This week begins a three-week sermon series based on Wayne Muller’s book, a life of being, having and doing enough.
Why is it that we can achieve, create, build, fix, help, serve and give with every ounce of our energy and still not feel like we’ve made a difference? That somehow, no matter what we do, we feel like it will never be enough? It seems that just about everyone has felt this way at one time or another. But, why?
Don Miguel Ruiz in his book “The Voice of Knowledge” talks about the lie of imperfection. He believes that we have all bought into the great lie that we are imperfect. You see, when we were young children we were completely authentic, and never pretended to be who or what we are not. When we felt love, we expressed love (welcoming mom or dad home), when we felt uncomfortable with someone, we didn’t go close to them, when we were sad, we cried. The greatest freedom was to run around naked and not care (though it is probably a good thing we don’t do this anymore). Then when we started to understand language the people around us told us what we were and we believed them, even though they may be contradictory. We were told that if we behaved in certain ways we were good boys and girls, and we understood that we were bad if we don’t behave that way.We were told that if we wanted to be successful and be somebody, we had to work hard. But we heard the underlying message that at that moment we were clearly nobody. For some of us, our churches told us that we were inherently bad and sinful and only through the death of a beautiful human being could God even begin to accept us again. By listening to all these opinions, we learned that we must not be good enough as we were, which is why we needed to be told how to behave to be good enough.Why would our parent’s not tell the truth? Or our teachers? Or the church? Eventually, Ruiz says, we feel not only not good enough for others, but not good enough for ourselves. Hence, we try to prove that we are good enough by getting straight As, being a sports star, working long hours, getting degrees and promotions; however, we are no longer making decisions based on our highest good and our truest self, but on what others think. And so we have bought into the lie of imperfection. It has become a cellular part of ourselves and now feels inherently true.
In Matthew 4:15-16, Jesus is speaking to crowds of ordinary people – not saints, not pillars of the synagogue – and he is telling them that they are the light of the world. We usually think about Jesus being light for the world, especially at this time of the year. We talk about how, at Christmas time, light is born into the darkness. But in this passage Jesus says that we are all the light of the world. We ARE the light, not “can be” or “could be” if only we did everything right. Muller points out that Jesus’ teachings did not come with any fine print, disclaimers or exclusions. He didn’t say, “You are the light of the world, but only if you are straight, or go to church every week, or give 10% of your income to the poor, or never screw up, or solve world hunger.” Instead he told all these regular folks that they are the light of the world and needed to stop hiding their light under the bushel baskets of not enough, of baggage, of fears, of the lie of imperfection.
Wayne Dyer, in his book, The Sacred Self, reminds us that “the Divine created us in perfect love that is changeless and eternal. Our bodies change and our minds change… we are not our bodies and our minds. We are much more than bodies and minds, we are spirit, a spark of the Divine fire, pure love. Enough.”
If we are looking for a universal truth, this is about as close as we can come. All the great religions teach the same thing:
- Buddha taught that we have wholeness within us, our Buddha-nature.
- In the Torah (Old Testament for Christians), Yahweh, God of the Jews, declared that the most essential of life’s truths were inscribed on their hearts… in other words were a part of each person deep inside.
- Native Americans speak of the Great Spirit who infuses all creation with the same sacred life force.
- For Hindus, the Atman, or soul of the world, is everywhere.
- All the mystical traditions – Sufism, the Gnostic gospels, the Kabbalah – all declare that the journey to the Divine is the journey inward to the true self where we are whole, where we are enough.
We are always seeking to be enough, but the truth is that we already have what we seek. We are enough. We just have to realize it. Then we have to own it. We have to claim it as our truth over and over again, so that it replaces the lie of imperfection, that cellular knowing that we aren’t enough.
If we remain convinced that we are imperfect, damaged goods, defective or incomplete, we will live our lives and make our decisions out of this wrong belief. Then we make choices based on our feelings shame, guilt, unworthiness, failure… maybe even a belief that we should be punished.
But what if we believed in the goodness of our own souls? Believed that we have within us all that we need to be complete and whole? Believed in our own inner strength and wisdom? Believed that regardless of where we’ve come from, what we’ve done, what people have said to us, that we could carry this knowing into every situation with confidence? What decisions would we make? What would our lives look like? How might we respond differently to the world each day?
Because this is truth… you are the light and you are enough.