Tuesday, August 05, 2008

It's No "Secret": We Don't Always Know What We Want

An H-n-T reader writes:
"I'm a strong Christian, but I tend to struggle with believing in the law of attraction. For instance, I have skydived before, and one day, I thought it would be cool to go again. By the end of that day, I was skydiving. Now, I had the idea and thought more and more about it. Did I get to skydive because I thought about it and I attracted it? Or how was it that God gave this opportunity to me? I want to live for God, but some of The Secret has to be somewhat true, or is it of the devil?"

Holly sez:
Thanks for sharing this example of something you wanted and got. I completely relate, as when I was a New Ager, I deeply believed I could obtain whatever I wanted just by thinking about it. And for a long time, I was amazed when I did get those things. For example, I wanted to be interviewed by my college's alumni magazine, and about a year after I graduated, they published a two-page article on me.

I don't chalk that up to coincidence or good fortune; I know I appeared in the magazine because I wanted to be in it. But I now recognize I wasn't mentally manipulating others to do my will. Getting what I wanted had to do with establishing relationships and subtly expressing my desires. I knew the magazine editor well and was freelancing for him at the time. I'd had many personal conversations with him, and told him how much I loved my full-time job as a reporter for a community newspaper. He happened to appreciate community newspapers and had wanted to feature someone in the alumni magazine who worked in publishing. So even though I never directly said, "Hey, profile me in the magazine!" I got what I wanted because I was seeking out that opportunity.

Of course, no one needs to be so subtle to get what they want. I once asked an employer why I hadn't gotten a promotion, and he told me, "Holly, I didn't know you wanted one." After that, I got promoted into the positions I wanted because: 1) I worked hard and wanted to do well in the company, and 2) my boss knew my goals.

Much of the time, the things we want are available to us if we're willing to work for them and are seeking opportunities. I'd say you got to skydive a second time because you really wanted to do this. You enjoyed your first experience, so you were alert to the opportunity of skydiving again and you made the desire known in some way.

Now for the spiritual perspective: James 1:17 reads, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." This doesn't say, "You'll get everything you want," but it also doesn't say God withholds good things. One thing's for sure: God isn't interested in giving us the bad things we may want.

Before I became a Christian, the things I wanted often weren't good for me. I wanted random guys to notice me or for someone to give me free alcohol. I constantly wanted people to tell me that I was talented, attractive, and cool. Back then, I believed the law of attraction worked because I got those things that I wanted. I got noticed and praised, and for awhile, everything was fun. But soon, I was left feeling painfully empty—the things I wanted were unsatisfying. Worse, I didn't know what I wanted anymore. I felt incompetent, unable to choose good things for myself. When I saw my own lack, I began to believe there had to be a God who was smarter and more competent than me. I wanted that God to give me direction and purpose. It took me nearly 10 years to become humble enough to have a relationship with God; I had to un-learn the habit of trying to control everything and everyone around me.

My friend Kevin says he doesn't believe God says "no" to the good things we want for ourselves. Rather, God says, "Yes—and I have something better for you." In other words, God always gives us the "good and perfect" blessing. The things we want might be good, but they might not be as perfect as what God wants to give us.

My friend Becky had been dating a guy, and that relationship was negatively affecting her relationship with God. When Becky prayed about her desire to have a good relationship with both a boyfriend and with God, God's response was, "Yes, Becky—and I have something better for you." Becky then did a scary thing by letting go of what she thought she'd wanted. She broke up with her boyfriend. She trusted that God would eventually give her a good and perfect relationship with a man. She didn't have to wait long; soon after the breakup, Becky met Trevor, a wonderful Christian man. I had the privilege of attending their wedding.

As for the question: How did God give you that skydiving trip? I'm sure you'll agree that skydiving was a good and perfect gift for you. (Not so much for me—planes, high places, and the feeling of weightlessness all freak me out!) At the moment you had the opportunity to go, you had the resources: perhaps money and time to go, and a body that was healthy enough for the activity. About a year ago, I was able to start dance lessons, and I immediately recognized this was a gift from God. God's given my husband a great job, so there's enough money in our budget for me to dance. Since God's given me the opportunity to work at home, I set my own schedule; thus, I can make time for my dance classes. And God's given me a healthy body, with two legs that are strong enough to jump around.

We need to be willing to talk to God about our desires, and to let go of what we think we want so God can give us something better. I now feel very comfortable praying, "God, these are the things I want with all my heart. You already know what I feel passionate about. And you know what's best for me. Please bless me with the good and perfect gifts that only you can give."

We should have personal goals and desires, and it's OK to make our wishes known to other people. But first, the Christ-follower should talk to God about the things we want. Then he will move us toward the true desires of our hearts and give us something even better than we'd imagined.

To ponder:
1) What do you really want? If you don't know, ask God to help clarify what is good and perfect for you.

2) Gratitude keeps us from becoming entitled and selfish. Make a list of five things for which you're thankful. Next to each, write how you are specifically grateful to God and others.

For example: "I'm thankful for my blogs. Thank you, God, for giving me the opportunity to write them. Thank you for the many people who give me great ideas to write about. I'm especially thankful for my friends Angela and LaTonya, who are always willing to read and edit my posts. Thank you for honest friends who give me truthful feedback. Thank you for providing time for me to write, and for the ability to pull my thoughts together into sentences. Thank you for providing teachers and editors who taught me about grammar and structure, and resources like this computer and the Blogger website that make it possible for me to write. (Wow, I'm so thankful that there are folks who have the ability to design and make stuff like computers and websites!) Thank you, God, for providing me the means to receive so much joy."

"The Secret" Versus The Bible

Is the Real "Secret" that Some People Are Better Than Others?


Anonymous said...

The Secret is the latest and by far the worst example of a HIGHLY profitable trend where self-help gurus with fabricated new age titles and little relevant education, credentials or legitimate expertise brainwash us into believing that they know what is best for us, our marriages and our families.

Often their only contribution to society is introducing some exotic sounding, new age philosophy. However, they often cleverly form an incestuous group of like-minded “experts” who cross-promote each other by swearing their success is due to following the beliefs of another member of their “cult!” All the while, they ply the airwaves jockeying for an ever-larger audience by appearing in the national media to garner third-party endorsements.

The Self-Help Movement has become the Self-Destruct Movement by diminishing or destroying our critical thinking skills to choose and evolve on our own. We have given up the freedom to build healthy lives, marriages and families based on our unique history and life experience. Instead many victims, blinded to the value of their own life experiences, are attracted to the latest secret in self-help, in an attempt to find out what they should think, feel and how they should act... this is the definition of a cult.

The solution is a return to our (common) senses! The best way out of this learned “self-helplessness” is to go cold turkey. Stop following ALL self-help gurus now. Begin, instead, to reclaim your natural, God-given ability to think for yourself. The common sense that was once readily available to all of us is still there free of charge and waiting to be applied to just about any challenge we might face in life… all you have to do is use it.

Please, let's all work together to stop the flock of "sheepeople" who blindly move from one UNPROVEN concept to the next, looking for the answers to life's challenges that you already possess and that is the OBVIOUS!

Anonymous said...

I wanted to comment on another article you wrote about "Second Hand Witnessing." I'm a retired police chaplain and a new church planter who has just discovered T-Shirts with printed messages. :) I wear them nearly every day and use them as discussion starters. It's a great way to get the conversation going in the directionyouwant it to go. I don't have to start the conversation, usually it's the T-Shirt that does the talking and I just get to chime in and finish the conversation.

Anonymous said...

Hi Holly!
Once again good post--and I think it was definitely God that led me to read it today--it was something I needed to hear. And, I will definitely ponder your questions.
I'm also thankful and grateful to God that you can use your talents to educate and inspire people like me!
Have a great day!

LaTonya said...

Holl, this is a good word.

Anonymous said...

Hi holly um i somtime struggle whith focusing on gods teaching what can i do aside from praying and reading the bible cause i do recieve in many ways do u think im inpatient or what

Holly said...

Anon, that's a common struggle for Christians. We struggle to do the right thing, and often end up doing the wrong thing. As the Apostle Paul states in Romans 7: "The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate" (14b-15).

It takes time to develop any relationship and any discipline, right? Hang in there, keep reading your Bible, and keep praying for understanding and God's help.

Philippians 1:6: "And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns."

Tracey Bussie said...

I also think GOD lead me to your blog. I have been struggling with my faith for a long while now. Although I know in my heart that everything I have ever had or will have comes from God, I still haven't been living for him. I am praying and reading my bible everyday and asking him to change me. Thank you and keep spreading HIS word.