Psalm 119:66 - Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments.
God has blessed us with free-will; we can choose our actions and thoughts and words. So, what are we choosing, as an individual, as a nation, as a global community, and what is our motivation for those choices? How do we assign more value to one choice over another? As with any choice, our challenge is to first educate ourselves, and expose ourselves to the awesome alternatives Spirit presents. Only then can we be open to all the possibilities that exist outside the social dogma fed to us through the ego, and then … make a choice. How can we effectively choose if we don’t know the choices available?
One of the hardest questions for me to answer is, “What would you like for dinner?” That’s hard. Better for me, is when I am given a choice: Would you like salad or veggies with either egg salad or tuna burgers? Now, I can answer that question.
But life is not always like that; we are not given a clear assortment of choices. Sometimes we are only offered the choices of the world – Patrick, we are giving you a choice: would you like to loathe people of color, other Caucasians who hate people, other ethnicities, other people who don’t worship as you do, love as you do, vote as you do … or would you prefer to hold disdain and derision for stupid people, rude people, and poor drivers?
If those are our only choices, the only paradigm given to us by our immediate family, friends, and social environment, then our choices are limited, aren’t they? In fact, that is not a choice at all. It may sound like a choice, but really it is hatred and aversion forced upon our psyches disguised as choice.
On the other hand, too many choices can stunt our ability to decide; we grow indecisive. For some, modern living, the internet, and social media increases our choices to an overload level. What diet to follow: Paleo, Keto, Mediterranean, vegetarian, vegan, ovo-lacto vegetarianism? Or maybe the Hacker’s Diet, Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers, Body for Life, the 5:2 diet, intermittent fasting?
What exercise to take: Should I do heavy weights, light weights or no weights? Should I run, walk, golf, skip rope, climb stairs, hike, join a gym or sports team, cycle, yoga, gardening, rock climbing? Should I emphasize endurance and aerobics, strength, or flexibility?
What clothes to wear, what blogs to follow, what to watch on TV, what to read. Sadly, too many choices can cause us not to choose at all. At times, our actions are derived from habit and previous limited education and experience, and are not choices at all, but are reactions to the pressures placed upon us.
Some say that we are better off with a limited pool of choices; it makes choosing easier. I would agree, if the choices are broad and cover an entire spectrum. I, for one, can quickly narrow down a long list of choices when it comes to insignificant things such as clothing, food, and entertainment. My method is to find the first one that appeals to me and resonates with who I am and what I am looking for. I am not one of those who has to continue the search for the “perfect” choice. In truth, I know that it does not exist. But that’s just me, and making choices is usually not a big deal.
But Patrick, maybe on the next page of the menu you will see something that you may like even better. Perhaps, but the item I chose I want and will enjoy. I don’t need to put myself through needless pressure to find the perfect meal.
Big decisions are not as easy, but I have found that in big decisions the choice pool is usually pretty limited to begin with: who to vote for, which house to buy, which car, what career, what job, who to marry, to have kids or not? In most instances such as these, the choices are limited, but the process for deciding is important. Although there are often various choices, we can quickly narrow down to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
Choice is important, and I don’t want to get into how to make a worldly physical choice; there are many methods available, such as the “pros vs. cons” and the like. I want to move away from worldly choices and direct our thoughts toward the choices we make regarding our spiritual natures. Choices like: whom are we commanded to love? Who deserves our appreciation and acceptance?
If the answer becomes a long list of differentiated peoples, ethnicities, and theologies, then we very likely will abort our choice process entirely and default to habit, to what we have always believed based upon our past worldly influences. In this case, it is my recommendation to adhere to Christ’s list of choices, and there is only one option - ‘everyone’. We need not choose between enemies and friends as to whom we love; according to Christ, we love both. We don’t choose between the Jew and the Samaritan, we love both. We don’t choose whom to love between the progeny who loyally followed our instructions and the one who wasted their inheritance; we love both.
In the eyes of God, there is no choice to be made when it comes to loving others; we are to love everyone. And why? The simplest answer is that we are all expressions of our one Source, part of one family. Our spiritual natures are all connected in the oneness of God. When we are attuned to Spirit, we make our choices from the inside-out. Choices made through our inner spiritual values allow us to consciously create a better world, a more loving world.
When we look upon people through our spiritual natures, we become aware that like us, they are doing the best they can with what they know. We see their mistakes, just as they see ours. We see their poor judgments, moral decisions, and flaws, just as they see ours. We watch in dismay as they succumb to ego, hubris and pride just as they are alarmed as we yield to the same.
In Matthew 7:3 Christ gives us the guidance for these situations, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Why? The answer is that we are enamored by ego’s insistence that we are right, and they are wrong, that we are better, more moral, on the right path.
But when we see through the eyes of Spirit, we love them, speck and all. We don’t call them out for their ways, because our ways cannot be proven to be any more effective for anyone other than ourselves. Author Eric Micha'el Leventhal wrote “Each person you meet is an aspect of yourself, clamoring for love.” The truth is, if we are judging our other family members, then as Children of God, we are off course and out of alignment with Spirit. It doesn’t matter what position we hold, what we claim, how much respect we have from the world, how much power and control, or what organizations we represent and hold dear – it is plain and simple, if we do not love the other members of God’s family, we have cut ourselves off from Spirit; we are running on autopilot and have relinquished control of our lives, not to God, but to the world.
St. Clement, one of the early church fathers wrote this in 96 AD, 1 Clem 13:1 Let us therefore be lowly minded, brethren, laying aside all arrogance and conceit and folly and anger, and let us do that which is written. For the Holy Ghost saith, Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, nor the strong in his strength, neither the rich in his riches; but he that boasteth let him boast in the Lord, that he may seek Him out, and do judgment and righteousness most of all remembering the words of the Lord Jesus which He spake, teaching forbearance and long-suffering.”
In other words, let us not alloweth our egos to controlleth our passions. We have but one choice to make: to treat everyone as they truly are – another Child of God; they are family. All the others of the world, whether similar to us or not, are not burdens; they enrich us and bring us value. They are neither inferior nor superior; they are equally worthy, equally of value. They are not outcast, dissimilar, and useless rejects of humanity; they are family. From the wealthy, powerful, and high class, to the poor, disadvantaged, and oppressed - we are one in the eyes, heart, and mind of God; we are kindred souls, bound together by the omni-embracing arms of Spirit. We are family, brothers and sisters, deserving of God’s love and therefore deserving of our love.
We know this to be true intuitively when we surrender to God’s presence and to the gentle power of Spirit. Our oneness rises to the surface of our consciousness when we release our judgment of others and open our minds and hearts to the flood of God’s Love and Light. When illumined from within we refuse to form negative conclusions about someone; we cease making personal attacks on people different from ourselves; we stop feeling that we have the right to tell someone how they should live their life, and we abandon the necessity to determine someone’s value as a human being.
Rather than condemning and judging, we can be accepting and show compassion. Each of our spiritual paths are beset with challenges. We all stumble, and we can all benefit by a helping hand. As we focus on the Light of Christ during our prayer times, we find our way back to oneness and a sense of family. “I am love, and I choose to love all members of God’s family,” is a simple affirmation to incorporate into our hearts and minds. Another thought to hold: “I see myself as an active expression of God’s vibrant health and spiritual strength.”
By holding strong truths in our minds and hearts, we can fend off the loud voices of the world. It is my prayer that we will see each other, as part of our family. We can love them, and we do not have to agree with them. We do not even have to like them or spend time with them. But we can love them; we can hold them in God’s Light and envision God’s Good for them. Despite their misdeeds, and discordant life choices, we can see them surrounded by the Light and Love of Christ. They are family, and deserve the right to learn, grow, and transform under the instruction and guidance of Spirit within their own time-frame. I pray that we will trust the unconditional love of Spirit to reveal God’s good and perfect plans when, and how, it is right for each of us.
I leave you with a thought from author Amit Ray: “The true miracle lies in our eagerness to allow, appreciate, and honor the uniqueness, and freedom of each sentient being to sing the song of their heart.”