The Choice is Yours - Always
Last week, Rev. Joanne began telling us the story of “The Gift of the Accident” from the book Lessons from the Turtle, Living Life Right Side Up1 by Steve Goodier. We met Turtle, who had slipped on a loose rock and found himself upside down on his back, not knowing what to do. He was visited by Owl who gave him the hope of a new perspective by asking him to “open his eyes” and see the sky in a new way.
Turtle is still unsure of things. Even with his new perspective, he does not understand how he has ended up in his current situation. Owl tells him something that is at one and the same time frightening and empowering – that we all have the ability to make choices in life and each choice brings us new opportunities and challenges. Owl explains:
Not every choice will work out as you expect, but in the end the choices you make will make you. There is a hidden gift in your accident. You have discovered that you possess the power to choose your way through life. You did not need to follow another’s path, for not every path is right your you, and if you get out of this predicament then you may choose yet later to follow different paths.
. . . Now that your eyes are opened, you can begin to live, live as you never have before. Perhaps your accident was no accident, for in it is a gift. A gift in the form of a lesson which, if applied, can change the rest of your life. The gift of the accident is the lesson of choice. Those who understand the gift will choose their own ways through life.
In accepting this gift and applying it in our lives, Goodier explains that recognizing the ability to choose is to accept responsibility for ourselves, and that responsibility is nothing more than the ability to respond. When life is unfair, and it often can be unfair, we have the ability to choose whether we want to hold ourselves in victim consciousness or that of a victor.
It is important to understand that even when we do choose to release ourselves from the self-defeating effects of victim consciousness, that in no way means that we are ignoring the realities of any external forces that have put us at a disadvantage. Nor does it mean that those who may be responsible for unfair treatment should not be held accountable. What it does mean, however, is that we must not be looking for reasons why, and places where, we have been victimized where they do not exist. It also means that we must not in our turn lash out at innocent people and now become victimizers ourselves. From the Sermon on the Mount:
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘Hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Do not even tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even Gentiles do the same? Matthew 5:43-47
Jesus did not mince words. He knew very well that this, the greatest Law, is the hardest of all to follow. Jesus was not saying people should ignore wrong doing. He just did not want to hear the inevitable, ‘yeah, but . . . he did this, she did that . . .’ It is by forgiveness and loving one’s neighbor as themselves that victim consciousness is truly released.
Rev. Joanne reminds us that by using the Twelve Powers dyad of Will/Understanding that we learned from Philip Pierson2 (see blog posting for May 17, 2020), that we have the power to rise above victimhood and to the the victor in our lives – Will being the ability to choose, and Understanding the ability to apply the wisdom of Truth principles. The term ‘victor’ does not imply winning a battle or competition, but rather that we have become victorious in our own lives by taking responsibility for how we behave and act in the world from a place of love.
In his book Life Visioning: A Transformative Process for Activating Your Unique Gifts and Highest Potential3, Michael Beckwith outlines four stages of spiritual growth – 1) Victim consciousness, 2) Victor consciousness, 3) Vessel, or manifesting consciousness and 4) Being consciousness. Beckwith tells us that victim consciousness is a perspective of ‘what is happening to me?’ and that victor consciousness requires us to ask a different question, ‘why is this happening for me?’ While we are in the depths of experiencing something unpleasant, the second question can seem not just impossible to answer, but impossible even to ask. That is understandable.
Rev. Joanne gives us this pearl of wisdom, “Victimization does happen. The important thing to learn is that we can decide not to remain in that moment. We can choose how to respond to those external realities – from (spiritual) power, love, and compassion.”
She also cautions us to be wary of unintentionally engaging in ‘metaphysical malpractice.’ If, for example, we are experiencing a health challenge it is not correct to think that something in our consciousness drew the experience of ill-health to us. Nor would it be correct to believe that lack consciousness alone is responsible for financial trouble. What is true, is that if we do have a less than healthy self image, our actions are then dictated by that. The self-image in and of itself does not cause illness or lack of abundance.
As discussed last week, there may be external forces beyond our control that contribute to these, but in transcending victim consciousness and avoiding metaphysical malpractice, we must first recognize our error thinking and as Goodier tells us through Owl in “The Gift of the Accident,” we always have the ability to choose how we respond. Let us choose love.
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. Romans 13:11-14
Discern where you are ready for a change. Consider where you have contributed to the current situation. Deny: “I am not a victim.” Affirm: “I can make changes.” I will change the situation. I choose to be joy. Be responsible for your choices this week.
1Goodier, Steve, Lessons of the Turtle, Living Right Side Up, Life Support System Pub Inc, 2002.
2Pierson, Phillip, The Twelve Freedoms: An Understandable Path to Total Freedom, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 16, 2015).
3Beckwith, Michael, Life Visioning: A Transformative Process for Activating Your Unique Gifts and Highest Potential, True Sounds Press (May 1, 2013).