YOU ARE MORE THAN YOUR BODY”
If you do not believe in God, a Higher Power, or you are an Atheist or Agnostic, trust me you are not alone. For many years, I was turned off by church. I saw greedy and selfish pastors, and self-righteous people who preached about “Jesus” or “Allah”, yet continued to see the speck in everyone else’s eye and not the wickedness in their own hearts. It is not my job to convince you who or what God is, or what God means to you. I am not going to apologize for my belief in God.
God does not need my help to convince you or draw you to Him. He is big and mighty enough to do that Himself. However, if you read my book Faith to Freedom: From Dumpster to Doctor, you will surely see how I got out of debating society about my belief in God and having problems with God. It never dawned on me why I was questioning, cynical, and non-believing in God. If I am keeping it real, I did not think about it because He was not doing what I wanted Him to do for me. I never once asked myself, “I wonder if God was having problems with me.” We can truly be ugly and selfish as people and want to blame the Creator for all the problems of this world when in fact we messed up the gift of free will. The pride and arrogance (stinking thinking) to not even consider that we were created to love and respect each other is the sickness of the human condition. Our dilemma has nothing to do with who we are on the outside, though our behaviors are what we see; it has everything to do with who we are on the inside, these fragile vessels we call “bodies.”
If you have not realized my meaning with this first factor--and I am not trying to be sarcastic-- you probably know that you are surely not the “Creator”, and I guarantee at some point in your life, as with every other human being walking the face of this earth, you have asked questions like “Where am I going when I die?”, “Is there an afterlife?”, “Is there life after death?”, “Who is God?”, “Is there even such a thing as God, or some Higher Power?”, “Do I just vanish and that’s it?” Have you asked yourself these or similar questions? I can assure you that after you read the next nine key factors you will agree they all are connected, and if you are honest you will know that “you are not just your body.”
Each morning before you do anything, connect with the Creator first. In prayer and meditation thank Him for another day. Ask for help with your thoughts, your words, and your actions throughout the day ahead. Pray for protection over those you love and ask for mercy for people less fortunate than you are. Pray even when you do not feel like it. Remember that your feelings are byproducts of your thinking, which may or may not be correct. For example, if you believe you are not worthy of the Creator’s forgiveness, and simply will not pray or acknowledge Him, you are stuck in stinking thinking and cannot develop spiritually or grow. If you avoid spiritual development, beat yourself up, and internalize shame and guilt, those feelings will invariably manifest in your behaviors at some point.
Let your first contact with the Creator be a practice you do no matter what you are thinking, feeling, or doing. He made you, so pray without ceasing; be grateful even when times are tough, or you feel bad or guilty. The idea here is to first acknowledge your need for God to help you fix your inner self and be right within before any positive changes can be made in your life.
Seek His purpose by reading the bible, meditation books, fellowship with others who are principle driven, and be open to correction and taking direction. Change will require you to act no matter how you feel. You must have the same consistency of action and purpose that you had when practicing old behaviors that keep you restless, irritable, and discontented (RID). You must reconcile the reality that you are not your body, but a spirit within your body.
Be sure to seek the counsel and help of others and be open to new ideas. After all, the Creator uses people and situations to help us. If we can be humble enough to smash our egos, admit that we do not know it all, and be willing to take direction from principle-driven people such as pastors, counselors, therapists, friends, and advisors who show love and respect for themselves and others in their actions, there is no doubt that positive and enduring changes can be made in our lives. I will not apologize for my belief in God and our Savior Jesus Christ, but this book is not trying to convince you to follow that same belief. My purpose is to get you to ponder your thoughts and feelings on the most important dimension (your spirit) and at the very least think about your belief in a Higher Power. To become spiritually aware, you must be open-minded to this reality. Human pride and self-will live on the same “stinking thinking” road. A road to disaster and definite failure.
Become willing to trust at least one person and share your real experiences so you can develop the ability to test and walk in the truth of any event that causes you to be restless, irritable, and discontented, so you can better respond and not simply react. Coping with life can be extremely hard sometimes, however it is no excuse to self-destruct or hurt others. If you are spiritually fit and feel secure in your place in the universe, you will be more aware of your feelings and how they relate to your actions and can better avoid hurting yourself or others.
Genesis 1:27--So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Since Our Heavenly Father made us, He knows what is best for us and the purpose for which He made us. It would be wise to go to the source from which I came to get direction about what my human purpose is. Our dilemma is that we have self-will and the freedom to choose.
Unfortunately, our flesh is weak and has an insatiable appetite for serving itself. That is why practicing principles is most difficult and seeking power greater than you through prayer is necessary. Practicing principles will be extremely uncomfortable in the beginning, especially emotionally.
Philippians 4:13--I can do all things through him who strengthens me. When I look back on my life, I find that my fears of both the unknown inner world (i.e., the subconscious) and the external world around me controlled my actions. In my book Faith To Freedom, I talked about how I manipulated to get my way, most often with women. What I discovered was these actions were the result of my faulty beliefs that I was not “good enough.” The ways I tried to compensate for being uncomfortable with myself or to avoid feeling that discomfort, such as drugs, sex, lying, and manipulating, seemed at the time to have more power than surrendering to the real power, which is from my Creator.
It never dawned on me to seek God’s will and rely on His strength while I pressed on to discover myself and the purpose that was laid out for me. I now recognize that my human suffering was allowed to happen as an act of love from the Creator, to force me into a level of humility so I could receive His strength to overcome my obstacles. My obstacles were undoubtedly driven from within (issues such as fear, envy, jealousy, and low self-worth) or to put it plain, I was simply imprisoned in the “bondage of self.”
The main idea behind this factor is to become willing to allow the Creator to help you when practicing spiritual principles to overcome your disturbances. I had to break through patterns of denial and come to the realization that the thinking I was working with could not change my situation. I had to change my “will” and practice what the Word says, take directions from other principle-driven people. I had to feel the pain of change by breaking my pride, and believe me, it is painful to smash your pride.
Sometimes our inner beliefs are so deeply rooted that it takes serious consequences to humble you enough to become willing to accept direction and take actions that will bring about sustained changes in your life. The meter that will tell you if there is some form of pride, self-will, or fear operating in you is any level of restlessness, irritability, and discontentment (RID).
Proverbs 3:5--Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. The first point I want to make about this scripture is the word “understanding,” which implies what we know and what we think we know, or simply, our perceptions of what we can see, taste, touch, hear, or smell. Too often, we as people go about life only trusting in what we feel and sense. That is why this scripture can be a hard one to swallow. As people I postulate that most of us tend to react to a feeling before we explore the truth that drives that feeling. If we lean on our own “understanding,” we must be careful because we may act out of self-will and pride in a way that may make our situation worse. What I have come to discover about God is that often He will only show his power, grace, and mercy when we stop trying to make things happen or handle everything ourselves.
This is also a scripture that challenges the gift of free will and choice that our heavenly Father gave us. He knew before he made us that He would have to give us the way back to Him through His Son Jesus Christ. He knew that He would have to give His own self as a sacrifice so there would be a filter that does not see our sin if we accept the sacrifice of the brutal beatings, sufferings, and the cross He endured unto death. When I say “our sin” you can be truly clear on this one fact: our sin comes from our “own understanding,” or as I call it, “stinking thinking.” A mindset that is always about us, and never considers the other. I have learned that God’s sense sometimes makes no sense to us, but our sense is nonsense if it is out of His will.
Acknowledging the Creator in all ways simply means practicing humility, gratitude, and faith. When we practice spiritual principles, we must understand that “actions” are the only way to see principles play out and have any real meaning. For example, how do you “see” faith and honesty? These spiritual principles are only concepts that cannot be seen unless there are actions that display the full manifestation of the principle. Since we are spiritual beings, our true growth comes from within, and is expressed through our flesh by words and actions. When we practice spiritual principles to change our way of thinking and behaving, most often the results will be in line with what our Creator wants from us.
When I speak of humility, I am talking about being wise enough to know that with His help we can live in line with what He expects from us. Gratitude is living and accepting Him with joy even when things do not go how we want. We will always have something to be grateful for if we simply look around us.
One of the hardest things for me to do in my past life was to find gratitude while I was being driven by my unconscious fears. Because I wanted things my way or the way I thought was best for me, I did not realize my ego was already distorted because I thought I needed people to validate me. Through my change I realized that I am loved because God created me, and that is validation enough, something to always be grateful for.
Are you the only Authority in your life and if so, how does that give you hope, treat others, and treat yourself? Do you allow others to help you? (Give examples.)
What does spirituality mean to you? How does it help you treat yourself and others, and live your life? What is the difference between spirituality and religion?