The Words of the Clevenger Family

How do we become a part of the True Family

Victoria Clevenger
July 1988

Hak Ja Han Moon

This is the first time in history that there has been a True Family. How do we, born of a fallen lineage, become a part of this most precious entity? Perhaps more pertinent to ask is: How much do we sincerely yearn to become part of it? Power comes from desire.

As a child I remember thinking I wanted to die before my parents did, because I didn't want to exist without them. I may have felt angry at them sometimes, but I certainly didn't want anyone else to criticize them! Though my younger sister and I had our share of arguments, still our heart toward each other was the loyal one expressed by the song that goes, "He ain't heavy, he's my brother." The desire for loyal, close family ties springs from our original heart, and the fulfillment of this desire is basic for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Yet today, things like loyalty, obedience, and absoluteness are virtues whose reputations seem to be tainted. Many people, at least in the Western world, wouldn't feel particularly honored to be described as an obedient and loyal person. But to truly become a part of the True Family, we have to unfetter the impulses and desires of our original heart, which contains, in essence, the blueprint for how God intended us to relate with all people and things, and this certainly includes the beauty of these virtues. One hundred percent loyalty doesn't mean one is unthinkingly blind to another's need to grow or change. Rebelling or withdrawing love doesn't have to be our response to being hurt, misunderstood, or thwarted by others. The True Family is trying to teach us that closing our hearts in such ways only retards the restoration process of both the "victim" and the "victimizer." As we try to fully awaken the God-given essence of ourselves, I think we can find how much we do yearn to become part of the True Family and to embody such qualities as loyalty, filial piety, and obedience. Again, power to change comes from the strength of our desire to change, and from the hope that we can actually do it and find fulfillment.

For example, to discover how much I wanted True Parents and how it would feel to finally have them as my own, in prayer I imagined walking down the street and meeting a couple who told me they were my long lost real, or true, parents. Initially, of course, I had no particular feeling for them -- it was the first time I had ever seen them. I probed my heart to see what they would have to do to win my trust and love -- what did my heart most long for in relationship with parents? I discovered that not only did they have to demonstrate a deep personal concern for me (which my physical parents certainly had), but also they had to have a noble vision for what they knew I could become and be 100-percent examples of that vision themselves. When I forced myself to imagine that such people whom I could unconditionally revere could also passionately love me -- and the world -- I felt such incredible joy inside that it was almost scary. There was intense spiritual pressure against maintaining that feeling; something kept saying that it was "too good to be true" and that I could never have such a relationship. But I knew that the desire for this relationship could only be from God, and I saw that I would have to fight Satan to obtain it.

After having children myself, it was easier to imagine the kind of relationship that God and True Parents longed to have with me, though again I had to really fight a "too-good-to-be-true" feeling. I recognized in my original heart a deep longing for my children to completely love and respect me and to surpass me in following the ideals I had given them. It's the kind of filial heart I hear True Children encouraging us and themselves to have -- the kind of heart True Parents have toward God, the kind of heart God created us to have.

As Hyun Jin Nim said on May 8, 1988 ideal children seek to be a carbon copy of their parents, to follow and do everything their parents do. Certainly we can see this imitation process in very young children. But in the fallen world, because of peer pressure and because our parents themselves can't fully stimulate our original potential, we often cut many of the natural ties binding parent to child -- which is painful. It's not easy to regrow them, especially to people like True Parents, who fundamentally challenge our habits. But yet as we do, the joy, the rightness we feel inside, is exhilarating and reinforcing.

Each generation is born fresh -- and especially blessed children are born with much less shadow and weight on their original nature. The precious seed of divinity is already there. It just needs the right nourishment and weeding, the right example and environment. Changing society doesn't have to take years and years. But if we don't truly embody the original patterns God intended -- inheriting True Parents' heart and tradition -- the original minds of our children may well prevent them from forming the kind of close relationship with us that we deeply desire; we may also distort their growth.

In this regrowth process, we can gain hope by remembering not only the necessity of keeping a victorious mind, but also the need for repentance. The path home to the realm of Shim Jung is in place now, but so much of our lives still entails a battle with Satan. The confession ceremony held by Heung Jin Nim plowed through our apathy and mistrust; and our tears of repentance, along with Heung Jin Nim's clear guidance, enabled the ever- present seed of original heart and desire to begin to bloom again. However, bad habits, like crabgrass, don't die easily and can pop up again.

Confession and repentance mustn't be seen as only a "one-shot deal." We can and should repent every time our hearts prompt us to. The "absoluteness" the True Children are constantly exhorting us to have is not just in adhering to rigid principles and law, but in really loving God and True Parents and responding to the True Family. They understand our struggles, and though they are hurt by our failures, they know that as long as we don't give up, we will make it! Always we can freshly remind selves to love and to act from our original, not fallen, nature.

For years, repenting wasn't easy for me because it seemed that all I knew to do was to confess and feel miserable about the selfish, "bad" things I'd done and did and might well do again. I didn't really understand that I was speaking to someone who truly loved me for myself and fundamentally believed in my innate goodness. I felt that somehow what I had done wrong would and should be held against me, and that God couldn't really forgive me until I had radically changed, which I hadn't. Since the fall our spiritual environment has been that of accusation (that we in some sense feel we deserve) from a being who has no desire to believe in our original nature. It takes a long time to understand that God's judgment is very different from Satan's. God knows we can and will do better -- if only we continue trying, in relationship with Him -- and He's eager to forgive, which is something Satan cannot do.

When I finally realized that it was more for sins of omission that I should repent -- for all the times I wasn't open, giving, responsive, concerned, generous -- I began to feel hope for how loving I could choose to be each moment in the future. I realized I had to even more deeply repent for my lack of belief that God and True Parents truly cared about me and were hurt by my not trusting their love and concern. This has been a more difficult realization to consciously sustain -- but I know from my relationship with both my spiritual and physical children how much it hurts the parent when the child doesn't trust or receive the love extended. The element of trust must go hand in hand with attendance -- not only to Heavenly Father and True Parents, but in each relationship we embark upon creating and sustaining.

God is very kind in that all we have to concern ourselves with, really, is the present moment. Are we embodying the appropriate heart now? As we fulfill each moment successfully, we can say, "My Heavenly Father, my True Parents, I'm Your child. I can finally declare this with confidence." Positive thinking about the True Family, recognizing what they have done, and because of that what we can also do, is vital. We must realize that they are human, too, like us, but they have exerted a tremendous amount of discipline in their lives, based on hope for the realization of the ideal blueprint. We must come to embody more hope ourselves. If we root out the weeds from our "Mind Garden," [the title of Ye Jin Nim's book of poems] and our "Heart Garden," God's own investment and hope in each of us can blossom -- even now in this restoration providence.

We must listen for and trust the clearest voice we hear inside us -- the one that vibrates with love for God, the True Parents, and the True Children. Verbalize, express that love, and we will find that indeed it is there and can lead us home to our True Family. 

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