Today is Randi’s race day (and Matt's birthday! Happy Birthday, Matt!).
She’s mapped out her personal 26.2 mile marathon between Harrisonburg and Bridgewater. It’s part of living into her WOTY “Intention,” running a marathon before she turns 30 next year.
And thinking about races makes me think of 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
We are all on our personal journeys, we are all in our own “race,” of becoming increasingly conscious of our True Selves as part of One Body and receiving our personal “prize.”
We all are called to the “strict” training of discernment. For any big challenge, we have to be mentally prepared. That’s where we start. My favorite Yoda quote (which I’ve shared before) says it all - “Do or do not. There is no try.”
“Do or do not” is the spirit of Love.
“Try” is the spirit of fear.
Our brains are wired to default to fear to keep us safe. Normal. Not good or bad. Not wrong.
But the purpose of every relationship we have is to challenge us to rewire our neural pathways so that our default pathways are increasingly primed towards love.
“Neural pathways are not set … so there isn’t any specific number existing in your brain. You’re born with a blank slate and have to create them as you go. If you have 100 billion neurons, and each can make 250 000 connections, that's 100 billion times 250 000 possible connections, which is about 25 000 trillion or 25 quadrillion. There are a million more potential connections in your brain than stars in the milky way.” (https://lifexchangesolutions.com/neural-pathways/ #:~:text=We%20can%20calculate%20the%20max,stars%20in%20the%20milky%20way.)
That’s a lot of potential. That’s a lot of pathways of Love to create. See how limitless our inner world is? See how much freedom we actually have in us that has nothing to do with the limits of our physical life circumstances?
Each of us is a galaxy. Each of us has 25 quadrillion potential paths in which to reframe our mental understanding of the world. 25 quadrillion paths to see the world through the eyes of fear, or 25 quadrillion paths to see the world through the eyes of love.
It’s the work of a lifetime. The sheer potential is overwhelming, and yet the number is so vast it also is reassuring. You can’t ever reach perfection. That’s not the point.
The point is that there are ALWAYS opportunities to choose.
And the point doesn’t revolve around the discrete 100 billion neurons… it revolves around the CONNECTIONS between the neurons.
When we look at every part of our world, our lives, and ourselves, the Truth at every level is that it’s the connections – the relationships – that matter.
And the other Truth is that our connection with ourselves is foundational to our connection with the world.
We are conditioned to believe that what we DO (or do not, or do wrong, or do imperfectly) or what others DO (or do not, or do wrong, or do imperfectly) TO US affects whether or not we are loved.
But, when I read the Bible, the underlying theme is ALWAYS that we are loved.
Shake away all the confusing, contradictory details of the Bible and ask first, “What kind of book is this?” I mean, look in a bookstore and it’s in the “Religion” section. But I honestly believe it’s been miscategorized.
It’s a Love story that holds all the other kinds of stories of all the kinds of people.
Not romance, not history, not biography, no poetry, not fiction, not literature, not “how to”…
And yet, ALSO romance, and history, and biography, and poetry, and fiction, and literature, and “how to”….
It’s the Love story of Love to Love’s People.
It’s the story of the great “I AM” (Moses and the burning bush) to every “YOU ARE BELOVED” one of us.
So the foundational step of living a life of love isn’t so much proving we are lovable (which is dependent on actions we take and actions taken upon us to prove or disprove that we are loved).
The foundational step is TRUSTING that we ARE beloved.
We have to sit with that. We have to have time and space to sit with it and receive it and be filled with it.
We can’t DO anything. We have to BE STILL so we can BE LOVED.
To be beloved is not conditional on anything.
That’s who are ARE. That’s our essence. That’s the starting point.
Keep it simple. That’s the hardest thing to do.
Anyone else still trying to declutter? Anyone else still trying to simplify their lives? Anyone else still overwhelmed with tasks?
But the thing is, those THINGS aren’t who we are.
Who we ARE gets lost in what we DO, and eventually we begin to see ourselves as those things, or measure our value against all those things.
The answer to ” Who am I?” has already been answered. “I am beloved.”
And regardless of whatever else is going on in our fear-based neural pathways or in our fear-laden world, we are called to trust that our BE-ing (our essence) is as BE-loved.
Why do I keep talking about this? Because I’m still trying to believe it myself. I’m still trying to trust it myself. I’m still trying to rewire the quadrillion pathways in my mind so that more and more pathways default to trusting in my belovedness, so that more and more of my thoughts default to love, so that more and more of my intentions are rooted in love, so that more and more of my actions are naturally loving.
So often, we can see the belovedness of (some) other people more that we can see it in ourselves.
But the call is to see the belovedness of ALL people AND see it in ourselves.
If we trust in our belovedness, then we don’t become victims, nor do we have to create more victims. It's not a power struggle where some win or lose.
It’s claiming your power, and creating an inner and outer world that includes every thing, every person, and every experience. Because every thing, every person, and every experience can be transformed by the power of your love.
The race we’re running in our own lives - is towards Love.
The crown we seek - is our belovedness.
The prize we claim - the Spirit of Love working through us and affecting all the world around us.
Peter 2:9 NIV
“ … you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. ”
See that? We are beloved.
Do, or do not…
Run your race.
Win your prize.
Claim your belovedness.
Claim the Spirit of Love.
Claim your authority to rule your world with Love.
What are neural pathways, different types, how they work, what they look like (diagram) and how they affect memory, learning, habits and behaviour. And, can neural pathways be changed, how to reprogramme them and how long does it take? Plus: How neural pathways are created/formed and a few exercises...