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On every spiritual path there comes the point where we must learn to trust God. We have to learn to let go and know that a Loving Creator has our best interests at heart. Sometimes life throws something at us that requires us to surrender and trust. Sometimes we choose to lean to trust because we know more doors will open in our lives.
When we go to bed at night, we know that gravity will not stop working or all the oxygen disappear from the air sometime during the night. Would it not be nice to have this trust that God will not only take care of things, but make them as grand as we can imagine? We trust that our food will cook when we heat it. Why not trust that God will transform anything we need into something even better?
When learning to swim, we learn to trust that we can float. Can we take that lesson and trust our feelings as we learned to trust the water? Can we learn to trust life to sustain us and provide for our growth?
Of course we must combine discernment with trust. We know the unexpected email we got telling us we won a lottery we never heard of is not something to trust. And learning to trust our own feelings will give us the discernment not to trust the person who is lying to us.
Trusting God is giving God permission to do wonderful things in our lives. We are God’s beloved children. How can it be otherwise?
Joy is more than happiness. It is the knowledge that all is right in the world. Even when we know that there is a lot in the world that is not what we would call right. It is the acceptance that everyone is experiencing his or her spiritual path. It is the acceptance that our own lives are good and that we are learning our intended lessons from them.
Living with joy means we make a choice not to suffer. It does not mean our lives are free of hardships. It means that we choose not to waste the experience but to learn from it.
Practicing joy is not difficult. It is making the choice to be grateful for our blessings, and to be happy about life. Like practicing gratitude, practicing joy is a habit that becomes automatic after a while.
Often in life, we are in situations that could be called less than joyful. We can still make the choice to live a joyful life. We can also, at the same time, work on changing the situation. If we are in an unpleasant job, we should be trying to change that if possible. Being joyful does not mean being a martyr to suffering. It is instead a refusal to suffer and the confidence to know we write our own happy endings. Often, joy will help us improve a situation. Not only can our joy spread to those around us but employers are more likely to hire the joyful person and other joyful people will want to form relationships with us. We do not find joy in life. We choose joy.
Many of us in the consciousness raising movement become very focused on ourselves to the point of forgetting to respect others. But the path to enlightenment means we must learn the lesson of respecting all creation, including others and ourselves. A big part of loving is respecting.
We must first respect ourselves. As divine creations, God loves us wholly and unconditionally. So, if we were so beloved of God, why would we not treat ourselves with respect? By respecting ourselves, we understand and forgive our own mistakes. After all, that is how we learn. We respect ourselves by taking good care of ourselves. Our bodies are the temples of God.
We must also respect others. We are all at various parts of our spiritual paths. Some of us have learned a lot and some have a lot to learn. Often, we do not know where we stand on that continuum. And, just as we are unhappy with those who conduct themselves as if no one else matters, we must remember to conduct ourselves while remembering everyone around us is beloved of God and deserves respect as such.
Finally, we must be respectful of all creation. Actions we perform and choices we make always affect the world we live in. We need to think about our choices and what their effects are. Are we attempting to live sustainably? Are we trying to reduce our impact on the environment? Are we avoiding exploitation of other cultures? But we must also be gentle with ourselves on how we are able to live within our current means. Being militant about a green lifestyle might stress us more than is healthy. We must do the best we can.
This brings us full circle back to respecting ourselves.
Bridging is the joining with others. It can be between us as individuals to other individuals or it can be between our families and other families or it can be between our nation and other nations. It is an acknowledgment of the oneness of all. We can explore this joining in a contemplation of how we can cultivate peace and harmony in our lives. Then we can spread that peace and harmony to others. The ripples we create will continue to radiate outward. We also bridge between periods in our lives. Graduation, marriage, and retirements are all bridges from one period to another. We celebrate these events and eagerly go forth into the next period of our lives. We have bridges between concepts. We learn something that allows us to move into a new belief system. We let go of something that takes us away from an old belief system that no longer works for us. On our spiritual paths we will cross many bridges as we move from one learning to another. At the same time we will become aware of the infinite number of bridges that connect us all. Through these processes we will connect with others, for varying amounts of time, as we move through life.
God has filled the entire world with inspiration: beauty, flowers, majestic mountains, and sunsets. Other people also inspire with their creations of art, music, film, speech. There is no lacking for inspiration.
If we are having trouble being inspired, we can always look back at what last inspired us. Savor that feeling. Then recreate it.
Just as others can inspire us we can inspire others. Going through life with the positive emotions of love, joy, and gratitude will give others the inspiration to do the same. This will lead to all of us accomplishing good things for the world, both great and small.
We sometimes need to seek out inspiration. Study the lives of those whom you admire. What is inspiring about them? What were their attitudes like? How did they face adversity? We can also look back at our own lives for inspiration. How did we face a challenge in our past? Who inspired us then? Who was inspired by us and told us so?
We can always ask God for inspiration. It may come as something surprising that we never expected. Or, it may come by us suddenly, noticing something in our world that was always there but we never quite noticed before until now.
We show courage in many aspect of life. It takes courage to look at ourselves honestly and decide what to do. It takes courage to go on and do what needs to be done.
Every time we respond to something that challenges us, we show courage. It is easy to not take on challenges or to just give up in the face of them. It takes courage to face them, whether we chose them or not.
Be with your feelings in the face of adversity. Acknowledge how you feel, then sum up the courage, or pray for the courage, to do what has to be done.
It takes courage to make an effort to make a change in the world, no matter how small or large the change. There are always adversaries arguing for things to stay the same. Do not waste energy on anger or ill feeling for these adversaries. They lack the courage you have. Instead, bless them and save your energy for being brave.
Having courage is not about being fearless. Having courage is about facing the fear and going on to do what needs to be done. Courage goes hand-in-hand with faith because those living a courageous life know that they do not face challenges alone. They believe that God would never give them more than they can handle.