Image by Bernd Hildebrandt
As I write this book, I’m recovering from a kidney stone that presented itself in the middle of the night. My husband, Bob, fell on the ice a week ago and landed on his back, so he’s been sore. A friend has a brain tumor. Another is going through radiation for breast cancer.
Also in my life right now, robins have returned for the spring. Most of our friends and family are physically healthy. We get to do work that we love. We look out over rolling hills every day. We’re expecting a new grandchild this year. The world is filled with kind and compassionate people.
This is a normal day. It’s probably no worse or better than yours.
These are the things that are happening around me, in the external world. But most of the time, what’s going on inside is pretty peaceful, whether I’m focused on the future grandbaby or the political races. And I don’t say that because I’m special. I’m saying it because I marvel at what’s possible for all of us: to live in a peaceful world no matter what is happening around us, because we are the light and have peace within.
This is true freedom.
Getting there doesn’t mean withdrawing from the world, shaking our heads, and washing our hands of it. This is about being in the world, actively engaged, but carrying the peace inside ourselves into that world so we can be part of the change.
Be The Light That You Are
That’s why this book is called Be the Light that You Are. It’s an imperative. You are the light, now be that light in the world. Don’t ignore that part of yourself. Don’t be falsely humble and pretend that you’re not good enough. Don’t buy into the collective “I don’t matter.”
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If you had a gift as a concert pianist, you wouldn’t hide it. You’d perform so others could be inspired and uplifted by the beauty of your music. If you were a gifted surgeon, you wouldn’t pretend your skills didn’t matter. You’d use them to heal people.
So why, when you have light within you, would you hide it and not use it in the world? It’s a tool. It’s what we need. And we need it from you. In fact, we need it now.
If you bring peace to the world rather than try to find peace in the world, you will change the world.
If you bring love to the world rather than try to find love in the world, you will change the world.
If you bring acceptance to the world rather than try to find acceptance in the world, you will change the world.
That’s why it starts with you, and why it’s so essential to be the light that you are. That’s where the peace comes from. Not from you but through you. That’s your assignment.
So no excuses. No more delays.
Being the light means moving the world forward with love rather than fear. As A Course in Miracles says, “Seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world.” This starts with you living out the inner peace that’s inside you. Feeling the freedom to be the light that you are.
Here are effective ways to set yourself free.
1. Engage in acts of kindness
They matter. They’re more than cumulative because they remind us who we are as the light, and that light can have unexpectedly broad results.
Hitler, for instance, was one small man in one small country who used fear to build an empire that could not stand the test of time. Look at the loss of life, all the despair and heartbreak that came from one person because people listened to the voice of fear rather than their higher Self, the voice of love. Fear is loud and insistent in the external world. And it is loud and insistent in your own mind.
But if you let it run your life, you’re building an empire of despair just as Hitler did. People ask, “Why didn’t anyone stop him?” But the better question is, “Why do we persist in building empires of hate, persecution, judgment, and attack in our own ego minds?” Hitler was not an aberration. He was enabled by the fear in all of us. It’s time for this to stop, but it must stop with each of us.
That’s why we can never underestimate the power of an act of compassion or kindness. There’s evidence of at least one school shooting being prevented when a student reached out in kindness, not knowing that his simple act made an angry and isolated young man feel like he belonged.
Similarly, I know someone who was planning an ambush when, out of the blue, he received a text from an old friend. The message reminded him of his greater purpose, and as a result, he put his gun down.
And I know a family that was fractured over one person’s alcoholism, but came back together when one of them simply said, “How can I help?”
The examples of kindnesses interrupting attacks and suicides, or simply brightening someone’s day, are countless. So if you feel overwhelmed and think you can’t make a difference, just reach out in one small way. Your simple act could change the course of history.
2. Hand everything over to the Holy Spirit
Recently, my ego mind clearly wanted attention, so it started chewing on a question about my next book. Did I have the right topic? Was I interviewing the right people? Had I started a list to keep track of possible titles?
Control, control, control. This inner ego fest didn’t go on long before I asked for my fear-based thoughts to be healed and said to myself and Spirit, “I’m so happy I don’t need to have the answers.”
With that statement, peace settled over me. I felt carefree, the way I did when I was a kid and had no real responsibilities. My only job was to enjoy the moment, trusting that Spirit would take care of things. Total freedom.
And that’s exactly what A Course in Miracles advises us to do: Ask the Holy Spirit for help with everything. No exceptions.
As you go through your day, become aware of when you start to get aggravated, frustrated, or afraid. When you do, stop and ask the Holy Spirit to heal your fear-based thoughts. And feel free to ask many times through the day. If in doubt, simply say, “Help!” Then pay attention to the freedom you feel.
3. Trust the power of prayer
Here’s what A Course in Miracles says about prayers being answered: “The very fact that the Holy Spirit has been asked for anything will ensure a response. Yet it is equally certain that no response given by Him will ever be one that would increase fear. It is possible that His answer will not be heard. It is impossible, however, that it will be lost. There are many answers you have already received but have not yet heard. I assure you that they are waiting for you.”
So, if I’m thinking my prayers aren’t being answered, I can correctly say to the Holy Spirit, “It’s not you. It’s me.”
I may pray to lose weight. But if I subconsciously fear that a slimmer me would be ostracized by my family—who all equate food with love—the Holy Spirit can’t yet help those pounds disappear.
This is why it’s essential to ask for fears to be healed, because that healing clears the path for our prayers to be answered.
Talk to the Holy Spirit about it, and be open to any guidance you receive.
Then give thanks for answered—or unanswered—prayers.
4. Help one person and forgive one
Help one person and know that you may be helped by someone completely different. Forgive one and be forgiven by another.
This is important because it frees you—and everyone else—to give and receive without expectations of reciprocity.
5. Ask yourself: What’s right with this picture?
Let’s say you’ve been feeling low on energy for a while and can’t seem to shake it. All you want to do is rest, read, and catch up on Netflix.
Or let’s say you’ve been pretty social most of your life, but lately you’d rather spend time in your garden.
Or maybe you’ve typically dated quiet types, and all of a sudden you find yourself enjoying the company of a real extrovert instead.
Your ego is likely to ask, “What’s wrong with this picture?” It will assume that, if something has changed, it’s a sign of trouble—even if you’re more peaceful and happier than ever.
So here’s a different question you could ask the Holy Spirit: “What’s right with this picture?”
Maybe the need for rest signals that a new idea is being born in you, or your higher Self is asking for quiet time to reflect on a big decision you’re facing.
Maybe the desire for less people time and more garden time means you’re getting more grounded.
For today, whenever you start to think something is wrong in your life, stop and ask the Holy Spirit, “What’s right with this picture?”
6. Stop fighting and let your Self be loved
Think of a horse that gets caught in barbed wire. The more it fights and flails, the more pain it will inflict on itself. Our ego minds are like the horse, trying to get free of the pain. But when we can sit still and ask for help from Spirit, we minimize our own suffering. Your spiritual helpers will be with you, lifting you above the perils of your own ego mind if you allow them to.
Remember: Reacting to life differently than you have in the past requires a different perspective. A fresh way of looking at things. A new application of love. And it’s the only way the cycle of anger and guilt and attack will end. Long term, it’s the only thing that works.
So if you feel trapped in fear, see yourself putting peace in a box, gift wrapping it, and handing it to someone—or maybe to your Self. This simple act will remind you who and what you are, which is always where your freedom lies.
Principles In Action
I’d like to share something from my own life that I hope will have value for you.
It’s a commitment I wrote to myself a year ago. I read it often. In fact, I could benefit from reading it every day.
It incorporates all the principles we’ve talked about, and it demonstrates my desire to live them in every area of my life.
Do I always succeed? No. But putting these intentions in writing and revisiting them frequently helps affirm the life that I know is possible. This written commitment is not a cause to berate myself when my ego takes over. Instead, it’s a roadmap to help me stay on track or regain my footing when I take a fear-based detour.
I encourage you to write something similar for yourself, to update it when you need to, and to spend time with it every day.
So here it is, the sum total of our ten principles, shared with my greatest blessings to you.
Like everyone in this world, I am a perfect expression of God’s love and divine light. Nothing can change that, but I sometimes forget. When I do, I know I’m not broken, lost, or alone. All I have to do is ask for help from Spirit and remember what I am.
Our home extends love to everyone who enters. It’s a place of welcome, where we honor the light in others and help them celebrate it in themselves. Like all of us, it is perfect in its quirks and imperfections, providing a safe harbor for laughter, comfort, acceptance, respite, and forgiveness.
I send blessings to everyone on the planet—all the friends and family who share the riches of lifelong relationship, all the people who have enriched my life with their unique gifts, and all the people I may never meet but are part of my human family.
I send love, healing, and peace to places of conflict around the world. I know this energy will be carried by the Holy Spirit exactly where it needs to go to transform fear into love.
I send my husband deep appreciation and love for our commitment to one another. I thank him for his kindness, his friendship, and his steadfastness, and for all the growth we’ve experienced with one another.
When my ego pulls me into discouragement or worry, I ask to be lifted above the battleground where I can see through a new lens, through spiritual eyes. From this vantage point, I know my mind can help find peaceful and creative solutions in every situation.
I surrender my ego’s need to control, fix, or interfere so I can let everyone in my life be who and what they are. I realize I can’t see the bigger picture, and that any judgment on my part is based on my own insecurities and limited information. And so I lovingly detach, trusting that everything is working for the highest good and asking for my words and actions to be motivated by love.
I know that life is not lived in the past or the future, and I’m reminded every day to focus on possibilities unfolding in this very moment. I forgive myself and everyone else for hurts that have come from fear, and I ask for all our hearts to be healed so we can start fresh with one another every single day.
I am infinitely grateful for the exquisite tenderness, beauty, and strength in this world, and for the eternal flame that shines in all of us.
In love, we bring healing to Earth.
In unity, we live in peace.
In light, we remember what we are.
I say thank you, and Amen.
©2019 by Debra Landwehr Engle. All Rights Reserved.
Excerpted with permission of the publisher,
Hampton Roads Publishing. www.redwheelweiser.com.
Be the Light that You Are: Ten Simple Ways to Transform Your World With Love
by Debra Landwehr Engle
Be the Light that You Are: Ten Simple Ways to Transform Your World with Love inspires readers to put their spiritual practice in action—and gives them concrete ways to do it. In a time of highly charged political and emotional issues, this simple guide helps readers move from bitterness and divisiveness to true peace. Inspired by A Course in Miracles and other spiritual teachings, Be the Light that You Are provides a simple path to help readers live with kindness, decency, and authenticity in troubled times. (Also available as an Audiobook and Audio CD.)
About the Author
Debra Landwehr Engle has been a freelance writer for many years and her initial publishing credits appeared in such magazines as "Country Home," "Country Gardens" and "Better Homes and Gardens." Her first book, "Grace from the Garden: Changing the World One Garden at a Time," was published in 2003. Since then, she has contributed to several international collections of essays. Deb teaches classes in "A Course in Miracles" and is co-founder of Tending Your Inner Garden®, an international program of creativity and personal growth for women. She also teaches workshops that use journaling and writing as tools for self-discovery, as well as one-on-one and small-group sessions on creativity, writing, manuscript development and life skills. Through her company, GoldenTree Communications, she provides mentoring and publishing services to fellow writers.
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