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Which Voice Will I Listen To?

Which Voice Will I Listen To?

Everything I do is teaching myself, and teaching others as well. I can’t stop teaching. What I can do is exercise control over what I teach. I do this by choosing the voice I want to listen to. If I listen the the ego’s voice, I will teach that we are vulnerable, fearful and guilty. If I listen to the Holy Spirit’s Voice, I will teach something entirely different. Which voice will I choose? The first thing I had to learn how to do was recognize which voice I was listening to. At first I was at a loss, but soon I started to see that the Voice for God is always gentle, loving and patient. This clearly separated it from the ego?s voice, which is always loud and strident. 

My son, Toby, tells me that not only are he and his girlfriend going to Europe this summer, but when he gets back, he is going sky diving! Knowing that they are traveling to Europe alone, was a little worrisome, but I?ve got to tell you, when he told me about his sky diving plans, I brought worry to a whole new level! It would be accurate to say that God?s Voice was not the first voice I heard. Boy, did my ego have a field day with this one. I heard the ego?s voice proclaiming loudly that this was crazy, crazy and recklessly dangerous. My ego wanted to know what kind of mom would go along with a stunt like this. It showed me pictures of my son stepping out of a plane and falling like a rock. It warned me of parachutes that don?t open.

If I listen to the ego?s voice, I will be afraid and fear is what I will teach. Even if I kept my comments to myself, I would express my fear in other ways. I will be teaching fear because I will be a fearful person. It is not God?s Will that I live in fear, nor is it His Will that I teach fear. After the initial shock wore off, I was able to tune out the loud, discordant voice of the ego and listen for the quiet, certain Voice of Love.

God?s Voice assured me that I was not created in fear and am not meant to live in fear. I do not want to teach fear because fear is not of God. My ego points out all sorts of scary stuff; war, personal strife, dangers small and great. The ego reminds me of sickness I have suffered and asks me how I could be like God if all of this is true. Behind this voice of fear is God?s Voice gently reminding me that there is nothing outside of God, and so if I think I can suffer I must be mistaken.

I hear the Voice for God and I hear its unassailable logic and yet I am seduced by what my body?s eyes and my body?s senses tell me. Looking at what I see in this world I have to ask, how can I be as God created me, and yet, how can I not be as God created me? This is why it is essential that I always choose to hear the Voice for God. This is the reason God gave me His Voice. Jesus assured us that he would be with us always and he meant this in a very literal sense. We are also assured that God would send His comforter, and He did.

I have all of this help, but I must agree to accept it for it to do me any good. The Holy Spirit is always whispering in my heart what I need to know, but I hear Him only if I choose to. Sometimes I will wallow around in misery for awhile before I decide that this kind of life is unworthy of a child of God. Then, I will call on God for help. The first thing I have to do is to surrender my own interpretation of what is happening. This clears the way for another way to see it. There is a prayer I learned while taking a Pathways course that starts like this: I open my mind to You Holy Spirit. I will not decide what anything means on my own.

In saying this prayer, I have invited the Holy Spirit into my mind to heal my thoughts. This is an important step because the Holy Spirit does not force His way in; He always waits for an invitation. I have also made a place in my mind for a new way to see things as I confessed to not knowing what anything means. I am very excited now, because I am going to experience my life change for the better. I have shown my willingness through this invitation. Willingness is my only job; the rest is up to God. In fact, if I tried to fix it myself, I would just be in the way. It would make no sense to come to God for help and to bring the proposed answer with me (though often, I confess, I am guilty of doing just that).

As usually happens, the first voice I heard was the ego’s voice, but I recognized it for what it was and, as I listened more closely, I began to hear the Voice for God. There are only those two voices. I chose the one I wanted to follow. If I had chosen the ego’s voice I would have taken a detour into fear. I have been down this road many times and I didn’t want to go there. By choosing to listen to the Voice for God, I have chosen to teach myself that I am God’s Holy Son. This is also the lesson I am teaching Toby. I am an imperfect teacher of God, but I am a willing learner and it is the Holy Spirit?s joy to teach me.


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Healing Dreams

Healing Dreams

Yet the Holy Spirit, too, has use for sleep, and can use dreams on behalf of waking if you let Him.  T-8.IX.3

The Course suggests that we give our dreams to the Holy Spirit so that He can use that time to teach us. I do that often, and most of the time I have to assume it is happening because I really can?t tell. Occasionally though, I am aware of and remember the lesson a dream offers me. This happened to me the other night. At least, I remembered the dream, and was aware that there was a lesson in it for me. Discerning that lesson was not as easy.

I dreamed of babies. There were triplets and though I can?t remember that part of the dream well, I do remember that the babies were stolen from the mother and I felt sad for her, in the way you feel when you hear a stranger?s sad story. Then, in my dream, I started remembering that I lost my child in the same way; someone took this child from me. Immediately, I felt guilty thinking,? ?how could I had forgotten this?? Then the horror of what had happened began to take hold, and I was overwhelmed with grief. I understood why I had chosen to forget. The grief and anguish were truly terrible and I felt it as strongly as if it were actually happening to me at that moment. When I woke up, I found that I was unable to shake the dream off. The sadness and grief stayed with me.

For the next two days I felt mildly depressed and then suddenly I would feel so grief stricken that I would start to cry. It was very strange. I have never had a dream affect me so strongly. I asked the Holy Spirit what I needed to understand from this dream, for surely, a dream this vivid must have a message for me. One thing I realized was that my youngest daughter, Susan, was associated (in my mind) with the stolen child for whom I grieved. This made sense, because I have lost her, in a way. She has a partner now and they spend all of their time together. Even though we have always been very close, now I don?t see her very often and miss that closeness acutely.

Feeling like I have lost the close relationship I used to have with Susan, and feeling regretful and sometimes angry about that is a situation I have taken to Holy Spirit often to ask for healing, so I thought this might be what the lesson is about. ?But then, Holy Spirit, what do you want me to learn from it?? I just couldn?t figure it out, but I kept asking for clarification because the emotions associated with the dream wouldn?t go away. Finally, on the third day I asked again what on earth is going on with me. Here I stand in the shower weeping over a child lost in a dream. I wondered how anyone could take someone?s child. How could someone deliberately cause another person so much grief? For that matter, how could I cause myself so much grief? Aha! Suddenly, I got it.

I have been grieving for a dream child; for a loss that never happened. I have been causing myself grief. Is this not what I do all the time? How often do I cause myself pain and grief over something that is happening in the illusion? This day dream world is no more real than my night dream world. Grieving for something in it makes no more sense than grieving for something in a night dream. And yet, I spend most of my waking moments experiencing the tug of one emotional attachment after another.

I started thinking about how much I would rather be writing or performing a wedding or delivering a sermon; yet, here I am, driving hundreds of miles each day, working in the heat, fighting off ants and mosquitoes so that I can earn a living. The more I thought about it, the more dissatisfied I became with my life circumstances. I wished I didn?t have to do this work, but I wasn?t willing to give up the money I earn doing it. I started to feel trapped and my anxiety level rose.

I thought about my dream. There is nothing wrong with my job. Many people would love to have it, and I enjoy it most of the time. The bottom line is that my job is neither good nor bad, it is just a job. I decide how I want to view it, and that decision determines how happy or how miserable I will be. As I was getting myself worked up about my dissatisfaction with the job, I stopped and asked myself why on earth I would choose to do this to myself. Why would I deliberately choose to feel frustrated, trapped, miserable and fearful? I decided right then and there to choose differently. I imagined myself sitting in front of a large box. I started placing all of my various dissatisfactions in the box. I looked at each one and thought that I didn?t want it anymore, and then I dropped it in the box. In went the frustration, then the fear went in next. I kept doing this until I couldn?t find anything else to put in the box.

I imagined myself carefully closing the box and taping it shut. Next, I wrapped it in paper and tied it with a bow. I then imagined myself bringing it to God and offering it as my gift to him. With that box, I knew I was giving him my need to think I was in control. It doesn?t seem like much of a gift since my sense of control is mostly in my head and has little effect in reality, but I have always clung to that illusion, and somehow thought it was important to my survival. It took some courage for me to give this gift. I had to acknowledge that God loves me and wants only what is best for me. I also had to acknowledge that He knows better than I do what is best for me. ?Duh?, you might say. ?Yeah, yeah, I know.? But still, my stomach quivers a bit as I hand it over. As I release my hold on this gift I say to myself, ?I relinquish the illusion of control which I have been hanging on to.?

I used this same process with my daughter. I sat down with the box. I put in my sense of loss as I acknowledged that loss is real only in the world of form and that world is an illusion. I put in my resentment at her partner for ?taking her away from me.? I put in my fear of being abandoned. As I prepared my gift to God, I asked that I might experience a Universal Love in place of this special relationship.

The world may seem to cause you pain. And yet the world, as causeless, has no power to cause. As an effect, it cannot make effects. As an illusion, it is what you wish. Your idle wishes represent its pains. Lesson 190

Since I have completed this ritual, I have had some of those emotions pop up unexpectedly, but I recognize them for the insubstantial shadows that they are; just habits of thought, really. I return them to God and express my gratitude for the peace He gives me in return. The days following my dream were unpleasant and confusing, but I am so grateful for that dream. It was a real blessing as it caught my attention in a way my usual lessons had not. I had asked repeatedly to be released from the pain of the situation with my daughter, but had not looked at the thoughts that were causing it. When I think about it, I realize my dream was the answer to my prayer. It helped me to see the thoughts causing my discomfort and so gave me the chance to look at them with the Holy Spirit and to ask for healing.

He is free to choose again when he has been deceived; to change his mind when he has made mistakes.  Lesson 194



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Outside the Box

Outside the Box

I’ve been working on 908 Abundance Awareness. I have gained so much from doing this Pathways course. Of course, I always say that about all of the courses, but there is an idea in this one that is particularly helpful to me. The course talks about the ego process of solving problems on its own by bringing the past to the present, and how this guarantees the problems will keep coming. The course talks about how solving problems within the box (the ego belief in separation) doesn’t free it from the box, which is the problem; and then talks about how we need to go outside the box (to the Holy Spirit).

That whole concept has really caught my imagination. I am a very visual person and perhaps that is why this works so well for me. I decided to start using this process with some of those stubborn problems that won’t seem to go away. Weight loss is a good example. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I’d solved that puzzle, just to see it pop up again.

I decided that every time I felt guilty for eating something, or worried about what the scale reads, or concerned about how something fits, I would step out of that box. The way I do it is to first become aware of when I am thinking about weight. I’ve done it for so long that I have become unaware of my thoughts. It is sometimes like background noise; I hardly even notice the worrisome concerns.

Every time I am aware of these weight concerns, I see myself sitting in a box, which is a problem to solve, and I am surrounded by puzzle pieces. It is a familiar puzzle. I have put the pieces together many times. I’ve sometimes thought I had finally hit on a design that I really liked, one that would work for me; but, ultimately, I would find myself back in the box, pieces scattered around me. I started to examine the pieces and found some that fit together to create a low fat diet that I was once convinced was my savior. Then I found the pieces that created a picture of me exercising; weight dripping off me with the beads of perspiration. That one was especially ill conceived and very short lived.

I found all sorts of diet variations in the pieces; all stuff I picked up from women’s magazines and health publications and crazy stuff from other desperate folks. Oh yeah, there’s the popcorn diet. I remember that one. I found out one cannot survive on popcorn alone. Oh my, all those pieces; all those parts of my past. No matter how I put the puzzle together; no matter how I rearranged the pieces, nothing ever changed. I’m still imprisoned in this weight box.

As I dig deeply through all of the available pieces, I find some of my mom. As I put them together, I see a picture of her expressing her own fears of weight gain; the same fears that she learned from her mother. Weight gain seems to run in our family and with that, the fear has been passed down from one generation to another. The sins (errors in thinking) of the mother will be visited on the children?  I see that this is probably the basis for the thinking errors that helped form my box, and as long as I keep going back to the past for my answers, I am going to keep running into this wall.

The problem is obvious. Nothing from the past is going to help me change the future. It is just going to keep me in the problem, and all that I have to work with in this box are pieces from the past. So, since nothing from the past has worked, and there doesn’t seem to be anything in the box to help me, I decided to seek help outside the box. I asked the Holy Spirit to look at this with me. I asked Him to show me another way to see this. I asked Him to correct my thinking and heal my mind. I expressed my willingness to give up all my past beliefs and all my preconceived notions about how it ought to work. I confessed to the Holy Spirit that I don’t have the answer in my box.

I have had to go through this process a bunch of times. I have found it surprisingly difficult to give up the idea that I can do it myself, in spite of all the evidence that I can?t. Playing with those puzzle pieces has become such an ingrained habit that I find it difficult to give it up. I keep climbing back into my familiar box. Now that I’ve looked at the possibility of being out of it, I find it cramped and uncomfortable, so I don’t mind going through the process again. Often, once I start experiencing some success, I automatically try to take over and I wind up back in the box. Just tonight as I was leaving the restaurant, I started shifting through the puzzle pieces to see where the meal I had just finished fit into the puzzle. Then I remembered my willingness to give this to the Holy Spirit, and thanked Him for the reminder. I am grateful that I almost always remember to turn it over to Him. I?m pretty excited about this, because, I realize that while the size and shape of my body matters only in the illusion, which, by definition, doesn?t even exist; using this problem to practice following the Holy Spirit?s guidance is essential. In the Manual, page 70, it says, ?Do not, then, think that following the Holy Spirit?s guidance is necessary merely because of your own inadequacies. It is the way out of hell for you.

I notice that when I see myself in that particular box, it no longer seems as real to me; as if the sides of the box shimmer uncertainly in the light. The Holy Spirit whispers to my heart that soon I will see they are gone altogether, and I will know they never really existed except in my own mind.

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The Gift

The Gift

I learned something about myself around this whole surgery thing. The surgery was for a hernia repair. It was supposed to be a simple day surgery, quickly in and out, a week or so of recovery to get back on my feet. And that is exactly how it went for about ten hours, and then I passed out and hit the floor.

I have never passed out before this. I was sitting down when it happened. At first I just began feeling very odd, as if someone was dimming the lights. I felt strangely disconnected from my body. This was one of those instances when everything seemed to be in slow motion. I had a number of clear thoughts and I?m pretty sure it happened more quickly than I am remembering it.

I first wondered what was going on with my body, and recognized that something pretty odd was happening. I wondered if I had taken too many pain pills. I mean, who puts a person under the influence of narcotics in charge of their own dosing, anyway? With that thought I wondered if I had over dosed and maybe I was going to die.

At first I felt a sense of panic at the thought, and I started a detour into fear. Then, just as suddenly, I thought, ?Well Ok, if it is time, then it is time. I don?t know how I feel about this.? And just as I very often do in everyday life (you know, every day life, when I?m not thinking I?m going to die in the very next moment!), I gave it over to the Holy Spirit. I asked Him to be in charge. I surrendered my efforts to think. I surrendered my desire to judge what was happening, or even what should happen.

As the physical process played out in my body, I felt stranger yet, but I had become an observer watching it happen. I was interested, but no longer emotionally attached to the outcome. I had called on a higher power, and as odd as it seems under the circumstances, I felt at peace with the situation. When I came to on the cold tiles, I wondered why I was sleeping on the floor, and a brief experiment with lifting my head convinced me that I wasn?t getting up on my own. Fortunately Toby was home taking care of me and with Sheryl and Archie?s help they got me to the hospital where I spent a couple of nights.

A friend and I were talking before this happened. I was saying that I think I am finally getting over my fear of death, but how could I know for certain until it happens. Thinking that I may be close to dieing gave me a chance to evaluate my progress. But, more important to me, is that I now know that my vigilance in bringing everything to the Holy Spirit for His interpretation rather than my own, has been working. Even in a moment of acute fear, I remembered Who I wanted to follow. I feel very humbled by this experience and very grateful. I also feel motivated to redouble my vigilance.

I would never choose surgery and losing consciousness as a learning experience. But, as long as I am inhabiting this body and living on this planet, things are going to happen to me. Some will be less enjoyable than others. What is true about everything that happens is that I have a choice about what I want to do with these experiences. I can choose to whine about them and bemoan how unfair life is. I can choose to feel sorry for myself and wonder why everything seems to happen to me. I?ve tried all of the above, by the way, and haven?t noticed that any of these choices has added joy to my life.

The other choice I have is to accept the gift each new experience brings me. Perhaps you?ve read Illusions by Richard Bach. In it he says, ?There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.? If I am having trouble seeing past the pain and discerning the gift, I ask God for clarity. Each lesson, each gift is a precious opportunity to move closer to my original state of grace. That is what they are for. I don?t want to overlook a single one.


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Discovering the Source of my Strength

Discovering the Source of My Strength

Another thing I learned while in the hospital had to do with strength. One of the worst parts of being in the hospital is how weak it makes me feel. There is a sense of vulnerability that is inherent in everything about a hospital stay.

First they take your clothes from you and dress you in an open gown that leaves you with little modesty and no dignity. They decide everything for you; what you eat, what medicine you will be taking, when you are allowed to get up and what you are allowed to do.

If you are having a procedure done it will probably be a mystery to you. You don?t know what they are going to do to you or if it will hurt, or, more likely, how bad it will hurt, or for how long.

If it is an invasive procedure like surgery, your body will feel assaulted and will require time to heal. During that time the body feels very weak and especially vulnerable. You hate for anyone to come near you and want to protect the injured site.

The body weakness can go on for a long time. A week after the surgery I drove to the doctor?s office to have a dressing changed and I wondered how anyone could get so tired just driving two miles and walking into an office.

While still in the hospital, I lay in the bed feeling both weak and vulnerable and thinking how unpleasant and unnatural these feelings are. There was nothing I could do to alter the circumstances of my life at this moment, but I could change my mind about how I was feeling about them. I asked the Holy Spirit to come into my mind and heal my thoughts. I could feel discomfort around the surgical sight so I put my hand on it. This reminded me that I could do a LaHo Chi treatment on myself. LaHo Chi is an energy healing method I had learned recently and this seemed an ideal time to practice it.

I began with a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to join with me in this healing. As I asked for healing I could feel the familiar warmth and tingling begin in my hands and then spread around my affected organs and move outward over all of my body.

Afterward, I felt better and I realized something very important. My body may have been temporarily weakened, but I am not my body. I am spirit and spirit is not weak. It doesn?t matter how weak my body is, my spirit is unchanged and is as God created it; perfect, whole, and powerful.

After that experience I lost that feeling of being weak and vulnerable. Sure, my body is experiencing these things as part of the healing process, and I intend to give my body all the rest and supplements needed to support it as it heals. That doesn?t mean I am going to identify myself with my body.

When I get into my car, I am surrounded with a protective shield of metal. It takes me places quickly and comfortably. I am very grateful to have my car, but I never think of myself as being my car. I never think when my car is broken that I am broken. I don?t identify with my car.
My body is a useful instrument for living on planet earth. I appreciate it and am glad to have it. The problem comes when I start to identify with it. I start to think I am my body. I forget that I am spirit. Just as I get out of my car at the end of the trip, when I am at the end of this life, I will step out of my body.

I had surgery to correct a bodily problem, but I had a healing of another, more important kind. I recognized that I was feeling something other than joy and I chose to change my mind about it. I brought those thoughts to the Holy Spirit and he healed my mind. He showed me that my strength is not dependent on my body, that my strength does not come from my body. He showed me that I am not my body.

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The Monster Within

The Monster Within

Since I had my surgery, I?ve needed a lot of help. At one time, it would have been hard for me to ask for help. Heck, it was even hard for me to accept help that was offered. I always hated to ask people to go out of their way for me. I?ve always hated to ask for favors. That?s odd, really, because I?ve never hesitated to do favors for others; I just hated asking for favors. What I noticed this time, is that I have been much more comfortable allowing people to help me.

I think there is more than one reason for this change. First, I have learned that helping others brings me joy. I?ve always been one to pitch in and help if asked, and sometimes without being asked. So you would think I?d already know that helping others brings joy. I believe, though, that in the past I was not helping others for the sheer joy of helping. I had ulterior motives.

I helped so that people would like me and think well of me. I helped, sometimes, because I didn?t know how to say no. So, instead of feeling the joy that could have been mine, I was feeding my ego. What a hungry ego it was! Enough is never enough. It seemed the more I fed it, the hungrier it got. The more praise and admiration I garner for it, the more it demands just to, temporarily, quiet the hunger pains. I would never satisfy its ever growing need to be adored.

I may have started out motivated to feed the monster within, but it became a real chore. Sure, at first the ego seemed pleased with my offerings of respect and friendship, and it whispered to me of how loved I must be. But, the glow of satisfaction would fade with the murmurings of gratitude, and I would be left feeling empty and bereft of love until I found another opportunity to feed my ego.

It was much like the phenomenon of taking a drink for the pleasant feeling it brings. It seems such a lovely gift. Then you discover that it takes two drinks just to experience the same glow. When the glow is gone- how dark it seems.

It started out innocently enough; I feed the ego with a little praise such as the compliments my boss tosses my way for giving beyond the call of duty. Then I add some gratitude for a favor done for a friend. It was only a mild inconvenience to me, and it pleased her so much. There was a nice glow from my ego as I laid these offerings at its altar. When the glow faded, I was uncomfortable in the seeming darkness left behind, so I found more food for my ego. Soon it seemed that I was trying to feed an elephant with a tablespoon. That?s when I started feeling resentful.

When someone would ask a favor, I would say, ?Of course, how can I help?? In this way I would gather the praise and gratitude needed to keep my monster within fed. But, beneath that would be the carefully controlled anger and resentment; the feeling of being taken advantage of, of not being appreciated for myself, but only for what I do.

The problem was that the more I fed my ego, the more it grew until I forgot there was anything else. I began to believe that I was my ego. I identified so completely with my ego that if I didn?t continue to satisfy its ever growing appetite, I thought I would cease to exist. But behind that ugly monster there was the true me-the me that God created. This Divine Spark created by God to be like Himself, glows eternally. While I can ignore it and act as if it is not there, I can do nothing to extinguish it. I had become so busy feeding the monster that all my attention was focused on it,and I forgot there was anything else to see.

As I started working with the Holy Spirit to return my focus to my spiritual self, I was able to see that Divine Spark, and, lo and behold, it wasn?t really what I would call a spark at all. It was an ever expanding light that filled my mind until I began to identify with it instead of with my ego. This light showed me that I don’t need to be adored. I am adorable whether anyone notices or not. I don’t need anyone to accept me, love me, respect me or be impressed by me. I am already all of those things.

I was talking about this with my friend, Carrie. We were discussing how to tell the difference between joy and pleasure. We decided that joy is of the Holy Spirit. It is ours anytime we want it, and it doesn’t go away as long as we choose it. Pleasure, on the other hand is of the ego. It feels good for awhile, but doesn’t last. When it is gone, there is an emptiness that feels painful. If I think I need to be adored and I get that kind of feedback, it feels good for as long as it lasts, but when it is gone, it feels awful. Since it seems to be outside of me, I can never be sure of getting it back, and that is scary. Even while I am being adored, I cannot really enjoy it because I know that I can lose it at any moment. So if I want to choose joy instead, I just bring everything that isn’t joy to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to heal it for me. It isn’t complicated or hard.

My ego still begs for scraps, and sometimes I feed it, but it is just an old habit, and I can see myself giving it up entirely someday. Now I don?t believe I am that needy, grasping person. When I give, I give because of the joy it brings me, not to feed the monster within.  So, when I need help from someone during my recovery, I ask for it. It takes nothing from me to ask for help, and what I understand now, is that giving truly is a joy. I am pleased to give my loving family and dear friends the chance to experience that joy for themselves.

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Choose the Good Thoughts

Choose the Good Thoughts

If I had to choose a single idea (or perhaps the first idea) that helped me to change my life, it would be that my thoughts are powerful. Anthony De Mello says that you are what you think. When your thinking changes, you change. I know that this is true. Thoughts are how I create my world and because I am constantly experiencing thoughts, I am continually re-inventing my world. Mike Dooly, author and motivational speaker says, ?Thoughts become things. Choose the good ones.?

This is an excellent reminder to me that my mind is my territory. I do have total control over what I think. I had abdicated that seat of power for a long time, but now I have reclaimed it. For many years I acted as if someone else was in charge of my thoughts. For instance, I decided that the reason I used to suffer from low self esteem was because of the way I was raised, because of the things that were said to me when I was young and impressionable. I could recall plenty of evidence to support this theory. I accepted this evidence as proof that I was unalterably lacking in some fundamental way.

When I began to grasp this brilliant new idea, that I had control of my thoughts and that my thoughts are powerful, I started to question the long held belief that who I had become up to this point was unchangeable. I started using my thoughts to change who I was. When I showed signs of low self esteem such as thinking I couldn?t accomplish a task or that I wasn?t as good as other people, I would stop myself. These thoughts and emotions are based on beliefs that I formed growing up. They are just beliefs, not facts. Even the so called facts they seemed to be based on were really just someone else?s perceptions; their way of seeing things, not really facts at all.

I learned that my low self esteem was caused not from what was said to me, but rather, because of my belief that they were right in what they said. That belief was a choice, and I could change my mind about it. I did not have to use someone else?s thoughts as my own. I could choose new thoughts; thoughts that would serve me.

So, what were those new thoughts to be? I needed thoughts that were more in line with the truth of who I am. I know that God created me perfect. I know that I am a thought in the Mind of God. I know that God is all there is, so I am part of God. I live and move and have my being in God. I know that in my creation God looked at me and said I was good. I know that God created me like Himself in His own image and after His likeness. I know that what God has done cannot be undone. I know that my mind is part of God. I am very holy. I am God’s Son, complete and healed and whole. These are facts!

There, does that sound like someone who can?t accomplish? Does that sound like someone who needs to feel less than others? I think that?s a pretty impressive resume in anyone?s book! My everyday thoughts about myself, however, were not always so lofty. Still, they were my thoughts and so I could change them. I learned to turn to the Holy Spirit to be my guide in this. After all, I was the one who had gotten myself into this state and so I hardly seemed to be a good choice for getting me out of it. I was like an explorer wandering lost in the jungle. If I wanted out, I would need a guide. Since God placed His Voice in me to guide me back to Him, I would be foolish not to use it.

So, how did I get started on this? Well, to be honest, pretty slowly; in stuttering fits of starting and stopping. After all, I had spent most of my life like a balloon in an air current. My emotions were up, then down, pulled here and there; all seemingly with no control from me. I didn?t just change that over night.

I started with easy stuff, using my thoughts to manipulate form. I would choose some goal that seemed beyond my reach. At one time, we owed the IRS a lot of money. I chose paying off the IRS and never owing them again as one of my first big tests of this theory. I can?t say that I really believed in it. I owed them so much money and I had so little with which to pay. But, I did believe in the idea that it might be possible. God met me where I was. He sent me lots of good ideas through other people and through books by people who had already accomplished what was brand new to me.

I was new at going to the Holy Spirit for guidance, but I did the best I could and that was all that was necessary. Every time I would be tempted to look at that crushing debt and think that I would never get free of it, I would recognize that thought as self defeating. I would give it to the Holy Spirit and ask him for a new thought to use instead. He gave me thoughts like, ?I am so excited to finally see the end of this debt.? Or, ?I am glad that soon I can use this money for things my family needs, instead of paying it to the IRS.? I did get that debt taken care of much more quickly than I had any right to expect. What was really neat about it though, is that all the time I was working on it I was learning that my thoughts are truly under my own control. When I would feel helpless and hopeless, I would stop those thoughts in their tracks. It required persistence, but that?s OK. I can do persistence.

I practiced controlling my thoughts through working with form for awhile. I would think of something I wanted or thought I needed and I would visualize having it. I would practice going to the Holy Spirit for inspiration. I would bring him my discouraged thoughts and my fearful thoughts and let Him heal them for me. It was a good way to practice because I was able to break it down into little easy steps, and to see the end result so readily. It helped me to make choosing good thoughts a habit in my life.

It has become such a good and permanent habit now that I use it all the time. I don?t use it just when I need something specific. It?s like house cleaning. My mind has many rooms and like my home they tend to get cluttered if I don?t keep them cleaned out. Sometimes I just sit with God. I imagine in these quiet moments that He is washing the rooms of my mind clean of all the thoughts that do not serve Him. Sometimes there will be specific thoughts that I take to His Voice and ask that they be healed.

When I sit down to compose a message to share with you, there is sometimes the little voice from childhood trying to undermine my efforts with doubts and fears. Perhaps you?ve heard that little voice in your head sometimes. You know the one; it says, ?You can?t do this. What do you think you are doing? What if you fail? What if you say the wrong thing?? These thoughts don?t mean anything anymore. They are just echoes from a time when I didn?t know who I was. I have cast them out and stripped them of their power. Anytime they try to get back in, I give them back to the Holy Spirit; silly thoughts, foolish thoughts, meaningless thoughts.

My thoughts are my own. I will choose the good ones. I choose thoughts that support love. Fear doesn?t support love. If I feel fearful I know that behind that fear is a thought that is causing that emotion and so I look in my mind for that thought. Perhaps I am afraid of failure. Perhaps I am afraid of a compulsion I think I cannot control. Maybe I am afraid of not being accepted. I look for the thought causing the fear. It is at this level that I have control. I then look behind the thought to the belief. I think I can?t succeed because I believe I am unworthy of success. I am strangled by my compulsions because I believe I am weak. I am afraid of being rejected because I don?t believe I am loveable. It is at this level that the Holy Spirit heals my mind. He teaches me that none of these things is true because none of them is in accord with the Will of God.

If I want to take conscious control of where my thoughts are taking my life I must watch my focus. I must think about what I want, not what I am afraid of. Remember the passage from Philippians 4:8? It says: Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things.

So, I am encouraged to focus my thoughts on the good things in life. Does this mean that I should deny that something troubling is happening? Should I pretend that terrorists didn?t attack? Should I act as if it didn?t happen? No, of course not, but neither should I spend hours scouring CNN for possible threats. I know that it happened once. I know that it can happen again. I do not, however, need to keep my focus there. I can choose, instead to think of other things, useful and lovely things. What? Do I think that the terrorists are just waiting for me to quit looking so that they can attack again? I doubt it. It is tempting to look at what I am afraid of. But, as the Bible says, that which I fear is what will happen.

I remember a story I heard from Tony Robbins. He was telling about his experience with race car driving. Tony had always wanted to race cars, but had not been able to do so. Finally, he decided that, while he couldn?t do it for a living, he wanted to at lease experience it once. So, he took lessons because he didn?t want it to be the last thing he experienced! The driver who was instructing him, had Tony get his speed up pretty good. Then he took him around the track, next to the wall. It seemed to Tony that the faster he went, the closer he got to the wall. He began to think that the wall was going to be the last thing he saw in this life. He just couldn?t take his eyes off it and it was looming larger and larger as he moved closer to it. Finally, the instructor got through to him and Tony heard him say, ?Don?t look at the wall!? It was very hard for Tony to take his eyes off of the wall, but at the last moment, he did look away and when he did, his hands automatically followed his eyes and he moved away from the wall and into the middle of the track. Tony said he never forgot that lesson and neither did I.

It matters where I focus my attention. I will focus my thoughts on what I want, not what I am afraid of. If I sat around thinking all of the time about what could happen if the terrorists strike again, they may as well save their time. They don?t need to strike in order to ruin my life. I have done it for them by focusing on the fearful and frightening, and so I make my life a fearful and frightening thing.

I was reading an article by Alan Cohen. He told this story. A man went to visit a friend in his country home. In the middle of the night, the man got up to go the bathroom and found a huge deadly snake coiled up on the floor ready to strike him. The next morning his host found his guest dead on the floor next to a coiled up piece of large rope. The fellow died not of a snakebite, but of fright. He was just as dead as if the snake had been real. His murderer was not the snake, but his own mind.

Nothing can hurt you unless you give it power with your thoughts.

Another example of how focus works is when an addict wants a drink. If he sits around thinking about how badly he wants to drink and how hard it is not to drink, what do you think will happen? If, on the other hand, he chooses to go to a meeting he will change his focus. Now his thoughts are on not drinking. Changing his focus can make all the difference in his life.

Thoughts are powerful. We have total control over our thoughts and so we have total control over our lives. We can use this powerful force for good if we so choose. One step at a time we turn our lives around as we take conscious control of our thoughts and place that contol under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

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