Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.
For a good part of our lives, we were lost, uncomfortable, and blind to the good in the world. There was no middle ground for us. Either we were being funneled into disaster by the tornado of self-will, or we lived in quiet desperation.
All of that has changed. The spiritual way of life has enabled us to be at home and comfortable in the world. Our faith in God has taken the chill from the winds of adversity. We have found the way to peace, no matter what unfolds before us.
In the past, we created conflict and discord wherever we went. We were instigators of unrest, opportunistically taking whatever we could.
Today, because of the kind of people we have become, we are part of life’s solutions rather than its problems. We try to give rather than receive, to build up rather than tear down. Whatever situation we enter into, we try to leave it somewhat improved.
The dramatic change within us has become evident to those around us. They are coming to know that our peace of mind and happiness are the result of living a spiritual life.
THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Faith in a Higher Power can be the pathway to peace and happiness.
When God shuts a door, He opens a window.
When major unforeseen events occur in our lives, we sometimes have difficulty accepting them. Even though the change may very well improve our lot in life, we’re convinced that only dark days lie ahead.
An unexpected job transfer, for example, forces us to move from a coastal location to a city far inland. We dread the thought of making new friends and changing our life-style. Perhaps a treasured relationship ends abruptly, leaving us devastated.
Anyone can be completely thrown by such occurrences, including those of us who pride ourselves on adaptability and acceptance. We turn our eyes upward and ask beseechingly, “Why is this happening?”
Yet somehow, with the help of family, friends, and a loving God, we get through these ordeals a day at a time. Things gradually work out for us and those around us. After a time our lives change in ways we couldn’t have planned or even imagined.
When we first faced the changes, we had been deeply upset; it seemed that life would “never be the same.” After a while, chances are we’ve become grateful for the way things have turned out.
THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Nothing is permanent—except change.
A man’s first care should be to avoid the reproaches of his own heart.
Sometimes when I think about the past it’s almost as though it was all a bad dream. But it wasn’t a dream, and it’s important for me to remember how harmful my behavior really was. The reproaches I received were well deserved.
Since then my actions and attitudes have changed dramatically for the better. But I’ve tended to make faster progress with healthy actions than with healthy thinking. My mind still occasionally tries to slip me a Mickey, insisting reproachfully: “You’re not doing well enough,” “You don’t deserve the success you have,” “If only they knew what you’re really like!”
Fortunately, I’ve come to realize that I don’t have to take those attacks to heart, nor do I have to act on them. When I choose to act, I certainly don’t have to punish myself.
As time goes by, my thinking patterns aren’t lagging as far behind my behavior patterns as they used to. I’m not having as many self-reproachful thoughts. And when I do, it’s easier to tell the difference between a “deserved” reproach for a wrong I’ve actually committed—and one that’s simply an “old tape.”
THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Old tapes can be erased and re-recorded.
One’s own self is well hidden from one’s own self; of all mines of treasure, one’s own is the last to be dug up.
It was hard to see at the time, but some of us were shaped and propelled through life by outside forces. We assumed roles in response to the behavior of others, and allowed our reactions and responsibilities to consume us. As a result, we missed the opportunity to develop as individuals and to become fulfilled.
We began our spiritual journey with the goal of bettering our lives. But along the way we discovered something unforeseen—our true selves. For the first time we have gotten to know ourselves and have had the chance to be ourselves. We have been renewed and in some cases have undergone a rebirth.
Because of our ever-deepening self-awareness, we’re now able to shape our lives according to personal needs and objectives. Today we take time to explore and develop capabilities and talents we never knew we had. Consequently, we are able to bring joy, excitement, and wonderment into our own lives as well as the lives of others.
All of this has been possible only because of our willingness to change and our faith and trust in God. As we continue seeking His will for us, we grow and expand as individuals.
THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Self-discovery is one of the most rewarding opportunities of a spiritual life.
Act nothing in a furious passion. It’s putting to sea in a storm.
Once again you’ve been sucked into the destructive vortex of your own anger. Now the dust is settling and you are nursing a battered psyche, wondering how you can temper your reactions the next time your emotional barometer plummets. Of course, there are no guarantees, but here’s a suggested sequence of actions that could make a difference.
First, remove yourself from the situation—physically and, to whatever extent possible, emotionally. This puts you in a position to better understand what is actually happening before you get carried away. Discuss the situation with someone immediately; at the very least, you’ll be able to vent your feelings.
Next, ask yourself honestly if you have contributed to the upheaval in any way. Have you somehow provoked or fueled it? If you find that you’re even partially responsible, apologize promptly and put it behind you.
If you are angry at someone for something specific, try (as difficult as it may be) to recognize and understand the causes behind his or her hurtful or seemingly irrational actions. The purpose is not to justify the other person’s behavior, but rather to see it for what it is. This could help you to react with sympathy rather than anger.
THOUGHT FOR TODAY: There are actions you can take to defuse the self-destructiveness of your own anger.
Copyright © 2009 by J.S. Dorian. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.