It’s not like He doesn’t want to, however. The problem is that you’ve been so busy being alive that you may not have taken the time to slow down and really listen.
You don’t have to believe me on this, and I’m sure that some of you don’t. But, after a strange and harrowing 35 years (and a lot of learning things the hard way), I’ve gotten good at listening to the things that God is trying to tell me. And, maybe some of these things are ones that you need to hear, too.
God has been trying to tell you some of these things for weeks, months, or years. He has spent time, energy, and resources you can’t conceive of trying to get them into your brain. I just hope it’s still spongy enough to learn something new and amazing.
1. If you want to talk to God, you need to listen first.
Getting God to talk to you is not about how cool your prayers sound or how important your cause is. Getting God to talk with you is about recognizing that He’s ALWAYS talking with you. Everything in your life, from the wind in the trees to what’s on the radio, is a part of the perfect communication that God is always having with you. If you want to know what He thinks, you need to be listening. His voice sounds like good advice from strangers, snatches of lyrics from a passing car, and that small sound inside your own head that leaves you feeling at peace.
2. Evil is real.
The fact is, there is a force out there in direct opposition to good. You are in the amazing position of having been born into a world where both of these forces make up your personality. You are, in essence, a spiritual creature born into an animal body. Every day, you are in a battle between those two elements. And, although giving into animal instincts every once in a while won’t destroy your life, they can quickly become a trend that drives the spiritual man into submission and eventually silence.
3. Nothing you can do will change God’s love for you.
Despite what people might tell you, you are not doomed for the mistakes you have made. You are an amazing and wonderful person who is living out your own story while on this planet. That story might be full of amazing discoveries and side paths that have affected thousands of people. You might have been condemned by men and mocked by billions. Still, nothing anyone can say, no single act you ever commit, can change the fact that you are loved just as much as the most amazing, cookie-baking Mother Theresa in the world. You are loved infinitely, just like everyone else.
4. The best way to be miserable is to think about yourself.
You can think good about yourself and you can think bad about yourself, but either way it means that you’re too busy thinking about yourself to help anyone else. Worrying about what other people are thinking about you? That’s thinking about yourself. Spending a majority of your time, money, and energy on cultivating your reputation and appearance? You, you, you. The problem is, making yourself the center of the world not only drives away people who might otherwise help you grow, but it has the side effect of making you feel empty and purposeless.
5. Forgiveness is always the right answer.
Forgiveness and acceptance are completely different concepts, so let me be clear – it is possible to forgive someone and still not tolerate behavior that is dangerous and harmful. The truth is, forgiveness truly is always the right answer when it comes to a person or group of people who have done you wrong. It brings peace, regardless of circumstance. It is not always easy, and it doesn’t mean that the person who wronged you shouldn’t receive an appropriate consequence for their action. Still, seeking revenge will destroy you from the inside out. Forgiveness will heal you and them both.
6. Everyone is the hero of their own story.
Every person who cuts you off in traffic, every murderer, every cruel tormentor you’ve ever had – they are the hero of their own story. They don’t see themselves as the bad guy because they know why they make the decisions they do. They understand the motivations for what they’re doing. It’s important for you to turn that information around and try to recognize the humanity in every person. It’s your job to see that most people are doing their best given the circumstances, so they (and by extension, you) deserve compassion, not hatred or revenge.
7. You can fail your purpose on the earth.
Yes, you have a plan and a set of things you were meant to do. But, it is totally possible for you not to do them. In fact, although God knows all the amazing things you could do, he also knows that there are many things you won’t do. His plan is still perfect. Regardless of your action or inaction, He still ensures that everything on His list gets done – and if you screw up, you’ll still have work that you can do to help. Even the worst mistteps have their place in the plan and the awful things in the world can be catalysts for miracles.
8. Fame, Fortune, Sexual Gratification, Power, and Youth are all red herrings.
This list can actually go on for a while. What you might find in common with all of them is that they are very you-centered. You want to look young. You want to have money. You want to be sexy. You want to be famous. These are not evils of themselves, but as soon as they are made a priority over deep human connection, selflessness, service, and kindness they can become so. People who have made these “red herrings” their life’s focus find that even attaining these goals can bring misery and a lack of fulfillment. Somewhere inside of themselves, these people know that they have missed the point.
9. It doesn’t have to be factual to be true.
Think of your favorite childhood story. Yes, it might be historically accurate…to someone. It’s much more likely that it was completely fabricated. Despite this, there there was some element of truth that drew you to it. For me, it’s Star Wars. Sure, there is probably no such world as Alderaan. But, the concepts of light and dark, a great Force that drives action and inaction – I know those things are true. There’s a spot inside my heart that tells me I believe those things. Facts have nothing to do with whether or not you have just learned a great truth for your life’s journey.
10. The only moment you have is this one.
You can reflect on the past and consider the future, but the only moment you can change is the one you’re breathing in this very moment. This single moment is the youngest you’ll ever be again. It is a snapshot that only lasts as long as a few seconds. You can spend it Facebooking or you can write a symphony. Whatever you decide to to, use it with the knowledge that your moments are numbered. When you look back on your life in your final moment, you’ll want to see that you spent your precious years building, creating, and loving, not waiting for a better moment to arrive.
11. Easy and comfortable do not equal happy.
There are many people who spend their lives searching for comfort and ease. True, there are things to be said for having a soft bed to sleep in at night. But, even research shows that comfort and ease are poor indictors of happiness. Some of the most fulfilled people in the world sleep on dirt floors and eat a single meal each day. If you focus your life on ease and comfort, you are again turning the world into a mechanism to serve your needs. If you focus on giving and sharing (even if it’s not easy or comfortable) you’ll find yourself blessed with friendship, love, and opportunities that you could never imagine if you settled for stasis.
12. The strongest unit of humanity is the family.
The male and female dichotomy that makes up a marriage are gorgeously complementary, both physically and spiritually. Their individual abilities and weaknesses are meant to polish the other and form both into a completely new single organism. Then come children, who both learn from and teach parents new ways to serve, sacrifice, listen, and communicate.
Good families teach values of sacrifice, tenderness, and a hunger for knowledge. They show the example of how disparate people with very unique personalities and attributes can compromise for the benefit of something bigger than themselves. They are a fortress, with each member working to keep out the forces of selfishness that would break them individually and as a unit.
13. Time is the most valuable gift.
When a person reaches the last minutes of their life, they don’t wish for more money or power or popularity. They wish that they had more time. More time to spend with the people that they loved and more time to do the things that they always believed they should do. This is the only existence you will ever have. You can spend it looking for better movies to watch on TV or you can spend it interacting with the world around you and leaving an amazing legacy of good.
14. Thoughts manifest as destiny.
What you think, you do. What you do, you become. Your thoughts are a powerful influence on the world and people around you, whether you know it or not. Your thoughts can cause and influence illness, attract experiences or close you off from human contact. Each time you are faced with the behavior or others, you have control whether or not you see that as evidence of a positively or negatively-charged universe.
The truth is, the universe is skewed towards the positive – towards growth, creation, and goodness. If you choose not to see that, you will continue to attract unhappiness. You’ll be unable to see trials as a way to learn, which will limit your experiences while you’re on the earth.
15. You do this alone.
No one will stand with you the moment after your last breath leaves your body. You will have no one to blame, nothing to hold, and nothing to hide behind. It will come down to you alone. It makes sense, then, to spend some time alone with yourself now asking those hard questions that you may have tried to avoid. Have you made mistakes? Have you carried hatred? Have you used your moments wisely? If you don’t like the answer, there is still time to change your actions.