Near the end of last year I read a book that I found inspiring. I had read it in the past and honestly, it didn't stick the first time. I tried to follow the "look to the positive" plan of action and nothing...it got worse...didn't help at all. But I was willing to try again.
So, it's been just almost 3 months and I haven't even mentioned to anyone what I've been doing. Frankly, I've been afraid of jinxing it. Like, if I tell everyone then it will stop. I've been chicken. After a great conversation today with a good friend I decided to come clean. I've been, *gasp*, expecting good stuff to happen to me!
Let me put it this way...
I finally began to understand the concept of you'll get what you've been getting until you stop doing what you've been doing. My problem really has been that I thought I was doing everything right. Not in a "Wow, I'm perfect" kind of way but really and truly I think I'm trying to be the best darn me I can and I'm really trying to do the right thing.
For many years now I have looked at the negative. I told myself I was just staying prepared for whatever might be coming. If I looked for the worst then I was happily surprised no matter what because life was better than I was planning. Sometimes it wasn't really even focusing on the negative, but simply telling myself "it probably won't happen" so I was ok when it didn't because that's what I was expecting. If I got my hopes up and it didn't happen I was devastated and so I was avoiding it.
Here's the problem: in this world we receive that which we focus on. It's like when you're driving, if you start staring at the big rig next to you, you will unconsciously drift toward the very truck you would like to avoid.
There is a story about a man sitting on his porch when a traveler drives up. He announces that he plans to move and is looking for a town. He would like to know what this town is like. The man on his porch asks what the people in his previous town were like. The traveler told him how wonderful they were and how sad he was to leave. The man on the porch assured him that he would find people in the new town to be just the same.
Soon another man drove up and announced the same thing. He was looking for a new place to live and wanted to know about the people there. In response to the same question he answered that people in his previous area were awful, judgmental, gossiping, etc. The man on the porch said he was sorry but the traveler would find more of the same.
We get what we are looking for. We're attracted to it because that's what we're focused on. I don't doubt for a minute that it works for negative things. We get what we expect.
The hard part was accepting that it can also work for positive things. I can expect to find good things if I am focused on the positive.
What about learning and growing through challenges and difficulties, trials and temptations? Well, as I see it now change is the only constant and most of our challenges in life are there to teach us lessons. BUT the best part is that these challenges, trials, and temptations are not the only way to learn those lessons.
Alma tried teaching the people of Antionum but no one wanted to listen. He turned around to find the poor who had been kicked out of the synagogue waiting to listen because they were humble.
But..."And now, as I said unto you, that because ye were compelled to be humble ye were blessed, do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble themselves because of the word?"
Isn't it better if we figure out the lessons on our own, because we are truly humble and grateful, because we are full of faith? I'm here to tell you it is so much better and so much easier to learn without all the hard and horrible things in life.
So, what is the plan? How did I make this change? I decided to trust God. Yep, that simple, trust God. See up until now I've expected that He really would let me fall, He really would allow bad things to happen, He really would put obstacles and horrible things in my way in order to teach me or strengthen me. Now, it seems ridiculous.
He is our Father. Please show me one single loving father here on earth that signs his kid up for difficulty and heartache.
Sure as parents we allow our kids to try hard things and sometimes we push them a little in order to help them and show them they are capable of more than they think they are. We let go of the bike seat to let them know they can do it themselves. We encourage them to climb a little higher so they learn to overcome challenges. No loving parent creates hardships, life provides enough all on it's own.
God is the same way. He encourages us to do more than we think we can. He tells us to try things that will be hard so we can be more than we thought, but He never puts stumbling stones in our path. He is the stepping stone that helps us find our way Home to Him. Understand the difference?
He is also waiting to bring us the good things in life. It doesn't have to be anything big or spiritual, but we can trust Him to give us all that is in His power to give us, even the silly little things.
We just have to have faith. In the past I would hold onto "my plan," my way of doing things until they were so incredibly wrong that I desperately came to God and pleaded for a miracle to fix what I had created or save me from what I lacked. I have learned that when we are desperate we are too late to show faith. We are only turning to Him as a last resort because we have no where else to go.
Some would suggest that we have to do all that we can do and then God will step in. I would challenge that and say that FIRST we come to Him and then we do all that He asks us to do. Sometimes in my insistence on doing all I can do, I get in the way of Him doing all that He can do. In my desire to have Him give me what I think I need or want I get in the way of what He knows I need and what He wishes I would want.
How does it work? You believe it will. I'll repeat it since it took me about 41 years to actually get this. You have faith that it will. I'll show you how it works for me.
I wanted to register my son for a Spanish class. $160 I didn't have at that time. So, I put it in God's hands. I signed him up, I planned on it and kept putting small amounts of money aside to do it, but I was dreadfully short. Still I kept waiting, hoping, praying, not in desperation, but in faith that He would provide. Sure enough I got the work I needed to pay for it. It didn't magically show up in the lottery. I had to save, I had to work, but the money to save was there and the work was there, when it hadn't been before. I wasn't sure how we were going to eat, but I could pay for the class. Then the first day she offered to let me pay half then and half at mid-semester. Even better.
Some things are smaller than that. I caught the belt loop of my pants on a loose door lock. It ripped the waist band clear open. I worried about what to do and then decided I would exercise faith. I asked for help in finding something to wear. I drove to Ross and prayed the whole time I walked in.
Now, you have to know me. I love to shop about as much as I love a root canal. Even if I truly need it I do not find it a pleasant experience. I am also all about getting in and out, not standing around discussing with my dentist and searching through rack upon rack of possible options. Ross, TJ Max, Marshall's are all my worst nightmare because you have to spend time searching. There are not cutely dressed mannequins showing what's available. There are not racks of similar clothes several available in each size. I actually have to shop if I go to one of these places.
But this day, with all my faith, I walked in, I hoped for the best. I literally walked over to my size and looked at one pair of pants, then another, then pulled out a denim skirt which was perfect and if I had imagined a skirt I would love, it would have looked just like that one. It was $9.99 which I actually had. I bought the skirt and literally skipped out to my car.
Sure these are only two examples, but remarkably in the past 3 months I have had more and more examples just like them. Has everything I ever hoped for come true? Of course not. Am I suddenly rich and famous? Hardly. But there have been too many occasions for me to just chalk it up to dumb luck. Do I expect you to believe that God is suddenly granting wishes if you just believe? Nope, remember I read it a year ago, tried the same thing and it didn't work at all. Plus, it sounds a little like a Disney movie involving fairy dust and an island where children never age.
The thing that scares me most is that it may change. I may some how lose my faith and this may all disappear. Do I fear that God will stop helping me? or loving me? or taking away the bad simply because I have asked Him to? No, but I fear my inability to know humility on my own and a need to be compelled. I fear my inability to trust in Him and be patient enough for Him to work in my life rather than charging headlong at what I think is best.
Will this work for you? I don't know. I can't see in your heart. I can't see where you are and if you have all the hang ups I did. All I can hope is that maybe something in here brings you a little bit of light. Maybe it is just so that in writing this I can finally say that I've found faith.