By: JUBILEE! Minister Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge
I want you to want me
I need you to need me
I’d love you to love me
I’m begging you to beg me
I want you to want me
I need you to need me
I’d love you to love me
–Cheap Trick, I Want You to Want Me
This really is the ego’s theme song … begging to be noticed, to be loved, to be wanted and needed. When we’re enveloped in our ego’s grasping and wanting, it’s hard to recognize the Holy in anything – be it other people or ourselves. To get that glimpse of the Holy, you have to drop the ego, you have to abandon your stories about how you’ve been wronged, or neglected or taken for granted.
You have to stop looking outside of yourself for anything that will sustain you, because the moment you put your trust in anything outside yourself, the process is already beginning for that external thing to fail and betray you.
This is how the universe works, Jubilants. Whenever we put our faith in anything outside of our own divine soul, it will fail us, whether it’s a job, a relationship, a house or other possession or, yes, even a church. Maybe especially a church, because we tend to put so much trust and faith in the community and leaders of a church to meet our needs, to love us and care for us and make us feel special, divine and holy.
But, the Holy has designed this external world to utterly fail you if that is where you put your faith. Why? Because with each disappointment we have a choice … we can either let those external failures make us become bitter and jaded and end up hating the world, and especially hating the church. Or, we can let those experiences open up our hearts, enlarge our compassion, and help us realize the true source of our lives … our soul … that seat within each of us where the Holy resides, ready to provide everything we need.
This is not to say, of course, that the church community shouldn’t help its members or others when they need necessities such as food, shelter, clothing or even a visit in the hospital or a call to say we missed you. All of those things we are commanded to do in scripture. Jesus tells us to take care of one another in these ways. But, when we deem anything outside of our divine self, as the sole source of our wellbeing in life, it will fail us.
I can guarantee, right now, that this community will fail you if you look to it to provide for all of your emotional, social, physical and spiritual needs. Even if you just pick one of those and expect this community to be the sole source of any of them, expect disappointment. Expect your ego to start telling you stories about how we don’t care about you and perhaps you need to find a place that really, really cares.
But, when you find that place, they will disappoint you, too, until you’re left with a story about how all churches are just filled with a bunch of hypocrites who say one thing and do another. It’s a vicious cycle that only ends when you realize that anything outside of yourself will disappoint you if you put your entire well-being on its shoulders.
This inner life, this authentic, awakened soul, is the place Isaiah invites us to where we can buy wine and milk without price. This is the place where we can feast on all good things … that divine food that never runs dry. We can’t get milk and wine for free anywhere outside of ourselves, but that Holy nourishment, that spiritual fulfillment we crave, is already inside of us, waiting to be awakened.
When we realize that our divine self – our soul – is the source of all we need in this life, then we shall go out with joy and be led back with peace, the trees of the field will clap their hands, the hills will burst forth into song, because we finally have realized the truth about this life – we are divine, we are pieces of God walking around on this earth, and we don’t need to do anything but breathe deeply, and live each moment in its fullness. Because when we live like that, recognize that everything we need is here, in this moment, and our divine selves are the source of all of that, then that peaceful easy feeling … that peace that passes understanding … will fill us.
This is the essence of what Jesus is saying in the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you. If you do not have that within you, what you do not have within you [will] kill you.”
If we don’t recognize that our true source is inside of us, in our awakened soul, and then bring that peaceful, easy feeling out into the world, we will never be free of our ego. Remember, ego stands for Edging God Out … and when we edge God out and live solely from our ego, expecting the world to serve our every need, that true self will eventually wither and die.
But, if we can come to place where we can awaken to the soul as our only source for fulfillment, we deal with the world differently. In this awakened state, we don’t concoct stories about how people and places have offended us. Instead, we don’t take things personally, even if someone is directly attacking us, because outside of our ego, we understand that the attack is really about them – and their ego – not about us.
When we are firmly living from an awakened soul, we are no longer sucked into the emotion of the drama, instead we can stand back and look at things with logic and compassion and solve things in a peaceful way … a way that is best not just for you, but for everyone concerned.
This can seem cold to those still wrapped up in their ego, but it’s the best way to survive. Like on an airplane, you’re told to put your mask on first, then help others. You have to awaken your soul first before you can help others awaken theirs. If we all panic and let the ego suck us in, we all die. A person who is calm in those situations may seem cold, but they can also be the one to save your life.
In this place of living from an awakened soul source we can see the world for how it is, not how our ego tells us it is, or ought to me. As Eckhart Tolle writes in A New Earth, when we are one with one is, “the motivation to take action comes from a deeper level, not from egoic wanting or fear.” In this awakened place, we can see the world clearly and understand that everyone struggles with their ego. Everyone is doing the best they can, and our choice to enter into community together will always be challenging and messy.
But, if we look at these things head-on and talk deeply with one another about our wants, our needs and how we can love one another, not from that conditional and limiting place of ego, but from a place of genuine, soul-awakened concern, then we can achieve a peaceful easy feeling … that inner peace that Jesus said he has left with us.