STRESS IS A KILLER — a killer of consciousness as much as it is a killer of the body. That is why I am so thankful that the family of Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann has given us permission to digitize and share with you the 37 suggestions she made for Dealing With Stress Through Spiritual Methods.
The graphic you see to the right is from her essay "How To Cope With Everyday Living." Do you see the 4-point plan she offers for dealing with this type of stress, circled in red? Click on the graphic and then click on the links and you will be taken directly her practical and profound formula for dealing with that type of stress.
In less than 5 minutes you can read these four points, then memorize her formula, and then begin to apply it throughout your day to achieve a more relaxed, fuller life.
Winifred Hausmann offers twelve of these practical lessons with profound 3- or 4-point plans for raising consciousness through reducing stress—what she calls a Bible-based guide for
20th 21st century living.
The image you see here is a postcard that will be sent out in January 2018. Let me know if you would like one or if you would like a deck to distribute in your Sunday service. If I have extras I will be happy to send them.
I hope this is useful for bringing light to your holiday season, for preparing for the burning bowl services in our churches, for group study in healing and wholeness and for offering fellow congregants short, powerful formulas for raising consciousness.
I am immensely grateful to the family of Winifred Hausmann for permission to digitize this book and make it available to the Unity community she served for so many years. Her blessings as a Unity minister and author carry on.
Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann
DEALING WITH STRESS Through Spiritual Methods answers a vital need in living today. Winifred Hausmann, longtime Unity minister and author of four earlier books, shares her expertise gained through years of dealing with people and helping them to handle their challenges and improve their lives through spiritual methods. This book deals with such vital areas as:
- Handling "guilt trips"
- Overcoming harmful habits
- Handling money with confidence
- Coping with sudden change
- Living with the modern pressures of time
- Coping with emergencies
- Handling divorce
- Dealing with difficult people
- Conquering worry and anxiety
- Working without strain
and many other subjects related to successful living.
— From the Back Cover
TruthUnity thanks the family of Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann for permission to digitize this book and make it available to the Unity community she served for so many years. Her blessings as a Unity minister and author carry on.
© 1985, Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.
Dealing With Stress Through Spiritual Methods
Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann
The Spiritual Resources Foundation 3021 S. University Blvd. Denver, Colorado 80210
Copyright © 1985 by Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann
All rights reserved
1st Printing, October, 1985
No part of this book may reproduced in any form without the permission of the author.*
Library of Congress Card Catalogue: 85-062393
Printed in U.S.A.
By Quality Press, Englewood, Colorado
TruthUnity thanks the family of Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann for permission to digitize this book and make it available to the Unity community she served for so many years. Her blessings as a Unity minister and author carry on.
My Friends and Co-Workers
Unity Center Church
Our Years of Sharing
Other Books By The Author
- Focus On Living
- Miracle Power For Today
- Your God'Given Potential
- How To Live Life Victoriously
- A Guide To Love-Powered Living (Publication date: Spring 1986)
During the last 30 years, as more and more people became concerned about stress as a factor in modern living, many books appeared on the subject, presenting exercises, mental and physical, for dealing with stress and living happily even under the difficult conditions of modern-day living.
All of these methods are good and may be very helpful in handling the increasing tension and hurry that seem to pervade our world. But I felt that something further was needed — a spiritual guide to handling those stressful situations that arise in anyone’s life. Being a Unity minister and accustomed to working with spiritual principles in dealing with all of life’s challenges, I turned to the Bible for answers and found that, although the concept of stress as such seems to be a relatively recent discovery, the spiritual answers are as old as human kind, and they are carefully presented through allegory and instruction in the Scriptures.
This book is designed to take time-tested, Bible-based principles and apply them to coping with stress in modern day life. I have attempted to cover the major areas of stress faced in twentieth century living, ranging from learning to handle time and money matters to coping with those sudden emergencies that frequently find today’s people so ill-prepared. It is my hope for you, the reader, that, whatever your need in these days of rapid change, you will not only find the answer to your challenges, but will also find fresh ideas that will lead to happier, fuller, more successful living in every way.
God Bless You —
Table of Contents
1 How To Cope With Everyday Living................1
2 How To Compete In Today’s World............... 11
3 How To Stop Worrying.......................... 21
4 How To Establish Positive Human Relationships. 29
5 How To Break The Time Barrier................. 39
6 How To Outwit The Devil....................... 47
7 How To Let Go................................. 57
8 How To Master Money Matters................... 67
9 How To Overcome Guilt And Anger............... 77
10 How To Meet The Unexpected.................... 87
11 How To Establish Priorities................... 97
12 How To Be At Home In Your World.............. 107
© 1985, Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.
How To Cope With Everyday Living
FOR MANY YEARS engineers who designed various types of machinery have depended on stress tests on metals. It was important for them to know just how much pressure or force a particular type of steel or other metal could take before it would break.
But it was only recently that people became aware of the effect of stress on human beings. How much pressure can a person take before he or she has to give up? How much “constraining, urging or impelling force” (New Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary, 1980, p. 829) can the human mind and body withstand in a given situation?
Obviously, there will be no standard tests that can be made on people, but there is increased interest in the subject and a whole new emphasis on the place of stress in the life of the individual and the effect of the stresses of modern living on all of us, mentally, emotionally and physically.
Understanding the effects of everyday stresses, we can begin to protect ourselves from their debilitating effect, and, through the use of spiritual methods, we can so condition our minds and our whole being that we do not succumb to the pressures that defeat others. Stress is an individual matter. The situation that causes one person to become mentally, emotionally and physically depleted may spur another to increased joy in activity and overcoming. But all people have conditions to meet that can be stressful unless handled with wisdom and love.
This is not to say that stress itself is something new. Think of the pressures suffered by the cave man as he sought to find food for himself and his family and to escape the wild animals that threatened his existence! And what of the later, more civilized people who accumulated treasures of gold and precious stones, valuables that must be protected from thieves and marauders? Could they not have suffered strain as they worried about someone stealing their possessions?
But today, more than ever, it seems that the pace of life has been speeded up, and, along with the concern about things and money and power and position, there is, perhaps, more hurry and worry to add its effect. But there is also a greater understanding available, to enable us to recognize the dangers of stress and to reveal to us effective ways of dealing with the pressures of living in our world today.
In 1950 Dr. Hans Selye, director of the Institute of Experimental Medicine and Surgery at the University of Montreal, first called attention to the physical results of stress in a report of his laboratory experiments on the subject. He pointed out that many diseases are the result of the individual’s inability to adapt to life, and he made it clear that we all experience stress at one time or another.
Since that time many books have been published on the subject, some dealing with the physical effects of stress, others approaching the subject from the mental viewpoint. Now let us look at the spiritual methods which can be employed to deal with the everyday pressures, ranging from the urgent pressures of time and competition to the stress caused by changes in environment or human relationships.
Of course, the situations that cause one person extreme anxiety may simply be stimulating and exciting to another. But for each person, there is some need for a built-in ability to cope with life. And the same principles that work for one in a situation of decision-making will work for another where patience is required. Whatever the need, the principle works, when applied to relieve stress.
Stress is not something that happens to us, but rather something that happens through us. We might say, then, that stress is a form of wear and tear on mind (soul) and body, which results from the individual’s reaction to inner and outer circumstances.
Physical ailments may cause unaccustomed stress. A heavy schedule of activity or the dependency of others may bring about a sense of pressure or urgency. Times of change, such as divorce or a move or change of job, as well as loss of a loved one, may produce mental, emotional and physical reactions. Even such a simple everyday activity as crossing a busy thoroughfare can cause tension and anxiety.
However, let us remember that it is not the event itself that causes stress. It is our reaction to it. If we can learn to watch and to control our reactions, we will be able to prevent a debilitating build-up of stress, and we can maintain our inner poise and peace, no matter what is happening around us.
Knowing ourselves as the image and likeness of God, we are to be in control and at peace. Knowing ourselves as expressions of God, we will make it a point to handle stress before it handles us, staying in charge of all situations by staying in charge of ourselves, including our thoughts, emotions and reactions to life.
The Bible offers us many examples and stories that instruct us in handling stess in everyday living. The prophet, Elijah, was a man who had to deal with stress. Most people today would agree that he was justified in feeling pressure in his life, but he had to learn how to handle his feelings in a better way.
The period in which he was living was a time of great material prosperity but a decline in religious worship in Israel. The king, Ahab, was greatly influenced by his wife, Jezebel, who had brought with her from her native country, Tyre, the pagan practice of Baal worship. Not content simply to practice her own religion, Jezebel built a great priesthood in Israel for Baal and used her position to see that many temples were constructed for this form of pagan worship. Then she tried to convert the Israelites from their worship of the one God, Jehovah, to worship of Baal.
Baal worship was not at all in keeping with the Hebrew religion, which placed great emphasis on a moral code and spiritual tenets. And Elijah, as the spokesman for Jehovah, came into conflict with Jezebel on more than one occasion. Sometimes he triumphed. Sometimes he simply retired to the desert.
When he first heard of the threat posed by Jezebel and her priests of Baal, Elijah came to the city and predicted a three-year drought as a judgment on the people who were forsaking Jehovah. He declared to Ahab, “As the Lord of the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” (I Kings 17:1 RSV).
Then the prophet retired and for the next years lived as God directed him, while the drought and resulting famine took its toll in Israel. Though he searched, Ahab, the king, was not able to find him.
When he was directed to do so by God, Elijah returned to speak to Ahab and informed him that the famine was the result of the disobedience of the Hebrew people.
Elijah challenged “the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table” (I. Kings 18:19 RSV) to a contest of spiritual strength. So Ahab gathered the people of Israel and the pagan prophets at Mount Carmel for the test.
The prophet of Jehovah addressed the people, asking, “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him, but if Baal, then follow him.” (I Kings 18:21 RSV).
Two bulls were brought to be used for sacrifice. First, the 450 priests of Baal chose one bull, prepared it for sacrifice and then prayed to their god to send fire to consume it. They danced about, cried in a loud voice and slashed themselves with their swords, but nothing happened.
Elijah was in his glory, mocking the other prophets with their fruitless efforts. At the end of the day, he prepared his sacrifice and even poured water on the offering. As he prayed, “the fire of the Lord” (I. Kings 18:38 RSV) consumed the offering and the water as well. The people responded by declaring their return to the one God. In the joy of success, Elijah killed all of the 450 prophets of Baal. It was a high moment in his life. He followed up by praying for rain to end the drought, and a most spectacular deluge came.
All in all, Elijah had every reason to feel happy and successful. But many times spectacular success in the material world may be followed by a period of letdown. And so it was with Elijah.
When Jezebel heard that Elijah had killed her prophets, she sent word to him, promising his death by the next day. From the heights of victory, he was plunged into the despair of fear. Jezebel was angry, and Jezebel was still queen! Elijah fled for his life.
Discouraged, he went out into the wilderness alone. Suffering from acute stress, he prayed to die. Finally, in his prayer he released his life to God and went to sleep. When he awakened, he had received spiritual guidance as to the next step he was to take. Not only that, but he was fed and given water to drink as he prepared to take that next step, the journey to Horeb, known as a mountain of spiritual revelation.
At Horeb he hid in a cave (again subjecting himself to the stress of discouragement). But even there he was able to hear the voice of God, and he told the Lord about his good intentions and his good work, and ended, feeling sorry for himself, “and they seek my life, to take it away” (I Kings 19:10 RSV).
Elijah received no sympathy from God, but he did receive the guidance to go and stand on the mountain top, where he might rise above all doubt and fear. It was then that he had the great experience of his life, the hearing of the “still small voice” (I Kings 19:12 RSV). There were spectacular phenomena of strong winds, an earthquake and even a fire. But it was in the inner voice that God gave the prophet his instructions. Elijah was to handle the situation by appointing two new kings (for Israel and Syria) and a prophet to continue his work.
It is significant that Elijah’s stressful feelings were not resolved in the storms around him, but in the stillness within him. At peace, the prophet went on to continue God’s assignment for his life.
Elijah had learned a great lesson in dealing with stress. He was a good man with good intentions, but somewhere along the line he had started trying to do it all himself, letting the stress build up as he attempted to cope with a human threat in a human way. In his Horeb experience, he learned a better way. So we can take a lesson from Elijah in learning how to handle everyday stress in our lives.
If we, in our daily activity, find ourselves caught up in discouragement, anxiety, fear and doubt, we can restore our spiritual equilibrium by taking the same steps that Elijah took. Let us look at these steps.
Don’t try to force your own way.
Much stress is caused by determination to have your own way, to make others do what you think they should. As Elijah discovered, there is a better way. There is God’s way, and it can be followed without stress, strain or force.
Elijah had a way of justifying himself to God. He really did want to do God’s work, and he frequently tried to use force to make the Israelites worship Jehovah. When he prayed to die, he explained that he was all alone, that nobody cared, and that some were even seeking his life. It just didn’t seem worthwhile anymore! He was carrying great burdens and feeling dejected, because he was working in a human consciousness, feeling that he worked alone. He had to learn to relieve the pressure that he had built up, to release the tension that he had accumulated through trying to do it all himself. And so do we.
Many times we must simply release the human pressure we have built up in order to call forth our good from a given situation.
One time I had a car with a trunk that was very difficult to unlock. Finally, my husband discovered a secret. If we leaned on the trunk as we turned the key, the trunk popped up easily. Leaning on the trunk relieved the pressure.
Sometimes we need to “lean on the trunk” as we unlock our strong human feelings of force and frustration. When we relieve the pressure, then we are better able to pray about it and receive our guidance, as Elijah did.
Don’t talk a lot.
Usually the first reaction of people who have challenges is to talk about them. They complain about other people, the situation, the happenings of the day and so on. And the more they talk, the more weary and frustrated they become. They complicate the situation even further if they begin to ask advice of their friends and associates, because no two people will agree on just what should be done to remedy the situation.
Excessive talking is a common result, as well as cause, of stress and fatigue. The power center is in the throat, at the root of the tongue, and the more one talks, the more he depletes the power supply in his body. As Dr. Selye showed, when the energy level is low, the stress level is even higher.
Even in the cave Elijah continued to talk, to complain, to express self-pity and generally use up the power God had given him. As he learned, God couldn’t really help him until he stopped talking and started listening. Then good things began to happen! And so it is with us.
The sooner we stop talking, the better we will fare. The sooner we relieve the pressure, the better off we will be. We can decide to continue our self-indulgence, blaming everybody and everything, or we can take control and stop pitying ourselves, complaining about our lot and so on, and let God take over in our lives.
In our human way, we will always be limited. We can never really be successful. We will always have stress and strain. But when we let God through, we will find, as Jesus did, that “he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone” (John 8:29 RSV). And, taking God as our partner in the small events of everyday, as in the large undertakings of our lives, we will be free of the stress of human striving and straining.
How many people go through life with busyness and noise, never taking time to be still! Entertainment may be considered a form of relaxation, but there is no relaxation where there is much noise and activity. We all need times of absolute stillness of mind and body. And if we try to go too long without such times, we will find ourselves building up irritability and strain, which may grow into stress of mind and body. The human being is not constructed for continued motion. We are made for the rhythm of life, which includes times of activity and times of quiet and rest.
Stillness of mind and body goes beyond simply not talking. It is a quiet relaxation that is passive and yet expectant of good, relaxed and yet alert to God.
“Stillness breaks” in our lives are most effective when they are also “prayer breaks”, times of getting in tune with our Source, remembering why we are here and returning to our higher purpose. (It is so easy to forget — in all of the rush, activity and conversations of the day.)
As we stop and become still, we can assume control of our whole being by speaking to our thoughts, as well as our nerves and muscles, words of peace and stillness, quietness and harmony. When we have formed the habit of quieting our thoughts and emotions through times of prayer and receptivity to God, we will find that we can stop, wherever we are, whenever we begin to feel the tension and stress rising. We can stop, and become still.
Elijah did not find his answers in the storms around him — even the violence of the wind, earthquake and fire. It was in the stillness that his answer came. And so it is with us.
Let God make the decision.
If we insist on making our decisions in a logical way of human reasoning, we will always be assailed by doubts and fears. And doubts and fears add up to stress and strain, tension and pressure. It is only when we learn to listen in prayer and then go God’s way that we travel in peace and safety, without concern for the future.
Decision making can be one of the greatest causes of stress. Not only are we concerned about decisions we are making at this time. We may be wondering whether certain decisions of the past were the correct thing. How many times we may ask ourselves, “Did I do the right thing?” If we are working in a human way, we can never be sure! Or we may be anticipating decisions that must be made in the future.
Elijah had a way of trying to force his own opinion on others, but when he learned to stop, become still and listen to God, he made the right decisions, and everything worked out easily.
The best way to make any decision is to pray about it first. Then we must listen to God’s guidance. When it comes, we must follow it, trusting in Him to make all things right.
And, when we are acting on God’s instruction, we cannot afford to be concerned about what others may think or say. We avoid much stress simply by trusting God and going His way without looking around to see who may be watching us. God’s way is the easy, divinely ordered way. It works for us when we work with it.
The best time to handle stress is when it is first noticed, when it is beginning to arise. At this time it will be most amenable to direction.
But even if it has built up into enormous figments of the imagination and great emotional upheaval, such as Elijah suffered, it still can be dissolved by relieving the pressure, turning to the God power within, becoming still and listening.
God is speaking to us now, and His direction is always perfect!
© 1985, Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.
How To Compete In Today’s World
COMPETITION IS “the name of the game” when athletes from all over the world to vie for the coveted medals of the Olympic Games.
What is the key to winning in competitive sports? And, more important, how do athletes cope with the stress caused by years of training and preparation culminating in one gigantic attempt to be acclaimed the best in the world? What can we learn from them that will apply to competition in business, in school, in society and in many facets of modern-day living?
My husband and I visited Lake Placid, N.Y., a few months after the Winter Olympics were held there in 1980. Having watched much of the action on television, we were especially interested in visiting the ski jumps, Whiteface Mountain, the ice arena and the bobsled and luge runs. And we recalled some of the outstanding events.
One of the high points of the Winter Olympics, certainly for American sports enthusiasts, was the victory of the U.S. hockey team. Playing against the Russian team, considered “number one” in the world, the relatively young and inexperienced U.S. hockey team triumphed, winning first place against all the odds. One television commentator said, “It’s like a college football team from Canada beating the Pittsburgh Steelers!”
How did these young people come out victorious in this competition? What was their secret?
In watching the game, my husband and I noticed that the American coach kept calling out, “Play your game!” Since this is what they were obviously doing, we wondered why he kept repeating, “Play your game!” Later we found out. This was his way of reminding them to play as they had been taught, to remain calm, not to be stampeded by the Russians. In other words, he was reminding the players, “Don’t let the opponents determine your game.” By remaining true to their own training and play, they won.
Eric Heiden, the speed skater from the U.S., told a similar story of good coaching from the sidelines. On the first turn in one race, the Soviet skater cut in front of him. Reacting automatically, he thought, “I’ll have to fight for it on the next turn.” But as he passed his coach, the coach called out, “Skate your own race!” — a reminder not to let someone else determine his performance.
He went back to the long, smooth glides that he had practiced so conscientiously, and he went on to win his fifth gold medal. He not only won first place again — he set a new world record, by skating his own race.
Had these athletes competed in the sense of contending against an adversary, the story might have been different. But, reminded by their coaches, they continued to do the job as they knew how to do it, refusing to be stampeded into stress and contention.
In its original meaning, the word “compete” is derived from the Latin words meaning “to seek together” (Webster’s New World Dictionary, Concise Edition, 1958, p. 153). When each individual is striving for individual excellence, then any activity can become a factor in individual growth and unfoldment, and the stress of looking to see what the opposition is doing will be avoided. Concentration on the job at hand is a key to accomplishment.
Even among the disciples of Jesus Christ, there was some contention for the most prominent place. In the human way of thinking these is always the desire to be first. There is also the tendency to check up to see what others are doing, whether they are competitors in a race or employees of the same company.
After the resurrection, on one occasion seven of the disciples found Jesus on the beach, waiting for them, with breakfast prepared. (They had been fishing all night, without success).
After they had eaten, Jesus gave Peter, who had denied him three times, the opportunity to reaffirm his love for the Master. Three times He asked Peter if he loved Him, and three times the big fisherman replied in the affirmative. And each time Jesus game him an instruction. Peter was to: “Feed my lambs” (John 21:15 RSV), “Tend my sheep” (John 21:16 RSV) and “Feed my sheep” (John 21:17 RSV). Jesus concluded the instructions to Peter with the words, “Follow me.” (John 21:19 RSV) The assignment was clear.
But Peter, not satisfied with his own work, looked around and saw John. “Lord, what about this man?” (John 21:21 RSV), he asked. The human, competitive spirit was still active.
Then Jesus gave one of His greatest instructions for avoiding stressful and competitive activity. He asked, “What is that to you? Follow me!” (John 21:22 RSV), reiterating the instruction He had given earlier.
It was Peter’s job to continue the work Jesus had started by following the Christ, not be checking up on the “competition”.
But this is also good advice for us today.
Do we ever look around to see what salary others are receiving, in comparison with our own? What about those times when we complain that we are burdened with work while others are failing to carry their weight?
Jesus’ advice to Peter is just as good for us today.
“What is that to you?” (John 21:22 RSV). As a reminder, perhaps we should ask ourselves this question when we find that we are becoming caught up in what the others are doing, instead of concentrating on our own assignment in life.
We all have work to do here on earth. We all are here for a purpose. And a part of that purpose includes using our talents and abilities in such a way that we will achieve excellence in our own area of endeavor. Whatever our work, we are to do it well, as though we were doing it for God (as we are). Whether we are cheering a friend or supervising a great undertaking, our best work will be done when we are following the Christ of our own nature, not trying to contend with others or even compare our efforts with what they are doing. In the Spirit of God within us is all we need to excel, and when we practice individual excellence, we will be successful in outer ways as well.
No job is too great if the Spirit of Truth within us is urging us on to a worthwhile goal. Whatever we can see ourselves doing, we can do! And even our greatest accomplishments should simply be incentives to choose and reach higher aims and goals.
When Jesus said, “Follow me” (John 21:19 RSV), He was speaking not as the Man, but as the Christ, the Spirit of God within. And we will accomplish most when we follow the instruction and look first to the Christ of our own nature, the Spirit of God within us, the “image and likeness” spiritual person that we are all designed to call forth.
If we listen to the voices of the world, we will hear all sorts of instructions. We will be told that we must vie with others for business, we must take advantage of the other person before he takes advantage of us, or we must check on what the competition is doing in order to make our own plans.
None of this is true. If we, instead, learn to listen to the Christ, the One within us who has all the answers for us, we will learn that it is not necessary for us to be concerned about what others are doing or may do in the situation. By following the Christ, we will always be happy and successful, and we will avoid much stress and strain in the process.
It is significant that three times Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” (John 21:16 RSV), and each time the disciple affirmed his love.
So we should ask ourselves from time to time if we truly love God — first and foremost. Or are we more interested in our personal power and position? Do we covet what another has in the way of material possessions? If we focus our attention on the things and activities of the outer world first, we will always suffer from stressful feelings and continual competition. (Even the one who is at the top is fearful of being toppled by another ambitious individual.)
But if we truly love God and work for Him, under His guidance and direction, we have nothing to fear from others. We will always be in our right place, fulfilling our right function in life. There is no stress in the love of God. There is no strain when we work for Him only. There is only trust and freedom. So we can make it easy on ourselves by working for God, as Peter had to learn to carry on Jesus’ work, without regard for the assignments of the other disciples.
Strangely enough, the lower forms of life on this planet do look to God, their own innate intelligence, for the pattern of their lives. The rose fulfills the pattern of a rose, without regard for the morning glory blossoming nearby. Both grass and dandelions go about their business of living and growing in their own way.
But when we get to the highest form of life, to the human being who has the power to choose for himself, we find that many times the individual decides to judge by the world’s view and compete on the materialistic level, rather than turn to the innate pattern of perfection for the divine design for living and growth, for becoming that which we are all destined to be.
Competition in the sense of contention is always the result of looking to see what others are doing, instead of fulfilling our own assignment to the best of our ability and leaving others free to do the same.
When Jesus dealt with Peter, He was giving pointers for living without stress and strain. He was instructing the disciple in such a way that he could cope with thoughts of competition and learn to live his own life victoriously, without the pressures so many suffer in human thinking. He was instructing us as well, because the ideas that worked for Peter apply to us today.
Release mistakes of the past — yours and others’.
Competition and its resulting ills of inharmony and strain are rooted in comparison. People may compete with others viciously in order to overcome some sense of dissatisfaction with themselves, translating disappointment with what they have done into antagonism against someone else.
An example of this might be the person who always feels that others are against him, because of something he did in the past. So he fights for survival, thinking he is doing it in self-defense. Actually, the best defense is a complete release of past mistakes and a new way of life patterned on a different plan.
Others might revel in self-pity, because of lost opportunities or seeming failure.
Someone such as Peter, who had made a great error in the fear and strong emotion of the moment, might be so lacking in self-confidence that he would not dare to trust himself again, letting his past record determine his continuing activity of failure and frustration.
Jesus recognized this, and, in His loving way, helped Peter to re-affirm his devotion.
The Bible story doesn’t tell us what Peter was feeling when he saw Jesus from the boat, but there must have been some sense of unworthiness and guilt, which Jesus recognized and took steps to correct.
At first the disciples didn’t know Jesus. The Man on the beach suggested that they cast the net on the right side of the boat, even though they hadn’t caught any fish all night. They did, and immediately their net was full of fish. At that point John cried, “It is the Lord!” (John 21:7 RSV).
Peter reacted in his usual impulsive way. Instead of waiting for the boat to reach the shore, he jumped into the sea and swam to where Jesus was waiting. He was expressing his enthusiasm and his love by the rush to reach the shore, but at the same time there must have been some feeling of guilt and shame that Jesus knew must be corrected.
Three times Peter declared his love for Jesus, in answer to Jesus’ questions, matching the times that he had denied the Master. Then He was cleansed of the negative feelings about the past and free to do the work of carrying the Jesus Christ message to the rest of the world.
We cannot achieve what we are destined to do until we do let go of the past errors and comparisons in mind so that we can concentrate on the next job at hand.
Suppose we had some failure in the past. It doesn’t have to hold us back in the present, and it needn’t result in a competitive feeling against others. We can be freed, as Peter was freed.
Many competitive stresses are brought about by memories of what others have done in the past. We are not to let others take advantage of us, but we should give them the same opportunity to make amends that we would want for ourselves. After all, Jesus forgave Peter’s errors and gave him an important assignment, when Peter had proved his change of heart and good intentions.
Play your game — one step at a time.
After we have corrected the errors of the past in our thinking, we can get on with the job at hand, by doing our best under the circumstances.
Eric Heiden had to skate his own race in his own way in order to win the fifth Olympic gold medal. The U.S. hockey team had to play their game, not a game that was dictated by the competition, in order to triumph. So we must learn to do whatever we are guided to do, without checking up to see what others are doing.
In the world’s way, we may be told about how much others are selling or what the competitors are doing to increase business. We may be involved in competition for prizes or offered incentives to greater achievement in a planned program.
Actually, we do not need to resist the outer forms of competition, any more than Heiden had to resist the moves of the other skater. But our greatest reward will not come from winning a prize and being on top of the chart, but rather from feeling a sense of joy in our own achievement and realization of our own powers and abilities at work. When we are doing our best, according to our inner guidance and spiritual training, we will always be successful, whether others recognize our efforts or not.
A friend of ours is a college basketball star. Frequently he is high scorer on the team or in the conference.
One rime my husband asked him how he dealt with the stress of the game, how he felt when he was in competition.
He replied, “I know what I can do, and I just go out and do it.”
He went on to explain that he might not always make the basket, and the team might not always win the game. But he avoids stress by doing his best, releasing it and then going on to the next game.
There is always a “next game” for all of us when we are willing to do our best and refuse to compare our achievements with others.
Follow the Christ.
Within each person there is God’s own Spirit, His image and likeness that was implanted in the beginning. This is the Christ. Our Elder Brother, Jesus, came to show us how to discover and demonstrate the activity of the Christ, God within us, and then, speaking from the Christ of His own nature, He invited us all, “Follow me.” (John 21:19 RSV)
We all are here for a purpose. We all have a part to fulfill in God’s overall plan. This part is certainly greater than the competitive attitude that may lead us to think of others as adversaries. As we open ourselves to God’s plan for us, we can leave others free to do the same, in the realization that God needs all of us, and that His work will never be done until each one learns to do whatever it is that he is to accomplish.
We make life easier for ourselves when we stop trying to think of coping in a competitive society, but rather of simply letting God work through us. When we are open and receptive channels, God’s ideas and God’s love will flow through us in such a way that we will find a continuous joy in our Work and a satisfactory reward as well.
As Charles Fillmore wrote, “All work becomes divine for man when he affirms that he is working for God and that God is a generous paymaster.” (Keep A True Lent 107)
Much stress is the result of trying to make things happen. We can avoid it by turning to God frequently in prayer for direction and guidance. As we follow the instruction from within, we can then let God find expression through us. We no longer have to try to force our own human ideas. God’s plan carries within it the seeds of fulfillment, and as we follow the way, we find that there is no competition. There is simply the one-pointedness that Jesus demonstrated so beautifully.
Making things happen results in tension and fatigue. Letting things happen through us, according to the pattern revealed from within, relieves the tension and dissolves the stress.
Peter had many lessons to learn as he assumed leadership in the early Christian movement. One of the lessons was that he must look to God first and then follow the inner Spirit of Truth. Later he made it easier on himself by trusting this guidance.
Turning within can relieve many of the pressures of daily living, with its challenging incidents involving human relationships, prosperity needs and so on.
One time in my life, when many things seemed to pile up involving other persons and situations, I went apart and asked God, “Why do we have so many things to meet?”
The answer came almost immediately as I listened. The words flashed into my mind, almost as though someone had spoken them, “Because you can handle them.” With the answer came the reassurance I needed.
At the time I didn’t know just how a certain situation was going to work out, but I put God in charge and listened for His guidance. As we went along, each step was revealed. Sometimes I was given the words to speak. Other times I knew exactly the amount of money that was right. And, as I went forward, others began to fall in with the plans, until the whole situation was resolved.
It didn’t happen all at once. But, under God’s guidance, it did unfold. And, while it was coming about, I was calm and faith-filled as I trusted the Spirit within — as I followed the Christ.
When we put our lives in God’s care and choose to follow the Christ, we may not see the whole picture clearly, but we will be shown each step as we reach that point. When we ask, we will receive not only the guidance, but also the reassurance that we need.
In God’s universe there is no competition. There are simply many facets of creation, each designed to fulfill a certain function. When we learn to listen and obey, to unfold God’s plan through our lives, we will compete only in the sense of bettering yesterday’s performance, “seeking together” for excellence. And we will accomplish without stress or strain.
© 1985, Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.
How To Stop Worrying
SOME PEOPLE THRIVE on situations that would totally disorient others. Supervising large groups of workers seems easy for them. Straightening out mix-ups and inharmonies provides an interesting challenge. A routine job would bore them, but they welcome opportunities to exercise their unusual skills and abilities.
Others, confronted by even the simplest problem or the smallest decision, may make themselves ill as a result of experiencing stress, strain and indecision.
What is the difference? Why should one person do a job well and another be immobilized by the same responsibility?
Most often, worry makes the difference. A great deal of stress may be caused by the individual’s preoccupation with feelings of inadequacy, concern about doing the right thing and a general sense of being overwhelmed by the whole situation — in other words, by worry.
To worry simply means “to be anxious, troubled, etc.” (Webster’s New World Dictionary, Concise Edition, 1958, p. 857) It comes from the Anglo-Saxon word meaning “to strangle”. Whenever we allow our minds to become preoccupied with pending decisions, concern about what may happen and feelings of inadequacy, we are subjecting ourselves to a tremendous amount of stress.
It is not necessary! Worry is a habit, and it can be overcome by spiritual methods. Not only that, but we must work our way out of the anxiety habit if we are going to live stress-free, God-fulfilled lives.
A woman who had been doing an excellent job was promoted to supervisor. Two weeks later she came in for counselling.
She explained, “I see all of these papers piled high on my desk, and I can’t make myself even start to handle them. They are just piling up higher and higher, and I can’t seem to do anything!” she sounded desperate.
This was an extreme case of stress, caused by worry about taking on new responsibilities.
I suggested that she stop looking at the whole pile of papers, and, instead, think of them as separate items. She was to relax before starting work, get in tune with God in a quiet, definite way and then handle one piece at a time.
She returned later to say that things were going well in the new position since she had learned to stop worrying and put God in charge before handling one thing at a time.
Many times worry takes the form of concern about something that may or may not ever happen. Probably more energy is wasted on worry about events that never take place than is expended in all the productive effort in the world.
There is concern about the possibility of a certain illness, fear about what might happen that would endanger the health and well-being, or just the pocketbook, of an individual, or anxious thoughts about a loved one.
Many times worry about a particular situation is the result of discouragement in general. Once the worry bug bites, it becomes like a plague, multiplying itself as long as it finds a welcome.
One woman could have saved herself two years of miserable thoughts and fear had she simply nipped her worry bud when it started.
As she carried a heavy bag of groceries upstairs to her apartment, she was burdened by many thoughts. She was feeling deeply the recent loss of her father, and she was even more concerned by the suspicion that her brother was “ripping her off” as far as her inheritance was concerned.
Suddenly she noticed that, with every step up, her knee was creaking. Feeling even more sorry for herself, she complained silently, “Oh, dear, what’ll I do now? I need my leg!”
Through worry she magnified the creak into the thought of costly medical bills, and that brought her right back to the sense of financial loss over what her brother was doing about the father’s estate.
She tried to meditate, but somehow couldn’t get over the fear. All sorts of negative pictures filled her mind, as she went over and over what might be wrong. Finally, after two years of fretting and worry, she decided to consult a doctor.
It was at this point that she picked up the January, 1982, issue of Unity Magazine, containing my article “Don’t You Believe It!” At first she was amused by the story of the lady who, when told she had a serious physical ailment, was advised by my husband, a Unity Minister, “Don’t you believe it!” The article went on to show how our refusal to believe in physical difficulties can bring about healing.
After re-reading the article, this person with the creaking knee exclaimed, “Hey! Wait a minute! This is for me! It’s worth a try. I’m going to put it to the test.”
As she reported later, she had a conversation with herself that went something like this: “Listen to this, self. You may have to have your knee operated on.”
Self, having also read the article, promptly replied, “Don’t you believe it!”
Suddenly all the stress and strain were gone, and she found that she was no longer haunted by worry about what might happen. Two days later she happened to mention to a co-worker that her knee had been creaking, and she wondered what caused it. The other person laughed and answered, “Oh, that’s nothing. It just happens to some people — like someone’s jaws popping. It means nothing.”
After two years of concern and anxiety, in a moment the whole thing was cleared up for her. But it didn’t happen until she first got rid of the worried state of mind and became receptive to her answer. How often the worried attitude simply puts up a shield to preserve the anxious state until something happens to break through and awaken the consciousness to a higher, better answer!
We can’t hear unless we listen, and we won’t listen until we are ready, mentally, for a different concept.
When we consider the effects of worry, surely we must see that nothing is worth allowing that stress and strain on our minds, our bodies and our affairs.
Worry has been described as a “respectable way” of killing yourself, but, even in its less lethal form it does tremendous damage.
Worry makes young people old, and it weakens older people by destroying the appetite, causing insomnia, spoiling the taste for living, warping the personality and sapping the energy. It is, in effect, a costly luxury, an indulgence that takes its toll.
Whether worry concerns itself with what has happened, what might happen or what is happening, it accomplishes no good purpose and simply drains the organism of the power it needs for coping with the source of the stress, real or imagined. A certain sense of negative self-indulgence may seemingly satisfy the worrier, but its cost is great!
Worry is not something that happens to us. It is a response that happens through us. It may be our reaction to an outer stimulus, or it may simply result from a buildup of our own negative thoughts and feelings. But, however it comes, it must be stopped if we are to live happy, healthy, successful, productive lives.
One of the negative results of anxiety is that we frequently attract the very thing that we would most like to avoid. If we continue to pour thought power into negative concepts, we are literally forming them from the stuff of the universe. Even if we concentrate on something that has already happened, with worry about it, we will find that the undesirable state of affairs becomes worse, all through the power of our thought.
For many people, worry becomes a form of intoxication — one that is considered quite respectable. People who would never consider losing control of themselves as the result of drinking too much alcohol may think it is perfectly all right to become drunk on worry. And they do.
We can take a lesson from the animals. The human being is the only form of life on our planet that has the ability to worry. Only a person can anticipate something with foreboding and then continue to relive it with strong emotional imaging when it is over. Animals arise to the occasion when an emergency arises and then relax when it is over. They are able to do this because they trust and depend on their instincts. How much better off we would be if we also would trust our inner spiritual guidance instead of trying to anticipate or review real or imagined challenges!
Mac, our little border collie, used to love to sit on the hill in front of our house, alert and watching, but relaxed. When another dog came in sight, he would prick up his ears and watch intently. If the other dog so much as stepped on our property, Mac would bark furiously and run as far as necessary to chase the intruder from his land. After sniffing around a bit to make sure everything was all right and the invader was really gone, he would return to his vantage point, relax and wait for the next emergency. No worry. No anticipation. Just response to the God nature within him.
Worry is a learned response, but it can also be unlearned. Paul tells us how in his letter to the Philippians.
The instruction in the Revised Standard edition version reads, “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Phil. 4:6.7 RSV)
Two other modern translations actually use the word “worry”. J. B. Phillips says, “Don’t worry over anything whatever” (Phil. 4:6 Phillips), and George Lamsa translates Paul’s words, “Do not worry over things” (Phil. 4:6 Lamsa). All in all, the instruction is clear.
Don’t review your troubles or anxieties.
Whether we use the Phillips translation or the Revised Standard version, Paul’s words are definite. We should have no anxiety about anything in our lives, and we should not worry, regardless of what seems to provoke that reaction in us. Paul doesn’t leave any room for excuses or rationalization. He simply says, “Don’t do it!”
As most people who have become chronic worriers will agree, this is easy to say, but difficult to accomplish. However, it can be done, if we make up our minds that our healthful feelings and fulfilling participation in life are worth whatever they cost in discipline and re-training of our thoughts and feelings.
Concentration intensifies and concentrates. Release frees. This works in our thoughts and feelings as it does in our affairs.
When we choose the type of thoughts with which we will live most of the time, we form thought centers in our minds, which attract other thoughts and feelings of like nature.
Thus, if we begin to worry about the possibility of a certain thing happening, we build a center which acts as a magnet to draw into its orbit all sorts of ideas and concepts to reinforce it. By the same token, if we start out with a happy attitude and a peaceful feeling, we may be surprised at the number of happy happenings we attract that day.
If we want to change the results, we must change the cause, because that is where the center originates. If we start off with fearful, anxious thoughts, they will do their work of not only attracting more anxiety and fear, but also they will draw to us those experiences that we most hate and want to avoid. That is the way the law of mind works.
In order to stop reviewing troubles or anxieties — in other words, to stop worrying —- we must be willing to take a mature responsibility for our lives. We can no longer claim that something someone said or did “made” us worry. We must acknowledge in a mature way that we determine what we will think, and we can choose not to fill our minds with negative, anxious concerns. Then we must do it.
Here is the way it works.
A woman was feeling badly and went to her doctor. After examining her, he said he was sure there was something wrong with her liver and he wanted to put her in the hospital for tests. At first she was very worried, but then she decided to take control of the situation and not to accept the doctor’s prognosis. Remembering that there was intelligence in all the cells of her body, she went home and started talking to her liver. To the amusement of her famiy, she walked around the house, declaring out loud, over and over, positive, powerful orders to the intelligence in her liver.
She would start off, “Liver, you know what you are supposed to be doing. Now get up and do it!” Then she would go on from there, remembering continually to hold the thought that the intelligence in her liver was listening to every word she said.
By the time she went into the hospital for tests, she was feeling fine, and she knew the results would be negative. As an added bonus, her family, having been amused at her performance, had not added worry and anxiety to the negation that she had to overcome. They were actually helping her to express a positive, optimistic outlook in the whole situation.
No one has to worry. Anyone can choose not to go back over troubles or to anxiously anticipate difficulties. And it’s the only mature choice anyone can make!
Give thanks to God for your blessings.
Paul instructed, “With thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Phil. 4:6 RSV)
How easy it is to concentrate on the things that we don’t have and completely ignore the many blessings that surround us. In our modern affluent society we all take for granted many conveniences that would have been beyond the imagination of our ancestors.
When Paul spoke of praying with thanksgiving as we open ourselves to the fulfillment of our greater desires, he was instructing us to develop a healthy attitude that will enable us to experience God’s presence so strongly that we will be able to accept the good He has provided for us.
We cannot expect answers to prayers of complaint and misery. God has already richly supplied all that we can ever need or want, but we must be in tune with it in order to bring it forth into visible form. A spirit of thanksgiving wipes out the fear, the worry, the anxiety, and enables us to appreciate the good that we already have as preparation for receiving the greater good God has for us.
And there is nothing like giving thanks in advance for the blessings we are seeking. When we turn in prayer to God with a spirit of thanksgiving not only for the good we have already received, but also for the healing or prosperity or other good that we know He has for us, we will find that worry disappears. The more we identify with the good that we already have received and the good that we are accepting in advance, the further we are moving from worry and concern. It’s our choice. We can decide to worry, but how much better off we will be if we just decide to be thankful instead!
Fill your mind with positive, powerful thoughts of good.
It’s a short step from thanksgiving to an attitude of positive, powerful, joyous, enthusiastic participation in life. And when we are tuned in to the good, we will be forming a thought center which attracts only love and joy and beauty into our daily experience. As we think, we attract, and when our mind is trained to think in a positive way, it will no longer be receptive to worry thoughts. They just won’t fit.
Paul pointed out the importance of adopting a joyous frame of mind. He said, “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4 RSV). Happiness is our divine heritage, but it is one that we must accept in our thoughts and feelings. The promise is that when we have released all worry and tuned in to God with a joyful, thankful attitude, “the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus!” (Phil. 4:7 RSV)
Paul even tells us what sort of thoughts to choose in order to develop this positive, powerful, attracting consciousness. These are perhaps some of his best known words: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phil. 4:8 RSV) When we have formed the habit of making sure that all our thoughts and feelings pass this test, then we will find that somehow our whole attitude is harmonious and happy, and our affairs are happy, too.
© 1985, Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.
How To Establish Positive Human Relationships
ONE DAY MY husband and I were looking at some new commemorative postage stamps with four different Indian masks. One had a grayish green face that resembled a skull more than a human countenance. Scraggly pieces of wire served for hair, and there were funny holes where the eyes should be.
Looking at the picture on the postage stamp, I commented, “He’s not very pretty, is he?”
My husband replied, “He’s smiling!”
Sure enough, when I looked at the mask again, I realized that it was smiling. After that, whenever I came across one of those stamps, I had to smile, because I saw the funny green mask as a smiley face, with shiny little shells or beads for teeth. As I thought about it, I wondered what happy celebration had inspired one of the Tlingit Indians to come up with this pleasant little fellow.
How easy it is to change our opinion when we see the smile instead of the ugliness! And how much stress could be avoided in our lives if we would simply look for the good in others, instead of concentrating on the unpleasant memories or even cultural and racial differences. The simple discovery, “He’s smiling!”, makes all the difference. And even when the other person isn’t smiling in a literal sense, there is a Spirit within him that always smiles — the living Christ, the image and likeness of God implanted within every person. The secret of happy, harmonious stressless human relationships lies in going behind the outer evidence to the reality of the God self even in the person who is doing something terribly wrong.
This doesn’t mean that we are to allow others to take advantage of us in order to live in harmony. But it does mean that, regardless of appearance, the good in others will always shine through when we have geared ourselves to see it.
It may seem easy to look at the funny mask and say, “He’s smiling!” Certainly it will be much more difficult to meet a person who seemingly hurt us and say, silently and with an inward smile, “You are a good person. Deep down I know that you have within you the living image of God. I behold the Christ is you!” But this is what we must learn to do if we would employ spiritual methods for dealing with stressful situations in our relationships with others. Maybe we don’t like the contentious, arrogant person that we see, but, looking past outer appearances, we have to love the child of God deep down inside.
Certainly this was a technique perfected by Jesus of Nazareth, one of the greatest human relations experts of all time.
He was the master of every situation involving other people. (Even the crucifixion could not have taken place without His consent.) Sometimes He took a bold stand. And on other occasions we can imagine Him smiling as He healed someone in need of His blessing.
On one occasion Jesus was teaching on the portico of the temple, as He sometimes did when He was in Jerusalem. He was surrounded by people who had come to hear His message, and the scribes and Pharisees chose this time to test Him. They brought a woman who had been taken in the act of adultery and asked Jesus’ opinion.
“Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?” (John 8:4,5 RSV Margin)
Jesus, with His great understanding of human nature, saw how they were seeking to trap Him. If He agreed that she should be stoned, He would be usurping the Roman authority, because only the Roman leaders could condemn a person to death at that time. On the other hand, if He said that she should not be stoned, He would not be upholding the Mosaic law. The law of Moses was important to the Jewish people, even though it was no longer enforced. Jesus knew that the scribes and Pharisees cared nothing about the woman. They were simply using her to test Him. However, he didn’t respond with counter accusations.
Instead, he bent down and started to write with his finger on the ground. As He made no reply, the stress fell on the accusers, those who were seeking to discredit him, and they began to push what they felt was their advantage. But when Jesus arose, He made the situation even more stressful for them by advising, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7 RSV Margin) Then, not at all interested in causing them embarrassment, He simply stooped down and again wrote with his finger on the ground until they had all left.
When all were gone, Jesus looked up at the woman and asked, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” (John 8:10 RSV Margin)
Jesus did not condemn the woman for her error. Neither did He condemn the scribes and Pharisees for their action. He didn’t gloat over His victory as the human part of us might. Rather, He handled all the human relationships in a peaceful, harmonious state of mind and worked out what was best for all concerned in the situation. Then He went back to the business of teaching.
As we read this story today, it is easy for us to think of the scribes and Pharisees as the villians, Jesus as the hero and the woman as a pawn in some game they were playing. But we can’t imagine that Jesus saw the incident in this way at all.
Actually, there were many people in authority in those days who felt that Jesus was leading the people astray. Perhaps they were seeking to trap Him for the purpose of discrediting this teaching which they felt was harmful to the masses.
In every case where there is pressure and conflict, there are differences of opinion. In many cases people do the wrong things for the right reasons or the right things for the wrong reasons. But who is to judge which is right and which is wrong? It is significant that Jesus judged neither the woman nor the scribes and Pharisees. They judged themselves.
It was during this period that Jesus gave the teaching, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with the right judgment.” (John 7:24 RSV)
And so we must learn, by studying and following Jesus’ example, how to judge rightly, according to the God standard, rather than by the human standards of personal opinion. “Right judgment” will always relate to the divine potential in each person, not to the human limitations that are expressed.
We can remove much of the stress from our relationships with other people by learning to follow Jesus’ techniques.
Refuse to let others determine your reaction.
Any time that we become angry because of something someone has done, or embarrassed because of something someone has said, or hurt because of something someone hasn’t done, we are giving to others the power to determine our reactions to life.
No one can make us angry. Neither can anyone cause us embarrassment or hurt our feelings. We may choose to let the other person’s action cause us to react, but that is our choice. And when we become aware that we are giving others the power to determine our thoughts and feelings, we can choose to refuse to allow the wrongs perpetrated by others to ruffle our feathers or cause a build-up of stress in our lives.
Jesus neither expressed anger toward the scribes and Pharisees nor condemned the woman. He quietly allowed the situation to settle down and then handled it in the way that was right for all concerned.
Many times our problems with other people are the result of hurriedly reacting to what they have said or done, instead of quietly letting the strong feeling subside, while we sift the sands of our own inner being, listening to the voice of Spirit within us until we come up with the right answer. How much stress could be avoided simply by remembering that we do not have to react quickly or strongly to others! In our own innate divinity, we have the power to choose, and we can choose peace, harmony and wisdom.
Jesus did not allow the Jewish leaders to take advantage of Him. He did not give in to their demands. Neither did He allow them to disturb His peace and poise. He simply handled each situation as it arose, from the center of spiritual guidance within Him. The Christ in Him was in charge. And we can let the Christ in us take charge in our dealings with others as well.
No one can draw us into an argument. If we refuse to argue, the other will have such hard going that, sooner or later, he will have to give it up.
Try it sometime. Smile and change the subject. Or assure the other person that he is entitled to his opinion. And then spend your time and energy on better things than argument.
A woman laughed when she received a bill from a credit company for $0.00. She stopped laughing, however, when she continued to receive unpleasant letters insisting that she pay the amount due. No matter how she tried, she couldn’t seem to get through to the computer that she didn’t owe any money.
Finally, in praying about it, she received her guidance. She sent a check for $0.00.. That settled the matter, and she never heard again.
There may be a simple solution to the situation, or it may be necessary to change our attitude about it.
Much stress may be caused by our determination to change other people, our reaction to the wrongs that we see in their lives. With the best of intentions, we may be determined to help another person whether he wants our help or not. It can be very frustrating to find that another doesn’t feel the need of our assistance in solving his problems or changing his habits.
At such times we can avoid the strain and conflict by remembering the words of Paul to the Corinthians, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (II Cor. 3:17 RSV)
It is our desire to be free to follow our own inner guidance, and we must leave others free to do the same, even when we do not feel that they are listening to the Christ. We can pray for them, beholding the God self there, regardless of their actions, and sometimes this is the very best way that we can help them.
Jesus didn’t judge the scribes and Pharisees. He left them free to judge themselves, undoubtedly remembering that, in the long run, each one must find God in his own way.
We don’t have to allow others to determine our reactions — any rime, anywhere or for any reason.
See the Christ, not the error.
Especially when we are personally affected by the adverse words or actions of another, it is very difficult to see the good in the other person. It becomes easier when we first realize that no one has any power over our life — except the power that we give them. We give them that power by reacting to the wrong that is done. We withdraw the power by looking to the activity of God in and through us, in and through the other person and in and through the whole situation.
It is surprising how often we may find that another has done us a favor when at first it may seem that harm was intended. When we bring God into any situation, we will find the blessing in it!
Jesus seems to have had a very special talent for calling forth the good in others. He did it not by pointing out their errors, or by reacting to the wrongs, but by continuing to see the God potentiality in each one. And so can we.
In the case of the woman taken in adultery, Jesus didn’t see the error. Rather, He forgave it. But He did see the divine potentiality in her. He also loved and blessed others, even when He was aware of their shortcomings. Had He not been able to look past appearances, He could not have been the channel for so many healings and demonstrations of spiritual power.
Looking past the error does not mean that we condone the wrong, but it does imply that, regardless of appearances, we know that God lives in each and every person as the higher self, the divine activity that is always present, waiting to be called into expression. Sometimes our faith in the good in another person is all that is needed to call it into expression. A person who is suspicious and difficult in dealing with most people may become gentle and giving in dealing with one who loves him and believes in his innate goodness. In transacting business with other people we will find that it is to our advantage to concentrate on the good, or God, in them. If there is competition and confrontation, we will experience frequent stress and strained relations, but when we learn to bless others with the realization that God is within them, and carry on our work with the desire to bless all, we will find that we don’t have to compete on the human level.
If we do not make a particular sale, it doesn’t really matter — if we have kept our peace and looked to God for our supply.
A friend who is in the investment business told of spending a great deal of time with a couple who never actually transacted any business with him. He was working with Truth principles and simply gave service without thought of return. And nothing was lost.
The same couple later referred customers to him who became some of his biggest investors. In the long run, working for God and beholding the good in others as we serve in love pays greater dividends than any of the high-powered methods that prevail so much in the business world today.
Looking to the God self regardless of outer appearances pays dividends in family relationships as well as in any area of life and living.
Release others to their own good.
How much tension, strain and anxiety we cause ourselves by holding on to other people!
A mother refuses to release her son, even though he is grown, married and raising his own children. A woman involved in a divorce is determined to “get even” with the former mate. An executive is so determined to control the lives of his employees that he dictates even the type of car they must drive. A lover refuses to marry his sweetheart, but jealously tries to keep her from dating other men. The list goes on and on. And with it the stress rises higher and higher.
There is a saying that beautifully analyzes the freedom that is so important in developing happy, fulfilling, stress-free relationships. “If you want to find out whether something is truly yours, let it go. If it comes back, it is yours to keep. If it doesn’t, it never was yours to begin with.”
How true this is in human relationships! Many times, the harder we try to hold on to someone, the more they struggle to be free. By freeing them, we let them make the decision. And if they belong in our lives, they will be there by choice, not by force.
The time comes when we must hold our children with “open hands”, or we will cause ourselves and them much stress and unhappiness. Just freeing them to live their own lives may bring them closer.
Divorce is always a difficult time for the individuals involved, and it is made even more stressful when one partner refuses to let go. Again, it is not possible to hold someone against his will without creating antagonism and hard feelings. Is it worth it? This is a question that we must consider at any time that we are in the process of breaking up relationships. Holding on may prolong the unpleasant situation for a while, but in the long run it will take its toll in emotional and physical wear and tear.
Another way in which one involved in a divorce may refuse to let go is in determination to make the other partner suffer. It is possible to pay a high price for suffering, because the one who instigates the retaliation will suffer most of all.
Many times individuals refuse to release loved ones who have passed on. They continue to hold on to them with grief and strong feelings.
It is hard to adjust to the passing of those who have been close to us, but we must remember that it is for their good as well as our own that we let them go. They have their own work to do on the next plane, as we have our assignment here. Grief and strong feelings will hold them back, and they also tie us to the old, instead of freeing us for the new life that is always here for us, when we open our eyes to see it. The very best gift we can give to people we love who have passed to the other plane is our prayer, which enfolds them in God’s love wherever they are and blesses them on their way.
While it is necessary to guide young children or to establish order in the hierarchy of business and industry, we can learn how to encourage individual initiative and freedom while we also establish a constructive continuity that is based on order and harmony.
A young mother told about worrying over her young children when she was in the hospital, being so much concerned about them that it was interfering with her healing. When she returned home, she found that they had gotten along amazingly well without her. Then she felt hurt because they had done so well!
We can save ourselves much anguish simply by learning to hold others with open hands, guiding and directing where it is needed, peacefully taking a stand when it is necessary, but being willing to give to others the same freedom we want for ourselves.
We can have happy human relationships as we learn to relieve the stress by playing on the positives and freeing ourselves and others to become the whole and powerful children of spirit that we are designed to be.
When we remember, “He’s smiling!”, we can free ourselves and others to the highest and best for all concerned.
© 1985, Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.
How To Break The Time Barrier
IN RECENT YEARS the medical profession has reported a dramatic increase in stress-related illnesses such as hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure), heart attacks and strokes.
It was also noted that nowadays people in their twenties and thirties frequently suffer from these ailments, which were formerly confined primarily to those in much older age brackets.
Why is this? Among other causes, the doctors point to the pressures of time.
Actually, there is just as much time as there ever was. Our earth turns at the same speed, and the days and years pass at the same intervals of measurement that have existed for much longer than any of us can remember. Why should we suddenly be feeling such pressures of time?
As we look back, we can imagine that life must have moved at a more leisurely pace fifty, a hundred or a thousand years ago. But did it really? Certainly, the life span was shorter, with fewer years for great accomplishment. Also the whole way of life was much harder, with greater physical effort required for the mere routine of daily living without the time-saving gadgets of the modem era.
But somehow our modern age seems to be identified with a compulsion or mass hysteria that indicates a fear that there is not enough time for all the things that need to be done.
A walk along a street in any downtown area will show just how prevalent the hurry habit has become. It’s easy to spot those who are in a hurry. The slant of their body proclaims it. The head always precedes the feet, almost as though by projecting his face forward, the individual expects to teach his destination sooner.
The signs of the pressures of the time are everywhere.
One day my husband and I had the radio on in the car as we were driving along. We weren’t paying any particular attention to the music until I suddenly heard these words, wailed by the singer: “If I only had time! If only I had time!” I didn’t hear the rest of the song, because those words made me think how pressed most people allow themselves to become in our modern society, which is so blessed with energy-saving devices and appliances that few of us even find time to use them all.
Some modern authorities attribute the increased pressure of time to the way our lifestyle has changed. Whereas at the turn of the century the average person walked or drove a horsedrawn vehicle a few miles a day, now we think nothing of driving an automobile hundreds of miles or boarding an airplane to fly halfway around the world — all in the same time period.
Certainly wonderful progress has been made in our technological society, but often people seem to feel that they must hurry to keep up.
The blessings of modern travel are tremendous, but the concept of speed and more speed seems to pervade other areas of life as well. It appears that the faster we are able to go, the faster we want to go. And the pressure carries over into other departments of life.
New products and new developments call for high pressure tactics to market them before they become obsolete. Things, places and even people move through our lives at an accelerated rate, it seems. Products are made to be used and then thrown away, and many areas of life seem transient and fleeting. People move, change jobs and form new relationships. The experience of moving through a kaleidoscope of faces, places, jobs and things may make life seem tenuous and fleeting. But, through it all, we must understand that it is not our world or the age we live in that makes us feel pressured by time. It is our reaction to it. Even when all the rest of the world is rushing, we can still have divine order in our lives.
The answer is that regardless of how the current pressures of time came about, we can learn to cope with them. Not only that, but we can so learn to live above the stress and anxiety in the world that time serves us, and we move through life without hurry or strain. It is well for us to remember that, regardless of how the rest of the world allows itself to be pressured by time, we can break the time barrier in our mind and live like the divinely ordered individuals we were created to be.
In the beginning God gave us dominion over everything on our earth, and He also gave us dominion over our thoughts and our relationships with all things, including our relationship with time.
In exercising the dominion God gave us, we will never try to “make time” or “take time”. We will simply use the time we have, right where we are, under divine direction. Time is not to be resisted, any more than it is to be served. It is simply a means of designating a particular moment in our space-time continuum. It should serve our convenience, not be our master.
Charles Fillmore put it this way: “Time is the measure that man gives to passing events. The only power in time is what man imparts to it.” (The Revealing Word, Time).
Jesus gave some instructions which we can use in learning to live with time in a comfortable, stress-free way.
Jesus never allowed himself to be pressured or pushed.
Early in His ministryjesus and His disciples were invited to a wedding at Cana. Jesus’ mother was there, and, recognizing her Son’s special powers, she asked him to do something about the fact that the wine supply had been exhausted. Even though there was an obvious need, Jesus did not allow Himself to be pressured into hurry. He first said, “My hour has not yet come.’’(John 2:4 RSV)
Then, when the time was right, under divine guidance, He supplied the wine that was better than anything served before. But He didn’t hurry. He did what He did in divine order and under divine direction. And so can we.
Had Jesus accepted the suggestion that He must hurry, He would not have been able to accomplish the great works that He did. Nothing really worthwhile is ever done in a rush.
Whenever one hurries, things have a way of going wrong. Something breaks. Things don’t fit as they should. Obstacles arise to keep the individual away from the goal, it seems. And delays! Traffic jams and uncooperative people seem to beset the one who rushes through life.
So, recognizing that hurry accomplishes no good purpose and may actually be detrimental to what we are trying to accomplish, we can choose to overcome the hurry habit.
Jesus asked, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:23 RSV)
It is the world that urges us to hurry — the world and our preoccupation with competition and limitation. But when we get back to the Christ, to the Spirit of God within us, there is no hurry. There is simply universal divine order and an awareness that, with God in charge, all is well. Under divine direction, we go forward to meet our good without frustration or fear.
When we are in tune with our God self and living according to the guidance from within, we will be content to live in the eternal now, not pushed and pressured by past and future, but impelled easily and in divine order from moment to moment by the spiritual activity within.
Jesus invited us to live in the present time, in consciousness as well as in body, when He instructed, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.” (Matt. 6:34 RSV)
He also said, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” (Matt. 6:33 RSV) One of the “things” is the opportunity to have plenty of time and order in our lives.
He even gave us instructions for seeking the kingdom at a moment’s notice should we allow ourselves to become caught up in the time-speed pressure of the crowd. He invited, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28 RSV)
It is well to remember that, whatever the pressure of hurry around us, we can choose to come apart to the place of the Christ within ourselves, where we remember who we are, children of God, and why we are here, to express His nature. In this consciousness, we will put all things in their proper perspective and begin to do the things that need to be done by us at the pace that is right for us. But first, we will accept the invitation of the Christ within our own being to release our burdens and accept the rest that comes with our willingness to answer the demands of the world under the direction of the Christ. There is always a right and perfect way to accomplish all things, and God will reveal it to us when we learn to listen to the Voice within.
One of our friends who continued a busy and productive life well into the years past the usual retirement age liked to remind herself, “God is never in a hurry, and He’s always on time.” We can remind ourselves of this as well, when we find the pressures of time building up. This is true. God moves in and through His universe in a divinely ordered way. He certainly doesn’t hurry, and He’s never late. When we trust Him to guide our days, we will find that we, too, can be “never in a hurry, and . . . always on time”.
Many times our good needs the opportunity to grow and develop. If we try to force it by hurry, we simply delay the time it will reach its own maturity. God’s time is perfect, and when we commit our lives to Him and let His good unfold through us, we will grow into good that will surprise us — happily.
Don’t let time be a burden.
Even when they are not hurrying, many people are allowing their minds to be obsessed by the whole concept of time, allowing it to cut into their productive activity. They are making of time a white elephant.
About a hundred years ago in India, when the rajahs were the ruling class, these princes had a way of getting even with each other. The rajah would send a person who had displeased him a white elephant.
White elephants were believed to be magic, and, in a society where elephants were an important part of the work force, the unusual white elephants were removed from the work force and treated like honored guests. They must be bathed and perfumed. Jewels should be put in their tusks, and they were covered with expensive fabrics. Taking care of a white elephant was an expensive and time-consuming occupation. So, while the gift of a white elephant might seem to be a nice gesture, it was actually the passing on of a gift that was useless and very expensive to maintain.
Some people treat time in this way, as a burden to be lavished with much thought and feeling. No matter how much time they have, they always complain that they have “so much to do”. They bathe and perfume those white elephant thoughts as they perform the work many times in mind before actually getting to it. The burdens of their thoughts about the pressures of time serve no good purpose, and they do cost dearly!
Nobody has given us a white elephant. We have made it for ourselves, when we always feel that something is hanging over us, waiting to be done. We have made our own white elephant, and we can get rid of it. When we decide these heavy thoughts are more than we want to support, we can always give them away, just as the rajahs did with their white elephants. But we don’t have to give them to another person. When we release those heavy, burdensome thoughts, they simply fade away into the nothingness from which they came. It was only our mental support that gave them life.
Time will be what we name it. We can call it a hard taskmaster, a burden, a limited supply, a threat hanging over our head — or a friend. We will not be burdened by thoughts of the things undone, and we will not find time “hanging heavy” on our hands when we develop a healthy attitude toward it, when we decide to consider time our friend, and to use it, instead of letting it use us.
Jesus, speaking as the Christ, invited us to bring our burdens to Him and to find rest. Whatever our burdens of thought about time, we can take them to the Spirit of God within us and let them be dissolved into the nothingness from which they came.
Instead of hurrying to accomplish something or carrying heavy burdens of thought about this or that job, we can establish priorities and begin to accomplish what needs to be done by us in a divinely ordered way, without pressure and strain.
Pressure builds up when we look at many things to be done or feel burdened about our responsibilities. But we will always feel better about ourselves and our accomplishments when we are moving ahead easily, one undertaking at a time. Sometimes we relieve ourselves of tremendous anxiety and stress simply by starting to do something.
Of course, the best way is to pray first, letting God establish our priorities, and then proceed one step at a time, as the Spirit within directs. In the long run, we will find that this is the most efficient method of accomplishment.
We may simply start in doing first one thing and then another, but we may find out that when the day is over, we haven’t really accomplished what we wanted to do. By taking time at the start of the day to pray and get in tune with God, we set the stage for a divinely ordered day of perfect accomplishment. We will be guided into the right order in which to approach the various jobs to be done, and we will also learn how to eliminate time wasters.
More than most people realize, time-wasting activities can creep in and take over to such an extent that we may appear to be very busy and yet be accomplishing little. Setting the stage for a divinely ordered day will help us to recognize and to deal with such time-consuming interruptions as the person who, not having much to do himself, comes in “just to pass the time” or the process of stopping in the middle of a job to take care of some little inconsequential matter that should have been done before we started.
Sometimes busy people feel that they do not have time to pray at the start of the day. But those who have tried it know that the prayer time can be the most important part of our day’s activity. This is the time when we get in tune and establish the foundation for all of our day’s activities. It is also much easier during the day to stop and feel God’s presence when we have become “prayed up” in the morning.
Jesus said, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:30 RSV), and so it is. When we first obey the instruction of the Christ, “Come unto me” (Matt. 11:28 RSV), and let God plan our day, our burdens will fall away, and we will find that we experience ease and light, rather than darkness and heaviness. We are in tune with time, rather than working against time.
Another help in accomplishing first things first is to concentrate on the job at hand, rather than anticipating all of the other things waiting to be done. This is a way of living in the present, the eternal now, rather than scattering ourselves into other times and places mentally. Concentration is a fine key to accomplishment and to finding peace in a world of people pressured by time. We make our own reactions to life and to each task undertaken, and we can choose the results we want by right choices in our attitudes. When we are peacefully proceeding with the job at hand, concentrating on it, we will find that we finish that portion of our life and move on to the next in a divinely ordered way.
When we learn to pray at the beginning of the day, we may also find that we change our priorities. Some things we have thought extremely important may not appear so crucial when we are letting God plan our day. And we will find that, instead of letting ourselves be burdened by thoughts of things and pressures of society, we are guided into new ways and freed from some burdens that no longer seem necessary. Letting God take charge and direct our day makes for a whole new way of looking at life and time.
So the formula for establishing priorities and relieving the pressure of time is: Pray first. Then act, under divine direction, accomplishing one thing at a time.
There is no time in Spirit. There is only the eternal Now, and when we learn to tune in to Spirit and live in the present, we will find that we are no longer controlled or pressured by time. We simply use it to learn and to grow and to live richly without pressure.
Charles Fillmore put it this way:
“Time has no power over one who dwells in the mind of God. There is no time to the mind of one who realizes omnipresence.” (Atom-Smashing Power Of Mind 157)
© 1985, Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.
How To Outwit The Devil
“When we groan and sweat under the stress and strain of life, we are serving Satan instead of God,” (Keep A True Lent 107)
SO UNITY FOUNDER Charles Fillmore points to the mistake we may make as human beings, feeling that life must take its toll, that it must be difficult and stressful. This is not so.
When we serve God, and God only, our life is harmonious, free, loving and happy. It is only when we let that old devil, the human side of our nature, take over that we become tense, anxious, worried, hurried, fearful and over-burdened. It has nothing to do with God or His world. It is simply the result of our allowing the human in us to control our lives by controlling our thoughts, our feelings and our reactions to life and living.
Fillmore continues, “The satanic consciousness would make us believe that there is a limited amount of the things necessary to life and that we must labor hard to get our share.” (Keep A True Lent 107) He then admits that such conditions of hard labor and limited reward do come to “those who have turned their faces from God.”
But there is a better way. We are not to allow the limiting, limited concept of human consciousness to make us fearful, worried and ineffectual. Instead, we are to remember that it is our divine right to be happy, successful, free, whole and fulfilled. It is not God’s plan for us to suffer stress and strain. Strain comes from listening to the adverse consciousness, the perverse human side of our nature. And when we recognize its wiles and its guile for what they are, we can break out of the chains that have bound us in consciousness and free ourselves into the greater experience that awaits us as children of God in expression as well as in potentiality.
Let us take a good long look at the devil, the human factor in our lives, and then let us release him forever.
The devil is not a man in a red suit, with a long tail and horns. Satan is not a person at all, but rather is that in us which leads us astray, our own wrong thoughts and feelings. During the time of Jesus and for several hundred years afterward, the devil was considered a spirit of sorts, an intangible influence, not a person.
Then where did we get that picture of the devil that is so well known today? It evolved over many years as individuals tried to personify evil. In many ways they were reverting to the earlier pagan religions and their many gods as they drew various representations of the devil. Since there was no description in the Bible, they had to use their imagination. Different forms were given to Satan as they let their imagination run wild, and finally the most popular representation became a creature that was half man and half goat.
During the Middle Ages the devil, still the figment of someone’s imagination, began to wear clothes. According to the stories, he could sometimes pass as a man, but sooner or later his horns, tail and cloven hoofs gave him away.
As the belief evolved, many people became obsesed with the idea of the devil as a man. An Italian goldsmith named Benvenuto Cellini was so fascinated by the devil that he began working intricate designs of him on the vases he was making. As he developed a detailed picture of the devil, he became so carried away with the idea that he was terrified of this creation of his own fingers and mind. Others who concentrated on the picture of the man in the red suit also became fanatical about this figment of their own imagination.
Today we realize that Satan, as mentioned in the Bible, is not a man, but an idea.
Nothing outside of us has any power over us — except the power that we give it. However, if we feel that the world is against us, or that there is inequity in conditions in our life and no hope for the future, then we are serving Satan, a false belief. If we continually look around for someone or something to blame for the shortcomings in our experience, refusing to take control of our thoughts and feelings ourselves, we are playing the devil’s game. And, remember, the devil is real only inasmuch as we give him life by believing in wrong conditions and serving the false beliefs that they generate in us.
Charles Fillmore describes the devil as “a state of consciousness adverse to the divine good” (The Revealing Word, p. 54). And a state of consciousness can be changed! But it can only be changed where it exists — within us, established in our thoughts and feelings. That is where we must attack the devil and root him out.
This adverse thought, or error consciousness as it is sometimes called, has no permanence except the permanence we give it in our thoughts. It has no roots except the roots we send down into our feelings. And it can be changed at any time that we decide to withdraw the power we have given it in our lives.
Error thinking cannot endure indefinitely, because we are essentially spiritual beings. And, regardless of appearances and our opinions of them, there is within us a Spirit that will never let us be satisfied with limitation, struggle, dissatisfaction and frustration. God in us is continually urging us to come up higher, to enter into the greater estate that He has prepared for us, His children. And God, Good, is always greater than error.
In transforming our lives, we may have to cope with the devil and outwit him, but when we recognize that he is within us as that old human consciousness, we cut him down to size and understand that when we stop supporting him by our thoughts and feelings, he has to give way to higher, better thoughts. This is our destiny, to let the good triumph over all limited thinking and feeling in our human nature. And we will be happiest when we are willing to release all devilish thoughts and feelings and let our divine nature shine through.
When Jesus said, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me,” (Matt. 16:24 RSV) He was speaking of the overcoming of this human nature that each must make for himself. Jesus overcame all that was human in His thoughts and feelings, and so can we, by using the same methods that He used.
Jesus, our Elder Brother, our Wayshower, chose to incarnate in a physical body and to meet the errors of the human race thought. And in overcoming the basic demands of error thought, He gave us the great Example.
‘ After receiving baptism from John the Baptist, Jesus went into the wilderness to spend some time alone, preparing for His ministry. It was a time of soul searching and planning, preparation for the very full and busy three years He had to share the spiritual message.
Since no one was with Him, Jesus must have told someone (perhaps Matthew) the story of His experience, and He told it in terms that people would understand.
After fasting for forty days, He faced “the tempter” (Matt. 4:3 RSV). There is no indication that this was a person standing in front of Him, but rather it was something taking place in His thoughts, an overcoming that He must make before starting His great work.
He handled each temptation by remembering a quotation from the Scriptures that applied. He had received His religious training in the Hebrew faith, and the appropriate words came to Him easily.
First, He faced the temptation of the physical body. After forty days of fasting He was hungry. As He looked around the barren wilderness, he saw many stones, and he must have thought to Himself how much the stones looked like loaves of dark bread. Gazing idly at the stones and realizing the spiritual power that He had, He knew He could change the stones into bread to assuage His hunger. But something inside Him wouldn’t let Him use this great spiritual development for physical gratification only.
He reminded Himself, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’ ” (Matt. 4:4 RSV), quoting from the Book of Deuteronomy.
It is a reminder that it was more important for Him to feed His soul than His body. He would not use His spiritual powers just to gratify a human demand of the body.
Then He began to think about His ministry and how He should start. If He made some spectacular entrance into Jerusalem, surely that would attract the multitudes, and He could then teach them. It was the human way of approaching the whole situation. What entrepreneur wouldn’t approve a dramatic show of spiritual power to kick off a series of revival meetings?
Jesus, in His imagination, pictured Himself on the pinnacle of the temple, and He knew that if He flung Himself from this high place, He would be unharmed. Truly that was a great human idea for attracting attention!
But, once more, He remembered the spiritual nature of His mission and His early teaching, and He came up with another quotation from Deuteronomy, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” (Matt. 4:7 RSV) He could not expect to use spiritual power just for personal acclaim.
Recognizing that He had highly developed powers, Jesus finally even thought of compromising with His spiritual principles in order to enjoy the world’s rewards.
Through the power of His imagination, He pictured Himself as the head of “all the kingdoms of the world” (Matt. 4:8 RSV). With his understanding of the laws of the universe, He could take over the whole world and have power beyond anything anyone could dream about in a human way. He knew it, and He had to reach a decision about this before proceeding any further. As He told the disciples later, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matt. 6:24 RSV) He realized that He could not slant His work toward personal gain, even the achieving of great power and position, but must direct His attention and His dedication to God only.
So He spoke to these tempting thoughts, again quoting from Deuteronomy, “Begone, Satan! for it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.’ ” (Matt. 4:10 RSV)
He had made His great decision and was ready to start His spiritual ministry. He had outwitted the devil thoughts and was at peace.
Luke’s version of the incident says that “when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13 RSV). We do know that Jesus again had to face the temptation of His own thought as He prepared for the crucifixion and resurrection in the Garden of Gethsemane. But, for now, He was free to conduct His ministry without any advice or influence from the adverse consciousness. His spiritual nature was firmly in charge!
We, too, have to face our own human thinking and to learn how to answer those little nagging temptations. If we don’t — if we allow our adverse consciousness to direct our life — then we will always have stress, and we will always be frustrated and unsatisfied.
Fasting was not an uncommon practice in the Eastern countries. Moses and Elijah also fasted forty days. The idea in such fasting is to make the soul the master over the material side of life.
It may not be necessary for us to fast from eating actual physical food, but if we are going to outwit the devil of human thinking, we must learn to fast mentally and emotionally from wrong thoughts and feelings. In the long run, this is the only way that we can rise to a higher, easier, more fulfilling way of life.
Let us take a lesson from the temptations of Jesus.
Don’t let your body and its demands rule your life.
We are not here to serve our bodies, but our bodies simply function as vehicles for our souls. Consequently, we should put things in their proper perspective, recognizing that we must take dominion first over ourselves, over the human thoughts that relate to the material side of our living. This does not mean that we must give up eating, feeding our bodies, but it does mean that we are to let the body take its proper place.
When Jesus said, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well,” (Matt. 6:33 RSV) He was giving us a formula for effective, prosperous, healthy living, free from the demands of the negative nature.
Let’s look at the way our body may tempt us. Suppose we look at a serving of rich dessert and can almost taste it as we think, “One more piece won’t hurt me.” This is the satan side of our self, the adversary consciousness. This is what we have to overcome.
The same thing applies to one who feels he has to have tobacco or alcohol or any other indulgence that his body is calling for.
Our body also takes command when we persuade ourselves to develop physical difficulties and thus avoid some work or other activity that we really don’t want to do. (Strangely, the body may stop making those negative demands when some happy opportunity presents itself.)
The same answer to the body tempter that worked for Jesus will work for us. When we put the physical part of us in the proper perspective, we will see that when we place God first, somehow the physical needs are taken care of in the right way without the stress and strain of overweight or physical upheaval.
Our body is an important and necessary vehicle for living on this life plane, but it must be put in its proper place if we would take command of our lives.
Be true to yourself. Don’t try to impress others.
Had Jesus decided to make a spectacular entrance into Jerusalem by jumping off the temple heights and remaining unscathed, He might have impressed some people, but He knew that it was more important for Him to be true to His own spiritual nature and goals. He could not do something simply for its effect on others.
And so it is with us. If we let our actions be dictated by others, or by what we think others may think, we will always be uncomfortable and ill at ease. We will always be looking to others for approval and satisfaction and will never learn to listen to our own inner Guide. The devil, in the sense of the worldly consciousness that wraps itself up in outer events, will lead us into doing things that we know are not for our highest good.
Overspending is one of the channels through which we may go astray in an attempt to impress others. We are to be prosperous and to enjoy the good of life, but when we seek things as a means to impress others or to compete with them in conversation, then we are letting the adverse thought talk us into jumping off the temple.
When we are true to that which is highest and best in us, we will not let our actions be dictated by what others may say. Following our own spiritual guidance, we may not always meet the approval of those who live by the world’s standards. But the best standard We can use is the standard of our own high goals and aspirations. As we keep our eyes firmly on our spiritual unfoldment, we will know what to do, and we will do it, as Jesus did — not for the sake of the effect it will have on others, but because it is right and we know it! Jesus made the correct choice, and so can we.
In the long run, when we choose to follow the spiritual way that is right and good for us, we will have the greatest effect on others, anyway. They will see our spiritual light and will be inspired by it.
Don’t compromise with the world. Look to God for your good.
Great pressure and strain is put on all who believe that it is necessary to compromise with the world, to do those things that they know in their heart are wrong.
Personal ambition and the desire for great power and unlimited wealth may lead a person to compromise. Some experience this temptation when offered a job which is not quite ethical or honest. The devil, that nagging inner thought, has a way of justifying a lie here, a little misrepresentation there and overcharging on the other hand. More than one person argues that certain unethical practices are necessary to get along in the business world.
Jesus could have argued that He would be able to accomplish great good in a position of worldly power, simply by compromising a little for the sake of the desired end. The high mountain which Jesus visualized in the third temptation symbolizes the height to which the human imagination can take us, the greatest rewards of power, prestige and honor that can be pictured in the mind.
But even this Jesus was able to deny, as He understood that compromising with His highest ideals would defeat the whole purpose of His mission. He had committed Himself to worshipping and serving God only.
In the long run, we gain much more than we lose by making our primary commitment to God and His plan for our lives. When we work for God first, we may very well acquire great wealth, position and power, but with God in charge of our lives, we will know how to use it for good. We will not be tortured by pressure and stress; we will not be fearful of losing our grip or missing out on something. Rather, we will have a sense of security and peace as we let God guide us in handling daily challenges. Under His direction, we will always find a better way, and we will know beyond the shadow of any doubt that it is not necessary to compromise with our high principles.
As we meet the temptations that arise in our lives daily, being true to our highest ideals and taking command of our lives through our spiritual nature, we will discover that the old devil consciousness, along with all of his burden of stress and strain, has faded away. He wasn’t real, anyway.
As Charles Fillmore puts it, “Those who follow Jesus in the worship of the loving Father escape the effects of the curse of the serpent and are restored to the liberty of the sons of God.” (Keep A True Lent 107)
© 1985, Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.
How To Let Go
CLENCHED HANDS ARE a sign of stress. Open hands indicate relaxation. The man who keeps his hands in his pockets, jingling his coins, is an individual who is continually ill at ease, tense and anxious.
Many times mannerisms indicate the state of the mind of the individual, and nothing gives away the attitude any quicker than the habits that show an unwillingness to give or give up. Closed hands indicate a closed mind, and a tendency to hold on to people and things, emotions and thoughts. Crossed arms convey the impression of an unwillingness to learn, a refusal to accept new ideas.
In order to get rid of stress and live happily in our world we must be willing to let go. We must learn to live with other people without trying to dominate them or assume burdensome feelings of responsibility for the lives of others. We must be willing to give them the same freedom that we want for ourselves, the freedom to choose. We have to give them this freedom sometimes when we may feel that they are making wrong choices. If we don’t, we will find that our stress-filled feelings about others will express in our own minds, our bodies and our affairs, keeping us from the rich blessings that belong to all of us as children of God.
We also must be willing to release things, particularly things that have fulfilled their purpose in our lives. Those who hoard material possessions will never be free of the stress of fear of loss, but individuals who let things and events circulate freely and easily through their lives are in a position to enjoy greater good continually. They can do this because they have been willing to let the old go in order to lay hold of the new blessings.
Sometimes people reluctantly part with things, but continue to hold on to regrets and possessive thoughts. Even our thoughts and feelings must be cleansed of obsessive tendencies if we are going to live richly and fully in God’s good world, without tension or stress or strain.
Freedom is a gift of God. It costs only our willingness to accept it. In order to accept this priceless present we must be willing to let go of people and things, thoughts and feelings. Circulation is one of the universal laws of life, and it implies that in order to receive more, we must be willing to release something. We can’t take in the oxygen we need to stay alive until we first release the old breath. And so it is all the way through our life experiences.
In accepting God’s gift of freedom, we will see that it blesses every department of our lives. The gift includes freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom from anger, freedom from frustration, freedom from failure, freedom from limitation and freedom from anything else that can hold us back from receiving our rich inheritance from our heavenly Father.
In accepting this gift, we also open the way for freedom to grow, freedom to be successful, freedom to be happy, and, most of all, freedom to express God. We can only be free to fulfill our greatest potentiality when we are willing to release all lesser phases of our life and let God take over.
But many times people who have been accustomed to holding on find it difficult to let go. Pehaps they feel responsible for another person and cannot release that one to find his own way. Maybe they are in a time of great change in their lives and find It difficult to cope with the loss of a loved one or a certain position or even a material possession.
Our Bible is filled with instructions and examples for getting rid of the stress of holding on by learning to let go and let God tame into our lives with His right answers and new and grealpr rich blessings.
Relax and release.
For happy, harmonious, spiritual living, we must learn how to relax and release people, things, anxieties and even thoughts of responsibility that impede and block the flow of divine energy through our lives.
The words “relax” and “release” are closely related, and they work together. Both are derived from the Latin word “laxare”, meaning “to loosen”. They also incorporate the word “re”, a prefix derived from the Latin “back” or “again” (Webster’s New World Dictionary, 1958, p. 627).
Relax means “to make or become looser, or less firm, stiff or tense” (ibid). Release means “to set free’ (ibid). Both imply the idea of letting go. In relaxation we let go of tension in our minds and bodies, and in releasing we let go of people, things, thoughts and anything else we need to set free.
The word “relax” is not found in our Bible, and the word “release” is used only a few times, but the idea of letting go is repeated again and again in the Scriptures.
Under Moses’ law, a year of release was established. Every seven years the Israelites were to forgive all unpaid loans to their fellow Israelites. (This didn’t apply to loans to foreigners.) It was a custom that called for mental and spiritual cleansing as the individuals let go of the thought that others owed them a debt. Since they were taught the custom from an early age, the people were prepared mentally for the year of release, and they complied without question. It was a healthy cleansing.
As pointed out at Jesus’ trial before Pilate, it was the custom for the Roman authorities to release one Jewish prisoner during the time of the Passover. Pontius Pilate would gladly have released Jesus, but the crowd called for Barabbas. The crowd always calls for Barabbas. Metaphysically, Barabbas means “the adverse consciousness (rebellion and hatred) to which man gives himself when he allows himself to oppose Christ” (Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, Barabbas). How often we find it easier to put forth rebellious, antagonistic thoughts, rather than free the God self to express through us. It is time for us to learn to choose to let go of the Barabbas consciousness as we awaken to the greater inner awareness of our own Christ nature.
The best way of release is that advocated by David in one of the Psalms. He sang, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” (Psalms 37:5 RSV). This is the way of total release of all our human tendencies and negation. When we commit our way to God, it means that we have said goodbye to those forceful strivings of the human will in favor of a willing and obedient receptivity to the will and the work of the Father within. When we do this, we have literally released all stress and strain as well.
In the spiritual work of following God’s way, sometimes we even find that we must release the good things that have long since served their purpose in our lives.
A school teacher was devoted to her fourth grade class. The children seemed bright and cooperative, and she loved to tell the other teachers what a wonderful class she had. Then, in the middle of the school year, suddenly she was transferred to the fifth grade. She couldn’t believe that the children could be so different! After the loving, harmonious class of fourth graders, she found the behaviour problems of the fifth graders almost intolerable!
After studying about the harmonizing, prospering power of release, she realized that while teaching the fifth graders, she was continuing to hold on to the earlier class with regret and remembering. So she decided she would employ the principle of release by letting go of her beloved fourth graders. As she reported later, after she let go, the new students became “just as good as the old ones”. But it didn’t happen until she let go.
How much unnecessary stress and strain we can cause ourselves simply by holding on! When we realize the importance of release, we can exercise our God-given right to take control of our thoughts and just let go.
Many times people hold on to things, even after they have been passed on to others. I knew a woman who caused herself much stress by resenting the fact that the car she had sold to a friend had suffered minor damage in an accident. (Certainly, it was much harder on the friend than it was on her, but she had never really thought of the automobile as belonging to someone else.)
Many times parents hold on to grown children who have families of their own and cause tension and unhappiness for all concerned. Men or women go through the difficult experience of a divorce and then continue to hold on to the other partner in their thoughts and feelings, and perhaps actions, refusing to let go and take up their new experience in living. Jealous lovers hold on to the beloved with fear, anxiety and imagined injury. How can we release in these situations that are based on strong human tendencies?
We can go back to the words of David and decide that we will go God’s way, and going God’s way includes letting go of the human way of thinking and holding on. When we commit our way to the Lord, we are willing to look to Him first and let everything else fade into the background as we concentrate on building our lives under divine direction. We can release it!
Relaxation may also be difficult for many. Sometimes people claim that they simply can’t relax. But they can. Anyone can relax when he or she is willing to let go and trust God. There are many methods of relaxation in vogue today, and all are good.
Some methods employ physical exercises for relaxation. They may be based on breathing, stretching or simply moving certain muscles in a way that is designed to bring them back to a relaxed position.
Mental methods including retiring to peaceful, happy images in the mind. Some even advocate watching fish move easily through the water of an aquarium and letting the mind move lazily with them.
In Unity we teach relaxation as the first step of prayer, and we see it as a method of exercising spiritual dominion over the nerves and muscles of the body. This method calls for quietly (but with all the authority that God gave us in the beginning) taking control as we speak words of relaxation to each part of the body. This should be done without tension or strain, but with a definite expectation that the body will obey the command of the spiritual authority within us. We are not here to meekly obey the whims and demands of our physical bodies, but rather to use them to fulfill the spiritual pattern for our lives. In order to do this, we must teach them to relax, to “loosen back” to complete attunement with God.
Forgive and forget.
David said, “Fret not yourself because of the wicked, be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass, and wither like the green herb.” (Psalm 37:1 RSV)
He also instructed, “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret notyourself; it tends only to evil.” (Psalms 37:8 RSV)
He was so right! When we allow ourselves to be disturbed by the wrongdoing of others, we hurt ourselves most of all. We can’t afford what the practice of unforgiveness will do to us. So we must learn, for our own sake, to forgive. Not only must we forgive the wrongs, or imagined wrongs, of the past, but we must even come to the place where we have totally forgotten them, if we would be free of the stressful effects of holding on to memories of injustice and unhappiness. There is too much potential joy and harmony for us to waste one moment of our time on anger and resentment. But, because of our old human habits, forgiveness may come hard.
David advised us to work in prayer to overcome the human tendency to hold on to hurts and resentment. He said, “Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over him who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” (Psalm 37:7 RSV) In other words, when we stop our fretting and just still our thoughts in the awareness of the God Presence, we will find that it is easy to forget the wrongs in the fullness of our joy in Spirit.
A young woman came in for counselling one day. After listening to her story, we suggested that she work with the method outlines in Charles Fillmore’s “A Sure Remedy” (Unity pamphlet) and spend a half-hour a day mentally and spiritually forgiving all the people she felt had wronged her.
As she conscientiously set aside the time each day and tried to erase all negative feelings and thoughts about the wrongs of the past, things happened rapidly. First, she received a lovely note from her mother-in-law, asking forgiveness for something which had been resolved in her forgiveness time. Then her father, who lived across the country, made an unprecedented telephone call to her to ask her forgiveness for things he had done in the past. He talked for half an hour, and she hung up with a feeling of affection for her father that she had never had before.
The forgiveness treatment was so powerful that her father also called her brother to ask for his forgiveness. The brother, holding on to old resentments, cut him off and didn’t hear his apology. So he missed out on his freedom in the situation.
Forgiveness may bless those we forgive, but it will certainly bless us. Many times we may be holding on to memories of old situations long since forgotten by the others involved.
Sometimes mechanical means help us in our forgiveness process. Many people find it helpful to write out their frustrations on paper and then destroy the paper as a symbol of their release. Others have found it beneficial to make a “forgiveness list”. Then, using Charles Fillmore’s method, they pray their way through the list each day until they have a sense of peace about each individual.
After forgiveness the next step is a total obliteration of the memory. The wrong must not only be forgiven. It must be forgotten if we are to avoid all stress from it.
Here we have one of the basic laws of mind to help us. Unpleasant memories will simply fade away unless they are continually recalled to mind. So when we stop feeding the thoughts, we will find that they simply disappear.
We don’t have to make a conscious effort to forget. Doing so may cause tension and concern that actually imprints the incident more vividly in our imagination. All we have to do is to become so interested in our present God-directed, fulfilling life that we don’t think about the wrongs of the past anymore. Time has a way of releasing memories unless we continue to give them life.
Be willing to learn a new way.
We all have periods in our lives when an old era is ending, and we must adapt to a new way of living, either in our home and family or on the job, or perhaps in both areas. At such times we will save ourselves much stressful anxiety and frustration by not only being willing to release the old, but also being receptive to new ideas, new ways, new people and new conditions.
Deutero-Isaiah, the prophet who brought inspiration and guidance to the Jewish people during a time of great upheaval and discouragement (the period of the exile in Babylonia), wrote:
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isa. 43:19 RSV)
His purpose was not only to encourage the people, but also to urge them to adopt a different attitude, being more receptive to new ideas and new ways, and particularly inviting them to have an optimistic view of the future. This was the only way they could cope with the condition of exile and still prepare for the projected return to their own land.
Many times we may feel that we are in a far country when we are faced with totally unexpected changes in our lives. We may find the new ways frustrating and confusing. But we can learn to cope, and when we do, we will discover that, in the long run, change can be for good, when we are working with God to bring forth the blessing and to follow His “way in the wilderness” (Isaiah 43:19 RSV).
Great stress may result from the change that comes when a loved one passes, particularly when the feeling of loss is accompanied by a change in outer living conditions as well. Divorce not only carries trauma for the individual, but calls for an adjustment in daily living. Loss of a job may also be traumatic, but a new job may be equally stressful, particularly if it means moving to a new location or even a new line of work.
In each case God will lead us through the wilderness experience, provided we are willing to learn to cope with the new way of life and to adjust to new ways of thinking and living, working and playing. There always is a blessing in every situation, but we find it only when we are willing to stop living with regrets about the past and start learning to make the most of our new opportunities. There are opportunities in even the most trying wilderness experience, and when we learn to make the divine adjustment in our lives, we may be pleasantly surprised to find that God has something even better for us.
When first faced by radical change, we may not be able to know what to do about it. We may feel that there is no way out of the wilderness. But when we are willing to still those unruly thoughts and turn to the Christ within us, we will discover that God had a plan for our lives all the time, a plan of ever unfolding good, and He was only waiting for us to be willing to let go of the old and be receptive to the new blessing that always awaits us.
Not only that, but receptivity to the new ways makes it easier for us to erase the pain of the loss of the old. We cannot hold back and go forward at the same time. We cannot live mentally with the blessings of the past and also claim the blessings of today. The new way is here to lead us to our greater good, but only we can travel that way for ourselves. We do this by relaxing and releasing and opening ourselves to a life made new daily by our receptivity to God’s new guidance, new ways and new blessings for us.
© 1985, Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.
How To Master Money Matters
PERHAPS NO SINGLE cause has been blamed for more stress than money — the lack of money, the handling of large amounts of money, the striving to acquire money and the dilemmas that arise from decisions on spending money.
Squabbles over finances, backed up by fear, criticism and recrimination, have wrecked more than one marriage. Friendships have fallen as the result of misunderstandings over money. Families have found themselves in difficulties as they tried to settle an estate involving a large or small fortune. On the job there have been frequent contention and jealousy over salaries, raises and so on.
Too much money may cause tremendous stress. There is not only the tension associated with making right decisions in handling the wealth, but there may also be fear of loss, fear that someone else will take it, even the fear that those who seek friendship do it only for the sake of material benefits.
On the other hand, too little money may cause an equal amount of stress. Fear of lack can produce tremendous strain, as can envy, disappointment and discouragement.
Even a comfortable amount of money may bring with it certain stresses, such as concern about making right decisions, anticipation of losses due to inflation or simply the fear of what the morrow will bring.
So money — an excess, not enough or even a comfortable amount — will not release anyone from stress. Each category 68 Dealing With Stress Through Spiritual Methods carries stresses of its own. But there is one way in which the tension can be adjusted, and that is by putting money in its proper perspective, learning to live with it without being controlled by it.
Money is not to be worshipped. Neither is it to be feared. Actually, the healthiest approach to money is simply to consider it a convenience, not a powerful entity in itself.
Money was invented for the purpose of convenience in exchanging goods and services, and it still stands as a symbol of something of value, rather than the thing itself. Those who suffer great stress from money situations are looking to the money as the answer or the problem, rather than to that which it represents.
Actually, the simple answer to mastering money matters lies in looking to God for supply and guidance and handling individual finances under His direction. But not everyone is ready to completely let go of control on the human level in that way. So we have to start where we are and build habits of successful management of our thoughts as we grow in our ability to put money in its true perspective and look to God for our supply.
The Bible is full of stories of individuals and their attitudes and relationships regarding money. In many cases those in the spiritual consciousness were able to teach others the proper attitude toward their financial resources.
His brothers received money when they sold Joseph into slavery to the Ishmaelites, but later, when Joseph had become the second most powerful man in Egypt, and his brothers came to him for grain (not knowing who he was), he used money and a special possession, his silver cup, to test them, to see whether they had changed and deserved his help.
After selling them grain, he had their money replaced in their sacks, and he had the cup put in the sack of the youngest one, Benjamin. Ouside the city the brothers were apprehended for stealing and returned to Joseph. He forgave them the money, but threatened to keep Benjamin as his slave, because the cup had been found in his sack.
Benjamin was his father’s favorite, as Joseph had been before him, but now the brothers were protective rather than jealous of their younger brother. Judah offered to become a slave in his brother’s place. And Joseph knew that they had changed! They had passed the test of the money.
During the reign of Jehoash, a king of Judah in Old Testament times, the king instructed the priests to use the “money of the holy things” (II Kings 12:4 RSV) to repair the temple. When the priests continued to make no repairs on the house of God, Jehoash confiscated the monies and appointed his own representatives to administer the restoration of the temple. If the priests were not being good stewards of the funds with which they were entrusted, they had to lose the use of the money.
Peter, the apostle, demonstrated the proper attitude toward money, when he was approached by a sorcerer named Simon, who wanted to buy spiritual powers from him. He rebuked the man, “Your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!” (Acts 8:20 RSV) He was not saying that money of itself was evil, but that the idea of buying spiritual gifts with a material symbol was not acceptable.
Jesus recognized that money had a proper place in His society, but He never gave it undue emphasis. He had a treasurer, Judas, who carried the monies that were given Him. But when the disciples approached Him for funds to pay the temple tax, He didn’t dip into the treasury. Instead, He instructed them to go and catch a fish — in other words, to do what they would normally do to earn what was needed. Thus, they learned that they had a certain responsibility for their own lives, but that their needs would be met when they followed spiritual instructions. The fish they caught provided the exact amount of money they needed. And so it is when we follow God’s guidance — we always will have whatever we need, without undue stress and strain.
On other occasions Jesus gave lessons on money matters.
A rich young man approached Him with great enthusiasm and great sincerity, asking, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17 RSV) Jesus, after talking to him, could see the one quality he needed most, the ability to release himself from material possessions.
So the Great Teacher instructed, in love, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21 RSV) Jesus was aware of the young man’s great attachment to his material wealth and probably was not surprised when he went away, back to his money and his things, which he was unwilling to let go.
Jesus commented to the disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:23 RSV) He was not indicating that there is no room for material possessions in the spiritual life, but he was telling them that it is difficult to learn to hold people and things with open hands while tightly clutching material possessions. It is only when we let the money become a nice dividend, rather than the main focus of our lives, that we can develop in a spiritual way.
Recognizing that there was a place for money in everyday exchange, Jesus had the right answer for those who tried to trap Him by asking whether it was right to pay taxes to the Roman government.
Pointing out the picture of Caesar on a Roman coin, He commented, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matt. 22:21 RSV)
Then there was the time that Jesus taught one of His greatest lessons about money, the lesson of giving. This lesson involved only a very small amount of actual cash, but a lot of love. Jesus was not impressed by money as such, but by the attitude with which it was used.
He had been sitting in the temple, watching people make their contributions. A number of wealthy people walked up and deposited large amounts in the treasury. Then a widow came in and put in “two copper coins, which make a penny”. (Mark 12:42 RSV)
Jesus had paid little attention to the large offerings, but His attention was attracted by the widow and her gift. He called the disciples over and commented to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living.” (Mark 12:43,44 RSV) It seems likely, too, that the widow was giving in joy and love and would have reaped not only a material reward for her giving, but also a certain freedom from stress concerning money. Giving reluctantly or with a sense of deprivation can cause great stress, but giving in love and releasing the gift leads to freedom and joy.
Of course, Jesus’ attitude toward those who took unfair advantage of worshippers was clearly shown when He overthrew the tables of the money changers and drove them from the temple. It was not the money He objected to, but the abuse of their privileges in the temple.
It wasn’t Jesus who said the frequently misquoted “The love of money is the root of all evils” (I Tim. 6:10 RSV). Money itself has only the power that we give it, and an unhealthy attachment to money for its own sake is certainly the cause of all kinds of wrongs.
All in all, a healthy attitude toward money will lead to greater health in other areas of our lives as well. This message is given to us over and over in the Bible, and it certainly applies to our modern stress-oriented society as well.
So let us look at some instructions that will help us with money and the affairs of everyday living in a material world.
Believe in prosperity as your divine right.
The minute we choose to believe that we are God’s children and that He wants us to live richly, we have freed ourselves from much of the tension and strain connected with dollars and cents and checks and balances.
We no longer feel that we are limited in our sources of supply. Neither do we look at the possessions of others with envy or disdain. We simply enter into a dimension where we know that all are children of God, and each one is entitled to live richly as the beloved child of the Heavenly Father.
When we reach this consciousness, we do not become concerned about whether the boss will give us a raise or a debtor will repay a debt. If God is our Supply, and we are heirs to His rich inheritance, we can look to Him to take care of our needs while we go about the business of living and making our own contribution to life.
Much of the tension connected with material things has to do with our expectations from others, from our job or a company. We may be planning and scheming to see how we can acquire more from the channels of supply that are obvious to us, and in the course of the planning, we may be anticipating difficulties or coming up with reasons why it won’t work. But when we learn to look to God as our Source and truly believe that He wants us to have abundance, we no longer have to be limited by what we can see. God’s channels are rich and varied and far beyond what we can imagine in our highest form of fantasy. But we will miss these rich blessings if we are all wrapped up in the facts and foibles of the human consciousness.
Jesus made it clear, over and over, that God is our Father, and that He desires only good for us, His children. God’s channels are unlimited, and they are all available to us when we get rid of old concepts of lack and limitation and place ourselves and our affairs in God’s care and keeping.
On one occasion Jesus used the example of the birds and the blossoms, showing how God provides for even these lower forms of life. Then He asked, “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith?” (Matt. 6:30 RSV)
It was at this time that He went on to explain that if we would give our attention first to spiritual matters, then everything would fall into its proper perspective and we would receive the things as well, without making them ends in themselves.
It is our divine right to have our material needs provided, and when we learn to put all things in their proper place and fulfill our part of God’s plan, we will have greater wealth and position than we ever asked. But we will have money without fear and possessions without strain. When we know that all the good we can use at this time is ours by divine right, we are willing to let God provide it in His right way at His right time while we go about the business of living.
Sometimes it is well to use affirmative prayers to help convince ourselves that God is our rich and loving Father and that He will provide for us. We do not need to employ words to convince God, but sometimes we need to sell ourselves on the idea.
We can use an affirmation such as this:
God is the unlimited, unfailing Supply of all Good, and God is my loving heavenly Father. I claim my divine inheritance now!
Work for God, not for money.
The person is poor who works only for money! No matter what the job, we can see it as an opportunity to use our God-given abilities, and when we do, we will find that we are enriched not only in material ways, but also in the ways of the heart, heart.
All of the great people of the Bible worked for God first. Jesus dedicated His life to God’s work, and He was undoubtedly the richest Person who ever lived. By trusting God for His supply and by listening to the inner Voice, He learned how to manifest whatever He needed at the time it was required. So He didn’t have to be burdened with houses and lands and money. He gave His attention to fulfilling His mission here on earth, and the things were provided. He was taking His own advice, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” (Matt. 6:33 RSV)
Some people, reading this verse, believe that Jesus meant to pray all the time. Actually, prayer is important, and we need specific times of communion with God. But we also need times of using the spiritual guidance we receive, and that is where the righteousness comes in.
As Charles Fillmore explained, righteousness is “a state of harmony established in consciousness through the right use of God-given attributes” (The Revealing Word, Righteousness). When we are in tune with God through prayer, we will be guided in the right use of the powers and abilities He has given us, and we will know how to best fulfill His plan for our lives.
The place we start is where we are. Many people would like to go somewhere else or get another job or find a more worthy occupation before giving their best. When we actually understand the meaning of working for God, we know that there are many places and many ways that this can be done. But it all starts where we are when we learn to give our best to what we are doing, working as though in truth we are working for God, not for money. This attitude gets rid of all the tension connected with the financial return, and in the long run we will find that we are richly rewarded, but, best of all, our work becomes a fulfilling part of life and living, not drudgery.
Take God as your partner.
After we have learned to work for God, not for money, it is a short step to taking God as our partner in money matters, and that gets rid of all the stress of handling financial affairs.
We take God as our partner in the same way that Jacob did, when he made his covenant with the Father. Jacob was out on his own for the first time in his life, and he undoubtedly had many misgivings about the past and the future. But he had a dream that revealed to him the omnipresence of Spirit.
He was so deeply impressed that he promised, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that thou givest me I will give the tenth to thee.” (Gen. 28:20,21,22 RSV)
Jacob must have felt a great sense of relief as he went into a distant country, knowing that God was with him. He kept his part of the bargain, too. He did tithe, giving a tenth of all his income to God’s work, and he became a very wealthy man.
We, too, can take God as our partner by promising, “Of all that thou givest me I will give the tenth to thee.” (Gen. 28:22 RSV) Then we can keep the promise by taking God as our partner where we are, beginning to tithe what we have.
One person who decided to tithe had immediate results. He was out of work when he brought his first tithe to the church. He had been unsuccessful in looking for employment. When he reached home after giving his first tenth to God’s work, the telephone was ringing. It was the offer of a job.
Not only does tithing bring financial benefits, but it also brings the benefit of stress-free living. Those who have tithed for some time, giving the tenth of their income first and then trusting to God to supply their needs find that they reach a place where they no longer have any concern about money. Something happens in us when we give first and trust God to provide, and we are freed from the anxieties of those who work for money or who pinch pennies with the expectation of lack and limitation.
Contrary to the beliefs of many people in the world today, it is possible to live in a money-oriented society without any concern about money as such. It will not matter whether we have a lot at the moment or a little. It will not make any difference what the economy of the country is expressing.
When we look to God for our supply, work for Him and take Him as our partner by tithing, we will find that we are free to do what Jesus suggested, seeking the kingdom of God within us through prayer, making the right use of our God-given talents and abilities, and simply letting God’s rich blessings flow into our lives.
Money will be in its proper place, a symbol of God’s abundance, and it will fulfill its proper function, serving as a medium of exchange. But it will not be our master! It will be our willing and obedient servant, to be used under the direction of our rich Heavenly Father. We will have it. We will use it. We will be in charge of it. There will be no stress concerning it.
© 1985, Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.
How To Overcome Guilt And Anger
HOW EASY IT is, as human beings, to condemn ourselves and live with unhappy memories of some time when we failed to live up to the best we know, made some wrong decision or said something we later regretted.
In our human consciousness it is easy to live with the errors of the past and make ourselves miserable because we didn’t express all the good that we know we can. But, in our higher awareness of our spiritual nature, we know that we can’t afford it! Guilt and anger with ourselves, even unhappy memories of past failures and wrong actions, are stress-producing emotions that will interfere with our ability to operate successfully in our world today. So we must learn how to overcome them. It may appear to be a difficult undertaking, but for our own spiritual well-being it must be done!
It is especially hard to overcome our own memories when other people were aware of our slip or shortcoming, but that, too, can be worked out, and we can have greater success and happier experiences than ever before.
Consider the case of Eric Heiden, the speed skater from the United States who made such an outstanding record at the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, N.Y.
Here was a young man who had spent years preparing for this moment. Not only did he have the pressure of his own demands on himself, but he also had all the stress of knowing that the hopes of many people were riding on his success or failure. Then, too, there was the emotional impact of representing his country in the best possible way.
During the 1500-meter speed skating competition he slipped. Millions of people, watching on television all over the world, saw it happen. It was an error that could easily have cost him the race. Had he simply taken a moment to condemn himself for the error or to wonder what people would think, he would have lost the race. But he didn’t.
After he had won the race and the gold medal, someone asked him what he was thinking after he slipped on the ice. The skater replied that he immediately forgot the error and concentrated on the race. This is the key to successful living. We must learn to remedy our errors and then release them, concentrating on winning the race that life has to offer at the moment, without regrets about the past or worries about the future.
The apostle, Paul, was conscious of this. In writing to the people of Philippi, he pointed out that he was well aware that he wasn’t perfect. “But,” he added, “one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:13,14 RSV)
He was giving a lesson in stress-free, productive living. Certainly he had made mistakes, some of which were vividly remembered by others among the early Christians. He had actually persecuted those who followed the Jesus Christ way, and after he had his spiritual awakening, there must have been times when the memories came back to plague him. But he realized that he could only fulfill his mission in life by letting the past go and living to the best of his ability in the present. He couldn’t afford the luxury of a “guilt trip”! And neither can we.
Jesus, too, pointed out the importance of forgiveness. He did it by acting as God’s channel to let an individual know that that person has been freed from past mistakes and the results of those past mistakes.
When some friends brought a paralyzed man to Jesus for healing, Jesus first said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” (Luke 5:20 RSV) He was looking into the heart of the individual, and He knew his need.
Many times people punish themselves for past errors by developing physical difficulties. (This is not usually done consciously, but it is, nevertheless, effective.) Jesus recognized that this was the cause of the man’s paralysis, and He knew that simply healing the individual’s physical difficulty would not solve his problem. Sooner or later, he would develop other difficulties, unless the feeling of guilt that was behind it was corrected. In order to experience permanent healing, he had to be released from his own feeling of self-condemnation. And so Jesus started the healing treatment by inviting him to accept the forgiveness he needed.
Naturally, Jesus’ audacity in telling the man that his sins were forgiven was questioned by the scribes and Pharisees who were watching, but the Master handled that, too. He asked, “Why do you question in your heart? Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?” (Luke 5:23 RSV) He answered His own question by telling the patient to rise, take up his bed and go to his home. And he did, effectively demonstrating the power of the spiritual forgiveness of his past errors, whatever they were.
Jesus’ teachings embody forgiveness — of everybody, for everything, everywhere, all the time. And that includes forgiving yourself!
Forgiveness not only includes giving up wrong thoughts about other people and situations, but also changing our thoughts about ourselves. We cannot call forth our greater potential and live in peace and harmony as long as we allow our thoughts and emotions to be disturbed by guilt and anger against ourselves for mistakes or failures of the past. For our own sake, and for the sake of our world and our work here on earth, we must forgive — ourselves as well as others.
Jesus did not take personal credit for forgiving the paralytic’s sins. Neither did He take personal credit for healings. He pointed out that “the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (Luke 5:24 RSV).
Unity founder Charles Fillmore explains that, metaphysically, the Son of man is “that in us which discerns the difference between Truth and error” (The Revealing Word, Son of Man). He further points out, “When we get this understanding, we are in a position to free our soul from sin and our body from disease, which is the effect of sin.” (Ibid, p. 181)
So the real cleansing takes place within the individual. Jesus recognized that He was simply the channel through which the paralytic consciously accepted forgiveness of his error and changed his thoughts and feelings so that he could accept his healings. So can we. And, for the health of our bodies and peace of our minds, we must learn to do this.
As long as we remember and regret a mistake of the past, we are, in effect, punishing ourselves for it, destroying our peace of mind, our joy in living — and, perhaps, our health of body. Certainly our human relationships and affairs will reflect unhappy results from our stressful condemnation of ourselves.
Jesus said, “Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37 RSV). When we forgive ourselves in the sense of discerning the difference between Truth and error, choosing the Truth and releasing the wrong, then we are forgiven and can go forward to make amends and build a better life, wherever we are.
There are some basic rules we can follow in freeing ourselves of all feelings of guilt and anger and building a stress-free, productive, fulfilling life.
Accept God’s forgiveness.
The apostle Paul was well aware of the grace of God, the forgiving love of our Heavenly Father. Perhaps because he was well aware that he had been forgiven much, he frequently spoke of the grace of God.
In writing to the Ephesians, he told his friends, “Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace which was given me by the working of his power.” (Eph. 3:7 RSV)
Had he continued to remember his persecution of the early Christians, refusing to accept the forgiveness of God, he could never have conducted the powerful, expanding ministry that he developed. He was a tremendous channel of the spiritual message because he was willing to accept the grace of God, let go of the mistakes of the past and go forward into the work of the present.
God does not hold us in error. We hold ourselves there by remembering the wrong or by repeating the error because we have not changed our thoughts and feelings. In order to be freed from mistakes and the results of mistakes, we must change inside of ourselves. When we change, we find that God has forgiven — not because He was awaiting our action, but because God is our loving, heavenly Father, continually awaiting our acceptance of our divine heritage of all good.
As Jesus said to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven you” (Luke 5:20 RSV), so God is continually saying to us, “Accept my forgiveness and make a new start. You don’t have to continue to live with the negation and fears of past errors. Change your thoughts. Correct your thinking. Direct your strong feelings toward positive, constructive ideas. Make yourself a new life now!”
The grace of God, the forgiving love of the heavenly Father, is ours for the claiming — here, now, any time. As long as we continue to hold on to the memory of past wrongs, we will have them in consciousness and stand a good chance of making the same mistakes again. In order to be free, we must change our thinking so completely that our minds are no longer in tune with the error thoughts and, hence, do not bring about repeat performances.
In the story of Jesus and the paralytic, we find that the paralyzed man had to make a choice. He could accept forgiveness and open the way for his healing, or he could reject it and go on punishing his body for his past errors. He chose to believe, knowing that the Master had seen to the heart of his trouble. He then chose to be free of the sins of the past. Ana so he was healed.
We, too, can listen to the voice of Spirit, inviting us to be free of past errors and accept the healing life of the Christ.
Many people are harder on themselves than others might be in remembering the times of shortcoming. They may feel strong feelings of guilt and anger long after the others involved have forgotten a situation. And, of course, the only ones they hurt are themselves.
Sometimes individuals feel that they should be punished for their “sins” — mistakes or errors. If nobody else punishes them, they punish themselves — mentally, emotionally, and, consciously or unconsciously, physically. The error may have been small, or it may have been large. It doesn’t matter. The punishment is not determined by the mistake itself, but by the individual’s thought about it.
Many people subject themselves to a continuing “guilt trip” by condemning themselves for having destructive habits, while continuing to indulge in those practices that they know are harmful to their health.
Those who smoke or drink in excess frequently realize that they are harming their bodies, but feel that they are in bondage to the habit. To console themselves for a feeling of inadequacy or guilt, they may try to comfort themselves by smoking even more or trying to drink themselves into oblivion. It doesn’t work! The more they indulge the habit, the more they continue to condemn themselves, and sooner or later, they have to face the consequences, made even more difficult by their hard feelings about themselves.
Recognizing that God forgives, we can choose at any time to accept His forgiving love and make a new start. The sooner we do this, the easier it will be to free ourselves from those feelings of stressful inability to handle the situation.
Perhaps one of the most frequent causes of stress in our modern overfed society is the inability of many people to stay on a diet.
How many individuals go through life losing a few pounds, only to get to a certain point where they go off of the diet and put the weight back on. Then they dislike themselves, and, perhaps, eat even more to comfort themselves for having disappointed themselves.
God continues to see us as His beautiful, perfect children, regardless of how we abuse our bodies. If we will return to His vision of us and identify with the correctly proportioned, attractive person we are designed to be, then He will free us from past errors and help us to establish new eating habits.
It’s up to us! We cannot express God’s perfect ideas while filling ourselves with negative pictures of ourselves. And this is what we are doing through condemnation and guilt feelings.
Concentration on past errors and present bad habits simply concentrates the wrong and perpetuates it in our lives. Concentrating instead on God’s desire for us, His children, to express perfection will free us from stress and enable us to live by a higher pattern of good.
Perhaps a less obvious habit that plagues many people is the habit of procrastination. We know something needs to be done, but somehow we continue to manage to be “too busy” or to find other reasons to put it off.
Of course, while we are consciously playing games with ourselves, putting off doing the things we know need to be done by us, our subconscious is well aware of what is going on. It knows that we feel a need to get the job done and out of the way, and, even when we aren’t listening, it is programming our consciousness with the feeling of guilt. While we may go blithely along, making excuses to our conscious selves, we still have that nagging feeling of being unhappy with ourselves.
We can’t afford it! Many times the project of getting the job done would be minor in comparison with carrying around that feeling of self-condemnation for not doing it.
Of course, accepting God’s forgiveness also includes one other important factor. When we forgive ourselves by realizing that God forgives us, we must then be willing to release the error, the habit and even the memory of it. As long as we continue to call to mind those mistakes of the past, we haven’t really accepted God’s love and forgiveness. It is only in total forgetfulness of past errors that we really forgive them. But first there is something else we must do.
Correct the error.
As long as we continue to perpetuate the error, it doesn’t matter how many times we forgive ourselves. The forgiveness is only complete when we have finally overcome the wrong in mind or action and begun a new life experience based on new goals and new patterns of thought and activity.
God forgives us continually, but a necessary part of true forgiveness is our own willingness to correct the wrongs of heart and hands that brought about the error in the first place.
Suppose we have been in bondage to some harmful habit. As long as we continue to hold on to the habit, we can’t really be free. We must change our basic practices. We must learn and practice a better way if we want to be rid of that nagging little doubt in the subconscious mind.
Consider the move that Eric Heiden made when he slipped in the race. He immediately forgot the error as he slipped back into the long, rhythmic stride that was working so well for him. Releasing the thought of the error was fine, and an important part of the procedure, but getting back in tune with the work he wanted to accomplish was also necessary.
So it is with us. Just telling ourselves that we forgive ourselves is not enough. We must bring constructive action out of the situation. We must get back in stride with life in a constructive, progressive way if we want to win the race.
Sometimes we may have been condemning ourselves for past errors that can’t be corrected in outer ways. For instance, they may involve something that happened with other persons who have passed on or someone with whom we have lost contact. Sometimes we do not feel led to take outer steps to contact a certain person.
Reestablishing happy, harmonious relationships with others can be a very fulfilling activity. Even simply doing what we feel is right may be fulfilling, in spite of the fact that others may not be receptive to our action. This is between us and God. If we will pray about it, we will know what outer actions should be taken, or, if this is a case where no outer action is necessary, we will know that, too.
But suppose there is a case where we cannot take the outer steps that we would like to take. We can still do whatever is necessary to resolve the errors completely within ourselves.
If someone has passed on, we may be guided to send them loving, trusting thoughts of release as we see them enfolded in God’s love.
If we no longer have contact with the individual, we may hold some thought of forgiveness and release, knowing that there is no separation in Spirit, and they will receive the thought in whatever form they can accept it. At least we can free ourselves.
Once we have taken whatever steps we can to correct the error, we are ready to get on with the business of living.
“Press on toward the goal.” (Phil. 3:14 RSV)
Once we have freed ourselves from the mistakes of the past and the results of the past, the next business before us is to get back into the spirit of stress-free, spiritual living.
The goal, of course, is “the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14 RSV), and we will never be satisfied until we attain it. Our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ, came to show us how to live. We cannot follow all the way all at once, but we can learn to make one overcoming after another as we keep coming back to that ultimate goal, the goal of expressing our own inner spiritual nature.
It is well to be made aware of our errors. It is good to be conscientious in correcting those things that can be corrected. But the time comes when we must put all that behind us and get back to our affirmative prayers of realization and atonement as we press on toward the goal of perfectly expressing our Christ nature.
When we do, we will forget the stressful guilt and anger of the past as we immerse ourselves in the productive growing of the present.
© 1985, Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.
How To Meet The Unexpected
EVERYONE, AT SOME time or another, has to meet the unexpected. Emergencies may not occur every day. (If they did, we would become accustomed to handling them and programmed to avoid the stress that is considered normal in such situations.) But when they come, we can much better cope with the stress-producing qualities of the experience if we are spiritually conditioned beforehand.
An emergency is “a sudden, generally unexpected occurrence or set of circumstances demanding immediate action” (Webster’s New World Dictionary, Concise Edition, 1958, p. 244). If we are spiritually in tune, even though we may be shocked by the happening, we will be better able to reach decisions and take action than we would be if we have let ourselves become weary and depleted.
Prayer works, even when used as an emergency measure, but it is even more effective as a prevention, designed to keep us from being carried away by those unexpected situations that come up to be handled in our lives.
The sudden passing of a loved one, the betrayal of a friend, disastrous results of a catastrophe of nature or an unexpected change forced upon us — any of these will carry with it a certain amount of tension. But one who is grounded in spiritual ideas and backed up by faith in God will weather the storm with a minimal amount of stress and come out into the sunshine of a brighter day, still feeling the love and protection of Spirit.
Of course, there may be times when, even with the best of intentions, we have allowed ourselves to become overworked, undernourished spiritually or generally discouraged and disheartened for some reason. At such a time, when a crisis comes, it may hit hard!
This was brought out at the time that President Ronald Reagan was shot in 1981.
Others close to the president at the time were severely wounded in the assassination attempt. However, in the confusion of the moment, Mr. Reagan was not aware of this. He was rushed to the hospital, where emergency surgery was performed.
The next morning his doctor, Dr. Dennis O’Leary, met with the press to report on his patient’s condition.
The reporters wanted to know whether Mr. Reagan has been told about the others who had been shot. He hadn’t.
Next, the reporters asked if the president could be consulted or even approached concerning stressful affairs of state. Dr. O’Leary replied that he could very soon be handling matters of national interest, even from his hospital bed. He was geared to the daily barrage of national and international affairs that went with the office.
On the other hand, the president would undoubtedly experience a strong emotional reaction to the news that others had been wounded by the bullets that were intended for him. He might even have a feeling of personal responsibility for their injury, which would be hard to handle in his weakened condition. Later, he would be told, but for now, he would be presented only with the type of day-to-day emergencies which he was accustomed to handling as a part of his job as president.
All of us meet certain types of emergencies from time to time in our lives. People in the medical profession are programmed to handle injuries and other emergencies that would paralyze someone who was unaccustomed to daily contact with such things. On the other hand, someone in the construction business might think nothing of coping with emergencies involving explosives or heavy machinery. It’s all in what the individual considers “routine”, and what hits as a totally unexpected, unrelated happening. Of course, emergencies involving emotional attachment to other persons are even more stress-provoking than those that simply deal with material objects.
But it doesn’t really matter what unexpected happening provides the stressful reaction. The important point is that we can learn to meet any emergency in a spiritual way with a spiritual answer and thus avoid the prolonged experience of unwanted stress.
Jesus was a master in dealing with the unexpected. He was continually bombarded with surprises of various kinds. And He always handled each one in a divinely ordered way.
How many times the Jewish authorities tried to trap Him with trick questions in order to discredit Him — or worse. Each time Jesus, listening to the Father within, answered in just the right way. And He did it apparently without any stress or special effort.
A continuing stream of those who had healing needs of all sorts and descriptions found in Him a strong and stable answer. He was never disturbed by the seeming gravity of the illness. He handled them all with loving compassion and divine insight.
Even when 5,000 people were in need of food in a desert place, He didn’t panic. He simply took the necessary steps to handle the situation, and they were fed.
The only time that we see any sign of stress in meeting emergencies and everyday challenges was at Lazarus’ tomb. In the shortest verse in the Bible we are told, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35 RSV) Was this for the benefit of those who stood nearby, those who expected a human concern for the passing of Jesus’ good friend? Or did Jesus perhaps have a sense of personal loss (even though He knew Lazarus would be restored)? Was He perhaps picking up the grief of the others? It doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that Jesus met the emergency in a beautiful, divinely ordered way and handled it under divine direction. The stress of all concerned was soon past.
At the time that the story starts, Jesus was in Perea, on the eastern side of the Jordan River, in the area where John the Baptist had baptized many. Jesus was carrying on His ministry when he received word from Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters, that their brother was ill.
With his great insight the Master told the disciples, “This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.” (John 11:4 RSV).
Instead of rushing to the side of His friend, as many people would do when confronted by a similar emergency, Jesus spent two more days where He was, letting God guide His handling of the situation. Then He was ready to return to Judea to the village of Bethany.
The disciples tried to persuade Him not to go, believing (with good cause) that His life would be in danger in Judea. But He knew what He had to do, and He followed through every step of the way.
Martha met Him with reproach, feeling that if He had hurried, He could have saved Lazarus, who had been buried four days earlier. But she added, hopefully, “Even now, I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” (John 11:22 RSV) Jesus assured her that her brother would rise again.
In the light of all this, it seems even more surprising that Jesus should weep as He approached the tomb. Those who stood nearby remarked that Jesus was “deeply moved again” (John 11:38 RSV) as He stood before the tomb.
Then Jesus became calm and proceeded to handle the situation according to spiritual principle, one step at a time.
First, He asked that the stone be removed from the mouth of the cave where Lazarus’ body lay. After reassuring Martha that it would be all right, He lifted His eyes and spoke out loud for the benefit of those nearby, giving thanks to God for the answer to His prayer. Next, Fie called out in a voice of authority, “Lazarus, come out.” (John 11:43 RSV)
When Lazarus responded, still wearing the grave clothes, Jesus instructed the others, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:44 RSV) Stress turned to joyous celebration. Lazarus, who seemingly had been dead, was alive and well.
This story gives us clear instructions for handling those sudden, unexpected happenings that can cause stress and anxiety.
Stop all outer activity and turn to God.
Usually the first reaction to any emergency is “Do Something!” or “I have to do something”. Frequently the impetuous action that is taken on the spur of the moment is not the right thing. How many times people have been injured more severely when quickly moved by well-meaning bystanders after an accident. How many words have been spoken under the stress of a strong emotional reaction that would better have been left unsaid.
The human impulse may push us to do something suddenly. But doing the wrong thing is much worse than doing nothing at all.
Jesus was going against all human reasoning when He stayed in Perea for another two days after being told that His good friend, Lazarus, was ill. Even Martha recognized this, thinking that if He had hurried, He could have saved the man.
But, for Jesus, as for us, the first reaction to an emergency must be the seeking of spiritual guidance and direction. We won’t know what is the correct thing to do unless we become still and let God reveal it to us. This may take a moment, or it may take a day or a week. But we can be sure that God will reveal to us what we need to know when we are listening. And God is always on time.
In one of our classes on Truth teachings, we asked the question, “Why do we need to relax and become still in prayer?” One student replied, “If we continuously shout the question, we will never hear the answer.”
This is true. Even though a particular situation seems to call for immediate response, we must take time to become still and listen in order to be guided to take the right action.
Even when something inside us is shouting, “Do something!”, we still can (and must, for right results) take time to become still and listen. God has some perfect right instructions for us.
Regardless of what triggers the sudden response of stress, we can pause, take a deep breath, speak words of relaxation to our bodies and then put God in charge, listening for His instruction before we take action.
Regardless of appearances, speak positively and look for the good.
Many times well-meaning people approach accident victims with gory, negative conversations about their injuries.
My cousin, Charles, was a very fine physician. When my uncle (his father) was seriously ill and in a coma, Charles issued orders that no one was to say anything negative about his condition in the hospital room. He was well aware that, even though the individual appears to be unconscious, he may be hearing what is said. He didn’t want his father to be disturbed by negative suggestions.
Not only should we speak constructive words for the benefit of others, but also for our own well-being in the situation. We, too, hear what we are saying, and if we want to get the best results, we must continue to program ourselves with words of constructive, powerful suggestion. Especially when we are seeking to deal with an emergency, we need to tell ourselves that whatever needs to be done can be done, and, with God’s help, we can do it. We do this by holding to the positive, regardless of appearances.
Jesus never wasted words describing negative conditions. He always spoke positive, powerful words of Truth. Even in the face of the news of Lazarus’ illness, He was positive, declaring that the illness was “not unto death, but for the glory of God” (John 11:4 RSV). Certainly it would be easy for anyone to pick up from the race consciousness the belief in death, but Jesus knew that He could not afford it. Even later, when He had to speak plainly to the disciples, He declared that Lazarus was dead, but that it would provide an opportunity for them to increase their faith. It was not an end.
The disciples were not as positive in their statements, but this did not disturb Jesus. Thomas commented to the others, as they considered returning to Judea, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16 RSV)
The whole incident was geared to life, not death, and Jesus continued to hold to this picture. He told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25 RSV)
Life has many channels and many avenues, and we all go from life to life. There is no death.
But perhaps one of the most traumatic experiences in this life may be the passing of one who is close to us. Even when we know life is eternal and we are, in a sense, mentally prepared for the passing, it can be traumatic when it comes.
We may not be able to raise our loved ones from the dead, as Jesus did, at this particular stage of our unfoldment, but we can meet this emergency in our lives by speaking words of Truth and life. We do this not only for our own sake, but also for the sake of the one who has passed on to the next experience in life. Thoughts and words are very real, and the greatest blessing we can give to our loved one is a positive, powerful attitude of faith in God’s ever-unfolding plan of infinite life. As that one goes on to the next experience in living, he or she will feel our good words and be blessed by them.
After Jesus reached the tomb where Lazarus had been laid, He didn’t waste any time on idle conversation or argument, but used only those words that were necessary for the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Certainly what He did spoke much louder than any of the negative conversation that went on around Him, as He continued to speak positively and call forth the good in the situation. Our words, too, can serve a constructive purpose in meeting emergencies.
Even as we take steps to cope with the situation, we can speak words of strength and love and right answers. Inasmuch as it is possible, we should avoid all references to negative appearances or conditions that may be involved, as we seek to correct them.
Positive words not only speak to us, but also help to raise others into our positive atmosphere as we cope with those things that come to be handled by us.
Replace thoughts of loss with thoughts of love.
In order to raise His friend, Lazarus, from the dead, Jesus had to break out of all thoughts of loss, lack and limitation. If He did for a moment feel the grief of the others and weep in response to that feeling, He quickly dismissed the sense of loss as He prepared to call Lazarus forth from the tomb. He did this in love and in trust as He turned His attention to God.
Many times people feel obligated to prolong grief or to indulge in negative feelings. It becomes easy to let the negation have full rein, as they consider the fact that a negative reaction is “only human” and generally expected under certain circumstances.
Since we are still living on this earthly plane, chances are that we will still have those human reactions of grief and pain and fear and doubt from time to time, but when the negative emotion strikes, we can recognize it for what it is and reject it, transforming our thought patterns by concentrating on answers, not on problems.
Negative reactions should serve as signals. Instead of giving in to them and being carried away by them, we should understand that they come to remind us that it is time to get back to God, to concentrate not on the difficulty but the solution.
There is always a solution. There is always a right answer. But we will be blinded to it until we are willing to release the problem and put a positive picture in its place. In times of personal loss or threat, we may find it difficult, but it can be done.
It took a totally dedicated trust on Jesus’ part to instruct the others to remove the stone from the tomb. In order to be ready to proceed in this positive way, He had to first replace all thoughts of loss with loving trust in God and God’s way. And He did.
Others may not always agree with or understand our positive approach in an emergency situation, but our first obligation is to our higher Self and to God. When we transform negative thoughts and emotions into positive ones, then we are ready to do the things that need to be done by us in order to bring about right results.
Follow the spiritual guidance that comes.
Sometimes it takes great courage to follow God’s guidance in a given situation. It may seem contrary to everything we have experienced in the past. It may be totally misunderstood by others, even those close to us in some cases.
However, if we are going to follow Jesus in the spiritual expression of our powers, we must learn to trust our intuitive guidance from God and to act on it in faith and love.
After instructing that the stone should be removed, Jesus had a conversation with God (aloud, for the benefit of those who stood nearby). He was taking things step by step, following the guidance He was given. When the time was right, He cried out in a loud voice, calling Lazarus forth. And Lazarus came.
In times of catastrophe or even personal disappointment and disillusionment, we may be instructed by God to take steps that are totally out of line with the normal human reaction to such situations. It takes courage to follow through when such guidance comes, but God even gives us the courage we need, the strength and the ability — when we truly desire to handle things His way.
Lazarus was bound with the grave clothes, representing thoughts of limitation imposed by the material world. He had to be set free.
We, too, must follow God’s guidance in going beyond what we have learned in our personal experiences of the past. We, too, must learn to find release from the old thoughts of the limitations of human life.
We are just beginning to know our potentiality, and we can only find out how great we are and how unlimited we can be in handling situations by learning to trust the Spirit in us that guides us into better and higher ways.
After the emergency is past, and the situation has been handled, God gives one final instruction, just as Jesus gave one last command to those standing nearby.
“Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:44 RSV)
After the emergency has passed, and we have handled it according to our best understanding at the present time, then we are to release it, let it go and continue on to our next experience in living.
We will be enriched by every experience in which we call upon God’s help and follow through on His guidance. However, the time comes when we must go on to our next experience, richer in consciousness and blessed by a new and greater awareness of God’s everloving care.
Emergencies can be simply steps in our spiritual ongoing. They come to be handled. Then they are to be released, as we continue on the pathway of life, growing stronger with each overcoming.
© 1985, Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.
How To Establish Priorities
WE ALL ESTABLISH priorities all of the time, and the way we choose what to give first place in our lives determines the quality of life that we will have. Wrong choices can make our experience fear-filled and stressful. Right choices and preferences can help our lives to move ahead in divinely ordered, happy and progressive ways.
When we choose to become upset over something that happens, we are giving priority to the negative emotion, allowing it to take precedence over the positive things we could be accomplishing. At that particular moment we have decided that being disturbed is more important than absolutely anything else we could be doing. And we suffer for it, stress-wise.
On the other hand, when we choose not to let what another says or does disturb us, when we decide instead to continue on with some constructive activity, then we are giving priority to the good, and we will reap the rewards of our happy decision.
When we choose to scatter our forces in trying to accomplish a multitude of fragmented, inconsequential tasks, we are determining that there will not be time to finish those important jobs. And we may end up feeling frustrated, overworked and angry.
We all have priorities and we set priorities continuously. We do it whenever we put one thing before another, one job ahead of another — or when we drop everything and decide to do something different. Priorities are determined by our sense of urgency or importance, or sometimes by an emotional reaction which takes over without any conscious direction on our part.
Actually, for faith-filled, happy, successful living, we must learn to take charge of our lives and establish priorities based on our highest goals and aims. When we do, we will find ourselves freed from the stress that comes from trying to do too many things at a time and also the frustration that may follow the sense that we are not accomplishing the things that are truly important to us. We can consciously take charge of our lives, setting the priorities that will lead to progressive unfoldment and happy, successful accomplishment in our daily activity. We can, when we become aware that we are the ones who choose what our experiences will be. We can determine to take into our life experience only those activities which will propel us in the direction of our highest aims in life.
Choosing the proper priorities simply means putting the things that are first in importance in our growth and unfold-ment first in our daily activity. To keep control of our lives, we must consciously make continuing decisions, fitting all activities into our overall plan of life.
All of the great people of history have been individuals who consciously directed their lives toward the fulfillment of a particular goal. The Bible is filled with the stories of those who reportedly set priorities under divine direction and reaped the reward of a full, meaningful life.
Jesus always worked under divine direction, letting His life be guided from moment to moment, never wasting time but always working toward the great overall goal of expressing the Christ.
This doesn’t mean that He was serious and purposeful in all of His actions and reactions. He went to a wedding. He dined at the homes of friends. He took time to share his thoughts with few followers when the time was appropriate, just as He spoke to the multitudes when that was required. He also knew when to go apart and pray, preparing Himself for the next sharing. And He managed to pack more activity into three years than most people put in a lifetime. He did it by establishing proper priorities.
The apostle, Paul, was a man who had to completely revamp his life, when he changed his chief aim and his priorities. His life had been hectic and frenzied as he pursued his goal of persecuting the Christians. The first priority was wiping out the new sect wherever he could find it.
After his spiritual awakening, his whole attitude was changed from the obsession with persecution to the worthwhile goal of spreading the spiritual message. Under divine direction he travelled to much of the known world, carrying the Jesus Christ message in an orderly way, putting first things first. He played an important role in the establishing of the Christian faith.
Old Testament characters also set priorities in order to accomplish great deeds.
King David, guided by Spirit, was a great conqueror who established a powerful kingdom. He also remembered the Source, and, under divine direction and with tremendous care and dedication, collected materials from all over his world for the building of the temple in Jerusalem.
His son, Solomon, carried on where his father left off, also accomplishing great things. He consolidated the kingdom his father left him and established relations with other mon-archs. But, more importantly, he made sure that the temple to God was built in Jerusalem. This received first priority.
There was also Joshua.
His name gives the clue to his success power and to his ability to establish the proper priorities in whatever position he found himself. Joshua is the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek name, Jesus, and it means “Jehovah is salvation” or “whom Jehovah makes triumphant” (Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, p. 368). It was through Joshua’s conscious identification with the I Am, or Christ, within himself that he was able to accomplish wonderful things. But it didn’t happen all at once. This great leader had to serve his apprenticeship and prove himself worthy before he was given his final authority. He proved himself by putting first things first and by letting God guide his life through a variety of experiences.
Joshua began life as a slave in Egypt. We don’t know much about this period of his life, about 45 years, but it must have been a time of preparation in which he proved himself worthy to be one of the twelve spies sent into the Promised Land by Moses.
After the Hebrews had left Egypt under Moses’ leadership, they reached the border of the land which had been promised them, and twelve men were chosen to go into the land and scout it out. Only two of those twelve came back with a favorable report. The others were totally intimidated by the people and the conditions that they saw. Joshua, however, recommended to Moses that the people continue into the land and possess it. In spite of the negative reports of the other ten, he and Caleb argued, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land which flows with milk and honey. Only, do not rebel against the Lord; and do not fear the people of the land . . . the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” (Num. 14:7, 8, 9 RSV)
Joshua was rewarded for his effort by the enmity of the other Hebrews, who sought to stone him, along with Caleb. Of course, they did not succeed.
For the next 40 years, as the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, Joshua continued to put first things first. As an entire generation of doubters died out, Joshua continued to trust in God’s plan for the Israelites to repossess the Promised Land. He also spent his time in working and studying with Moses, doing what he could where he was. He was about the Father’s business, constructively occupying his time.
As with all of us, Joshua had times in his life when action was most important. He had other times when study and contemplation played an important role in his preparation for greater responsibilities to come. Since he was dedicating himself to going God’s way, he knew which was most important at the time.
It wasn’t until he was 85 that Joshua’s “big break” came. He was appointed by Moses to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land. As a leader of this motley multitude, he had more challenges and responsibilities than ever, but he could assume the task without undue stress and strain because he was ready. Learning to establish priorities in the proper way, under divine direction, enabled him to serve well in coping with the stressful situations in which he would find himself as he proceeded with his task.
His attitude 40 years earlier when he was sent out as a spy had shown that he was in tune with the assignment, and he had proved himself a good student and a worthy leader during those 40 years of wandering.
As Charles Fillmore pointed out, “The leadership of the Israelites was given to Joshua because he had been under instruction and had acquired a proficiency that enabled him to perform his work with dispatch.” (Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, p. 368) He was able and efficient because he was disciplined and continually receptive to divine direction.
When the time came, Joshua was not only ready. Under divine direction, he moved quickly. Following God’s instructions, he called the officers together and instructed them to command the people to prepare to cross the Jordan River in three days. He reminded the people of God’s promise that they would possess the land.
Continuing to act with confidence based on his direct revelation from Jehovah, he sent spies to report on conditions in Jericho. When they returned three days later, Joshua prepared the people for the crossing of the Jordan. Putting God first, as always, he instructed the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass on before the people.” (Josh. 3:6 RSV) As the priests carrying the ark stood in the channel of the river, the multitude passed over the riverbed on dry land.
After that, he proceeded quickly, demonstrating great skill as a military leader during the seven years he spent conquering the Promised Land. Then he helped to divide the land between the tribes and supervise the reconstruction. His last few years were spent more quietly as he continued to serve as leader of this great people.
Toward the end of his long life, Joshua called the Israelites together for some last instructions. He pointed out the importance of continuing to go God’s way, but told them to “choose this day whom you will serve” (Josh. 24:14 RSV). Then he reiterated the commitment by which he had lived his life, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh. 24:15 RSV) The people assured him, “We will serve the Lord.” (Josh. 24:31 RSV)
It was a long and eventful life and career, and it was successful because Joshua knew what was most important to him and geared the activities of his daily life to the fulfillment of his goal. So can we.
Here are some rules we can follow.
Establish a worthwhile goal.
Our accomplishment will always be greater when we are moving along in a positive, constructive way, with a definite, worthwhile goal in sight.
On the other hand, we will always be frustrated and unhappy when we drift through life in a meaningless way. Dissatisfaction with our lives will bring about great stress, whether or not we realize what we are doing to ourselves. The need for meaning and direction in living is a basic requirement of our nature, and failure to fulfill this need will leave us dissatisfied and unhappy.
So, to live happily and successfully, we must have a worthwhile goal. But how do we go about choosing a goal or aim? We can take a lesson from Joshua.
At first glance, we might think that Joshua’s overall goal was simply to see that the Children of Israel entered the Promised Land, first under Moses’ leadership and later under his own. But was it?
This is simply the outer goal that claimed his allegiance. But before there was an outer revelation, there had to be an inner search and dedication. Undoubtedly Joshua’s primary goal was to serve God, and he was willing to do that in whatever way was revealed to him. Leading the people across the river and into the Promised Land was the culmination of a lifetime of listening and learning as preparation for whatever work God had for him to do.
Many people would like to start off with some great project as a leader or person of prominence. But if we would learn to truly fulfill God’s plan for our lives, we must be willing to start small as Joshua did.
At the age of 45 he had reached a position of some prominence because of his dedication to God. That is why he was chosen to be one of the spies. But it took forty more years of learning before he was ready for the great assignment.
God has many channels, and He has many jobs that need to be done. Who is to say that one is greater than another? But our own right place, our own right work and our perfect goal will be revealed to us when we make our first commitment to learning to go God’s way and to fulfilling the plan that He reveals to us step by step as we let the plan unfold.
Our overall goal of serving God in the way that is right for us at the time may lead to bringing sunshine into the lives of others in a small way. It may mean writing books or giving lectures. Or it may be simply doing the job in which we are now involved in the very best way possible, as though we were doing it for God (which we are).
Meanwhile, we can adopt Joshua’s theme of serving the Lord, praying for guidance and letting His plan unfold in our lives. We can go from outer goal to outer goal as we continue to pursue the inner purpose of letting God’s light shine through in our lives.
Our outer goals may change as we progress, and we should be ready and willing to adjust as we go along, provided we are continuing to keep ourselves in tune with Spirit and in harmony with the orderly unfoldment of God’s ideas in and through us. As we continue to pray and progress, the outer goals will be revealed to and through us in a divinely ordered way.
It worked for Joshua. Actually, his life fell into three distinct segments. First, he was in Egypt, a slave but undoubtedly a person who was thinking and learning and praying even under those conditions. During the next forty years he continued to learn under Moses’ direction as he served as one of the lieutenants under him. Finally, he became the leader of the multitude, with a definite assigned task which unfolded step by step as he went forward in faith. But, through it all, his primary goal was the one he proclaimed at the end of his long and full life. His aim was to “serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15 RSV).
Paul’s experience was different, in that he was trying to serve God in a way revealed by his limited understanding, persecuting the Christians. But when he awakened to a greater understanding, he changed his priorities in the light of a higher understanding of his goal. This may happen to us as well.
Establishing our great overall goal includes something else as well. There may be action as we seek to fulfill our aim, but there will certainly be something taking place within us (which may be even more important than our actions). That is becoming the spiritual person in expression that God designed us to be. It is being, rather than doing. Our greatest purpose may turn out to be simply to express that which God is. We can fulfill this idea by contemplating what God is like and seeking to develop and express His qualities of goodness.
But we can be sure of one thing. When our goal is to fulfill that divine greatness that is within us, to go God’s way and to serve Him, our accomplishment will always be greater than it is when we limit ourselves to little human, personal goals.
Put small things into the larger concept.
Once we have chosen our great, overall goal, the next step is to fit everything that we think, feel, say and do all day long into the greater aim of our life.
For instance, one thing that will happen as we dedicate our lives to the fulfillment of God’s plan for us is that we will discover that there is no place in our experience for times of anger, fear, frustration and feelings of failure. Negative thoughts and emotions sap the strength and power we could be using to progress toward our aim of being and acting according to God’s plan for our lives. The minute we decide that we do not have time or energy to waste on negative reactions to life, we start to establish a stress-free approach to proper priorities.
Then, under divine direction, we will know when it is important to take a stand in a particular situation and when it is better to let it go. We will have a different attitude toward those things which are important in life. We will be less inclined to think in terms of human vanity and more likely to direct ourselves to the overall view of God’s plan of good for all. In other words, under divine direction we will put spiritual aims and goals ahead of personal reactions.
We will no longer scatter ourselves in meaningless activity, but will relate each segment of our lives to the divine pattern and the divine direction from within.
The things we include in our daily schedule will be those things that are important to us. Even when interruptions come and challenges arise to be handled, we will be able to cope with them without frustration and complaint. In tune with God, we will be able to recognize which things are important and which should be dealt with quickly and easily, and we will act accordingly.
Under divine direction, we will not be burdened continually with work, but will know when it is in divine order to take a break, to contact a friend, to walk down a country road and admire the scenery or just rest and relax. And we will not be so hurried and harried that we feel we can’t afford the time. We will, by putting God first, be able to be so in tune that we know what to do next.
There should always be times of listening to God in prayer. How else can we find out what His plan is for our lives? I have one friend who keeps a pad of paper and pencil handy when she sits down for her morning prayer, so that she can make notes on the things God tells her in her prayer. She is a business person, and she then goes ahead under the divine direction for that day.
As Joshua told the people of Israel, “Come hither, and hear the words of the Lord your God.” (Joshua 3:9 RSV) The Lord is the Christ of our own being, the spirit of God made personal to us. We must listen if we are to learn and grow under divine direction. We must take time for God first and then stay tuned in all day long as we go about our activities.
Joshua fitted everything into his overall goal of serving the Lord in the way that was revealed to him from within.
While others procrastinated and made excuses, he held to the vision and did what he could. Even when he seemingly lost the argument about entering the Promised Land, instead of complaining and criticizing he went ahead learning and growing, step by step, until the great assignment came, and he was ready. And so can we.
Our assignments will not always be the same. Each one is here to serve God in a particular way for a particular purpose. Each one is important to the fulfillment of the overall plan. But as we listen, we will hear, and we will know what we are to do next.
As we grow in our ability to listen and to learn and to establish proper priorities every day, we will find that we have established new, stress-free habits of thought and feeling. Instead of having to automatically stop and ask God about it, we will move from one task to the next, coping with what arises and somehow knowing from within what comes next.
Divine order, order that is based on divine direction all the time, with or without our conscious thought about it, is the key to establishing proper priorities and living a stress-free life.
© 1985, Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.
How To Be At Home In Your World
THE PERSON WHO suffers from stress is always uncomfortable. He or she seems to find it impossible to adapt to people and conditions. Happenings have a way of becoming irritations. Always there are things that are wrong; consequently there is a feeling of not being able to cope with life or to handle all of the demands it makes.
On the other hand, there is the person who is at home in his or her world. This person moves easily through experience after experience with poise and freedom, handling whatever comes up in the perfect right way. Ease and joy are the order of each day.
Happily, we can all learn to be at home in our world. It is not necessary for us to suffer from stressful feelings and reactions to situations in our lives. Instead, we can be comfortable and easy, free and at peace at all times and under all circumstances — at home in our world.
One person who perfectly expresses this quality of divine adjustment and the ability to follow through with right answers and actions is Jesus Christ. Perhaps no one in all history has been so at home in his world and in command of his life. Wherever He was, Jesus not only was able to adjust to the press of the crowd or the time of solitude, but He also was able to maintain His peace and dignity, relaxation and freedom, while taking command of the situation whenever it was necessary. Just by being there, in the fulness of His spiritual mastery, He was in command of His life and His surroundings.
When He appeared before Pontius Pilate, a very powerful Roman executive, it was Jesus, not Pilate, who was at ease and in command. Pilate, with all of his importance, was certainly under stress in this situation. On the other hand, Jesus, knowing that in His spiritual nature He was in charge of His life, was calm and poised. (John 18)
Pilate was in a difficult situation. As procurator of the Jews, he would prefer to play politics, avoiding situations that could cause trouble. Jesus was a popular person, with a large following. Pilate would rather not rile them. On the other hand, he was being pressed by the Jewish leaders to condemn the Man to death. He cared nothing for their charge of blasphemy, but he was very much concerned when they represented Jesus as a threat to the Roman government. (He was even more concerned when they threatened to report him to Caesar if he failed to give the order for execution.)
Surely Pilate was a man under stress when he was questioning Jesus. In his best judicial manner, he entered the praetorium and asked, “Are you the King of the Jews?” (John 18:33 RSV) Jesus, with full knowledge that this man had the power of life and death in his hands, answered calmly, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” (John 18:34 RSV)
Pilate was not accustomed to being answered in this way, and he spoke sharply.
Jesus explained, “My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from this world.” (John 18:35 RSV)
Jesus went on to explain that his purpose was “to bear witness of the truth” (John 18:37 RSV). He added, “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” (John 18:37 RSV) By this time Pilate was totally confused. He had the last word when he asked, “What is truth?” (John 18:38 RSV), but then he left the room to seek some way to rid himself of this troublesome situation.
Jesus was at home even in this place where Pilate was in charge, even under the threat of the powerful representative of the most powerful government in the world of that time. Jesus was at home, and Pilate was nervous and ill at ease, uncomfortable even with all of his worldly power, or perhaps because of it.
What made Jesus at home in even this situation?
First, Jesus was not afraid of losing anything, even his life. Many people are troubled by stress because there is a fear of the loss of money or things, position or power. Pilate, working on the human plane, was very much afraid of losing his position and his power if negative reports got back to Rome. But Jesus was in charge of His life, and He knew it. The threat of a death sentence meant nothing, because Jesus knew that He could walk away from the situation if He wanted to, as He had done on other occasions. He was there to fulfill His divine purpose, and there was no fear of loss.
Jesus was poised because He was in tune with God. Listening for inner spiritual guidance, He had all the right answers. Pilate, on the other hand, was groping in a human way and ended up in confusion.
Then, too, Jesus had reached a point in consciousness where he was neither bound by time nor by place. Being totally in tune with Spirit and in the awareness of the allness and timelessness of the universal plan, He was not really limited to a particular time or place. The trial in all of its aspects was simply incidental to the fulfillment of the divine plan, which resulted in the resurrection and its effect on the world’s consciousness. He was there by divine appointment, and He was in agreement with His mission in life.
We, too, can learn to live so in tune with Spirit that we are at home in our world, at peace with ourselves.
Many people would like to start by changing the world first, but we must begin with ourselves.
Charles Fillmore wrote, “We are now living in a civilization dominated by human thought, and confusion is the result.” (Atom Smashing Power of Mind 68) Even in the midst of confusion, we can be a center of poise. We can, when we tune in to the Jesus Christ consciousness, rather than the Pontius Pilate thought that is in our world today.
Pilate represents the human will, jealous of its power, fearful of loss, concerned about what others are thinking and pompous with its self-importance. This consciousness is bound to be stressful. But we can follow a better way, even in a world where many choose the human way.
It is not our work to start by changing our world. It is our job to begin by changing ourselves, our thoughts and our feelings. When we have done that, we will be so at home in our world that we will know how to fulfill our purpose in living, as Jesus did, and we will be comfortable and poised while doing it.
We can take dominion over ourselves. As Fillmore wrote, “You can do anything with the thoughts of your mind . . . There is no other place in the universe where you are the absolute master.” (Fillmore, “Tools for Victorious Living”, p. 37 and Charles Fillmore Prosperity 92) And when we first take command within ourselves, then we are bound to influence our world — for the better.
We are just beginning to discover the power of our minds. We have no real conception of the wonderful discoveries that will be made in the future simply by our learning to develop the mental and spiritual potentiality within us.
A friend recently had an experience with the power of the mind. He was in the hospital, unable to move very much, and he became very cold one night. He could not get up or even reach down to see if there was a blanket on the foot of the bed. So he thought about calling a nurse.
Suddenly, as he was thinking of calling for some extra covering, he looked down and saw a blanket over his body. He became very warm, comfortable and drowsy. He went to sleep and slept comfortably all night.
In the morning, when one of the nurses came in, he thanked her for putting the blanket over him during the night. She replied, “I didn’t put a blanket over you.” He checked with the other nurse, and she had not covered him, either. There was a blanket on the foot of the bed, but no evidence that it had been unfolded at all. Actually, there was no blanket over him in the morning, but he saw it clearly in the night and was warmed by it.
We are just beginning to realize the power of our thought, and when we learn to take conscious control of our lives and our environment, we will be amazed at what we can accomplish.
There are definite steps that we can take to establish control and become at home with ourselves in our world.
Adopt a positive attitude and refuse to take things personally.
Many people are uncomfortable in their environment because they continually take everything that is said or done in a personal way. Another person makes a remark, and they consider it an insult. Or they may reflect, “I wonder what he meant by that!” Some people look at others and conditions and consider them a threat to their personal safety or wellbeing, or perhaps to their paycheck or possessions.
Many times the individual is made uncomfortable by a situation which exists in his mind only. But if it is in the thoughts and feelings of that person, it will be a stress producer.
Some people take everything in a personal way by being carried away with egotism. Because of their position, they may be constantly on guard and concerned that others recognize their importance. Or they may believe all the good things others say about them and become egotistical and self-conscious about the impression they are making.
Here again, Jesus is our great example. Jesus was as little concerned about what Pilate thought of Him as He was about the false accusations of the Jewish leaders. He stood in the dignity of His own realization of His spiritual nature, unmoved by what was going on around and about Him.
By the same token, a few days earlier He was equally unmoved by great acclaim. When He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, people were throwing palm branches and garments in His path. The multitude cried, “Hosanna in the highest!” (Matt. 21:9 RSV) They were acclaiming Him as a king and were excited about it. Only Jesus was poised and calm, at home in His world, unmoved by the praise and acclaim as He was by the blame.
Jesus did nothing just for the sake of impressing people. He was as unconcerned about the people crying “Hosanna,” as He was about the crowd later calling out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” (John 19:15 RSV)
How can we develop this impersonal, yet positive, attitude that will keep us at peace regardless of what is going on around us? Here is an idea that may help.
Several years ago my husband and I were driving through the mountains of Colorado. We were fascinated by the tall fir trees growing on the side of the mountains, apparently out of solid rock. Because of deep snows, very strong winds and extreme cold in the winter, some of the trees were black and barren on one side, but growing and green on the other.
My husband commented, “Those trees really fight for survival, don’t they?” Then, after a pause, he added, “No, they don’t fight. They just go on growing.” That is the way the trees became at home in their world. They just went on growing, regardless of what went on around them. And so can we.
Hold people and things with open hands.
Anyone who clutches others tightly, fearful of losing their love, determined to direct their lives, is filling his life with tension, anxiety and stress. Closed minds and closed hands are robbers of mind and body, and no one can be at ease while tightly grasping people and things.
Jesus did not hold on to others. He invited the disciples who were closest to Him to join His personal group, but He never tried to force anyone to become one of his followers. He gave His teaching freely to all who wanted it and healed wherever He found a receptive channel, a person who requested His help.
Jesus did not seek personal favors from others, and He did not make spectacular promises to those who would do His will. He walked through life with open hands, willing to help but unwilling to force His help or His teaching. When approached by antagonistic leaders, He spoke the words that came to Him from God; He gave the right answer in the situation, and then went on His way. He didn’t spend long hours arguing, insisting that others believe as He did. He simply said what was necessary in the situation and went on to do the work God had given Him.
When we learn to hold other people with open hands, those who belong in our lives remain, and those who are not to be a part of this life experience go. We cannot really hold anything that does not belong to us by right of consciousness. Releasing others will save us much tension and strain, as well as bringing divine adjustment into our human relationships.
There may be times when we feel that we must interfere in the lives of others because of ways in which they apparently are hurting themselves and others. Even in such a case, our greatest help will be in the area of learning to recognize and to trust the Christ, the God self, in the other person. This doesn’t mean that we don’t care. It simply means that we trust the Christ to adjust their lives and leave them free to find the answer in their own way. When we are trusting God to right the wrong, we will avoid all tension and anxiety in our personal attitude. If there is some step we need to take in an outer way, we will be shown what we have to do, and we will be able to do it without stress and without strain.
Where children are concerned, we care enough to train them correctly, but without rigidity. Recognizing that they, too, are people and have the Spirit of God within them, we must give them the opportunity to let their own light shine and to develop their talents and abilities in the way that is right for them.
In the area of things, let us understand that that which is ours cannot be taken from us. The more we learn to hold our money and possessions with open hands and no fear of loss, the more we will have, and the happier we will be. Tension and fear of loss lead to lack and limitation. Freedom and release lead to ease and plenty.
Let love expand your world.
There is nothing to fear in God’s universe. By recognizing God’s love and His presence in our environment at all times, we can learn to be equally at home in all places and at all times. But love is a quality we must learn to understand and to cultivate in a spiritual way. This is a love that goes beyond the songs of romantic fantasy and even the family relationship or friendship. It is the love that is based on a recognition of God everywhere and a sense of identification with His goodness throughout the universe.
In this understanding of love our relationship with other people extends into a new dimension. We no longer relate to others in the way of human thinking, but rather we follow the example of Jesus in being a channel of blessing at all times and under all circumstances.
Let us consider the example of the happenings in the Garden of Gethsemane when the Jewish authorities and a band of soldiers came to arrest Jesus. The disciple, Peter, who was noted for being impulsive, reacted to the situation in a human way. He grabbed a sword, and, fighting the threat against Jesus, whom he loved, he struck off the ear of the high priest’s slave. It was a natural, human reaction.
As Jesus explained to Pilate later, this was not the way of the divine messenger. He told the Roman official, “If my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world.” (John 18:36 RSV)
In Gethsemane he practiced what he would later teach. He told Peter to put away the sword and then healed the man’s ear. This is the way of love, the divine answer.
In the workings of the world, it is natural to resist, to make demands and to hold out for human rights. In the way of Spirit, the answer lies in working with love and wisdom, dealing with others as we would have them deal with us, obeying the Golden Rule of human relationships.
When we let love expand our relationships with other people, we enter a whole new way of living — one that is happier, healthier and free from stress and strain.
Love can free us from stress in regard to nature as well Some people go through life uncomfortable with certain animals or other forms of nature. Some are ill at ease out < >1 doors, with space around them. Others are fearful of currents of air, believing that the draft may cause them to catch coliI Many people are afraid of certain animals. Strangely enough, no matter what the fear, each individual manages to attract that condition or that animal into his life time after time. The pattern will continue to recur until he has overcome the tension and fear.
A friend taught her children how to deal with bees, a form of nature which is feared by many people.
The first reaction of many people is to fight the bee, to try to swat it or drive it away. This is the stress-producing, human reaction.
This young mother taught her children to talk to the bees when they came buzzing around. The children were to say, “God loves you. I love you. Now fly away.” They understood that the bees were intelligent and would respond. Sure enough, whenever they saw bees, they told them, “God loves you. I love you. Now fly away.” And they did.
But letting love expand our world goes beyond even our relationship with other forms of life on this plane. It includes entering into a larger dimension of thought, a mental area beyond the people around us and the physical environment in which we live.
Jesus was poised because He had reached a place in consciousness where He was no longer limited by time and place. We, too, can reach beyond ourselves, beyond our world and even beyond anything we can envision at this time as we let ourselves grow into a realization of the allness of the universe and the greatness of the divine plan.
Let us do it this way. Let us develop a mountain top view of ourselves and our world.
From the top of the mountain, as we look down on the valley, automobiles look like toys, and people may appear as ants, busy about many things. But from our vantage point, we have a feeling of peace and tranquility, recognizing that we do not have to fear the traffic or be caught up in the busyness. We are interested in the activity in the valley, but not caught up in it.
If we can return to our everyday activity with this view, interested but not caught up in the world, we will be able to live in the world but not of it, as Jesus did. Love will enable us to meet all situations with poise and confidence, and we will move easily and freely through life, fulfilling our divine destiny without anxiety, stress or strain.
We are important to God’s world and God’s plan. As Charles Fillmore wrote, “We should understand that we are not separate nor insignificant but the vital, important, integral parts of a mighty whole.” (Atom Smashing Power of Mind 61) Our recognition of ourselves as a part of the whole and our desire to fulfill our own particular assignment are essential to happy, successful living.
When we are free from all stress and at home in our world, we are best able to make our contribution to life and living and to reap the rich rewards in our daily living.
© 1985, Winifred Wilkinson Hausmann
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.