The Path (and life’s detours)

“Happy talk, keep a-talkin’ happy talk;
Talk about things you like to do.
You gotta have a dream; if you don’t have a dream,
How you gonna have a dream come true?”

This cheerful song, published in 1949 by Rodgers and Hammerstein, is featured in the musical South Pacific. Its words, though simple, are inspiring and true.

So much is said about attitude and gratitude, and so much is said about transparency and authenticity. At times those two phrases may seem to be at odds with each other. If I’m truly authentic and transparent, shouldn’t all my flaws be obvious? Should I make apologies for what I am? For who I am? For how I look or act? Or is that just being authentic?

Again, am I stuck there, just because that’s my current status or situation? If I live in a house, does that mean I can’t move? If I’m unhappy with my job, does that mean I have to stay there? If I have made plans, does that mean they are set in stone and I MUST follow through?

Sometimes, but not always.

To believe we have no options is a lie.

The secret here is not “who I am,” but “who I am, and who I am capable of becoming.”

A company has been criticized for saying “Fake it ’til you make it.” I’d like to take another look at that phrase.

We are–literally AND figuratively–children of Heavenly Parents. We are capable of becoming as they are. So if we are content with our current status, situation, state of being, attitude, position, etc., are we being authentic or are we just deceiving ourselves?

Marvin J. Ashton said, “Set your goals. But don’t become frustrated because there are no obvious victories. Remind yourself that striving can be more important than arriving.”

My own experience has taught me that my best path forward is a path that allows for slight deviation, but continues in a certain direction. I can allow for delays, for discouragement, for detours, but if I can envision the direction I’m headed, I can strive for that eventual destination.

I have also learned that I can change my mind about the destination I seek, and how best to get there. Often as I pursue my path, I see a better destination. I can be grateful for the path that brought me to the point where I could see a new goal. And when I change my mind, it’s OK. I have the divine right to create and follow my journey as I grow and become.

No one else has that right for my journey. And no one else has the responsibility for walking my path but me.

One woman grew up thinking she would become an attorney, following in her father’s footsteps. She pursued this path through college, into law school, and three years of practicing law. At that point she realized she was miserable. Her whole life, as she saw it, consisted of looking on the dark side, finding faults, seeking out mistakes and errors and litigating them. Forgiveness and joy eluded her. Her path did not reflect who she was and who she wanted to become.

So she tried using her melodious voice on radio. She found joy in realizing that her positivity could make the day brighter for countless thousands of people. Her path led her to a new path; one of greater joy and satisfaction.

Were her thousands of hours spent as a lawyer wasted?

No, because they brought her to a place where she could become more of who she was, recognize she wanted a new endpoint, and fulfill her greater dream to bring joy to others. The challenge for her was in making that great shift, that great change in vocation. But the courage it took to allow the change is again sending her in the direction of her ultimate goals.

“Fake it ’til you make it.” It’s not a cliché telling us to be deceptive about who we are and where we are in relation to what we want to be. It’s just telling us to know who we are, know where we are going, and practice as we are getting there.

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Specific Prayers Answered

Cristie Gardnerby Guest Blogger Cristie Gardner

For years, I have written my goals down: the characteristics I wanted to develop, the possessions I wanted to acquire, the projects and adventures I wanted to accomplish. But at times I felt that I was flailing around in darkness, trying to see my dreams come true; not knowing how to make them happen.

Then in 2009, I read Hidden Treasures: Heaven’s Astonishing Help With Your Money Matters.

My spirit and mind caught fire. I shared the book with my husband, and together we compiled a booklet that tied all of Leslie’s powerful insights and stories to scriptural confirmation. We assembled quotes from powerful spiritual leaders, took pages and paragraphs from favorite books and personal journals, and then we had our compilation spiral bound.

That Christmas, we bought copies of Hidden Treasures for each of our eight children, and more for other family members. We gave them their copies of Hidden Treasures, along with our booklet, and we had a “home study” course, right during our fall family reunion in San Diego. Along with trips to the beach, we savored the stories in Hidden Treasures. We discussed the principles in the book. We labored over what true laws are and what soft laws are, and we came to recognize the powerful truths in Leslie’s book. It changed our lives, individually and as a family.

One example: our son and daughter in law had a very old car, and knew they needed a new one, but they didn’t think they could afford it. After we discussed the principles in Hidden Treasures, they put their heads together and decided exactly what kind of car they wanted (including the blue color). It had to be large enough for Brittany to take her cello to performances, and big enough to have seats for their two little girls. They wanted a new car with low mileage, and they wanted to get lots of miles to the gallon. They thought that perhaps their desires would best be met with a Passat, but were completely open to what kind of vehicle would work. They wanted a moon roof, They had a certain amount that they could pay, and they wrote that down.

Within a few days of our home study course, Matt and Brittany went to a car dealership to look at available options. As they were leaving, the fellow from the dealership called out to them. “Hey, I forgot we have one model from last year–a Volkswagen Jetta that hasn’t been driven much, and we’re willing to drop the price way down.” The price he named was exactly the price they had written in their description. The color was the exact color. It even had a moon roof! It was their car. Later, they tearfully told us how creating the vision of what they wanted spiritually, and then writing it down and doing all they could to bring it about, followed the laws that brought about the blessings.

I had a similar experience when our eighth child Nathaniel was born. Our little minivan no longer had seats enough for the new baby. We needed a van with 11 seats–10 for us and one extra for the inevitable friend to come along. My husband Stan was a scoutmaster, so we needed room for sleeping bags and backpacks. I wanted a late model car, and I decided, if it didn’t matter in heaven’s eyes, I wanted a gray exterior with burgundy interior. We had $9000 to spend, no more, and we did not want to finance it and have payments. I knelt down and prayed, very specifically, and I shared my list with my Heavenly Father.

That afternoon, a local paper was delivered to our door. I scanned it briefly, which I normally don’t do at all. There in the classifieds was an ad that caught my eye…”late model, seats 11. $8995.” I called the dealer and asked for more details. “It is one of those 15 passenger vans,” he said, “but it’s missing the back seat, so it can accommodate 11 passengers. There’s a ton of room in the back for your luggage. It has some miles on it, but it gets great mileage and the previous owners used it almost exclusively on the highway.” I asked him (scarcely able to breathe) what the color was. “Oh, he said, “it’s grey on the outside and kind of that dark red–I’m not sure what you call that–on the inside.” I told him we would be there that afternoon to buy the car. He was puzzled. “Don’t you want a mechanic to look it over?” Nope, I assured him. I knew it was our car. And it was a magnificent car for our needs at the time.

I shared that story later with some friends in a church meeting. One of the ladies had tried for four years to sell their old pickup truck. She went home and wrote down specifically what she wanted to get from the truck, and then prayed with great faith for it to sell. Before the end of the day, their phone rang with a question from a person interested in looking at the truck (and they had not had a call in four year!). The truck was sold by that evening.

How many blessings do we fail to receive because we fail to ask? And how many blessings do we deny ourselves when we fail to recognize the blessings we have already been given–the already answered prayers?

I cringe when I read a message from a friend, complaining about this or that and lamenting that God has dumped a bunch of burdens on her, and how much more can she be expected to bear? We all need to understand more fully how God’s laws of gratitude and abundance operate.

Since then, I have come to recognize even more how God prospers us when we follow His laws. The answers have not just come with cars. They have certainly come in houses, appliances, furniture, books, toys, clothing, and moves to new locations. But the prosperity I’m referring to doesn’t always mean financial prosperity. God’s prosperity can mean greater health; it can mean a trusted relationship or great marriage. It can mean air to breathe. It can mean food to eat and clothes to wear. It can mean employment, or ideas to increase our salary, It can mean strong, united children. It can mean having a spirit of love and service prevail in our home. It can mean understanding why we are experiencing a certain challenge, and it can be the peace and strength that come when we face that challenge with faith and consequently triumph.

We have come to recognize that we have a Heavenly Parent who lovingly looks upon us and hears us, and desires to bless us with all that is for our good. We have come to recognize that money is but an illusion, and true wealth lies in our answered prayers, our healing, our strong marriages and happy families. It lies in our gratitude and in our faith and in our understanding. Most of all, it lies in our becoming all that we can become while on this magnificent journey that we call life.

 

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