Wisdom Choices

Key

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I interviewed an artist about her work and I was curious, so I asked her why she was always so happy. She answered, “I chose Heaven.”

Later, she explained, “When I was very young, I loved my husband and baby very much. It could have been a perfectly joyous time except my Dad was dying of bone cancer. His hospital was two hours away and I visited him nearly every day. It seemed to me that I was always in the wrong place. When I was home, I felt guilty and when I was in the hospital, I felt I was cheating my baby. I felt like I was always bouncing between Heaven and Hell.”

“So how did you solve it?” I asked.

She answered, “Someone taught me the Serenity Prayer. I understood there wasn’t much I could control. My baby was fine and my Dad was dying, no matter what I did. My only choice was my emotional response. I could choose misery or happiness. When I finally understood that – I chose Heaven.”

By the time she shared her wisdom with me, her dad was long gone, her baby was in college, and she was a well-known artist. She was also a vital, enthusiastic, successful and joyful person.

I asked her the personal question because I wanted what she had. I’d been sober two years but I was broke and, and in a miserable love affair. I’d heard the Serenity Prayer many, many times and, to be honest, I thought it was a cliché until I heard her story. Since then it has become my favorite tool for solving life’s puzzles.

With sobriety, I realized that life would never be perfect. There would always be things I liked and other things I didn’t. The Serenity Prayer helps me navigate difficult choices.

God granted me a great deal after I got sober. I gained new opportunities and wonderful tools to create a sane life. I learned to use the Serenity Prayer and I discovered that I had more choices than I’d believed.

I attracted and built a good writing career, a sensible financial situation, and many excellent friends. Eventually, I gained self-forgiveness and a wonderful relationship with my family.

However, there were things I desperately wanted and didn’t get. I bumped my heart against the true love dream for a long time. We eventually parted company because I couldn’t make him be what I wanted him to be. That wasn’t my only disappointment but it was a biggie.

It is tough to give up the dream even if the reality is only heartache. Like most people, I want what I want when I want it. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I was seldom happy in those early days . Then I discovered Science of Mind and the teachings of Dr. Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science. When I combined 12 Step wisdom and the Science of Mind teaching, my life kept getting better. I kept getting happier. And happier.

At some point, I decided events didn’t matter as much as I’d thought, because I could always choose my emotional responses. Disappointment didn’t throw me. I stopped being a victim. I could choose to be happy – I could choose Heaven.

No one completely escapes disappointment. No matter how hard we work, or how effectively we visualize good news, sometimes things go in different directions. We don’t get to control everything but we do get to control our reactions.

We can choose to be happy. Life isn’t a tragedy unless we react as though things are tragic. Most people have events happen that are sad and it takes time to get over those rough spots however, the Serenity Prayer can help us heal more swiftly.

For example, losing a job is not good news but it is also not the end of the world. Some people curl up into a ball and refuse to recover from he blow. Others accept it happened and find the courage to move on quickly. They find another job or start their own business.

Very often, something that looks bad turns out to be the push we needed. A divorce leads to true love. An illness leads to better health habits.. A bankruptcy leads to a simpler lifestyle. What looks like loss turns out to be that Staircase to Heaven they sang about in old-fashioned musicals.

Of course, some things really are tragic and it may take time to find the serenity to accept what has happened. The death of a loved one is certainly sad especially when it is unexpected. However, most people survive grief and regain their happy lives.

People with serenity come to understand that death really is a part of life. They release grief as quickly as possible. It does no good to mourn for the rest of your life. It neither brings the loved one back nor helps the others you love if you mourn too deeply.

Accepting life as it comes and making choices about how to react as you go along is a good action plan for living. In 12 Step programs we are advised to live a day at a time and not dwell on the past. I’ve observed that attitude really does help people.

Much of it has to do with emotional maturity and choice. Some of us find the serenity, courage, and wisdom to live one day at a time when they are facing a life-threatening illness. Others are miserable when they break a fingernail.

I believe it is very helpful to remember that nothing is permanent, not even pain. That’s the good news. On the other hand, you will never be able to arrange everything exactly the way you want it and keep it there. How you choose to react is more important that the event itself.

If you don’t believe me, I invite you to try an experiment. Apply the Serenity Prayer to any perplexing or unhappy event in your life. Begin by asking yourself whether you need to find the serenity to accept it or the courage to change it. In other words, begin by seeking wisdom.

Next time something happens in your life that seems like a bad thing, ask yourself if there is anything you can do to make it better. If the answer is yes, be happy and do it. If the answer is no, choose to be happy anyway.

Many people find it surprising or unbelievable to hear that they can control their reactions to life’s events but it is true. It is also an important key to happiness. You can stop believing life makes you a victim and start believing you have the wisdom and power to be a player in the game of life.

Ask Yourself

Am I unhappy about anything today?

Is there anything I can do about it?

How do I choose to feel about my issue?

Advertisements

Eureka!

Kingsolver2It was a rainy Sunday and I was in a stinky mood. I missed church yesterday because of my physical limitations and my normal spiritual practice wasn’t cutting through the self-pity.

I had plenty of excuses for feeling sorry for myself, but I didn’t want excuses or sympathy. I wanted to feel better. I knew that required a lift off the self-pity pot.

When I began my ministry, Dr. Tom Costa of Palm Desert, CA was a giant in Religious Science ministry, partly because he so clearly believed in our divine right to happiness. I loved his talks; he used humor to move people along their path to freedom. He also had a gift for keeping it simple.

Dr. Tom used to say, “If you are going through Hell, don’t pitch a tent, keep on moving!”

I certainly didn’t want to pitch my tent on Depression Ave that morning so I kept doing my spiritual work and turning it over to God, When that didn’t work, I prayed and turned it over again. And again.

Nothing worked. Then, Divine Inspiration kicked in and reminded me that I had been planning to look at talks on UTube.  Here was something new to try.

Only the week before, I’d listened to a talk by Rev. Chris Michaels of Kansas City. Besides the great talk, I felt as if I were visiting an old friend. That talk was so marvelous I’d decided to add internet talks to the  Spiritual Practice book I’m writing.

Even though I wanted nothing more than to give up and watch old movies or go back to bed and pull the covers over my head, I opened up this computer and began to browse on the UTube.

Eureka! One of the best things about organizational conferences was hearing a variety of speakers. Now I had a wide variety of speakers at my fingertips. It was like having instant Asilomar Conferences packed into my apple box. It was like striking oil in my front yard!

Although it’s a bit difficult to navigate, it seems there are many, many well-known and wonderful Science of Mind speakers available on the internet. The quality of production is good and the talks are generally excellent.

My mind and heart were renewed after I watched four talks in a little over an hour. Suddenly, it was simple to set aside the morning’s gloom. All I needed was someone else to remind me of what I already knew. That’s the way it works sometimes.

I listened as my colleagues told stories and jokes to make their spiritual points. I desperately needed to hear everything they said because I felt stuck.  Or alone.

There is something cozy about hanging out with people who share your opinions and beliefs. I loved hearing Rev. Gayle Dillon and Rev. Dr. Kathy Hearn speak on ideas that are dear to my heart. Rev. Gayle was brand new to me and Dr. Kathy seemed like an old friend. They were both delightful.

It was a wonderful treat to find my dear friend, Dr. David Walker’s talk online. There he was, telling me once again, You Are Enough. Even more amazing was seeing and hearing Dr. Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science, speak on the power of belief. Dr. David has only been gone a few years but Dr. Holmes made his transition in 1960 so the talk must have been transferred from an old film.

I’d be the first to admit I’m behind the times when it comes to researching the internet and I’m never going to be a  “techie” but I discovered an amazing world of wisdom out there over the rainbow.

Maybe some of you readers already know what a wealth of material is available on U Tube and on individual church websites. If so, please write comments and share your tips. For instance, how do you search? I found searching by speaker’s names to be better than looking under more general topics such as Religious Science. However, that precludes contacting new speakers.

I hope every reader will check out minister’s talks on the computer but that’s not the only reason for this blog. What I hope you will take away from my experience isn’t just about the internet. The real lesson is that perseverance pays off.

I observe that many people let their emotions rule them, even after they hear about taking charge of their lives by changing their thinking, they struggle when events disrupt their plans. Many of us  try to control our emotional reactions but we give up too soon.

If one spiritual practice method doesn’t work, we can try another. There are many ways to help ourselves when a bad mood strikes. We can take control of moods if we hang in there.  One should never give up.

I used to have depressions that seemed to drop in to visit for no reason. In those early days emotions seemed to be something that happened to me. Science of Mind taught me I can choose my reactions to events . It may take extra effort but it works. Now listening to talks on the internet gives me another tool.

Here’s something else the experience taught me. I thought I was missing church – the people I love and talks by my own brilliant ministers, Rev. Mattie Dobbs and Rev. Debby ODonnell. It’s true I missed my church but the deepest thing I was missing was the message of Religious Science itself.

I know I can change my thinking and that will change my life. Church always helps me do that because the teaching is so clear on Sundays in a roomful of believers. On yesterday morning I needed a sharp reminder – the kind I get in church.

I go to church consistently because my life goes better. I also use reminders during the week. Recently, I’ve depended mostly on books, tapes and CD’s to supplement and replace church when I can’t get there. Now I’ve added a powerful new tool that offers  a more immediate experience

I have always wished we could find a way to package the feeling of love and joy we find   on Sundays. Church offers music, fellowship, committees, cookies and that’s all great but the real reason we attend church is to acquire the key for taking charge of our lives. We change our thinking and develop a new consciousness of successful living.

We can do it because God created us to express the qualities of God. We are intended to be happy, healthy, loving, and wealthy. Clearing out old ideas and accepting positive beliefs is a lifelong endeavor. It takes support and perseverance.

Every mindful thing we do moves us along in the direction of our dreams. We must take what we learn on Sunday and use it 24/7. We must internalize the message.

I’m excited about the discovery of internet talks because it creates an immediate experience.  Of course, I will, continue with my other powerful tools. I will attend church, do my prayers, meditation, reading, art work and other familiar tools.

Now I have added another techie tool to my journey down the yellow brick road toward enlightenment. I’m going to listen to a few talks every week. How about you?

Ask Yourself

Is there anyone I’d like to check out?

How do I begin?


God Sends

power2

When my daughter returned from Africa last week it would have been considerate of me to give her time to deal with jetlag, but my bags were packed. I was “Raring to go!”

I’m out of Rehab and I  love my home more than ever. It is single story and that is a true God-send because I am currently using a wheelchair. I also have a wheel-in shower that I designed for my mother thirty years ago, Another God-send! So is the extra-large, extra-fancy hospital bed I inherited from Rev. Mattie’s mother.

I  have two wonderful helpers and  a loving group of family and friends who want to help me anyway they can. I’m not kidding when I say I am surrounded by God-sends.

The move home is going smoothly. My healing is on-track and I’m convinced prayer helped. If you are a part of the wonderful group who prayed for me, I thank you very much.  Your prayers for my health make you another of my God-sends.

Whether I knew you were praying or not isn’t important. Either way, your prayers went straight to the Subjective Mind of God and they planted the seed of perfect health. You made the prayer and (as always) God does the work. Your prayers set Spiritual Law in motion.

I came away from Rehab even more committed to teaching the power of prayer. Even when I was so unfocussed that I had trouble doing my own prayers, I could feel the energy of other people’s and I was able to accept the love and care from others.

Prayer works even if the recipient of your prayer lives in Tucson and you live in Omaha. God lives everywhere, full power, all the time. God lives in the hearts and minds of every individual whether he or she recognizes it or not.

Here’s a very short sketch of how prayer works in our lives. Spirit is the Creative Energy of the Universe. Spirit created us in It’s image and likeness. We are separate and unique, but we are spiritual creatures and we are connected to God through our consciousness. (Consciousness contains all our thoughts, beliefs, and feelings in this moment.)

Our consciousness is constantly sending messages to Spirit and Spirit responds. God (or Spirit) is Love working through Law in our lives. When we pray, we are speaking directly to God with the purpose of setting Spiritual Law into motion to create new circumstances.

The person praying envisions, believes and accepts the desired outcome. The person we are praying for must accept the goal of the prayer in order to have it work. That is a part of why we never pray for others unless it is requested. When we ask for prayers from others we are depending on, or borrowing their conviction and clarity. Of course, the best thing is for the person requesting prayer to also have conviction but that’s not always at an optimum level.

The reason prayers from unknown people worked for me was that when I requested the prayers, I was already envisioning, believing and accepting the healing at some level. The prayers of others were powerful because they were clear and focused. I needed your prayers because I was, more or less, stuck in the experience of “not well”.

If this all seems complicated and too technical for a blog, I apologize. Remember that you do not have to understand how prayer works, you only have to pray and expect it to work. If you want to know more, you should take a class in your Center for Spiritual Living or on-line.

You can also learn to use prayer more effectively by reading books. My book, Spiritual Mind Skills has individual chapters devoted to each of the steps of affirmative prayer or treatment.  You can buy it from this blog bookstore. You can also find it in church bookstores along with many works by Dr. Ernest Holmes and other New Thought leaders. I especially recommend Treat Yourself To Life by Dr. Raymond Charles Barker.

I wanted to express my gratitude for your prayers. My progress is apparent and I still have a way to go. If you want to help, continue praying for me.  Please see me as walking independently  and getting back to a regular schedule. I am praying for these goals now.

I am not only praying, I am choosing to enhance my prayers with physical therapy, occupational therapy and getting the recommended medical attention. I choose to pursue my healing this way. Others may choose other ways and that is up to them. I choose to do what the doctor orders.

We are spiritual creatures who have a part in creating our lives. We have free will and we always have choices. I believe that getting good medical attention will work well for me. I also believe it is important for me to move forward.

Somehow I had a back injury. Obviously I could choose to look backward and ask myself what caused the problem. I could also choose to believe I’ll be in a wheelchair forever. Or I could choose to blame myself or others and spread anger over my life. I could also choose to feel sorry for myself.

I choose to focus on healing and I choose to move forward. I also choose to take it a day at a time, and start my day with gratitude. Each day, I start by writing and/or saying, “Another day to be glad in.” Then I make a gratitude list. You are on it.

Love,

Jane


Sunny Days

power2It’s been hot here and I don’t enjoy hot, humid weather.  I tend to forget San Diego has the best year-round climate in the continental US. I’m like the millionaire who complains when her stocks don’t rise fast enough.

It is easy to forget how comparatively fortunate we are. Whether it is health, money, friendships or climate, we don’t want to fall into a pattern of grumbling and make it worse. Let’s not take the good stuff in our lives for granted.

Sometimes it helps to see ourselves in relation to others. I don’t like to chortle because someone else is hotter than I am, but when I watch the weather channel it does put my complaints in perspective. Do you ever use comparisons as a basis for gratitude? I do.

As a child, I resented the idea of comparing myself to others. At supper, I was supposed to eat all my dinner because of the poor starving Armenians or Chinese etc. It just didn’t seem right that I should have to eat spinach because someone on the other side of the world was hungry.

My mother used to tell the story about a person who had no shoes until he met a beggar who had no feet. I wasn’t interested in shoes or feet, I just wanted my dessert. And I wanted it now!

Since I’ve learned more about how spiritual law works, I’ve been able to release the guilt I felt about my “selfishness”. It didn’t really help if I ate all my supper. (I’ve also resigned from the clean plate club and lost over 100 pounds.)

These days, comparison is a tool in my bag of gratitude tricks. When I remember to be grateful I don’t live in Arizona, it cools me off as much as an extra shower.

I am not a shaman and I don’t do a rain dance so I can’t yet control the weather, but I can control my thinking and my response.  Gratitude thinking changes the experience even when things are out of my control.

Gratitude trains the mind to be happy. Feeling happy is as welcome as a cool breeze. Believe it or not, it is possible to feel happy in any climate. It is also possible to feel happy before getting everything we want. In fact, it helps us get it.

Happiness really is a choice. We are in charge of our thoughts and that puts us in charge of our moods. The key is to manage our minds effectively, no matter what the issue seems to be.

Using gratitude to move away from the problem and toward the desired solution puts us in a mental space where we are guided to take new actions. It is perfectly all right to work for new goals and feel happy before you gain them.

I used a prayer of gratitude to control my response to the weather this week and it helped me a great deal. It didn’t change the temperature outside but it led me to make some discoveries. A mid-day shower helps. So does setting the fans correctly. I’ve also changed my work schedule so I’m in my air-conditioned office during the hottest part of the day instead of just the early morning.

Anyone who follows the teaching of Ernest Holmes has heard the expression, “Change your thinking and change your life.” Followers of  Science of Mind read books and take classes to learn how to pray effectively. Affirmative prayers change circumstances and solve problems. So does positive thinking. The key is to focus on the solution rather than the problem.

In Centers for Spiritual Living, we learn to use the power of our minds consistently to create positive results. We learn that there is a Power For Good and we can use it. We learn that our individual minds are connected to the One Mind. We learn that we are co-creating our lives.

We discover that positive thinking and affirmative prayer can actually bring improved circumstances into our lives because God is Love working through Spiritual Law. The Law of Attraction is always working and our prevailing belief system is creating our experience.

One aspect of powerful prayer is to see it so clearly in your mind and feel it so deeply in your heart that you accept it as real. Your prayer then closes with an expression of gratitude for the achieved goal. If you hold onto your belief, God does the work just as quickly as you can accept it.

The key is to look at what we want rather than obsess about what might go wrong or what we think is the problem. We cannot afford to be children stamping our feet and saying, “I don’t have what I want!” We need to be believers who are saying “Thank you God!” We need to trust in the power of prayer.

Many wonderful things happen when people focus on using spiritual law in their lives. Those who develop a habit of prayer and visualization attract great results because they are using unlimited God-power. Debt can change to wealth. Illness can change to health. Loneliness can change to love. All this comes through the Law of Attraction.

I have seen great demonstrations of the power to create new circumstances through consistent prayer and meditation during my years as a student and teacher of Science of Mind.  I know that the dedicated student achieves great results. Gratitude helps create dedicated students.  So do classes.

Classes are the best way to understand the concepts that lead to a consistent and satisfying use of mental power. This is the time of year to think about enrolling in a class at your local center or on-line. I am so grateful that it is now so easy for everyone to find an excellent class in this day and age.

When we focus on gratitude and look at desired solutions, rather than the problems, a great many good things happen. Great good can happen even if the condition cannot be changed completely. For example, I may not change the weather but I can accommodate myself to it. New solutions may become apparent. I may even decide to move North. The results of my prayer may not be exactly what I think I want, but I can gratefully celebrate the solution that emerges.

If I stamp my feet or whine because I can’t make it snow in September, I’ll be fighting the laws of nature and making myself miserable. Better to distract myself and move on. I can always choose to feel grateful for what I have and the results I get. That attitude will lift my spirits and make things better.

No matter how hopeless things look, prayer and positive thinking will create a better, not worse, situation. Stick with gratitude. It is the key to success.

Ask Yourself

What are my goals?

Do I believe they are possible with God’s help?

Do I have a solid knowledge of affirmative prayer?

How might I learn more?


I Am Freedom

nowIt started by marking the killing of Medgar Evers, then revisiting the March on Washington. I also went to see The Butler and last night,  I watched a PBS special on the music of the Civil Rights movement. I, (along with many of you) relived a fifty-year-old decade last week.

There was a lot going on in the Sixties. Dreams ignited everywhere and movements formed around those dreams. Sometimes the dreams collided with each other.

When the media tells the story, it is about just one aspect. In reality, there was a magnificent pattern happening. As I run the newsreel in my mind, I see a great flowing river of historical change. It is like watching the old ideas slip off the cliff and new ideas rise toward the limitless sky.

Social class slid down. Color blended. Conformity died. Change exploded fast and loud. It was the Sixties. I was a part of it and I have never been the same. Neither has the nation. Dr. Raymond Charles Barker tells us that a consciousness, once stretched, never returns to its original shape.

The Sixties were a visible, rebirth of ideas. Other movements sprouted in the wake of the Civil Rights decade; the women’s movement, the anti-war movement, and the gay rights movement all began in that decade. We wanted it all and it was confusing.

We are still a long way from having it all, but we haven’t returned to the original shape either. No matter how much our legislative dinosaurs struggle to erase progress, freedom will not be stopped. The cat is out of the bag. The fat lady sings.

The Sixties were a great moral victory for all of us. Afro-Americans deserve to be singled out, acknowledged and celebrated. Their unique story captures our hearts and demonstrates our best. Now we must connect the dots and see that poverty, easy guns, unjust laws, unequal sentences, and poor education are more than an just an incomplete picture. They are seeds of despair we do not want to see sprout. There is much more to do.

The Sixties featured a decade of young people in an inspiring reach toward freedom. It was also a decade of faith, courage, and connection. TV was a powerful new medium and so we all witnessed a great moral struggle. We saw that the black hats were on the white guys heads and vice versa. Clearly. We saw that Love says yes. Fear says not-so-fast.

I was 30 and I thought I knew things. I’d heard the facts and read my history. I listened to gospel and folk music. I’d even attended an interracial camp when I was 15. Bayard Rustin taught me protest songs. I had black colleagues who were friends.

I knew nothing. It was terrible to see those young men and women huddled to protect themselves while the police terrorized them. I’d long ago lost my Christian faith but I could see they were believers. I knew I couldn’t put my life on the line. Those kids shamed me.

TV cameras were magic then. We weren’t used to watching war while we ate supper. TV hastened change and stole our innocence.

It took us time to learn that the cameras couldn’t tell the whole story. Today, as I watch events, I am more sophisticated. I know I see  the tip of the iceberg. I know my channel leans left and someone else’s leans right. In those days, I was only suspected I was witnessing the great rebirthing of iealism. The women’s movement, the anti-war movement, the gay rights movement, and the civil rights movement were all part of my daily news. They all called for more freedom to exercise life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The loving connection between the  young people who risked their lives was the distinguishing aspect of the early Civil Rights Movement.  It was obvious those kids were living their Christian lessons they’d learned in their  churches. They were willing to turn the other cheek. They inspired white kids to join the movement. That brought more TV cameras.

We watched kids stand together and sing as they were beaten, then led off to jail.  Many adults did not even have courage to watch anymore. As a nation, we were shamed into changing.

Certainly, the civil rights of the Sixties was based on Christianity and the faith was impressive. Not all the ideas came straight from the Bible, however.  Many depended on the Transcendentalists who were our adopted ancestors. Our founder, Dr Ernest Holmes, was very inspired by  Ralph Waldo Emerson. Other Transcendentalists, including Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, and Walt Whitman,  can also claim a piece of the Sixties uprisings.

It was Emerson’s 1863 essay, Nature that set off our quest for self-reliance, self-trust, and the certainty that God is present everywhere. His essays  Self-Reliance, The OverSoul  and other topics presented influential ideas for  modern theologians and everyone else.

Emerson’s  friend, Henry David Thoreau wrote his1846  Essay of Civil Disobedience in a Concord, MA jail. Thoreau’s belief that an individual’s personal conscience was more important than civil law was exported to India where Ghandi adopted it as a rationale for fighting against Colonial rule. Thoreau influenced Ghandi and Ghandi influenced Dr. Martin Luther King. It was a circle of enlightenment and Civil Rights  was an uniquely American movement.

All the freedom movements of that era had roots in Emersonian values of self-reliance, self-trust, equality and dreams of a classless society. If you are a follower of New Thought, you are connected to the greatest minds and ideas the USA ever produced. Those ideas are alive and well today.

I am certain that if Thoreau was reincarnated into the Sixties, he was writing another manifesto from jail. Margaret Fuller certainly would have burned her corset and Walt Whitman would have been reading his poetry at the Stonewall Inn during the first gay resistance in 1969..

When we think of the 1960’s, we think of social action and breaking down the old society.  However, not all young Americans were sitting around San Francisco smoking dope. Nor were they all in Southern jails.

Many of them were reading, learning, believing and teaching ideas of self-reliance, inner guidance, and trusting yourself. The Bible was important to Civil Rights. Emerson and other the other Transcendentalists were also important. It took a lot of history to create a unique decade like that one.

Those freedom dreams of the Sixties are still pushing us. Yes, we have a black president. Yes, we have come a long way. Yes, there are some promises that are not yet realized. Yes, the dream is alive and well. Say Yes!

Ask Yourself

Do I feel free?

What would I need to believe to feel free?

What steps might I take toward the dream?

Do I feel connected?

What would I need to believe to feel connected?

What steps might I take?


A Freedom Tale

free I was seeking freedom when I got sober and I was seeking even more freedom when I returned to attending Religious Science church. At first, I was discouraged, but  I held onto the belief that prayer and spiritual principles might set me free. I was right.

Theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr is credited with the well-known prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I got sober sitting in Mexican living rooms with dirt floors, drinking coffee and saying that prayer at every meeting.

The Serenity Prayer was what I had to hang onto at first and I hung on tight. It wasn’t a bad beginning.  I had to look for support somewhere and  I desperately needed more courage, wisdom, and serenity. In the beginning, saying the Serenity Prayer, making gratitude lists, and living one day at a time kept me sober.

A couple of years after l was back in the United States, I started attending  Religious Science Centers in Albany and New York City.  I put the Serenity Prayer to the side a bit because I was learning about affirmations and new prayer treatments that seemed to promise more.

I was attracted to the teaching of Dr. Ernest Holmes because I had several unresolved situations in my life. When I began to study Science of Mind, I had money problems, was withdrawn and shy, and felt like a failure. I’d been in a close but difficult relationship for several years.

The relationship seemed to me to be my greatest problem. I had always wanted to get married and live happily-ever-after just like the story books promised .  My two marriages weren’t completely happy and they ended with the deaths of my husbands. That was part of my drinking story.  I’d latched onto a third prospect who seemed like he would be a fine husband if only…

I was miserable about the direction this love affair was going. I believed that I was trapped by my past decisions.  I was getting older and I believed my options were closing down. I had sad stories to tell to anyone who would listen.

Truth is, I’d quickly created a good life for myself in many other ways. Once I was sober, my writing career soared and I was doing very, very well. My health was good and I had a bit of money in the bank. Things were really looking up except I was still obsessing over this long-term relationship that wasn’t going anywhere and that I couldn’t imagine leaving.

We were bound to each other emotionally but there was too much pain so  I told us both I was taking a temporary place in  New York City to help my writing career. For the next year, I “visited” him on the weekends.

I revisited the Serenity Prayer as I learned  all about prayer based on New Thought principles. I learned that each of us is an individualized expression of God. No one can live another person’s life for him, no matter how much we may wish to. We all have freedom of choice.

I learned I couldn’t pray to make my lover change or do what I wanted. Up until then, I’d dreamed of writing the script and forcing him to speak his lines.   Even though it clearly wasn’t working, I was disappointed when I learned I could only control myself.

I found Dr. Raymond Charles Barker’s book, the  Power of Decision early in my studies. My favorite paragraph starts out, “You cannot cheer up chronically unhappy people…”

I felt as if Dr. Barker had written it personally for me. My lover was chronically depressed and we’d fallen into a pattern of me trying so very, very hard to cheer him up. This was before I knew the word, enabling, but that’s what I was doing.

Up until then, I wanted to use Science of Mind prayer and principles so he would change. Gently, my teacher introduced the idea that I was the only one I could change.

As she shared he wisdom, she promised me a new world if I used these spiritual principles correctly. I would become a person who created her life rather than a person that life happened to. I couldn’t quite believe that, but I was willing to try because I could see many things were better in my life.

It was very difficult for me to give up the idea of changing him. I couldn’t quite believe  I couldn’t convince him to live happily ever after. He wouldn’t even talk about positive living.  I kept hanging onto the idea that if I tried harder I could convince him to agree to my way.  It didn’t work.

Eventually, I understood my lover didn’t want to mold himself to my specifications. He had never promised me that. I had never promised to be what he wanted either. So we parted.

In retrospect, I see I was trapped in a fantasy of my own making. I wanted that happy ending and I wanted it to be my way. I also see my story did have a happy ending that depended on all three aspects of the Serenity Prayer – courage, serenity & wisdom.

I’d had the courage to change many things about myself. I stopped drinking and I built a successful life. I lacked serenity for a long time because I wanted what I wanted when I wanted it. I needed to gain wisdom to let go of an unrealistic dream. I needed to accept the truth that set me free.

That was all a long time ago. I’ve  lived happily ever after. Last time I heard,  he had a new lady and they were dancing to his old tune. I laughed when I heard that.

My only question might be what took me so long.  I think the answer was right there in the Serenity Prayer all along.

I had the courage to change but I couldn’t change another person, I gained the serenity to let go eventually and that helped but I wanted more than to endure in an unsatisfactory love affair. If I could rewrite this tale, I’d gain the wisdom I needed sooner.

Ah well, it took what it took. Change comes a little bit at a time for most of us. Every prayer works because it brings us closer to realization but most of us have to chip away at resistance when we tackle old, treasured ideas.

I tell this story to illustrate that prayer and spiritual principles bring freedom. I’m now living an entirely new story. How about you? What story are you living? Is it a happy one? Do you want to make some changes?

Ask Yourself

Have you ever used the Serenity Prayer?

Have you ever held on to a condition too long?

What do you want to pray for now?

What do you want to let go of now?


Change Happens

scan024As a part of my morning spiritual practice, I like to re-read a few pages of the classics. I am reading Treat Yourself to Life by Dr. Raymond Charles Barker today. On page 103 he says, “The most important thing for you to know about your mind is that it can change.”

I must have read the book at least a dozen times in the past twenty-five years and on this morning the simple statement that minds can change jumps out giving me some down-home wisdom.

Think about it – it is actually the nature of the mind to change. Human thought and beliefs change all the time. When we get new information, we switch our beliefs. We think the world is flat until we learn it is round. We think children are stupid until we understand they think differently. We think women belong in the kitchen until we see what they earn in the work place.

People get interested in New Thought principles because they want something new or different so they are not essentially resistant to change. But even the most open of us sometimes hit resistance? If that happens, what do we do? Here are some tips…

Don’t complain. Refrain from telling yourself or others how difficult it is to change your mind.

Go back to basics and remind yourself that minds can change – it is what they do. This is the time to double up on your spiritual practice and thank God for any progress. All your mind needs more information.

Remind yourself of your goals. Won’t it be wonderful when you switch from fear to love? From financial struggle to prosperity? From ailing to healthy? Never give up!

If you are near a Center For Positive Living or other New Thought church you can get the support you need. They offer wonderful wisdom talks and sociable gatherings on Sundays. You can connect with others and learn about their successes. That’s the kind of information that will help you change your mind.

Consistent attention to this wisdom teaching is important. If you don’t see dramatic changes, be patient. Enlightenment comes in mini-drops for most people, including me.  One day at a time, one insight at a time, and we can go far. The changes keep coming and our ability to use Infinite Power keeps increasing.

If you need help understanding and using the teaching, my book, Science of Mind Skills, gives you the basic concepts. It is laid out simply and the ideas the build on each other. There are short exercises and affirmative prayers. It is set up for independent study and you can buy it in your church bookstore or on this website.

As I  look back I see that my understanding deepened in small increments and in many ways. Certain moments in my own journey stand out for me. Early on, Dr. Carol Carnes told me we don’t treat for things, we treat for the consciousness to attract and hold on to what we desire. I’ve always been grateful to her because until then, it seemed to me that people only used prayer to get a new car or better boyfriend. Dr. Carol pointed the way to a spiritual expansion that I truly desired.

Another time, Dr. Robert Bitzer, former President of RSI and a colleague of Dr. Ernest Holmes explained to a group that the Science of Mind Textbook wasn’t really difficult to read. He said sometimes Dr. Holmes wrote on the absolute level and other times on the relative level (our human experience). Maybe that’s a simple idea but it helped me understand what I was reading.

It is amazing  how a simple statement can be easy to ignore until light strikes and the door to wisdom opens. This morning, Dr. Barker’s words lit me up!  We may believe change is difficult but it is really easy. Minds change – that’s what they do.

We  choose to give our mind new direction through our spiritual practice. We pay attention and set aside  time to create new pathways toward a deeper understanding of how Spirit impacts our lives. We don’t need to push the river after all.

There was a time when I thought I should use will power to pray to fix my life. Up until then, my achievements mostly came through will power and hard work. I thought I had make it happen. It was really a new idea to imagine, believe and accept that God did the work.

Once we really get it that God is Love working through Spiritual Law and that Spiritual Law is responding to our prevailing belief system, we have the basic knowledge for creating a happier, healthier, wealthier and more creative and loving life.  It is important to consistently deepen our understanding of that basic belief.

I am happier, more self-loving, more in awe of life, and less frightened now. Trusting God is a continuing process in my life. I write this blog because I want as many people on this planet as possible to have the wisdom that Science of Mind teaches. Learning to look at the world from a spiritual perspective is so empowering.

Our teaching is all about accepting the best and in order to do that, we must accept new information about life. We seek spiritual information from prayer, other people’s talks, workshops, classes, and eventually everywhere we look we can see the goodness of life.

I’ve been around a long time and I’m still getting new insights. I believe in continuing education and  I wish everyone would continue reading and meditating and praying even if they think they know it all. Wisdom deepens.  Life just gets better and better with spiritual practice and that’s why I’m writing my new book on the subject.

Spiritual practice refreshes our minds and brings us new information. Sometimes we need to release old idea before we can accept new goodness. New information is a part of the process. We cling to the old ideas out of habit or ignorance until we  learn better ways. Releasing old ideas, even those we’ve held since childhood, doesn’t have to be difficult. All we need is to open up to new information.

Changing our minds is not a struggle or a puzzle. Our minds are built to change! Learning more is the most human and natural thing in the world. One of the great gifts of living in this 21st century is the knowledge that we are never stuck. Our minds will change and we stretch and grow because it is our nature. Life is a journey and the quest is for greater wisdom.

Ask Yourself

Where do I think I am I stuck?

What belief stands in the way?

Am I willing to switch it?

What’s a better belief?