Change Can Be Good
This week, Rev. Joanne continues with the fourth talk of her six-part series based on the book The Twelve Freedoms1 by Unity minister Phillip Pierson. Discussing what Pierson calls the “Executive” dyad of Will & Understanding, she reminds us that as intelligent, sentient beings, we have the ability to choose our thoughts – to “change our minds.”
As with all of the dyads from The Twelve Freedoms, this week’s dyad has an active component, Will, and a supportive component, Understanding. Rev. Joanne begins by discussing Understanding, as the foundation upon which, and source from which, our choices in life are made. She explains that, for her, the power of Understanding is knowing that God is standing under everything in our lives and in the cosmos.
One of the most profound forms of expression in human language is poetry. Poetry has the ability to touch us at a deep level of emotional, psychological, and spiritual feeling that other writing cannot. For our meditation this week, Rev. Joanne chose the classic poem, I Am There2, by James Dillett Freeman. The full text is included here:
Do you need Me?
I am there.
You cannot see Me, yet I am the light you see by.
You cannot hear Me, yet I speak through your voice.
You cannot feel Me, yet I am the power at work in your hands.
I am at work, though you do not understand My ways.
I am at work, though you do not recognize My works.
I am not strange visions. I am not mysteries.
Only in absolute stillness, beyond self, can you know Me as I am, and then but as a feeling and a faith.
Yet I am there. Yet I hear. Yet I answer.
When you need Me, I am there.
Even if you deny Me, I am there.
Even when you feel most alone, I am there.
Even in your fears, I am there.
Even in your pain, I am there.
I am there when you pray and when you do not pray.
I am in you, and you are in Me.
Only in your mind can you feel separate from Me, for only in your mind are the mists of “yours” and “mine.”
Yet only with your mind can you know Me and experience Me.
Empty your heart of empty fears.
When you get yourself out of the way, I am there.
You can of yourself do nothing, but I can do all.
And I am in all.
Though you may not see the good, good is there, for I am there.
I am there because I have to be, because I am.
Only in Me does the world have meaning; only out of Me does the world take form; only because of Me does the world go forward.
I am the law on which the movement of the stars and the growth of living cells are founded.
I am the love that is the law's fulfilling. I am assurance. I am peace. I am oneness. I am the law that you can live by. I am the love that you can cling to. I am your assurance. I am your peace. I am one with you. I am.
Though you fail to find Me, I do not fail you.
Though your faith in Me is unsure, My faith in you never wavers, because I know you, because I love you.
Beloved, I am there.
Rev. Joanne explained that Freeman received the inspiration to write I Am There during the death of his first wife Katherine. As is often the case for many of us, inspiration came for Freeman from unusual and challenging external circumstances. However, as Freeman himself says in I Am There, the love and strength of God is available to us at all times, whether we believe it is or not. When we understand this, we are then able to use this support to inform our lives and our choices.
Right now, today, I am experiencing unusual, challenging, external circumstances. Perhaps you are too? This thing most of us have heard of called the Covid-19 global pandemic is external, unusual, and definitely challenging. But as Freeman so eloquently reminds us, God is here within this situation too.
The executive dyad of Will & Understanding helps to explain how we can make our way through this situation and come out the other side as better people – individuals, nations, and as a species. Rev. Joanne explains that Will is what we “intend” to have happen in our lives, and that “Will Power” is the ability to use reflective thought in a focused way. This use of the term Will Power should not be confused with the idea that will power is discipline demonstrated by refraining from chocolate cake for dessert every night, for example.
Spiritual Understanding harmonizes us with our Will and all of our other spiritual faculties. As already mentioned, spiritual Understanding is the knowing that God is with us at all times. But it also means that we have intellectual knowledge and experience obtained throughout our lives to know what best course of action to take.
Using any skill or faculty is enhanced through deliberate use and practice. Rev. Joanne provided an example most people can relate to – learning to drive. Driving a car is a complex task. Speed, direction, stopping distance, brake pressure, shifting gears (a reference for us geezers who learned on a stick shift), and checking your mirrors are things that all new drivers concentrate on very consciously. But as we gain experience, these skills become second nature. And, as we rack up the miles behind the wheel, we experience many different driving conditions – rainy, icy, bright sun in your eyes, night, long straight flat in the desert, winding ups and downs in the mountains – and as we do, we are then able to draw upon those experiences in the future to help us to safely navigate our way. This is directly analogous to learning to use our spiritual Understanding to support the choices made by our Will. The more often we listen to God as our “senior advisor” the easier it becomes. And, not surprisingly, the better our decisions become.
So where does “changing our minds” come into play? Using the example at hand, the Covid-19 pandemic, we can choose to approach our reaction to the outer from a place grounded in worry, doubt, fear, mistrust, and helplessness. Or, we can choose to approach it from a place grounded in God, faith, love, harmony and peace. As mentioned in previous blogs, choosing to ground oneself in a positive, affirmative way does not mean that we can expect for everything to turn out perfectly, or that we need not do anything ourselves to work toward the outcomes we desire. No rose-tinted glasses. What is does mean is that when we roll up our sleeves to get the work done – do what is ours to do – that we have spiritual Understanding guiding our Will, and with that supporting our actions, we maximize our ability to have a positive impact.
In addition to approaching life from an affirmative place of faith, love, and God, changing one’s mind in the context of spiritual Understanding can also mean holding a different opinion based on new information, experiences, or conditions. Too often, people view someone changing their mind as being a weakness, or as flip-flopping. Isn’t it interesting though, that such opinions of others are usually reserved for when their opinions now differ from our own, but when another’s new opinion now agrees with our own, they have just finally “seen the light?”
Two of the most difficult things for people to do in life are to say “I’m sorry,” and to say “I was wrong.” Changing one’s mind does not always involve needing to apologize or acknowledging being incorrect, but when it does, making such admissions is not a weakness, but demonstrates the maturity to understand that the world is a complex, changing thing and that life is for learning and growing.
God does indeed stand under everything. This week, I will make a conscious effort to see precisely how God is moving in, through, and as the world we see, particularly in situations where disagreements occur. This will provide me with ample opportunities to “change my mind” by approaching life not from a place of fear, but from a God-centered perspective, and when appropriate, to “change my mind” based on new information and experiences.
But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29
Take time this week to meditate/contemplate the executive dyad of Will and Understanding. Consider where you have given up your power to choose, especially daily habits. Take a step each day to increase Understanding of Truth, and make choices from that awareness.
1Pierson, Phillip, The Twelve Freedoms: An Understandable Path to Total Freedom, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 16, 2015).
2Freeman, James Dillet, I Am There, 1947.