For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
Yesterday I had the honor to officiate the wedding of a beautiful couple, Steve and Kathy. They are in their 70’s and God attracted them to each other through an online service. Both had been married before, yet they reached out to God’s Universe asking for someone special to come to them. God touched their hearts; they met and were attracted to each other.
But that was just the start of the process of their union. They had attracted to them what they desired, and now they had to accept each other; they had to allow what God offered them to become part of who they were. This allowing nature culminated in their marriage yesterday.
Somewhere along their journey, either one could have said, “No,” and that would have been all right. But they both said, “Yes”. In fact, they both said, “I do.”
At every moment, we are saying “Yes” to some things, and “No” to others. There is a process of allowing and denying that continues throughout our lives. We allow some things and disallow others. This is a natural state of our being. Our challenge is in being aware of this process as we engage life.
In order for God to work in us, and give us the desires and power to have and accomplish and be all that God wants for us, we must allow it. We must trust God. We are told in Isaiah 41:10 - So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. God gives us the power and strength to attain our Good. We just need to supply some courage and allow ourselves the room to grow.
In Jeremiah 29:11 we are taught, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Not only are God’s plans for us prospering, and hope-filled, and safe, but God gives us the strength to fulfill those plans; plans that reflect the love that God has for us. That is what is in store for us, and all we need to do is allow it, accept it, claim it, and surrender to it.
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 there as a temporary passenger. It is not who we are. As Eckhart Tolle teaches, “Boredom, anger, sadness, or fear are not ‘yours,’ not personal. They are conditions of the human mind. They come and go. Nothing that comes and goes is you.”
What we see as negative within us is nothing more than our thinking about what we see. Our challenge in life is to look within, see what is there, both the Light and the Dark, and allow ourselves to be all that is there without judging. We are not the Light or the Darkness that we perceive. So, what are we, then, if not the Light and the Dark? We are the one who ‘sees’ the Light and Darkness; we are that awareness, the consciousness.
We are spiritual beings with a body. While walking our journey, we face decisions and circumstances where it easy for us to make mistakes. My goodness, how else will we learn? But we are not our mistakes; we are the one who recognizes the mistake and chooses to act differently in the future. Our real mistake is allowing our errors in thought or behavior to define us and determine our path.
When we allow Spirit to express through us, we release our self-condemnation, and see the situation for what it really is. “Ok, I made an unproductive decision there. I won’t do that again.” We do not berate ourselves or dwell on the situation.
Now, I am keenly aware that this takes practice, time, and effort. But it is a learnable skill: to surrender and see things as they truly are, to allow things that are, to be, without judgment and criticism.
Surrendering and allowing 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 to take their place.
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.
Allowing can be seen in exhibiting joy. Often, to feel joy, we must abandon our old thoughts on how to react and behave. We cannot allow what others think to determine how we respond or behave. If we experience the joy of Spirit bubbling up through our being and feel like dancing, then we need to allow that Joy to express.
We begin to tap into the power of allowing when we can allow people, things, and situations to be as they are - without judging them or trying to fix and change them. When we truly allow circumstances and people to be exactly as they are, we create the space for change and transformation to occur.
A deeper aspect of allowing has to do with trusting, being patient and having faith that what we want to manifest, create and experience can and will show up in our life as God intends. The power of allowing surges when we can allow things to happen and materialize, without our having to manipulate, dominate or control other people or situations to make them happen.
As a closet control freak, I have to confess that there are still times when I 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 tweak it. I have occasionally thought that my methods and my opinions were the best for a particular situation. 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. We 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. What is it that we are really “defending”? At other times we react strongly because we need to feel validated, or because we believe some part of us is being hurt or we 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.
A hard lesson for many of us is 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. Once we have allowed this truth to enter our hearts, we can listen calmly and allow someone to express their thoughts, knowing full well that we probably won’t have the opportunity to express ours. We can acknowledge what they are saying and allow them to have their perspective and we can respond appropriately. One response may be to simply smile and say, “I hear where you’re coming from.” If we differ with someone, our positions are just that … different; one is not better or worse – they are just different.
This is allowing, and I think it is part of the message when Christ said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
We can get stuck in common thinking and encaged by cultural influences. We think, “It’s always been done this way so this must be the way that God wants.” At times, self-limiting thoughts and beliefs can dominate society. There is no room for allowing.
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 allows. God accepts each of us right where we are and loves each of just as we are.
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, then, is to allow God’s love to flow through us; and this surrendering and allowing begins by loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, as we are instructed. 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 Spirit 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. 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 revise how 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 we think we see.
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? Are we allowing God’s love to flow through us? 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 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 plans for this universe, seeing the Presence and Power of Christ everywhere and in every person, and observing Divine wisdom guiding 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. 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 and we release resistance, all suffering, fear, and darkness diminishes.
And so be it.