joy, peace

True source of joy and peace

Sometimes in life it can seem like everything is good and going well and the next minute or hour or day, that is a distant memory and doubt or fear or frustration or other negative thinking creeps in and takes over.  I remember this happening once when I was feeling down and talking to a friend, whom I had spoken too just hours before when things were great and he said, “Seriously – what changed??”  

What he meant was that if we know that God, Good, Love is the source of all good and the true, constant and permanent source of our joy and peace – what could change?  I know God to be the source of joy and peace and that those are qualities we inherently possess, because we were created in God’s image and likeness (according to Genesis 1).  So they are a part of us and must be constant and permanent because those are also qualities of God that we reflect. I thought of his comment about “what changed” one morning as I was trying to figure out how the day before I went from having a great day to a lousy evening.

That day, I was so sure of my source of good and joy and felt totally at peace when I started my day, and that carried throughout my day of service work.  But then in the evening I chatted with a different friend who said some things that really bothered and frustrated me, and then I got mad and down on myself for being so bothered and frustrated… and in all this my thought was definitely not very focused on God, my true source of good.  

So while reflecting back on this, I came across this statement from Mary Baker Eddy which appeared in that week’s Bible lesson:

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus xx. 3.) The First Commandment is my favorite text. It demonstrates Christian Science. It inculcates the tri-unity of God, Spirit, Mind; it signifies that man shall have no other spirit or mind but God, eternal good, and that all men shall have one Mind. The divine Principle of the First Commandment bases the Science of being, by which man demonstrates health, holiness, and life eternal.

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 340

I thought about the first commandment in a different way… what was it that I making another god?  Was I saying that this friend who had said those things was my source of joy or peace (and they failed)?  Wouldn’t that be attributing power, cause, source to something other than the one all-powerful, all-loving God?  

When I realized that, I started to feel more peaceful and more joyful.  I realized that this person had no control over my happiness.  And the more I focused on God, as the true source of joy, the more I felt closer to God and more at peace.  So now I’m on the lookout for what I might be making false gods – friends, sleep, money, home… basically anything that at any moment I give power to or think of as my source of some quality – love, energy, supply, peace… and turning it around to realize that God is our ultimate source of all good.

What are you making a false god?  

be still, understanding, Understanding the Divine

Leave the rumination to the cows…

Do you ever get stuck mulling over an idea imagining how it could play out in all the different ways… or replaying a conversation and thinking of all the ways you could have responded better?  When making a decision do you think about each option to the nth degree of all the pros and cons, shoulds and shouldn’ts…. ?

10917429_10152867405261195_383835598213814307_nSometimes when I find myself doing this, it almost feels like I’m not in control of my own
thought… I just keep turning it over and over… thinking and thinking… or ruminating on it. Rumination is a term used for cows and other ruminant animals such as sheep, goats, water buffalo, dear, elk, giraffes and camels.  These animals all have a different way to digest food than we do as humans… they have four stomachs and can store food so they can come back to it later to chew on it again… it’s called chewing the cud.

This is what we do with thoughts or ideas when we ruminate on them…  They come back to us over and over to keep thinking about or wrestle with…

So, how do we stop this cycle?  I have found a couple of ideas helpful in these situations. 1424359_10151969692561195_895510265_n One idea is what I believe is one of Mary Baker Eddy’s greatest contributions to understanding the concept of God better.  She gives several synonyms for God that are Bible based – one is Mind.  Divine Mind. Now, it doesn’t state God is Mind in the Bible, like it says “God is Love”(John 4:8) or “God is Spirit” (John 4:24)… but God is referred to as embodying many several attributes of Mind such as all-knowing, wise and possessing infinite understanding, and having good counsel and righteous judgment (or discernment).

Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, Or as His counselor has informed Him? With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge And informed Him of the way of understanding?  (Isaiah 40:13-14)

He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite. (Psalm 147:4-5)

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the lord, or who became his counselor? (Romans 11:33-34)

For who has known the mind of the lord, that he will instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)

Given that God is Mind, possessing wisdom and knowledge and infinite understanding means that we, as His/Her reflection, created in His/Her image and likeness (Gen 1:27) – we can know all that we need to about any situation if we listen for that Divine guidance of the all-knowing, and know that understanding is an inherent quality/ability within us as reflections of Mind.

How do we listen when our mind is spinning in circles of rumination?  Just as Jesus was 58 Kenya - Nairobi - Giraffe park - feeding Daisy 3able to still the storm when out on the boat with the disciples (see Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41), we can still the storms of thought by knowing God as Mind and knowing that we reflect and express the qualities of Mind.  Can you imagine God as ruminating or having a storm of thoughts, or does God have peace of mind?  As Mind’s reflection, we can and do express that same peace.  I find it helpful to turn to Bible passages such as Psalms 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God”.  I love breaking down that quote – Be still and know that I am God… Be still and know… Be still… Be.

So, next time you’re caught up chewing the cud, or mulling over some thought again and again…. Remember – leave the ruminating to the cows… and be still.

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