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Course Correction

Live as children of the light. Keep careful watch over your conduct. Don’t act like fools, but like wise and thoughtful people. ~ Ephesians 5:8b, 15

Yes, we are all children of the light. Given this truth, what would it look like to live our lives as wise and thoughtful people who don’t act like fools? Here's a start: 

  • Don’t hurt others with words or actions
  • Be compassionate
  • Be kind
  • Be helpful
  • Be forgiving
  • Be welcoming
  • Be accepting
  • Be joyful
  • Offer hope
  • Be positive
  • Be healthy
  • Love God, love self, love others

It seems to me that most of us actually want to live this way. If so, maybe we all need that scripture plastered on our refrigerators and our bathroom mirrors so that we have something calling us to awareness of ourselves and our behavior on a regular basis.

Let’s face it. We KNOW when we’re not behaving well. We KNOW when what we're doing isn’t in our best interest or the best interest of others. We KNOW when we’re being stubborn, ridiculous, unreasonable, judgmental, snarky, unkind, unthoughtful, unhealthy, unforgiving.

And where does most of this come from? Our fear, our ego, our scarred inner child, our lack of self-esteem, our neediness. But darn it, sometimes it is just easier to let our scared, broken, angry, frustrated, cranky self have control than to live as a child of the light!

Ephesians says these are evil days… what was true almost 2,000 years ago is still true. Why? Because our society continues to tell us today that it is ok to say whatever you want no matter who it hurts. Our society says it is ok to do whatever you want no matter who you hurt. The world is filled with greed and selfishness and warped priorities. It’s become uncool to live as a child of the light and more cool to make tons of money, step on the little people while you’re doing it, worry only about yourself, judge and condemn differences and use violence to get your way.

But you are reading this right now because that isn’t who you want to be. You remember your connection to the Essence of All that is. You may not always feel it or always be able to live it, but at least you know in your head that you ARE a child of the light.

Mark Nepo, in his book "The One Life We're Given," lifts up the Sufi practice of self-examination, where at the end of the day we do a quick review of what happened. NOT to beat up on ourselves, but so that we might pay attention to what we do and how we behave. Then the intent is to take an objective look at those and see if we truly believe we did our best. Did we listen to the Spirit of God within us? Were we living as children of the light – not acting like fools, but like wise and thoughtful people? Was our behavior in line with how we want to live our lives? Did we spend our time wisely? Are we caring for what we’ve been given (our relationships, our bodies, our world, our homes)?

If not, perhaps we need to course correct. Reboot, if you will. When our computers stop working, or are being kinda wonky, we shut down and start over. Sometimes we need a personal reboot.

There is a great story about returning to basics. It was the first day of football training camp in 1961 and the Green Bay Packers had just arrived ot prepare for a new season. They were ready for a fresh start as the previous season had ended in a miserable defeat and loss of the NFL championship to the Philadelphia Eagles. The players were looking forward to learning more effective plays and learning how to play smarter. Their coach, Vince Lombardi, had other plans. He was wiping the slate clean and taking the team back to the fundamentals. He began the season holding a pigskin in his right hand and saying, "Gentlemen, this is a football."

Course correct… reboot… back to basics. We are children of the light. Don’t act like fools, but like wise and thoughtful people. It’s time to get back in the flow of the universe.

Rachel Remen tells a story in Kitchen Table Wisdom about a young man who had become separated from his ski party and spent three days in below-zero weather yet somehow managed to survive. A few weeks after surgery to save his foot, it was clear that it had failed and amputation was necessary, lest he die of the toxins the gangrene was flooding his system with. But he staunchly refused. Things came to a head one night when the team of doctors came to his room for the third or fourth time to try and convince him to have the surgery. When he still refused, even in the face of certain death, his fiancé took the engagement ring off her finger and stuffed it on his blackened little toe and exclaimed, "I hate this foot. If you love it so much, you can marry it. You have to choose, you can't have us both." In silence the young man simply closed his eyes. But the next day he ordered the surgery.

This young man had someone else who challenged him to take a hard look at the course he was on and why. Thankfully he got out of his bad self, stopped acting like a fool and changed his trajectory. At the end of a year, with only a slight limp from his artificial foot, they were married. He realized that his fiancé had been right, he was more attached to his foot than to his life, or their life together. And, yet, it had been thinking about that life that had enabled him to survive three days in the freezing wilderness in the first place.

What does it take for us to course correct? Yes, some people seem to have to hit bottom and be in danger of losing everything before they change. But if we cultivate a sense of honest awareness about our actions, it doesn’t have to get that far away from us or be that difficult.

And this isn’t just about the big things like losing a foot. It’s about how we respond to other people, how we care for our relationships, how we live every day. Our course corrections could be making a doctor appointment, eating better, exercising, staying in touch with family and friends, not judging, better self-talk, waving at the neighbors, smiling at the grocery clerk, walking the dog, weeding hte garden, recycling something, cleaning out your closet, prioritizing, doing the things you love, asking for help.

I encourage all of us, in humble honest awareness, to reflect on our days and see where we’re off, where we’re out of sync with the Divine flow, where we’re not living to our potential as children of the light, what or who needs our care and attention, and begin to make course corrections. Even if you have to begin with small steps.

Love & Light!