“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
For me, contained within this verse is the key to being all that I can be for God. It is easy for me to think that I love God in all these ways – with my heart and emotions; with my soul, the highest and most spiritual part of me; with my mind and thoughts and attitudes; and with my strength – my body, physical effort, and service.
From my conscious perspective, I believe I love God from all these areas. But God evokes all of our love, from every corner of our being: the hidden and forgotten; the buried and forsaken.
And this is the key … to surrender all that we are to God and finally allow all of God’s love to pour onto us. God loves every part of us; there is no judgment or condemnation. What we see in ourselves as darkness is simply part of us that we are hiding from God. Any imperfections we see in ourselves are simply areas that we have disallowed the Light and Love of Spirit.
Surrendering and allowing in my mind are two parts of any spiritual process: healing, loving, abundance, relationships, and the list goes on. It is captured in the phrase, “Let Go and Let God”. First we must release the old ways of thinking and believing, then we accept the God-filled, love-infused thought patterns that flow in to take their place. We are transformed by the renewing of our mind, as Paul states.
This is a law of God: give and you will receive. But what you receive is greater than what you give. Luke 6:38 states: Give, and it will be given to you, a good measure--pressed down, shaken, overflowing.
In other words, what we surrender is replaced with something magnificent in return. There is no loss in surrendering to God; there is only gain, renewal, abundance, strength, joy, love, and peace. We have but to allow it.
It is in the allowing that we begin to heal the hurt, anger, unforgiving, and dark parts of our thoughts, minds and attitudes. It is through allowing that we focus on the more productive and important aspects of living and our true spiritual natures.
The spiritual allowing to which I refer is seen in Luke 10:38-42.
“38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself ? Tell her to help me!" 41 "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Mary had surrendered to the Christ, and was allowing her soul to feed from the sublime presence and power available to her. Martha, like so many of us, loved Christ equally, but was focused on working for Christ rather than concentrating on being with Christ, and knowing the joy from intimacy and connection with the inner presence.
I have to confess that there are times when I, like Martha, try to manipulate things to my way of thinking and believing rather than accepting things as they are and experiencing God’s goodness. I forget that “all things work together for God’s good,” and when I see something that doesn’t seem good, I want to modify it.
I’ve heard it said that some of the most dangerous people are those who do the wrong things for the right reasons. If not dangerous, then at least frustrating. Again, I must confess that I have been part of that group. I’ve thought that my ways, my means, my ideas and opinions were the best for our family or friends. But in truth, my ways were best - for me … only me, and I was just irritating everyone else. What I thought was helping others was not at all.
We run into people like this in our lives, and when many of us come up against opposing viewpoints we sometimes react with anger or fear. I have felt threatened and defensive when confronted by aggressive disagreement.
Sometimes we react defensively because we need to control the situation; we need to be the one in charge. At other times we react strongly because we need to feel validated, or because we feel some part of us is being hurt or are losing something essential.
It is simply an emotional reaction and has nothing to do with the truth. For in truth, what have I lost if someone disagrees with me? Absolutely nothing! I am not harmed in any way by someone’s dissent. I am just resisting, and not allowing the person to believe what they believe.
At the moment of any disagreement, we have a choice: we could launch into our defense of why we do what I do or think what we think, we could engage the insults, or we could simply remember the truth: we am not in any way harmed by what this person thinks. Despite what this person believes or thinks, we can continue thinking exactly as we do. Their thoughts do not have to affect us or influence us unless we give them permission. We don’t have to argue or disagree.
Once we have made that realization, we can listen calmly and allow them to express their thoughts, knowing full well that we probably won’t have the opportunity to express ours. We can know that most people aren’t expressing themselves to be mean, but because in their hearts they believe they are helping. We can acknowledge what they are saying and allow them to have their perspective and respond appropriately.
One response may be to simply smile and say, “I hear where you’re coming from.”
We need to remember that there is more than just our perspective; there are more than just our opinions, our ideas, our strategies; and more than that, we need to remember that our way is not necessarily the best way or the only way. If we differ with someone, our positions are just that … different; one is not better or worse – they are just different.
This is allowing.
We are still able to believe and do what we have always done despite what others think. If polygamy were suddenly legal in the United States, I would not participate. There is no loss for me if someone chooses to become a polygamist; I am not harmed or demeaned or lessened in any way. I don’t have to get angry and defensive when I am around someone who differs in thoughts regarding this issue. I don’t need to pick a fight or become violent and shoot someone. I can release feeling threatened just because someone else chooses polygamy.
My rights are still intact. I can still be married to just one woman. I still get the same tax breaks. I can raise my children the way that I wish. I can live in the home I want, drive the car I want, still have the same job. I can still make the choice I want. I have lost nothing.
This is allowing. This is surrender and I think it is part of the message when the Christ said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Of course, cultural influences flow deeply within us. So I might say that although I am not hurt, this idea goes against God.
Sometimes we get stuck in a collective consciousness of the common thinking and cultural influences . We think, “It’s always been done this way so this must be the way that God wants it done.” At times, self-limiting thoughts and beliefs can dominate society at times. There is no room for difference.
But God loves us all and all things work together for good. God does not oppose. God is not on one side but not on the other. God doesn’t love the New York Giants more than the New England Patriots.
God allows. God accepts each of us right where we are and loves each of just as we are.
If we feel out of sorts when we experience an opposing idea, it might be because we have not acknowledged God’s love for us, and there is a corner of our consciousness that does not love God.
When we accept God’s unconditional love, we can give unconditional love. When we give unconditional love, we allow people to be who they are and where they are without our influence, interruption, or correction.
The solution is to allow God’s love to flow through us; and this surrendering and allowing, begins by loving God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength.
When love is flowing between our hearts and God, we can more easily release resistance. We release the temptation to focus on negative things and open ourselves to the feeling of well-being.
By allowing God to flow through other people in its own unique way we quickly move from opposition to acceptance. Then, a burden is lifted from our shoulders, and we are no longer heavy laden. We discover a softening of our prejudices and other limiting beliefs and yet we remain open to Spirit’s guidance.
William James wrote: “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind."
When we alter the way we think about ourselves and others our life changes. We change when we begin to truly love ourselves – forgiving and accepting who we are and where we are, and knowing that God loves us. So, if God loves us it must be ok to love ourselves, despite the flaws.
Another part of this process is allowing ourselves to be loved by others – not abused, not victimized, but loved. We can take responsibility for the thoughts that attract repeated experience to us. If we consistently see ourselves as a victim, we can remember that those thoughts will invariably attract to us a victimizer.
James Allen said: Change your thoughts, change your life…a virtual rephrasing of what Paul said.
The Serenity Prayer touches on this:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can.
And wisdom to know the difference.
What are we allowing in our lives? Are we allowing others’ opinions and attitudes to affect us and influence our own opinions and attitudes? These are things that we can change, and we will feel the sweet serenity of God’s love when those changes are made.
Are we allowing God’s love to flow through us? If not, this is a change that we can make. Allowing is a choice that we can manage. Are we allowing other people to be where they are? We cannot change people, but we can accept them, lovingly.
We can accept God’s good, perfect, and loving plan for this universe, seeing the Presence and Power of the Christ everywhere and in every person. Divine wisdom guides the unfoldment of Creation.
It is my prayer that we realize that we do not need to resist the experiences we encounter. I pray that we will stop complaining and thank God for whatever we face, looking for the purpose of God in our experiences, and allowing the good in all to come to the surface. I pray that we will see the Spirit of good at work in all things and understand that no disharmony can impact us. As we allow God, we release resistance, all suffering, fear, and darkness diminishes.