By Rev. Brandon Nagel, Senior Minister
Welcome back! I apologize for the delay in these blogs, and now that I have a few to-do’s that were preoccupying me checked off my list; it’s time to get back to writing. So, when we last left off, Unity Church of Overland Park was exploring its core values and if you missed any one of those Sunday services, you can click here. With each one of those lessons, the common theme was that, whatever your core value may be, it is best expressed from within you. And certainly, there are many ways to do that, but the question that often arises is how do we know we are expressing the value we wish to express. We can answer that question through identifying core behaviors to go along with the value we have identified as our own.
These core behaviors serve as guidelines for us to check in with to see how we are living up to the values we have chosen and the core values for our lives. When we wonder if we are really living in integrity with our value of love, we can ask our self, “Well, am I seeking the good in others? Am I responding with empathy to those around me?” If we are willing to be honest with ourselves, the answer is either yes or no and then we can adjust our beliefs or behavior accordingly. But before we can do that, we must first become very clear on what those behaviors are for us. We must understand that these behaviors are unique for us. Sure, there could be some overlap in our individual idea of what it means to be love, but because we have had different experiences and it is these experiences that lead to different ideas of what any particular value may mean for you individually. I would also encourage you, just like with the values themselves, to try as best you can to not get carried away with behaviors. The goal is for you to be able to remember them and if you have thirteen ways of knowing you are being joyful, well… it may be hard to keep track.
So, you have an idea of what these can look like and about how many you should have, but what do you do to identify them? Well, honestly there are several different methods of identifying what these behaviors look like, but the one that always worked best for me was taking time in meditation and simply asking the Divine in you.
Here’s what I do:
I grab a piece of paper and something to write with.
Then, I sit down, close my eyes and begin to relax. As I feel my body begin to relax (I can always tell because my shoulders drop), I ask the question,
“If I am living in sync with the value of inclusiveness, what am I doing?”
And then I listen.
When something comes up, I write it down.
After a while I switch from listening to feeling gratitude and I bring the meditation time to an end. And then I take a break from the process and let the thoughts and experience just be. The power in writing the thoughts I had down is that I can revisit them later, so I am able to take to time to really let the experience and its revelations ground themselves within me. Later, when I pick up the paper again and read through it, there are always a few things that immediately stand out, our make my heart sing, or otherwise grab my attention like a neon sign on the Vegas strip. Those are the things that I know are the behaviors that are mine to live into and that is how you will know it too.
Taking this extra step with your core values helps move them past lovely things that you tell yourself about how you want to live your life and move them into concrete things that you can do to increase your awareness of the presence of God in your world. Ultimately that is what any spiritual practice will do, provided you take the time to engage with it. Living in integrity with your core values is simply one more way for us to take one step closer to being the full and unyielding light of God