I spoke at a women’s event a few weeks ago for the first time since Brian died. Prior to his death, I frequently spoke at women’s events and retreats, but this would be the first time that I spoke in public about his death and my journey to healing. And a woman came up afterwards and said, “Your talk reminded me of the book A Return To Love by Marianne Williamson." She has a very famous quote. You probably know it already. I’d heard it before, but didn’t know the source or the author. Yes, I admit, her book was published in 1992 and I guess I’ve had my head in the sand. Here’s the quote that so many people love and resonate with: “We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Sounds good, huh? I love the part that we’re meant to shine, especially so that others can see us as an example of God’s good work in us, that encourages others to shine. And I agree, too, that as His children, we are to manifest the glory of God. The Westminster Shorter Catechism confesses that the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. But is Ms. Williamson saying the same thing that I’m saying? When that young lady at the women’s event said my message was like Ms. Williamson’s, was she right?
I’m here to tell you emphatically and exactly why the message I share is not, and I want to say that again, The message I share is not the same as Marianne Williamson’s A Return To Love.
Let me tell you what I do believe, in case you haven’t picked up on it in my past episodes.
I believe that there is one God who is triune in nature: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I believe that God sent His Son to earth, born of a virgin, to bring the message of hope for salvation to all the nations of the earth. Jesus was hung on a cross to die, was buried in a tomb, and was raised to life again on the third day and ascended back to heaven and sits, right now, on His throne at the right hand of Father God. I believe Jesus’ words when He said that there is no other way to the Father in heaven. In other words, there’s no other way to get to heaven after you die apart from receiving Jesus as your Lord and Savior; that we each were born into a natural state of sin because of the original sin of Adam and Eve, and therefore we need to repent from our sin and receive Jesus’ atonement; That as we have believed in Jesus we receive the Holy Spirit living inside of us who then is our source for teaching, conviction of sin, correction, leading, guiding, peace, and comfort. Holy Spirit is the literal Spirit of Father God and He is with us. He is the reason we are able to transform and change everything about us to live and love in freedom like Jesus did when He walked this earth. I also believe that this change is necessary in each one of us. It’s called sanctification, which is the ongoing process of making someone morally right.
God created us with this capacity to change. He commands it in Romans 12:2. But it is a process in which we partner with Him to do so. We have to decide to do this. And the bible tells us to become aware of and be very careful about what we are thinking and what we are speaking. In the world of psychology, this is called Cognitive Behavior Therapy or Thought-Work. And applying ourselves to Thought-Work in relation to the truth of Biblical Scripture can be a powerful tool the Spirit of God can use in and with us to bring about that change.
And now let me tell you why my message is not at all like Ms.Williamson’s message. I honestly had to buy her book and do some research on who she is and what she represents.
In a nutshell, Ms. Williamson bases all her knowledge and spiritual development, which began as a teenager searching for truth, purpose, and identity, on a self-study program of spiritual psychotherapy called A Course In Miracles. According to an article written by a journalist who interviewed Ms. Williamson, the course was written by psychologist Helen Schucman who herself labeled it as a correction to Christianity — beginning from a premise of original innocence rather than one of original sin, for example, and focusing on the metaphysics of identity and ego formation.
The journalist says in her article that Ms. Williamson has won a Hollywood following, offering religion without rules, salvation without sacrifice. And she calls Williamson the perfect priestess for a culture steeped in pop. She goes on to say, “As with many New Age programs, the particulars are not as important as the intent, and that may be part of Williamson’s appeal. She doesn’t demand critical thinking. Never mind, for instance, the centuries of religious history that separate Jews like her from Christians. ‘Sure, Jesus was the son of God, Williamson says, but then so are you and you and you. All of us have messianic potential.’ Williamson makes the holy hospitable, and she has made the ultimate truth relative as well as negotiable.” I’ve put a link to the article in the show notes.
This kind of thinking can be heard from many people who take issue with organized religion. This audience appears to be looking for easy answers to their search for self and spirituality, and allows them a “build-your-own-religion kit,” as the article noted. “A way to pick and choose the rules, keeping the convenient precepts while discarding the cumbersome ones. The goal is swift gratification — the same impulse that causes people to switch jobs or spouses the instant they are unhappy.” Hmmm
Lastly, let me tell you why people can easily get confused when the conversation turns to Thought-Work and then easily get pulled away from truth.
It can be confusing when we start talking about our thought life because a lot of what those who prescribe to the New Age movement teach is based on true brain science: Neuroplasticity: the ability for the brain to wire and re-wire itself based on dysfunction, trauma, consistent and persistent negative messages, and abuse all based on our perceptions of such events. It’s based on the truth that we can change the kind of experience we have in life just by changing our belief system and thought life. All this is true. But as Christians, we know our source for change is the power of the Holy Spirit within us. And the change we are seeking is the likeness of Jesus - His character - not the light of Consciousness that allows one to evolve as a human, which is the New Age Movement thought.
It can also be confusing because you may hear messages that sound right and true, such as “A sure sign of spiritual growth: you want more freedom and less stuff.” And “You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you and allowing that goodness to emerge.” The first message was from a meme I saw on a New Age Movement page. And the second is from spiritual and self-help leader, Eckhart Tolle. Now, I’m not saying these messages are evil or that the messengers are evil, but as a Christian, you really need to understand what’s really being said here. Like the meme, what do they mean by “spiritual growth”? And what does “freedom” look like? What is freedom to a New Ager?
Now, I could say the same words, and I may mean something entirely different. So, we really need to be more aware. Any time any message puts you and me as ultimately being in control of this freedom or this goodness, and the results come from the evolution of our consciousness, we are removing God and His Sovereign, Omnipotent power from our lives. And this is not just a lie, but it’s dangerous. Any time we put the focus on us and our spiritual development and “ascension” (a New Age term) we are on a slippery slope to spiritual death.
Many of these spiritual or self-help teachers use some of the same words that the Bible does. They use Christian words and phrases. In fact, the book A Return To Love is replete with them. Speaking of God as love, and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and the Light of Christ. It can sound good, but you have to go further and see what is really meant there. She speaks of Christ, but then says that Christ is just a word, a psychological term. And that no one religion has a monopoly on the truth. Christ, according to Ms. Williamson, refers to the common thread of divine love that is the core and essence of every human mind.” (pg. 31) She goes on to explain that God is love, but also that love is God. And therefore, God is merely the idea of love; and that there is no place where God stops and you start.”
Oh my! Yes, I hope you recognize that’s false doctrine. False doctrine is any idea that adds to, takes away from, contradicts, or nullifies the truth given in God’s Word. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 warns, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” And 2 Corinthians 11: 13-15 says, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” Whoa!
This is why we need to know what’s in our Bibles, because there are false teachers out there pretending to be declaring truth. We need to know what’s inside our Bibles so that when someone says something that’s contrary, something that’s false doctrine, then we’ll be able to recognize it and won’t be led away from truth.
Marianne Williamson’s message is to “pray hard enough, release those negative thoughts, and anything can happen.” While it is also true that Cognitive Behavior Therapy or Thought-Work, focuses on identifying lie-based beliefs - things that are not true - and not just things that are not true as a worldview, but checking in on our core belief system as a Biblical view - those things that we believe that are not in line with the truths and promises of God and then allowing the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts and minds from there. And while we do pray for His perfecting work in us, we do not believe we have to pray “hard enough” in order for God to hear our desire for freedom from believing these lies and the power to change. He hears us. He knows us. And because He has commanded this transformation, it must mean that He has a way for this to be accomplished in us. And He’s all in.
Finally, Ms. Williamson says, “You know the Jews say the Messiah is coming and the Christians say the Messiah came and Einstein said there is no time. So, this whole idea he’s coming, he came — I think we’re living in a time where the official take on Jesus is not particularly relevant to me.”
Know who you’re reading. Know who is influencing your mind and heart. Christian, check their message. Does it align with the Bible and God’s truths and promises inside? I would also suggest, Christian, that if you are looking for a counselor or Life-Coach, that you find one that aligns with your values and beliefs. Do your due diligence. It makes a difference, I promise!
So, here’s what Marianne Williamson and I DO have in common. The meaning of our message may be different, but the words are the same: God is Love. Return to Love. Yep, that’s just about all we can completely agree on. My message is always that there is a God who made you, sees you now, and loves you deeply. He wants to be your source of all that you need - emotionally, physically, and spiritually. And He’s waiting with arms open wide for you to lean in on Him. He’s accessible. He’s available. And He’s made a way through His Son, Jesus, that you are considered worthy and righteous in His sight…Not anything that you’ve done or can do to make things right, but just because you’ve decided to say “yes” to His gift of forgiveness, you are worthy. So, right now, friend, if you find yourself in need and you find yourself far off, won’t you return to love? Return to the God who loves you!
Friend, if you’re hurting right now and maybe you’re feeling a little confused as to how to return to this One who loves you, I’d love to be your coach and mentor. Through one-on-one time together, I’ll help you find freedom from the things that weigh heavy on you and keep you from living joyfully.
I’ve put a link in the show notes to my calendar to book at quick 30-minute chat to see if we’re a good fit. Or you can visit my website tricizody.com and send me an email there.
Have a great week, friends! See you next Wednesday for the next episode of Another Beautiful Life podcast.
Calendar Link for a free Life Coaching Consult Call: https://calendly.com/triciazodylifecoach/30min
Don’t forget to go to my website www.triciazody.com on the PODCAST page to get your 3 Guided Worksheets for personal development that complement my podcast episodes. They’re free, and I pray you’ll find some healing and freedom there.