Having worked in the field of sustainability for many years, I am quite familiar with people and organizations that do their best to look as though they care about the environment, but aren’t necessarily any more green than the rest of us. There is a certain kind of image that goes along with a green lifestyle. Yet, you don’t have to drive a Prius to care about the environment. There are so many ways to be sustainable and live the values of being a steward of life on earth.
This is true for any set of values that we have. There are many ways to live well, and many people live their values in ways that we don’t necessarily see.
Sometimes, there are points in our lives that our values change either because our values are challenged or we outgrow them, or realize there are different ones that we need to focus on more strongly.
One of the most difficult parts of life is to stand up for our values when someone, particularly someone we love, is trying to manipulate or shame us into taking actions that are not aligned with our values. Sometimes the manipulation is subtle, sometimes it’s obvious.
Of course, we can be manipulators too. We don’t always honor the values of the people that we love deeply.
Lately, I have been feeling constricted by various challenges to my values from people that I deeply love. I have had to say no to adamant requests to live outside of my values, and that’s not been easy for me. I have sometimes felt like the sun has disappeared, because of the clouds blocking the light around me. It literally has been cloudy where I live as well.
In this last week, I was given a gift of a powerful dream that got me to thinking about how values change and evolve.
In my dream, I was waiting in line with a large group of people to see a woman who had been a spiritual teacher of mine a few years ago.
I don’t remember the words my teacher said to me in the dream, but to my surprise she was mostly pleased with me, enough so that I was given a gift for completing work with her. At the very end of the dream, right before I woke up, I was given a tapestry, the size of a piece of notebook paper. I was told that I had been given a new name that sounded something like Gwynneful, and the tapestry showed a picture of this woman. Given my love of fantasy stories and all things Tolkien, it’s not too surprising that my dreams would give me a medieval, Celtic sounding name. It is interesting though when I looked up Gwynn on Google, I found that it means white, fair, blessed in Welsh, and ful means great amount of. I’m certainly fair skinned and do feel blessed. 🙂
Two words were sewn into the tapestry in the upper left hand corner — fascinate and kindness. Somehow as dreams do, I was told without any sound that the first word, fascinate, was my primary way of making decisions. I am to do what fascinates me. The second word, kindness was how I need to make important, sometimes tough decisions where doing what is fascinating isn’t enough.
I woke up right after I “heard” these words.
This was one of those dreams that I felt like God was talking to me, giving me guidance saying you are on the right path, and here’s something to help you make decisions to live your values more easily going forward. Like this sign on an ancient castle in England I was felt like I was being told don’t walk on the wall, stay on the path. Sometimes, we have to remember that some walls and boundaries in our lives are leading us in the best direction and there are limits to the roads we can take.
Prior to this dream,I had people close to me trying to persuade me to live differently in one way or another. Various admonitions for me to change had been leaving me feeling confused about my values, and particularly the values I had used to make decisions in my life during the last several years.
This dream helped me remember that just because we encounter external resistance doesn’t mean that we are on the wrong path with our values. Sometimes, we need the resistance to clarify our values.
Also, sometimes we can’t focus on living every one of our values all at once.
When my children were young, their safety was a big focus in my life. My boys were so vulnerable and fragile. Now that they are older, I still worry about their safety, but my focus is more on helping them to discover what fascinates them as they start to think about college and beyond. Most importantly, I feel that I need ensure that they keep kindness in mind, especially when they are fighting and trying to wound and maim each other.
It’s good to realize when we have completed one stage of our life, and are entering a new phase. We may remember times in the past as being simpler or miss the person we used to be. Yet, if we pay attention, there are ways that the divine offers us feedback and guidance to lead us forward.
If you’re looking for a book about living your values and receiving divine guidance, I recommend reading I Can See Clearly Now by Dr. Wayne Dyer. This is a great book for showing how personal values evolve over time. In Dyer’s case, he also helped millions of people to evolve their values. I found his autobiography well written and very inspiring.
What are your most important values now, and how do you support them with your choices and actions?