Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Good Character is Chosen

God is a very personal decision for everyone.

Some people ask, How do you know there is a God?

My response is usually, I don't know. But I can tell you EXACTLY what changed in my life when I decided to center my life around faith in God. My life continues to improve each day, each month, each year, that I dedicate myself to this faith. That is a little confusing for some people to understand. Why? They wonder, Would you spend so much time and energy believing in something you cannot see, and do not always feel?

The truth is a long and intricate answer. For me, it is because I can look back at the last five or so years of my life, when I really made those big changes and focused more on a God-driven life, than a me-driven life, and I can pinpoint EXACT moments, challenges, and miracles that I have experienced. These cannot be passed off as coincidence. They are so specific to my faith and my prayers that I know they are implemented by God.

Here's another kicker : A lot of people struggle with the idea of prayer. They don't want to believe in God because they have tried praying once and it was "unsuccessful". Sadly, sometimes people pray during desperate times of need, sickness, or pain, only to find themselves "forsaken". Again, I don't have any simple answer to this, only what I know I have experienced. For me, prayer has always been difficult. Let me repeat that. Prayer, for me, has always been difficult. I have never been one to say a prayer and get an immediate response. There are times, still, when I am desperate for help. I will be sobbing a prayer, and not necessarily receive the answer I was hoping for. What has taken me years to understand is that Prayer is a foreign language. You will NOT be able to interpret a response if you have not learned the language. First, prayer takes practice. I am still not perfect at it. Clearly. I misinterpret answers, or in my opinion, the lack there of, quite often. In addition to practice, it takes patience. Understanding. Faith. You have to be willing to wait, YEARS IF NEED BE, for the appropriate answer. That's where stubborn people give up.

I know, it sounds kind of crappy up front. If you are in dire need, who can wait a whole year??!! Well, God has a bigger plan for you. He sees for time and all eternity. (Let that boggle your mind for a min) He knows things you cannot possibly begin to comprehend. To Him, time is endless, and a couple years is simply seconds. For us mortals, being faithful on an eternal perspective is extremely difficult because our spirits are eternal, but we are living in a temporal world. It causes some discomfort. Naturally. To me, the practice of prayer and faith is ever ongoing, but I can honestly tell you it is slowly, gradually improving.

Ever since I decided to dedicate my life to God, and I mean almost entirely--including less focus on my own desires, ambitions, dreams, and more focus on what God's plan is for me--I have been the recipient of many, many miracles and blessings. I live such a good life, sometimes I don't think I deserve it. And during my peaks and valleys, I just keep praying and asking (even if it is insincere at first ) for the patience and diligence to progress in the way God intended for me. I even started out praying for the DESIRE to live a God-driven life, because I was sincerely set on my own hopes and dreams...it was a hard sacrifice at first, as most sacrifices are for the natural man. We want what we want, and it can blind us from what God wants for us. It can strip us of that happiness and success we never knew we could achieve. Including, but not limited to, a divine character of principle and honor.

Character is a choice. You are somewhat a product of your environment- parents, childhood experiences, life pains. But you most definitely have the choice to be different, to define yourself, to be a new and improved version of yourself. It takes WORK. I know, again, humans love this concept that we can skirt through life as lazy mammals and have everything handed to us. We like being entitled to our "misery", because we tho,k we deserve the negative attention and sympathy from others. It is just "too much" to ever grow beyond and heal. We want to be treated like victims and yet we want to somehow be superbly happy all the time. (Then we blame God when we aren't !!) Bummer. As much as eating junk food and sitting on your bum will give you a model figure, such is the same is faith, prayer, and a positive life journey. You have to actually work for it. Put in the effort. You have to be willing to hand your life, and all of your selfish desires, over to God. You have to practice praying, and then have the patience to wait--however long necessary - for a response, then be willing to accept it, even if it doesn't seem like the response you wanted. Years later, you will look back at your life, as I have, and see just how perfectly things have fallen together. Of course, remember those seemingly painful trials, peaks and valleys, that may have caused you grief, and witness the positive outcome. The more you do this, and try to listen to the will of God, the more you will be able to see the positive influence, and see the miracles and blessings.

That is the difference between you and the people that forever live in their misery. The people who will constantly blame their life's circumstances on everyone around them, drain you of your happiness, sabotage your accomplishments, and die  lonely, lonely human beings. They have lost their way. I have been one of them. I have made the choice to define my character, to be a better person, and to outrun sources of negativity in my environment. I have a long way to go to reach my Godly potential, but I am certainly on my way. You can be too.