Musings On The Path: Daily Spiritual Reading; February 8-14
February 8: Getting Past Guilt
“Maybe there’s more we all could have done, but we just have to let the guilt remind us to do better next time.” Veronica Roth
Guilt serves a purpose in life. It is the warning beacon that signals you when your thoughts, words or actions are not serving your highest purpose. Many times, it’s easy to get caught up in chronic, life-long, gut wrenching guilt. This prolonged, self-inflicted agony serves no purpose in your life, but to make you miserable.
For many years, I struggled with guilt. Mostly I felt guilty for not being a better mother. With eight children, I have plenty of opportunity to beat myself up over my shoddy parenting skills. I would constantly second guess my decisions, certain that my children would fail in life because of my bad parenting. One day, I read a book about forgiving your parents. The book reminded me that my parents did the best job raising me that they knew how to do, using the tools they learned from their own parents. During my prayer and meditation time, I gently thanked my parents for doing their best. I realized that I too, am doing the best job I know how to do. How my children live their lives is a reflection of their choices, not my parenting skills. While I still struggle with occasional feelings of guilt, it is no longer a yoke around my neck. I don’t allow guilt to burden me every day. I don’t need a reminder of my failings as a mother, as a wife, as a friend, or as a person. Like everyone else, I am doing the best job I can.
Today, let go of guilt. You don’t have to feel perpetually guilty about anything. If you have done something wrong, make amends. Change your path. Apologize to the person you have hurt. Once you have apologized and made amends, the need for guilt has passed. Guilt has done its job and you can release it. Now, get on with your life, guilt free.
February 9: Simplify
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” Hans Hoffman
God speaks in a still, small voice. Many times our lives are so frenetic that we miss the message of the Universe. Maybe it’s time to slow down and listen. Maybe it’s time to simplify. Life gets busy with work, kids, school, household chores, volunteer activities, lunches and social activities. The list of what keeps you busy would make your head spin, if you had time to sit down and look at it.
In between all those appointments and various demands on your time, you try to listen, but you’re just so busy. There are so many important things, it’s hard to know how to make life more simple. What is important and what can you give up?
Prioritize. Be honest with yourself about what is truly important. Take a close look at where you spend your time, energy and money. Does the list of where you spend your resources reflect what you say are your top priorities?
For me, quiet study time is a top priority. If I don’t feel connected and inspired, then how can I connect to and inspire others? Another priority for me is exercise. When my blood is pumping and I am sweating, I feel energized and healthy. Bu how do I balance those priorities with my desire to spend time with my family and the need to work?
In order to spend the time I need in prayer, meditation and study, I get up every morning by 4:30. That may sound crazy, but what it gives me is an opportunity to start the day inspired. Following my reading, I exercise. Before my family wakes up, I have accomplished two of my top priorities. Honestly, starting the day in such a manner makes it hard to be in a bad mood. Inspiration and endorphins are exhilarating. I am a much better person when I start the day with my heart open and my blood flowing.
In the search for simplicity you may have to sacrifice some good things. That is okay. You can say no to some social engagements. I left a well-paying but highly stressful job, in order to spend more time with my family. I enjoyed the work but I spent most evenings and weekends away from home. My priority was and is my family, and I needed to make a change to reflect that.
Simplicity requires sacrifice. When you seek to simplify you will learn that it is okay to say no. Saying no to demands on your time is saying yes to your own priorities. When you finally slow down, you will once again be able to hear that small, still voice.
Today, examine your priorities. What is most important to you? Does your life reflect that? Look at ways to simplify, and seek to spend more time on what is truly important to you.
February 10: Exploring Your Creativity
“Creativity takes courage.” Henry Matisse
According to God, in the book, “Conversations With God,” the deepest secret, the truest truth, is that life is not a process of discovery, such as discovering who you are, or discovering your purpose, but rather it is a process of creation. In the book, God goes on to say the one purpose we all have in this life is to experience the fullest glory through our own creation.
Before getting offended, or decrying the idea as blasphemous, stop and think a moment. Creativity, is the very basis of life itself. Our greatest experience of our lives is through the creative process. Everyone has imagination, creativity, and inspiration. Often, these gifts get lost, ignored or devalued in the pursuit of seemingly more important endeavors.
You are always in the process of creating. Creative energy exists in every person. What you do is a statement to the Universe about who you are. The words you speak, the thoughts you think, the actions you undertake; all of these things proclaim your individual creativity.
Creativity is not the exclusive realm of poets and painters. You have a gift for the world. Whether you develop that gift to the fullest expression of yourself or you hide in fear, you do have a gift. That cannot be denied. You express your creativity in a variety of ways. Writing, drawing, speaking, singing, or even solving a complex problem; these are all creative expressions. The form your creativity takes in unimportant. Put your imagination to use and dare to express your true self.
Today is a day to celebrate the gift of your life and your creation. Turn away from negativity, self-doubt and fear. Embrace the creativity that dwells within you, and dare to express who you truly are.
February 11: Sweet Surrender
“At fifteen life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honorable as resistance, especially if one had no choice.” Maya Angelou
For many years, I struggled with surrender. I wanted control over my life. I didn’t want to appear weak. I wanted to know the plan. As I struggled, my nose buried deep in the bible, I rallied against God, shaking my fist at the unfair and unloving circumstances of my life.
When I finally turned my back on twenty years of abuse, and walked out the door, I absolutely surrendered my life to God, to the Universe, to a Higher Power. There was nothing left for me to do, and no plan at all. I had no control. I asked God for helped, and he helped me in my darkest hour. He didn’t speak from a booming voice in the clouds. His answer came in the form of people around me, willing to help.
Now, when I am feeling stressed and out of balance, I ask the Holy Spirit to help me see things differently. I admit that I don’t like the way I feel and I ask for help. God is always faithful. He provides help when I seek him, and even sometimes when I don’t.
God says he will speak to you, if you listen. He will answer you if you ask. Surrendering to a Higher Power is a frightening thought. It means letting go of control. It means realizing that you really have no control over anything but yourself. Surrendering to a Higher Power means that you don’t have all the answers. Don’t worry. The answers will come to you when you need them.
Today, attempt to let go of control and surrender into something greater than yourself. Allow your life to flow, without trying to micro-manage and control every aspect. Ask for help, then wait and see what arrives as an answer.
February 12: Banishing Blame
“If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for the Creator, there is no poverty.” Ranier Maria Rilke
Most of us have been blamed and we have assigned blame to others. The problem with assigning or assuming fault, is that it never works.
When a person does something wrong, they usually know it. And most people waste no time in punishing themselves with guilt. Adding your blame will not help the person. It will only make them and you feel worse. And if you should wrongly blame someone, you will both feel badly.
I once blamed a neighbor child for stealing something from my home, only to find it days later. My own children had misplaced it and forgotten. The sorrow, guilt and humiliation of wrongly blaming that innocent child still haunts me today. I did go to her and her mother to apologize, but the damage to our friendship had been done.
Blaming never helps. We all make mistakes. People do not need their errors, wrong doings and faults pointed out. They already know, in great detail, all of their misdeeds and shortcomings. What we all need is an extra measure of understanding, compassion and forgiveness.
Assigning blame leaves little room for forgiveness. Instead of blaming yourself for your shortcomings, or blaming others for their mistakes, approach each situation with understanding and compassion. Seek to offer forgiveness.
Today offers you an opportunity to practice forgiveness. Overlook an opportunity to blame, and instead, offer compassion and forgiveness. Don’t say anything when it would be easy to point out a flaw. Don’t pile on criticism when someone makes an error. Instead, offer peace and forgiveness. In this way, you can offer and receive healing.
February 13: Trusting Your Intuition
“Cease trying to work everything out with your minds. It will get you nowhere. Live by intuition and inspiration and let your whole life be Revelation.” Eileen Caddy
People often say they wish God would speak to people as he did in biblical times. God still speaks. It is up to each of us, whether we will listen and choose to hear his voice. That little voice inside your head? The feeling deep in the pit of your stomach? The things you know with certainty? Those things demonstrate different ways that your Higher Power communicates to you.
As you listen to and heed the directing of God in your life, you become part of his bigger, richer plan for your life. God will give you direction. It is up to you to travel the path he sets before you. That is the beauty of free will. You have a choice whether you will follow your intuition and inspiration or forge ahead on some other path.
While working as a waitress, I often waited upon a business man from another city. He would conduct business lunches while I quietly served him and his associates. Following one meeting, I had a sudden and powerful thought that I needed to tell him that I would be a valuable asset to his team. As soon as the thought entered my mind, I began arguing with myself.
“You’re just a waitress. You don’t have anything to offer. You don’t even know what kind of business he’s in.”
The thought persisted strongly, that I needed to talk to him before he left, but I continued arguing internally, vehemently expressing why it was a stupid idea. Just as he was rising to leave, I mustered up all my courage, took a deep breath and blurted, “Jimmy, I would be a valuable asset to your team.”
He looked at me and agreed. That was the beginning of a life changing relationship. No only did I get a great job, but I learned my own strengths, gifts and talents. The small voice in my head told me what to say. All I had to do was listen. Once I took that small step, the Universe conspired in my favor to change my life forever.
Today, listen to that small, still voice. Not every intuitive step will be transformational. Some may only be minor course corrections. You can’t know ahead of time which hints of intuition will change your life, but you surely wouldn’t want to miss it. Listen, and follow the counsel of your Higher Power.
February 14: The Power of Love
“The way of peace is the way of love. Love is the greatest power on earth. It conquers all things.” Peace Pilgrim
Throughout the ages, the message is the same. From every wise man, every teacher, sage, poet and healer. Every spiritual writing, every word of wisdom. The messenger may change, but the song remains the same. We must love one another.
Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. He also says to love your enemies. But what does love look like? It’s not a tangible thing. It’s not something you can see. It’s not something you can buy or sell or force someone to feel. In many texts, it has been written that love is the answer. They say that God is love. How do you experience the power of love?
You experience the transformational power of love when you choose love. It is as easy and as difficult as that. As you walk through life, choose love. Instead of feeling irritated or victimized, consciously choose to extend thoughts of love to those around you. Rather than berate your spouse for overdrafting the checking account, or working too late, send loving thoughts. When someone steals your great parking spot, offer love instead of irritation. When your boss treats you unfairly, return thoughts of love.
By consciously choosing love, you connect to every being on a different level. God loves all his creation. Every being, every mistake, every glory. God is love. In an instant, you can choose to offer God’s love to every being you encounter. Angry coworkers. Barking dogs. Strangers. Friends. Family. Enemies. Offer them all thoughts of love.
While working in a coffee shop, I once tried an experiment. Rahter than dread the grumpy customers, I decided to greet everyone with the same offering of love: Namaste. It is a Sanskrit word that means, “The Spirit that dwells in me greets the Spirit that dwells in you.”
As each person approached the counter with their order, I silently offered, “Namaste,” along with my customary smile. The change in my customers and in myself was remarkable. Rather than dreading any one person, I looked forward to a silent offering of love for each one. It change my outlook on everyone.
Today you have a choice. Share love or don’t. Chances are, when you move forward in love, you will be more peaceful, more happy and more light in every situation. Today, you can choose love.