UNITY OF VANCOUVER
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VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON 98660 
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 “Spiritual Crisis Management”
 Reverend Bernadette Voorhees
October 24, 2010
All Rights Reserved

 

 

MEDITATION

I invite you to close your eyes & rest with me for a few moments in the realization that God life is the life of your life.  God life is the perfection of allness. God life is unchangeable wholeness. It is unaffected by the conditional thinking of your human mind. It is peace & remains peace regardless of how much worry or fear your human mind indulges in. God Life is an infinite, boundless sea & you are living, moving & having your being in it right now. It is the Being that causes you to be. As you think thoughts of God Life the power of God life fills you with energy & an inner illumination that nourishes you spiritually, mentally, emotionally & physically. As you hold thoughts of God life it flows through you into your home & all the places you work & play, blessing loved ones & friends with love, initiative, newness, & vitality. There is no sick, diseased or imperfect life. God Life can never be lost or destroyed by hereditary influences, diagnosis or bad habits. Rest now in the silence & gratefully allow an infilling of God life to restore you to the level of its wholeness.

The joy of God life is working perfectly all the time & flowing in you, through you & round you every moment. Silently affirm: “I am life! God life is my life. This is the Truth that sets me free today, tomorrow & forever. In my every movement I demonstrate life. In my every thought, I demonstrate life. I give thanks for the God-life that is my mind, my body & my soul.”  Let us close this time of prayer by speaking together the prayer for protection:  The light of God surrounds us; The love of God enfolds us; The power of God protects us; The presence of God watches over us.  Wherever we are, God is! Amen. 

SPIRITUAL CRISIS MANAGEMENT

A woman cherished a silk handkerchief given to her by an old friend. 1 day, she accidentally got a blot of ink on it & felt devastated. Showing it to an artist friend she said, "It's ruined.  How could I have been so careless with something so precious to me?"  The artist asked if he could take it home instead of her throwing it away.  A few weeks later, he sent it back to her. He'd used the initial blot as a starting point & had drawn a design in India ink making the handkerchief more beautiful than before. The skillful artist turned a loss into a gain.  In your own life, “What do you do when you have an inkblot experience? How do you react?”

  1. Do you use the situations & experiences of your life for personal growth? How do you use them?

 

  1. How do you keep from succumbing to despair when you have to face a traumatic situation in your life?
  1. How do you keep from passing by and ignoring all of the opportunities daily life presents you for personal enhancement?

 

  1. How do you master the ordinary limitations of human life or do they master you?

Researchers asked several thousand Unity students these questions & this morning I'm sharing the 10 most commonly mentioned principles successfully used by Unity people to generate a happy, positive, and successful life.

 

1.  Take responsibility for yourself. Many Christians worship & identify with Jesus as a ‘sacrificial lamb’, betrayed by friends, sentenced to die painfully by crucifixion for humanity by his own father.  In Unity, we don’t focus on the crucifixion & make Jesus the biggest victim of all time. If we have 1 creed or element of dogma in Unity it's "personal responsibility." We focus on the resurrection. Jesus took responsibility for his own reaction to what happened to him & how he handled it (the level of being from which he handled it, Christ not ego) resulted in his overcoming. 

A lot of religions & people don't have a creed of personal responsibility. Many people have been conditioned to handle illness, loss of a job, a love relationship or other painful life experience by feeling victimized, persecuted & overcome by circumstances. They give up on attaining happiness during their life on earth.  They often blame God & others, label life as ‘unfair’ & never learn how to handle the tough stuff. As a result they never move through them & remain stuck in limited circumstances, retreating into victim consciousness. Identifying with Jesus & the saints, can give you a false sense of comfort & self-righteousness.  Many religions teach that earth life is meant to be a life of pain & that real life & happiness begins after death.  In fact, the more you suffer on earth, the more you sacrifice here the better your reward will be in heaven. Jesus didn’t say, “Find someone to take care of you or blame. He said, Pick up your bed & walk.” He said ‘pick up your cross & follow me,” not in death, but to your own resurrection.’ It is impossible to grow if you see yourself as a perpetual victim of life & others.Jesus’ God was bigger than human circumstances. Ask yourself, “Is mine?”

This is Amy’s story; the name has been changed. Amy was a member of a very conservative church. From the time she was a little girl the church taught her in Sunday school that her one purpose in life was to be a good wife. She remembered telling stories of this when she would embroider. Her teacher would tell her to catch every stitch & make it very good so it will impress your future husband. She lived her life according to her conservative church looking forward to one thing, marriage. She met a man & was married. She was a good wife. She put her husband through college; she moved around the country with him, as his employment required. She gave perfect dinner parties, volunteered for the right charities & was a supportive wife. She said, “To my astonishment & horror, after 24 years of marriage I was fired from my job as a wife. My husband divorced me & within a 6-month period, I lost my identity, my friends & the support of my church. I lost my ability to be the role I loved, being a good wife. I also lost my home, my social role & my connections with other people who had been our friends. Married couples no longer wanted anything to do with me, I lost my financial standing & most painful, my eternal companion.” She looked at other women in her church organization who had gone through the same thing. She met with them thinking it would help, but all they did was talk about what had happened to them. She was shocked to discover that some of the women actually kept talking about it as if it happened yesterday & it had actually been 25 years since their lives had changed. They had stayed wrapped up in the past, clinging to it like a life raft that wasn’t a life raft at all; it was a death raft. She decided right then & there to take responsibility, to get on with her life. She took a real estate course. She met other friends outside of her old church & she became a tremendous success in life. She now has a new home, she has a new husband, & she says she is a thousand times happier than she ever was before, but it was her choice. She could have stayed there in the past saying “woe is me”, but she used Principle # 1, Taking Responsibility for herself. She took the inkblot and made it into a thing of beauty.
2.  Every day affirm your own worth. When a crisis comes, you have 2 choices:  You can blame yourself, saying  "I'm no good or I must have done something to bring this on myself or you can say "As a child of God, I did not inherit limitation of any kind.” Empower yourself,  “I am up to this for God is with me.  God & I can handle it.”

3. Balance self-concern with other concern.  There's an old Persian legend about a father who went on a long journey & left a mirror with his son as a gift.  When he returned he discovered the boy had starved to death looking at himself.  The wholly self-focused life is a self-destructive life.  You can be too concerned as well as too unconcerned about your own physical well-being. You can spend too much time & energy absorbed in your own problems & forget to look to God & to God in others for answers.  When you begin to swim in a stagnant pond of your own mind, reliving, magnifying, feeling down & helpless that's the time to remember to pull yourself out of the stagnant water. “Go 1st to God & then to other people as God directs.Take responsibility & knock, seek, ask until you find what you need to uplift & support you in your dreams. Unless you take care of yourself you can’t take care of any one else.

4.  Find & use available values.  Each 1 of us has 2 sets of values: external values & internal values.  External values are acquired from various sources like parents, church, government, laws, advertising, movies, etc.  Psychologist Carl Rogers said, “We simply accept these values as we go through life & internalize them without questioning & act according to their instructions; then we wonder why we're so miserable when we find ourselves going down a path not our own, but someone else's idea of our path.  Internal values are the things we really think & actually believe.  If we tend to act on external values because so many people advocate them that we think they must be right, it's possible to live for years without even realizing which values dominate our lives & when a crisis comes along we realize we're in conflict.  You have to stop & ask, "What do I believe?  Where am I going?  Then we get in touch with ourselves.  If you let go of what others have told you you are, who are you inside yourself?”

A little poem called “Thank you God I’m Alive

Thank you God I’m alive.
That the skies are blue,
That a new day is dawning
For me and for you.
I know that there are heartaches,
And a world full of strife,
But thank you, God,
Thank you for life.

5.  Learn the art of reframing.  Reframing is redefining something so it is no longer seen as problematic.  The situation hasn't changed, but your perspective of it has.  Rather than defining it as the mountain you can't get past, you decide that you're going to look at it & say, "What good can I find in this?  What can I learn from this?"  Reframing leads to growth. According to Bob Miller, of the Jesus Seminar, “Jesus almost certainly never said, ‘repent! the kingdom of God is at hand.’ Most likely his message was more in the vain of, ‘reframe! The kingdom of God is at hand.’ Jesus had his ministry in a time when the vast majority of people he encountered were under the oppressive rule of the Roman occupation. He preached in a land that was wholly within the kingdom of Rome. It was a time where people believed that their status, whether peasant, noble or king was bestowed upon them by God. Thus the Romans declared that they were the elect by divine right. Everybody just accepted this, even though they didn’t like it. Even though it certainly didn’t seem fair.
When Jesus told people to ‘reframe’ their way of thinking & consider that the ‘the kingdom of God’ was at hand, it was a radical message, in part, because of its political nature. The kingdom of God was in direct defiance to the Kingdom of Rome. But radical, as well, because it asked them to accept that God’s kingdom, where all people are treated equally - receiving an equal blessing of God’s bounty – was right in front of them, waiting to be recognized. This was the kingdom that all Jews prayed for & waited for. But Jesus’ message was challenging to hear then & it still is now. People could look around & see it wasn’t so. They lived in a land of abundance & yet were given just enough to remain alive. There was no equality of blessing.  Many thought Jesus was a fool. But Jesus was asking them ‘to see’ that if they believed the kingdom of God was at hand & begin to act accordingly, those actions would eventually, inevitably, manifest the kingdom they most desired. In fact, he was telling them that it was the only way to turn their situation around. This wasn’t an attempt to placate people in the midst of their despair or to pacify their minds. It was a way to get them to reframe their situation. To see things differently, to act out of that understanding and thus to create a new reality, resulting from true spiritual growth. There is an old story about a man who wrote a letter to the department of agriculture in his state to find out how to cope with his crabgrass. It was spoiling his lawn. The department responded with a number of suggestions and the man tried them all, but he could not completely eliminate the crab grass. Exasperated, he wrote the department again complaining. He said, “Every method that you suggest has failed. My yard is still riddled with crabgrass.” He got back a short reply. They said, “We suggest you learn to love it.”

6.  PRACTICE SILVER lining thinking.  A man by the name of Todd moved to a new state to find a new job & soon after getting a job he felt like he’d made the biggest mistake of his life. Every day he was miserable. He got up & had to force himself to get dressed & go to work. He resisted every single day, every single minute. One day Todd thought, “My mother used to sing a song about looking for a silver lining. She sang there is always a silver lining, no matter how black the clouds are." He started to reflect & said to himself, "You know, I believe that. The Silver Lining is where I choose to focus my thoughts instead of the black clouds." Silver lining thinking doesn’t mean denying your problems. It simply reflects the fact there are nearly always some positive aspects. He began to think about it, about all the new friends he had gained; about some of the things he was doing he loved. Within a very short time (4 1/2 months), he fell in love with his job. He loved everything about his life. He thought, "Isn’t that amazing? How in the world can this be?" It was because he had changed his attitude inside his mind. This is where we live, right here in our minds. If we change our thinking, we change our outer experiences.

7.  Persevere within reason.  I've seen people who if they listened to doctors would have given up, but instead were healed & I've seen people stay in abusive, damaging relationships or jobs until they were mostly dead.  We must LEARN to distinguish between an unhealthy or unproductive perseverance & one that will yield a beneficial result.  The key is whether progress is being made in your life.

8.  Lower your awareness threshold.  You probably all know about pain threshold.  There are people who can take living daily with a great deal of pain.  They're used to it & have a high pain threshold.  Pain you or I couldn't & wouldn't put up with.  There's also something called an 'awareness threshold'.  Helen Keller said, "The worst thing is to have vision & not be able to see."   If you 're preoccupied with your own thoughts rather than engaged with the world around you, you can miss a spiritual experience. Your awareness threshold is too high because you're not interested in what's going on around you, or because you don't put effort into absorbing information from your environment.  You can lower your awareness threshold by actively listening & actively seeing.  When you're facing a crisis, it's natural for the human mind to go inside its shell & seal up tight to remove itself from the pain perceived in life.  By increasing our hearing & seeing we'll see the answers right in front of us.  “God is a present help in times of danger.” The “kingdom is at hand,” means that if there is a problem the solution is also present.  They are 2 sides of the same power.

9.  Dare to restructure your life.  There's an old saying, “You can't teach an old dog new tricks.”  In Unity, we've seen thousands of people use a crisis to restructure their lives in some way; to change some aspect of their personality, or pursue a new direction in their lives. Jesus taught a radical form of restructuring your life by shifting from a mind, heart & life centered in ego & culture to a mind, heart & life centered in God.  He said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God & everything else will be added unto you.”

10.  Develop the 3 'C's change in your personality. 
Dr. Suzanne Kobasa studied hundreds of people in crisis over a 3-year period.  Some became ill & died as a result of their crisis & others didn't. She found 3 major differences among those who made it through a crisis without illness. 

1. The people who made it through had commitmentThey were committed to confront & actively engage life rather than facing it passively or trying to avoid it

2. Control.  This means to have a sense of some power or influence over the crisis we face so the individual doesn't feel helpless in the face of a massive external force, but recognizes that he or she always has some options & influence over the outcome because they are 1 with God. 
3. Challenge This refers to a realization & acceptance of the fact that change rather than stability & stagnation is the essence of life & therefore we should look at change with anticipation rather than threat. Challenge means the individual grows by knowing life is a stimulating experience & opportunity.

The 10 principles identified by Unity people that form a powerful set of tools in handling any crisis in life:

1.  Take responsibility for yourself
2.  Affirm your own worth.
3.  Balance self-concern with other concern
4.  Find and use available resources
5.  Learn the art of reframing
6. Practice silver lining thinking
7.  Persevere within reason
8.  Lower your awareness threshold
9.  dare to restructure your life.
10.  Develop the 3 'C"s in your personality.
            Commitment
            Control
            Challenge

Let us close with a prayer:  No matter what I face in my day, I acknowledge and accept the power of God-life within me.  I call it forth into expression through life-affirming prayer and meditation. I fill my mind with thoughts of perfect life.  On the screen of my mind, I hold a picture of myself as happy, strong, and whole.  As a child of God, I know that God & I can do anything.  Happiness is my divine right.   Amen.

 

 

 



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