LOVE IS MY DECISION!
Love is My Decision. Love is Your Decision, and yours and yours and yours -- that is our focus for this morning as we bring our theme of applying the art and the science of spiritual living in the context of YOUR current challenges and issues.
And I've chosen the idea of love being our decision as a way to conclude our month of practicing the art and science of our teachings because many, many times, our challenges have to do with relationships, don't they? Our human relationships are really where the rubber meets the road. If we are not motivated by love, come from love, then all of our other spiritual work will fall just a bit short of our goals!
So - today we talk about making the decision to love because, as Charles Fillmore wrote in Talks on Truth: "The one who has made union with divine love through his inner consciousness, who lets it pour its healing currents into his soul and his body, is fortunate beyond all description."a
Love, of course, is a choice. As we make ourselves receptive to love, look for love and in every way choose love, love points the way -- and then the Law moves into action to create greater love in relationships, greater love in our work, greater love in life. Today, our mission is to CHOOSE LOVE -- to let it lead the way to a life that is lived fully.
I want to explore three areas of love this morning:
1. Divine Love
2. Tough Love
3. Sacred Love
1. DIVINE LOVE
This is our grounding point. I love these words from Ernest Holmes in The Science of Mind: "Love is the central flame of the universe, nay, the very fire itself. It is written that God is Love, and that we are His expressed likeness, the image of the Eternal Being. Love is self-givingness through creation, the impartation of the Divine through the human."b
And despite what we may have learned in our earlier religious upbringing, I want you to know that God's love for us is completely, totally, 100% unconditional love. Think for a moment what that means. No strings attached. No requirements. We don't have to be a certain way; we don't have to do anything to earn it; we don't have to behave ourselves to receive it! God's love is freely given. It simply washes over you, through you and in you!
Charles Fillmore in Talks on Truth wrote: "We may talk about the wisdom of God, but the love of God must be felt in the heart. It cannot be described, and one who has not felt it can have no concept of it from the descriptions of others. But the more we talk about love, the stronger it grows in the consciousness, and if we persist in thinking loving thoughts and speaking loving words, we are sure to bring into our experience the feeling of that great love that is beyond description - the very love of God."c
I want to give you an opportunity to feel the love of God in an illustration. Now it's a story about a human experience, but it gets pretty darn close to "the feeling of that great love that is beyond description - the very love of God." It goes like this. . .
His name is John. He has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes in it, dirty jeans and no shoes. This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years of college. He is a brilliant student, and more than just a little eccentric!
Across the street from the campus is a very conservative church. Its congregants are older, well-dressed and monied; they might even be judged to be on the stuffy side!
One day John decided to go to church. As usual, he is running late and when he walks in with no shoes, dirty jeans, his holey T-shirt, and wild hair, the service has already started. Not being shy, and feeling pretty comfortable wherever he goes, John starts down the aisle looking for a seat.
The church was completely packed, and he can't find a seat. By now people are beginning to shift in their seats and looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything. John gets closer and closer and closer to the pulpit and, when he realizes there are no seats, he just sits down right on the carpet. (Although this may have been perfectly acceptable behavior at a college fellowship, something like this had NEVER happened in this church before!)
By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick. About this time, the minister realizes that from way at the back of the church, a deacon is slowly making his way toward John. Now the deacon is in his eighties, and very dignified. He has silver-gray hair, a three-piece suit, and a gold pocket watch.
He walks with a cane and as he starts walking toward this boy, everyone is saying to themselves, "You can't blame him for what he's going to do. That young bum really doesn't belong here! He's disrupting our entire service."
It takes a long time for the deacon to reach John. The church is utterly silent except for the clicking of the man's cane. All eyes are focused on him. You can't even hear anyone breathing. The people are thinking, "The minister can't even preach the sermon until the deacon does what he has to do."
And now the deacon reaches John. To everyone's surprise, he drops his cane on the floor, and with great difficulty, and very slowly, he lowers himself and sits down next to John, greeting him with a warm smile and handshake.
Everyone chokes up with emotion. When the minister gains control he says,
"What I'm about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget.
A perfect illustration of God's Love for you! You may feel misplaced, or a misfit, but God doesn't care!! You are completely and totally loved!"
So just breath in the sweet feeling in this room right now . . . and we didn't even actually have that experience. We just heard about it. But even that opens our hearts, doesn't it? Let's then take that open hearted place and bring it to what I am calling "Tough Love." It isn't what you might think!
2. TOUGH LOVE
I received a calendar many years ago that had quotes on each day you could tear off, and this is one was so good I'd like to share it with you: "When we practice loving what is near, we get off the level of mushy sentimentality or abstract philosophy and sink into the soulful difficulty of the actuality."
Let me repeat that so it sinks in. I know it's a mouthful! "When we practice loving what is near, we get off the level of mushy sentimentality or abstract philosophy and sink into the soulful difficulty of the actuality." In other words, loving what is right in front of us is sometimes tough! And that it is high and holy work when we can do this!
A wise spiritual leader once said that human relations are the intersection between what we learn spiritually and how we show up in the world. It's where we do our human homework. But isn't that what we are here to experience?! Ask yourself, "Am I willing to meet this, embrace this and love it through to the other side?" And, boy doing that is an art and a science!!
The Dalai Lama once said that we all have friends - those people in our lives who are easy to love and easy to forgive. Then, he said, we have our "sacred friends" -- those who call us to greatness, but who are very difficult to deal with. It is through our relationships with our "sacred friends" that we activate our own evolution.d
Van Jones, founder of The American Dream Movement and author of The Green Collar Economy once said: When it's harder to love, love harder.e
So, here are just a few ideas for loving someone when it's tough:
* When you look into their eyes, look for the good.
* Look for what they do right.
* Ask yourself "What am I thinking about this person? Can I change my thoughts about this person and start thinking about what there is to love about him/her?"
* Pray for their highest and best -- not for them to change to meet your needs!
* Offer them a loving gesture.
These are all selfless acts. They all mirror the love of the Divine for us, because they are unconditional. You are not asking for anything in return! The interesting thing is that often when someone receives this kind of love, they do change. In his "Real Love" work, author Greg Baer says that "real love melts monsters."f
Let me give you an example with an illustration . . . .
An Amish man and his son were visiting a large mall, the first time either had been in such a place. They gazed at the bright lights and vivid displays with a mixture of awe and some distaste.
They came upon a wall with two silver doors in it. Having never seen an elevator before, father and son watched as an elderly woman in a wheelchair pushed a button and the doors opened. She wheeled herself inside into a small room behind the doors, and the doors closed.
They watched the lights above the elevator go from "1" to "3", and then back to "1". The doors opened and out came a beautiful 25-year-old woman, who smiled at the man and his son as she passed.
The Amish man scratched his beard for a moment, then turned to his son. "Adam," he said, "Run home and get your mother."
I've often been asked, "How do you love others when they do not appear to love themselves, for example, they abuse drugs or alcohol; they don't take responsibility for themselves, they blame me for their challenges, etc. What's the right action to take? How do you apply love in these tough situations?"
Of course, a basic tenet of our teachings is self-responsibility! We must set boundaries at times, and ONLY ONE person can tell you where those boundaries are. YOU! So, tap into your inner guidance system through prayer and active listening and you will know. Then trust it and act!
3. SACRED LOVE
Finally, let's spend a few minutes on what we are calling "Sacred Love," or romantic relationships. Those certainly can be places for us to do our human homework, can't they?
Here are three quick ideas that can serve and support you in your current relationship or in the one you desire to draw into your life:
a. Individual Wholeness/Relationship with God. The romantic notion of love says that if we can find the perfect person for us, then we will be whole and complete. We will find that person, we will fall in love and we will live happily ever after.
But, romantic love has a spiritual basis. There is a craving within each of us for union, conscious union with God (our Source). We know that love is the power that creates that union and our soul will not rest until we rest in that oneness. But romantic love sidetracks us. Instead of realizing the divine love within ourselves, we project it onto another person and that other can never come up to the idealized standards of our love.
Herein lies our task. We must realize that the love is the Love of God within us and not the romantic idea of "falling in love" with another person. Then we must embrace this love of God. When we do, we will become a whole person. Our craving will be over.
We must come as a whole person into the relationship! Then a sacred partnership is possible.
It is time we all understand that a sacred partnership involves a "Cosmic Couple,"g to use a term coined by Barbara Marx Hubbard.
A Cosmic Couple . . .
* moves away from gender stereotypes
* is in fluid movement depending on the needs at the time
Our roles, in a Cosmic Couple-ship, are to ensure that our household is taken care of -- children raised, house cleaned, meals cooked, laundry done, cars maintained, lawn cared for, money earned, bills paid, etc. etc.
It is no one's job to do this -- it is our job as a partnership to do this -- we must sort out who is best suited at any given time. This will shift and change over time.
There is not equal sharing of responsibility - but rather equitable sharing, meaning overall there is a balance, yet at times it will be out of balance with one partner taking on more of the load.
A couple was having an argument over who should make the coffee in the morning. He insisted it was the woman's job. She said, "you are up earlier than I am; you should make it." This argument went on and on and they simply couldn't resolve it so they went to their minister about it.
The minister wasn't sure on this question, but knew that every answer to every question was provided in the Bible, so he told the couple to come back in a week to give him time to research it.
A week later, they returned at the appointed time (both on edge for not having had any coffee for some time now!) and he said to the husband, "Well young man, I'm afraid the scripture is clear on this one -- it is your job." "What? Where does it say that?" he said in disbelief. "Right here, the minister said as he pointed to the book of "He Brews."
That is not a Cosmic Couple model!!
Appreciation in a relationship is a very, very powerful way to tangibly show your love. Appreciation prevents you from taking your partner for granted.
And because I have offered an illustration to summarize each of the other forms of love this morning (Divine Love and Tough Love), here is one for Sacred Love. It's written by that prolific author "Anonymous."
It was a busy morning at the clinic, and at approximately 8:30 a.m., an elderly gentleman arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb. He stated that he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00. I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before a doctor would be able to see him.
I saw him looking at his watch and decided, since I was not busy with another patient at the moment, I would evaluate his wound. On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors and got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound.
While taking care of his wound, we began to talk. I asked him if he had another doctor's appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry. The gentlemen told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife. I then inquired as to her health. He told me that she had been there for a while and that she had Alzheimer Disease.
As we talked, and I finished dressing his wound, I asked if she would be worried if he were a bit late. He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in five years now. I was surprised and asked him, "And you still go every morning, even though she doesn't know who you are?"
He smiled as he patted my hand and said, "She doesn't know who I am, but I still know who she is."
I had to hold back tears as he left and had goose bumps on my arms as I thought, "That is the kind of love I want in my life." True love is neither physical nor romantic. True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be and will not be.
This story takes us back full circle to God's love for us and our love for one another. An acceptance of:
* all that we are,
* all that we have been,
* all that we will be and
* all that we will not be!
Teilhard de Chardin, the French monk and 19th century mystic once wrote: "The day will come when, after harnessing the ether, the winds, the tides, and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And, on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we will have discovered fire."h
What if we made the decision to make that day today??
aCharles Fillmore Talks on Truth p. 60
bErnest Holmes The Science of Mind, p. 478
cCharles Fillmore Talks on Truth p. 51
dThe Dalai Lama
eVan Jones, of The American Dream Movement -author of The Green Collar Economy
fReal Love Greg Baer
gBarbara Marx Hubbard
hTeilhard de Chardin