After years of physical and mental abuse an embittered young mother finally leaves her alcoholic husband and takes the children with her to start a new life. When asked how she found the courage to leave him, she said, “When he broke my nose the second time, I knew I had to leave. My broken nose was actually a blessing.”
Diagnosed with advanced lime disease, a 55 year old IBM exec said, “It’s the best thing that ever happened to me. It slowed me down. I had been neglecting my wife and children. Because of the lime disease I turned from a hard-driving project manager into a fun-loving husband and father. The lime disease was a blessing.”
A 35 year old depressed police officer said, “My marriage and career were both headed south. My sister was dying and I was devastated. And chasing after happiness and success was not working either. Then God gave me just what I needed. The cancer had returned and my doctor gave me two years to live. When I think about it the cancer is a blessing.”
Our initial response when we hear people say things like this is to offer them an extended hug, look them squarely in the eyes and say, “Don’t do that to yourself! You’re blessing something that doesn’t deserve to be blessed.”
We’re inviting you to change your perspective on what blesses you. The expression we’re inviting you to get over is “It blessed me” — when it applies to any traumatic external conditions or events that happen to you.
It is our contention that whenever you say things like “the cancer blessed me, or lime disease blessed me, or a broken nose, or a heart attack, or getting fired blessed me, you are giving your incredible personal power away!
We continue to be amazed at how much power people give away. Intelligent people. Good and decent people. Honest people. People who do not realize how powerful they are. People who do not realize they can use their power to transform negative circumstances into blessings!
Positive psychologists are beginning to confirm through rigorous research how powerful we are. They have proven that we can turn “post traumatic stress disorder” into “post traumatic growth.” They’re not minimizing the life-threatening effects of post traumatic stress and its complications, but they’re proving we can recover – and even thrive – in the aftermath of traumatic events.
Bereavement, bone marrow transplantation, breast cancer, chronic illness, heart attack, military combat, natural disaster, physical assault, refugee displacement are events that researchers have found to spur profound positive growth. These experiences are called ‘Post-Traumatic Growth.’ People see something good coming from something very bad (Tedeschi, R., Calhoun, L., and A. Cann, “Evaluating resource gain: Understanding and misunderstanding posttraumatic growth,” Applied Psychology: An International Review, 56 (3), 396-406, 2007).
The strategies that most often lead to Post-Traumatic Growth include:
- positive reinterpretation of the situation or event,
- acceptance, and
- coping mechanisms that include focusing on the problem head-on rather than trying to avoid it or deny it.
It is not the type of event per se that influences Post-Traumatic Growth, but rather the subjective experience of the event (Val., E., and P. Linley, “Post traumatic Growth, positive changes, and negative changes in Madrid residents following the March 11, 2004 Madrid train bombings,” Journal of Loss and Trauma, 11, 409-424, 2006).
People who can most successfully get themselves up off the mat are those who define themselves not by what has happened to them, but by what they can make out of what has happened. These are the people who use adversity to find the path forward. They speak not just of “bouncing back” but of “bouncing forward.” (Walsh, F., “Bouncing forward: Resilience in the aftermath of September 11,” Family Processes, 41, 34-36, 2002).
And this “bouncing forward” has to do with the relationship between effects and their causes. In the physical world causes create effects. It’s not the other way around. Effects do not create causes. Any good classical physicist will tell you that. (At the quantum level the relationship between causes and effects is a bit different. We’ll cover that in another blogcast).
Blessings and Our Power of Choice
The young woman’s broken nose, the IBM exec’s lime disease, and the policeman’s cancer are all effects. They have no causative power! It is our response to the world of physical effects that is our point of power.
You may be thinking – what does cause and effect have to do with blessings? Our response to you would be EVERYTHING!
In Jesus Christ Heals, Unity’s co-founder, Charles Fillmore says, “Outer acts are (effects); the world of causes is within. It is to this inner realm that we must look for the power to transform our lives.”
The power to transform our lives lies within us. The inner realm Charles Fillmore is talking about is our innate divinity. And when we pay attention to the Eternal Presence expressing Itself as us, we can raise our conscious awareness to a super-conscious level.
When we elevate our consciousness, we learn the nature of blessings. We learn that we are not blessed by a broken nose, lime disease, or the reoccurrence of cancer. Those things are devastating influences in our lives. They take their toll on us physically, emotionally, and financially.
We are not even blessed by an unexpected inheritance, winning the lottery, or getting a stimulus check from the U.S. Government. These things can be wonderful influences on our lives. But in and of themselves, they have no power to bless us.
A blessing means to “confer prosperity upon.” Conferring prosperity is an active, intentional process. Blessings come from us.
We decide what to do with life-threatening information like lime disease and cancer. We decide what to do with life-enhancing information like winning the lottery.
It is how we CHOOSE to respond to events or situations that blesses us. Some people turn lime disease into a disability. Others use it as an opportunity to teach others about its prevention.
Some people turn a lottery windfall into bankruptcy. Others invest wisely and create foundations to help people. We are inviting you to see blessings as something we confer on things.
Blessings and the Bible: Revelation 22:14 (Metaphysically Interpreted)
The last time the word blessing is used in the Bible is in the 22nd Chapter of the book of Revelation. It appears in verse 14 of Chapter 22 in the epilogue and benediction. John is receiving guidance from an angel.
Verse 14 says: “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.” (Revelation 22:14, New Revised Standard Version)
From a metaphysical perspective, we believe Revelation 22:14 says: “Blessed are those who purify their perspectives (wash their robes). By right of their enlightened consciousness they can become consciously one with the Universal Life Force (Tree of Life) and live, move, and have their being in that exalted state of spiritual consciousness (enter the city) by applying higher consciousness techniques (by the gates).”
So, what is this verse’s relevance to us today? It’s about going from post traumatic stress and debilitation to post traumatic growth and thriving. It’s about the power of raising our consciousness.
It is from an exalted state of spiritual consciousness that we can turn trials into triumphs and scars into stars.
It is from an exalted state of spiritual consciousness that we can empower ourselves over any human limitation.
It is from an exalted state of spiritual consciousness that we have the power to use both traumatic events and exhilarating experiences as growth catalysts – because it is our positive, life-affirming responses to what happens to us that bless us.
So begin right now to acknowledge the incredible power you have: the power to choose to take any situation you experience in life, and use it for good! That’s how you master the art of living, and walk the spiritual path on practical feet!