What's new? What should be new? Do we really need "to put on the new man", as the Bible says? Is the old one not good enough? No, its not. I trust my guide book, the Bible: "... be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." A different translation is this: "Let the Spirit change your way of thinking and make you into a new person. You were created to be like God, and so you must please him and be truly holy." (Ephesians 4: 23/24, TNC)
There is no other way to become new and to discover glimpses of the true essence of life than dealing upfront with the false sense of what life isn't. We are not trapped by "who we are" (oh dear), we are allowed to take with us only what was good in our upbringing, education, formation, family affairs, experiences - and leave behind the rest: lack of empathy, egoistic pursuits, meaningless time-wasters, social loafing, gossiping and mentally focusing on things that might go wrong. Who could impede this?
There was an evening when I was in high school, when too many character traits I didn't like anymore, difficult settings and other obstacles including what I felt was an entrenched proclivity to criticize had piled up in such a way that I didn't even know where to start to pray about them. I wanted to be better. After hours of ruminating, panic, feeling stuck and sorry for myself, laying on my back on my bed, the quiet voice of spiritual intuition called for a different view - and mentally I did go higher, like in a helicopter, leaving behind what I felt had no substance anymore. I stopped going through each single obstacle and felt how I could be directly what God made me to be. I felt suddenly that this is so easy. It is so easy to be what Love, God, wants us to be. Building on God's creating and care with expectancy and joy. My frustration gave way to gratitude and the willingness to work for what I prayed for.
Oh the ego, this self, this constant arguing for its own agenda: As if complaining or criticizing, or feeling sorry or grumbling would have ever helped anywhere. Not once in the history of mankind has anything been accomplished by ingratitude, nagging or negativity - this sense of self really doesn't understand a thing about life, about the dignity of mercy, the worth of each moment.
So what's new this coming year? Instead of expecting something new from somewhere, let it be a new you. "The new man" - "a new person". The new "new" is the real deal. The gold standard. The new is not the renovated old. It is truly the new, truly genuine and authentic. It is pure luxury to discover our innate sense of dignity and freedom - and humility always leads the way, at least in my experience.
I have put on my agenda to become better in making no assumptions. The "the new man" I am intending to put on is the "assumption free man", listening and watching out for good and expecting God's presence and power to carry the day. No assumptions. This is my plan. I am on the alert for a few days now.
Spirit, Love, does know us better than our ego is willing to admit, and our true "new self" already knows that. Spirit is reported in the Bible (NLT, Rev. 2: 17) as saying: "And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it." A new you, a new name. Have a happy new year!
The following brief account is by a woman which had been dumped and how she found healing. It is from a collection of texts to accompany the Christmas prep time in December.
Alone again. Until yesterday I had dreamed of a life as a couple, I had made plans and now this. The end was short and crisp: 'Only one woman, and for a life-time, a family and faithful, no, I just can't commit to that.' I was alone again. What is wrong with me? Why does this happen to me all the time? What about my dream of family and children? I just want to leave and be alone, I want to retreat into some cave. But where? Where can I not be found by anyone? Where will nobody tell me that all will be well again? - My old friend. He will leave me in peace. 'Yes, I am at home, but I expect a guest, a friend - if you don't like that I will disinvite her.' 'No, no, not that.' 'O.k., come then.' I holed up there a few days. They let me. Nobody asked, nobody pushed me.
"Mountains of hurt" - wow, what an image, what an observation. And we walk and climb and go round and round. A few days ago I was confronted by a difficult situation facing a friend, and I remembered this expression: "mountains of hurt". I started to think of the many skills one needs for mountain climbing - and of the many skills for mental mountain climbing. Mary Baker Eddy also speaks about mountains in a metaphorical way, in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, building on a familiar Bible verse from Isaiah:
"Every valley of sin must be exalted, and every mountain of selfishness be brought low, that the highway of our God may be prepared in Science." (p. 61)
I found it empowering to deal with the challenge as a mountain, instead of underestimating the amount of commitment needed to move forward. Mountains CAN be overcome, they can. And must be overcome. For Love to be All-in-all. That is the goal of it all. And you know why "mountains of hurt" can be overcome? Because of two facts which stood crystal clear before me as the alps on a spring morning.
All the inner mountains intimidating us are mental mountains piled up as memories, a story we tell ourselves about ourselves over and over again; mental landscapes of tales, decisions by or about us, past events, of fate and chance and relationships and hurts and joys and victories, now and then. But these inner mountains are only scary from a distance. Confronted with something bigger than a mountain they pale and shrink and melt before the presence of our true biography, our life with and in God. The power of spiritual development is so much more alive than all the history of damage can ever be. The past is a much less powerful place to look for our identity than our present life in God. I found a Bible verse which reveals much comfort:
"Before the mountains were settled in place, I was born. Before there were any hills, I was born." (Proverbs 8: 25. NIRV)
Man is more than a carbon-based life form. Man is a spiritual idea in divine Mind. We all are as old as God is. I loved to read the Bible verse inserting "mountains of hurt" and "hills of grief" and now had a powerful tool for mental mountain climbing. The mountains are "too late", in a way. We can and must insist that we are with God, always, and always have been. We are with God way before a human history of us begins. So we can say, from a spiritual standpoint, that the mountains are already overcome before they even started to form.
The second fact which helps us to go over the mountains and makes the "the mountains of hurt" manageable is that we have a mighty mountain guide, the Christ. If you are not a Christian reading this you might think about the Christ as the way God is communicating with humanity and moving forward solutions, healings, and answers. The Bible uses the term "Shepherd" as one of many for the Christ. In a poem by Mary Baker Eddy the first verse reads:
"Shepherd, show me how to go
O'er the hillside steep,
How to gather, how to sow, —
How to feed Thy sheep;
I will listen for Thy voice,
Lest my footsteps stray;
I will follow and rejoice
All the rugged way."
I listened and found a clarity how to support my friend struggling with "the mountains of hurt", and I could affirm with confidence: "Before the mountains (of hurt) were settled in place, (he) was born." (Proverbs 8: 25 with changes by me).
As you rediscover a familiar tenor aria from Handel's Messiah, remember to think about the valleys and mountains as part of a mental landscape. Then this aria can convey the message that all is transformed to move forward God's plan of salvation. In us. All wounds can heal and all hearts recover. The way is open, the path is free.
Here is the original Bible text which Handel had on his desk while composing:
"The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain." (Isaiah 40: 3, 4. KJV)
Words are ideas, words are thoughts. Since "the limits of my language are the limits of my world", as Wittgenstein has put it, entering the world of words is an amazing way to increase our understanding of our world. And improve it. Because words are not just words: They are thoughts. Our world and our words are linked. My grandmother told us grandchildren to increase our understanding of God continually, because, as she put it, "God is for you only what you let Him/Her to be in your life." What an incentive for spiritual progress.
Recently the initiative "Wallpaper for Refugees" asked for words that make refugees feel at home, by tapping into the heart and soul of humanity. Words which represent goodness and describe the inner landscape of a culture. I participated with one of my favorite German words "Seelenfrieden", which can be translated as "peace of mind".
I have picked another word for you to discover. It is Vertieftheit.
Vertieftheit means to be absorbed in something, being deeply occupied by a concept good and constructive. The word stresses the now, not the future. It focuses on "being", not becoming. It also applies to a state of "being in the deep" - as when you are deep in prayer, and time doesn't seem to pass (and sometimes doesn't at all) or you are deep in reading a book, and you forget where you are. WithoutVertieftheit we don't reach into the reality of life, with Vertieftheit we find the place of quiet, healing and meaning. Mary Baker Eddy, herself an avid fan of etymology, writes:
"We must look deep into realism instead of accepting only the out‐
ward sense of things." (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 129)
For the deep, quiet observation of the real, you need Vertieftheit. Being in the now, listening and understanding being the same. We learn in satisfying, substantial ways. This state of being is not an achievement, it is a gift of grace. And you invite this state of being into our experience as you would invite a cat to join you on the sofa: By being just there and loving. The cat will come. But you can't force it.
This is all so mysteriously and meaningfully linked to the deep things of God, which Paul writes about: "The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God." (1. Cor. 2: 10) They are within our reach.
Do you have a dictionary of etymology? Or do you already know about the online etymology dictionary? You might start with the word "deep". Or with "thought". Or with your favorite word. Can you learn more about it? What is a word you want to discover today in order to move right in and start a new life? Nothing is too wonderful to be true.
Who is writing?
In my work as Christian Science practitioner and as a writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.
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