“I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.“ “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!” “O Righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.“ John 17:21-26 NLT
Another word for unity is connection. And after you move farther along this spiritual journey, you may realize that connection is why we’re all here and is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. Now that may seem like shooting for the moon to you right now, but unity really is what life is all about, the ability to feel connected with God and with others. When that happens, then you will be living without a fear that you are less than, or the arrogance that you better than, others. Over dependence, or independence, is replaced by interdependence.
Jesus’ prayer shown above was that we can consciously live not in uniformity, because that’s impossible, but in union with God and with each other. Perhaps when that happens, that’s the glory he was referring to.
Maybe right now union with God almost sounds too good to be true because unfortunately, a common thing that stops people from connecting with God or each other are fears that they are not deserved of that connection; that we or the other person(s) are not important or valuable enough. A belief of unworthiness destroys any chance of real connection with God and with others. And for the relationship Jesus prayed about, we must realize that we all are worthy of it.
If this is you, please know that we all feel unworthy at some level, at some time. The only people who don’t experience shame at some moment in their life are those who just appear to have no capacity for human empathy or connection at all. Sadly, they seem to have been born that way. What makes this even more difficult is that almost no one ever wants to talk about what embarrasses them. So ironically, the less you talk about it the more you have it. Whether you realize it or not, these hidden secrets, that shame, really does have an enormous power.
The counter-move to shame is rigorous honesty in action, which is also known as vulnerability. It’s about showing up and being seen authentically, being real, and that’s pretty difficult to do if you are concerned about what people might see.
We believe that the greatest desire and the worst fear of most, if not all people, is to be seen for exactly who they truly are. That tension is one of the primary causes of suffering. Real authentic relationship is not just what we want- it’s a need.
Therefore, in order for authentic connection to happen, to have basic human need met, we have to allow ourselves to be seen for who we are, and again that’s typically very scary. In fact it’s so threatening, that most people will never do it until the pain becomes greater than the fear. Yes, all of us are at some time or another are blinded by the fear of not being good enough. Afraid of being rejected or betrayed. It may be because we have fallen short in one way or another of our own standards or the standards of those we seek approval from, so naturally we believe that we are not worthy. But the absolute truth is that everyone is less than perfect. So for genuine, lasting change to happen, what’s needed is the courage to be imperfect. We really need this inner self-acceptance before we can have self-improvement. The willingness to be wrong… so that you can be able to discover new things about yourself and then accept them.
So compassion to allow kindness for yourself is what’s needed first and that is found within the first 3 Steps. It is your identity that is recovered in an awareness the you are a child of God.
When that’s received, then it can be given to others, because, as it turns out, you can’t practice compassion with other people if you can’t treat yourself kindly; to freely accept kindness without doubting your deservedness. You just cannot transmit what you haven’t got. That’s discovered as you move through Steps 4 through 9.
And an additional result of this authenticity is that you become over time willing to let go of who you think you should be, in order to be who you really are. When that occurs life becomes not perfect, but pretty good. Difficulties still occur, but the need to fight for what you believe is “right” minimizes as you don’t need to win -because you have already been victorious. That means there’s moments of serenity. This trust is learned in Steps 10, 11 and 12.
Sounds good doesn’t it? Peace, kindness, humility… Well, again, first you have to fully embrace vulnerability if you want that connection with God and others. Believe that you are perfectly imperfect, and that others are too and that God loves you despite what you don’t like about yourself! Yes, allowing and accepting yourself and others to be imperfect is what enables you to be courageous enough to do new things, living life in new and exciting ways.
The courage we are referring to is the frame of mind to do life fully, were there are no guarantees. It is not the absence of fear. In fact, fear must be present for courage to happen, otherwise it isn’t courage. And as strange and scary as that may seem right now, this type of bravery is fundamental to living a life of union with God and others. It happens when there is an inner experiential knowing that you are worthy of the love offered by God’s forgiveness. That happens as you do these suggestions of the program. It will slowly lead to the freedom to be the real you; your True Self.
Do these action steps and you can be compassionate to yourself because you will experience that God is compassionate with you.
The sections about identity and integrity (Steps 1,2,3 and 4 through 9 – respectively) are about acknowledging the blockages, prejudices, and false perceptions about yourself, God and others. Perhaps another way of saying this is, “to better recognize a habitual way of thinking that shapes an egocentric viewpoint and lifestyle.”
We each have our own personal virtues and vices, aversions and attachments, strengths and weaknesses- the deep down beliefs; all that makes us each who we believe we are – that needs to be discovered, all of them, if we are to be our True Selves. And that’s what the serenity section is about… helping ourselves purify our self-perception, to become unsparingly honest towards ourselves, and to discern better our own inner voices. To find your Voice in this world!
By doing these 12 Steps you will become free of your personal prejudices and be better able to experience the freedom of new experiences. That of course is only needed if you want a new life…to be born again. And again and again. This is process not of recovery, but of discovery. A process of becoming!
Life is a combination of stages of awareness that we all have to go through. Not always learning but sometimes unlearning some false beliefs that have been not just been blocking you, but crippling you from running to what has always been available. We hope you see that where people often fail is that they arrive at a stage of consciousness, and stay stuck there. This is the slow death of a person’s spirit. To be alive means to be growing. To be teachable. To be a student. To be.
Before you begin, please take a moment to be still and contemplate why you desire this spiritual journey of discovery. You see, we are already spiritually in union, but most people just don’t know it yet because of a lack of awareness. There is only a little consciousness of how Life connects everything. And this connection is bigger than theology, doctrine or dogma because our minds cannot fully comprehend it. Its more than knowledge. Oneness is a song you soul sings, music that your spirit dances to. It’s an inner confidence; you simply know that everything is right. Right now.
“You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. “ Ephesians 4:4-6 MSG