Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
We’ve heard that popular phrase of introduction amongst entertainers: “Give it up for… Will Smith;” “Help me give it up for…” whoever is being honored. It means to release our inhibitions and demonstratively show our appreciation and approval for someone being recognized. We let go of anything that would hold us back and express, in this case, our enthusiasm and belief.
Humankind’s limited beliefs about life, death, relationships, really … every area of our lives are dramatically influenced by what everyone else believes. Most of us are conformed to this world, to whatever the common behaviors and thoughts patterns are. The Christ within us continues to reveal to us through inner guidance that the Source of Absolute Love radiates through us and throughout all of Creation. At every moment of our lives we are invited to release our thoughts of death, lack, limitation, sin, shame, anger, hate and guilt and share in the overcoming, the resurrection of the Christ.
Yet we struggle with this, because we cling to our thoughts; we cling to the ego and lower self, rather than engage our spiritual nature and our highest Self. We tend to identify with our body and mind, and our other perceptions rather than Spirit. Because we equate ourselves with the objects we perceive, we fail to recognize that we are the Perceiver, not the perceived; the Witness and Observer, not the observed. And because of this false perception, we often continue to experience self-inflicted challenges. We are still conformed to this world and have not yet transformed ourselves.
Release has been on my mind recently, and it is still floating around in my mind. I think what Spirit wants from us is to “give it for God”, to release all thoughts and experiences into Spirit. What I mean is that EVERYTHING is to be turned over and surrendered to God.
I really don’t think many of us experience our life journey without encountering some sort of addiction - a thought pattern or behavior from which we cannot extricate ourselves. We habitually repeat a cycle without an ability to change it.
We are familiar with the most common addictions of alcohol, drugs, smoking, lust, eating, shopping and many others. But I think there are more subtle addictions that we don’t even consider. Some of these include religious, social, political, economic, and inter-personal beliefs and thought patterns. Some of us are addicted to responding to situations in particular ways. We love to play the ‘victim’. “Woe is me; look what has happened to me. It is all their fault that I am the way I am. I am a victim; it is not my fault. I am where I am because of them or….”
I would venture to say that any advertisement that we see on television is directly aimed at some addiction in people. Need a new hair coloring? It is because we are addicted to looking attractive. Need a new pharmaceutical? Perhaps we are addicted to seeing ourselves as sickly and less than perfect. Need a new stockbroker? Are we addicted to the adrenaline rush of making money or the idea that we are lacking in finances? We are addicted to looking at ourselves in particular ways, perhaps as unworthy or useless, or too fat or too old, or too this or that. Sometimes we respond negatively or fearfully when anything or anyone new enters our lives.
So why do we do this? Why do we react or think the way that we do? A psychologist will tell you that we act in a particular manner because the payoff we receive is greater than the harm from our behaviors. What we get out of an activity or belief system brings us satisfaction in some way.
Well, how does playing the victim bring us satisfaction? It must certainly vary by the individual, but maybe from the recognition. Even negative recognition is more favorable than no recognition. Maybe because it brings us into the fold – they feel sorry for us, and we are accepted by them. For nothing else, rather than feel totally alone or bored it is better to feel the drama of shame and anger than to feel nothing at all. So, we cling to our addictions because they work for us…that is, until we realize that there must be a better way; until we get a glimpse of the Christ within or a small breath of Spirit invades our heart. Then we try to abandon our addictions to claim the freedom.
And this is when we really realize our limitations: We are unable to stop the persistent behaviors and patterns of thought that enslave us. Often, it requires a ‘hit bottom’ experience before we are shaken from the World’s clutches. At our cry for help, we allow Spirit to move into action. The Christ within urges us to ‘give it up for God’. . Although our egos fight on ferociously, we are guided to surrender to Spirit whatever plagues us.
Did you know that until Alcoholics Anonymous was created few recovered from alcoholism? People were pitied, doctors tried to cure them in various ways, psychiatrists tried their best, but nothing worked. Someone could go without drinking for a time, but almost always reverted to the addiction. The only extremely rare exceptions were the people who happened upon a system of spiritual values, which was exceedingly uncommon. Common thought was that once an alcoholic you succumbed to some health-related issue and died.
All of that changed when AA was started. It is a spiritually based set of twelve steps that when followed willingly leads a soul out of the darkness of addiction into the light of freedom and life. It has helped millions of alcoholics and their families directly and indirectly.
Those same 12 Steps have been adopted successfully by many different addictive behavior groups, and I believe they benefit every single person who applies them regardless of their state of mind. Why do I say that? It is because of the first three Steps:
1. We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.
Where medicine deals with the body, the exterior of our being, this 12 Step program deals with the inner, the spiritual nature. It is no coincidence that the only exceptions to an alcoholic death were those few individuals over history that had come into association with a spiritual group of people who loved them unconditionally.
The spiritual principles contained within the 12 Steps can be applied to any negative pattern of thought or behavior that we have. Are we caught up in fear? Give it up to God. Stuck in a pattern of reacting with anger or defeat? Turn it over to Spirit.
Turn everything over to Spirit…not only what we call the negative, but the positive, as well. Are things going really well in your life – are you happy, healthy, prosperous, and at peace? Surrender everything to God: sufferings and joys, challenges and victories, love and hatred, courage and fears. “My God, heal me. I turn this over to You; I release any emotions or thoughts or expectations or judgment regarding this. I surrender all of this and my entire life to You.”
As Christ continues to express through us completely as love through us, only God knows what amazing freedom, joy, and love we will experience. Whatever our limited human thinking conjures up is meaningless compared to the capabilities of Spirit. To allow Spirit to move through us is a moment-by-moment decision; it is a choice. Christ’s journey on earth taught us that the willingness to surrender it all to God, to ‘give it to God’ was the path to true life. This thought is the transforming power that renews us. Most powerful is the lesson that Love is all that matters. Love ourselves, additions and all; love each other – addictions and all. As Spirit unfolds and enfolds we see its holiness in ourselves, in everyone, and in all of Creation.
We are told that we can transform through the renewing of our minds, through the renovation of our thinking. Instead of thinking as our ego instructs, let’s think differently. The word ‘think’ can be an acronym for a more positive perspective on thought.
“T” is for true. Is what we are thinking even true or is it something that other people have said or directed us to think.
“H” is for helpful. Are our thoughts helpful, not just to ourselves, but to all of God’s Children; not just to our tribe or social class or political genre, or age group, but to everyone?
“I” is for inspirational. Do our thoughts inspire others to their highest good, to behave at the ethical, moral, and honorable standards that God sets for us?
“N” is for Necessary. Is what we are thinking necessary, or is it a frivolous fantasy of self-indulgent inappropriateness? Are our thoughts necessary at this time, in these conditions?
The “K” can be for kind. Are our thoughts kind or are they hurting others? Are they gentle and loving, or cruel, self-serving, and malicious?
Can we transform our thinking by guiding it to be true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, and kind? We can transform ourselves, our lives, and this world with the renewing of our mind, with the changing of our thoughts, words, behaviors, attitudes, and perspectives. Change our thinking and we can change everything.
It is my prayer that we test it, then adopt God’s good, acceptable, and perfect Will. I pray that from this moment on we place God at the center of our thinking and turn our lives and being … turn it all over to God. I pray that moving forward, our thinking stops aligning with the world and we strengthen our alliance with Christ.
That God loves us despite our faltering steps and decisions, calls to us and guides us despite our deafness, embraces us despite our unresponsiveness, and continues to stimulate us and draw us upward in consciousness despite our numbness is nothing short of a remarkable display of unconditional love and deserving of a ‘Let’s give it up for God!’