrance to anyone who passes by it. Just as the sun shines upon the just and the unjust. The sheep hear their shepherd’s voice, and they instantly turn and come to him because they trust him to take care of them. Trust in your relationship and live for today by making someone’s life better just because you exist to bless them.
Jesus calls all his sheep by name. The word ‘name’ in the time and Aramaic Language of Jesus meant the character or nature of a thing. Often in the scriptures it says, “And Jesus walked ahead of them.” What does that mean? Does it mean that all women are supposed to follow the men, or that the men are supposed to follow the women? No. It means to follow Jesus’ example by learning to instantly arise from what you are doing on the human level and to unconditionally follow the call of Spirit as God’s Divine Love the instant you are aware of its call to you. Choose to be the first one to show your trust in God as the good shepherd. If you are in a bad relationship now, as you demonstrate unconditional love in that relationship first, people will stand back and say, “What is he or she up to?” But in a while, like the flood comes over the plain, it will overtake any obstacle if it is true, if it is real, if it is of God. Jesus lived His message; Buddha became his message and so did Mother Theresa and so must each one of us.
Begin all communication with prayer. That is the fastest and only way I can truly get to know you and myself as individualized expressions of God. By taking time to talk with you and to listen to you we learn to communicate and get to know each other as the spiritual beings God created us to be. Let us speak together ‘A Prayer for Trust’ printed on your program.
A Prayer For Trust
Trusting in the Infinite Power for Good,
I recognize Its ever Presence.
God is the music and rhythm of Life Itself.
It is the Source and Support of all there is.
Standing in this corridor of Life
with closed doors behind me
and Infinite passages before me,
I trust in the Energy that guides the Universe
to direct my steps forward.
Believing spiritual guidance comes to me
through ways I know not of,
I am open to Infinite Wisdom's guidance
as a natural part of my Life.
No matter which door opens
I step though with God.
I am never alone but always connected,
Appropriately equipped for everything I need
to fully and richly enjoy this world.
As new doors open, I safely step through,
letting go of the fears for I trust my process in Life.
I find my journey filled with joy, health, well-being,
compassion, forgiveness, and love.
I know there are not two Infinite Powers
in the Universe, only One.
I remain centered in this Spirit as I make my choices.
I confidently call upon my God-self,
trusting the direction of my walk-through Life.
Increasingly I become more aware of God
speaking and guiding me from everywhere,
I am blessed with wonderful opportunities
that honor my self-expression.
I am free in mind and rest in ease.
My emotions are balanced
as I deal with Life's situations.
I am far more than my personality or place in Life,
I am Spirit expressing and I trust that Activity!
I rejoice in the assurance of my life
being lived free from fear.
I am grateful for the freedom of living a life of trust.
It feels good to know all is well in my world.
Now let us draw this lesson to a close by praying together.
Today, I follow the way of the Christ by making an active commitment to God to ‘be love in action’ and to allow God to come through my every word and expression. Through my eyes I bless everything and everyone that I see, through my ears I bless everything that I hear, and through the touch of my hands I know that I am divinely loved and here to be God’s hands to touch, bless everyone and everything. Today I commit to actively and surely, divinely loving, as I am unconditionally loved by God.
I pray that this seed grows in me, and that it overtakes me in time and that it floods the low areas of my consciousness and makes me feel so alive, that I will never want to go back to living and loving any other way. I freely give myself to being God-love in action just as I know God-love, unconditionally gives itself to me. In the name and nature of Jesus Christ we pray, and it is made so for the spiritual law is: “So in mind, so in manifestation.” Amen.
What do you think?
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