LET'S GET REAL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS
Come On! Get Real! That's our theme for February. Come On, Get Real. . . .
* About life
* About relationships
*About what personal transformation actually takes.
This month we are Getting Real about these important aspects of our lives by bringing a large dose of Reality (with a capital "R," meaning God) to the table.
Last week, we Got Real about Life's Lessons, and if you didn't hear the message, let me just say that you might want to because it could give you an entirely new perspective on the idea of Life's Lessons!
So, today - in the season that the greeting card, candy, flower and lingerie industry just loves - it feels like the appropriate time to Get Real About Relationships! Now those of you who don't like this time because you aren't in a "relationship," you needn't fear. Because today, the term relationship is much bigger and broader than that!
Because wherever you look, wherever you turn, wherever you are in this human experience, you are in relationship, are you not?
You are in relationship with:
* your family,
* your colleagues and co-workers,
* your friends,
* the grocery store clerk or your favorite barista,
* the other drivers on the road,
* perhaps a sacred partner, yes; and, most importantly
* with yourself and the God of Your Being.
Today, we get real about what works and what doesn't work to create and sustain genuine and real relationships in all of those areas. Are you ready to get real about that? Good! Let's go.
In Talks on Truth, Charles Fillmore gave us a pretty powerful formula for doing this. He wrote: "'God is love,' and to live in God-Mind, man must cultivate love until it becomes the keynote of his life. We must love everybody and everything, ourselves included. Some people hate themselves. Self-hate is destructive. You must love yourself. Affirm the infinite love as your love, and you will find that there will be generated in your mind and body an entirely new element. . . . Love is the magnet. You must have love. You cannot live without it. Then begin to live in the thought of love. Personal love is part of the law, but divine love fulfills the law. Center your love thoughts upon God, and you will find love for your fellow man growing marvelously."a
Those are beautiful and empowering words, and I love them . . . but we need to do more than just remember that:
"Love is the magnet."
. . . although we have to start there!
In Marianne Williamson's book, A Return to Love, she said: "Love takes more than crystals and rainbows, it takes discipline and practice. It's not just a sweet sentiment from a Hallmark card. It is a radical commitment to a different way of being, a . . . response to life that is completely at odds with the rest of the world."b
Someone once said: "Love is not for lazy persons, to exist in its fullness, sometimes it demands very precise and strong gestures."
I want to present you with three gestures of Love this morning that, if offered, will move all of your relationships to a higher and more holy level, and they will definitely be more real!
1. Compassion - Bring compassion to the table.
Charles Fillmore in The Revealing Word says that compassion is: "A characteristic of love and mercy prompted by an understanding heart. A compassionate mind sees the error, but does not condemn. 'Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again" (John 8:11)."c
So, what does it mean to get real about compassion in any and all of our relationships?
* Being compassionate means to listen without judgment, without analyzing, OR without trying to fix.
* Being compassionate means asking, "How can I understand this better?'
* Being compassionate means to look at every act of another human being as a call for love.
* Being compassionate also means having an understanding and empathy for another person's feelings and experience, and offering whatever help you can.
I want to give you an extreme example of compassion, which was reported in the newspaper a couple of years ago. The article was entitled "A lesson Learned on a Bus in Kenya."
It told of a bus containing Christians and Muslims just outside a Kenyan city, which near Christmas several years ago terrorists forced to stop.
More than 10 heavily armed militants of the Somali-based al-Shabab group ordered the passengers to get out and form into groups: Muslims on one side and everyone else on the other side. Their plan was clear because in several previous attacks, members of this terrorist group had slaughtered Christians and spared Muslims.
Despite knowing this pattern and being ordered to separate, the Muslim passengers refused to separate themselves from their non-Muslim fellow passengers. In fact, some even offered headscarves to the Christians.
One of the Muslim passengers said,
"We stuck together tightly . . . The militants threatened to shoot us, but we still refused and protected our brothers and sisters. Finally the militants gave up and left. . ."
The article ended with these lines:
"In the face of death, they saw each other first as human beings. That's a lesson worth remembering in the country that's supposed to be a beacon of liberty."
That is compassion personified.
In A Holmes Reader on Practical Wisdom, it says: " Compassion and caring are the ties that bind us together in mutual understanding and in the unified attempt to uncover the Divinity in each other. Compassion is the most gentle of all human virtues, for it is the outpouring of the Divine givingness through all."d
You, thankfully, won't have to have compassion at the level of those gentle Muslims in Kenya, but how might you bring more compassion for your fellow travelers into your experience? It's a question worth pondering isn't it?
2. Kindness - The second gesture which will help us get real in our relationships is kindness.
Mother Theresa once said: ". . . Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting."e
And the Dalai Lama said: "My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."f
That all sounds well and good, but what does it look like in our lives. Well, how about this? What if each and every day this week, we each consciously did one Random Act of Kindness to a stranger.
* A kind, soft word;
* a helping hand;
* a smile to a stranger;
* giving an anonymous gift to someone;
* picking up trash in someone's lawn;
* helping someone load their groceries into the car at the store;
* paying for the coffee of the person behind you at the drive through.
The list is, of course, endless.
My charge to you is to engage in one Random Act of Kindness to a stranger each day over the next seven days.
But sometimes it is easier to show strangers those Random Acts than it is to show our loved ones, isn't it.
Lucy from Charlie Brown: "I love mankind; it's people I can't stand."
And it's the people closest to us that we might say that about. So, for this week, how about a Random Act of Kindness every day for someone in your close circle as well? Children, partner, co-workers, close friends.
So, that's two Random Acts of Kindness every day - one inside your personal circle; one outside.
Now write this down; set an alarm on your phone; do something so that you don't go unconscious and on Wednesday, say "Now what was that assignment Rev Donna gave us this week?" I know I'm supposed to be doing something, but I can't remember!
3. Authenticity - The final genuine action that will promote beauty in any relationship may not seem so at first blush. It's being Authentic.
* Being real about who you are.
* Being willing to show others your strengths as well as your weaknesses.
* Being willing to be vulnerable.
* Being willing to look foolish.
* Be willing to be bold with your visions and dreams.
* And be willing to be clear and honest and direct about what works and what doesn't work for you in a relationship (while applying our first two ideas - compassion and kindness).
* Being willing to say "no" even if the other person wants a "yes."
On this point, I have just one question: Is there a relationship right now where you are not being authentically you? Would you be willing to clean that up this week?
So, those three attributes - compassion, kindness and authenticity -- when brought to all of our relationships can make a huge difference. But not just to our outside relationships, to our internal relationship as well.
1. COMPASSION FOR OURSELVES
1. Compassion for Ourselves
In Help for Today, Ernest Holmes wrote: "We can have no understanding of Divine Compassion unless we ourselves first exercise compassion." And I will add "for ourselves."g
Can we have compassion for ourselves even when we aren't kind and compassionate to others?
Can we accept ourselves with love even with our human frailties, flaws and mistakes?
Can we look at those times when we are less than skillful in our relationships and take the growth opportunity and then move forward?
Say with me: "I have compassion for myself . . . as well as for all others."
2. KINDNESS FOR OURSELVES
2. Kindness for Ourselves
Engage in self care and nurturing. Treat your body temple in ways that promote its vitality and aliveness.
I have started changing my diet to foods that are good for my body. I make my own soups, which I love. I have been juicing and building up my immune system.
But this is something we have to consciously think about and plan into our lives; instead of picking up fast food on the go.
3. AUTHENTICITY WITH OURSELVES
3. Authenticity with Ourselves
What do I mean by that? Get real to ourselves about ourselves. Realize who you really are!
Fillmore writes in Atom Smashing Power of Mind: "Our Bible plainly teaches that God implanted in man His perfect image and likeness, with executive ability to carry out all the creative plans of the Great Architect."h
Here's what you need to be authentic with yourself. You are:
* Light in form.
*Love in expression.
*Life Force talking.
You are so special and so amazing. You are an emanation of God!
Do you have a strong and healthy relationship with the God of your Being?
Get real; get authentic with yourself about that!
In 10 Ideas That Make a Difference, Ernest Holmes wrote: "We must come to . . . realize that at the base of everyone's life there is a sincere desire to love and to be loved . . . Thus, the most valuable thing any one of us can do is to be a little more certain each day that we are meeting life with a greater sense of love."i
When we bring:
* Compassion for ourselves and others,
* Kindness to ourselves and others, and
* Authenticity with ourselves and others,
. . . we will have gotten real about relationships and be certain that each day we are meeting life with a greater sense of love.
And I want to end with a powerful, powerful statement about love. It's by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a 19th century French monk and mystic: "The day will come when, after harnessing space, 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 shall have discovered fire."j
aTalks on Truth, p. 152, Charles Fillmore
bMarianne Williamson A Return to Love
cCharles Fillmore The Revealing Word, p. 39
dErnest Holmes A Holmes Reader on Practical Wisdom, p. 61
gHelp for Today, p. 54, Ernest Holmes
hCharles Fillmore Atom Smashing Power of Mind, p. 18
i10 Ideas That Make a Difference, Ernest Holmes
jPierre Teilhard de Chardin