You want to succeed, so you’re trying to figure out how. First, you’re told you need to run faster, sleep less!
But then you find out you’re supposed to just see it done, and let go ~
So you try that, until something in the back of your mind screams, You’d better do more, or it’s not going to work!
While another voice argues, Relax ~
Back and forth it goes:
Stop and smell the roses ~
Go the extra mile!
Peace, be still ~
Oh, for crying out loud. WHICH IS IT??
Let me give you some background:
I came from a deeply ingrained mindset where I believed that if anything was going to get done, I had to do it myself. I worked like crazy for years to make my life the way I wanted it, and still came up short. I wasn’t breaking my neck to build a life of luxury, I was simply running crazy, trying to get my life from a state of dysfunction to a state of being functional and happy.
So when things started going much more smoothly (after I finally began living the mindset fundamentals), and when things really began to change for the better, my message to the world naturally focused on the “relax!” end of the spectrum, because, having come from the opposite end, it was clearly “the answer”.
You may remember how the movie The Secret focused on the “relax!” end of the spectrum as well, and ended up getting a lot of backlash because of it.
In response to this one-sided focus, there grew a counter-movement, a sort of anti-Secret camp that emerged, emphasizing the importance of working for your goals, instead of just imagining them and expecting them to materialize.
This swinging pendulum is not new to humankind. There has been a similar disagreement between various Christian organizations surrounding the roles of grace, faith, and works as well:
You have to WORK for it! — “…faith, if it hath not works, is dead…” James 2:17
You SHOULDN’T work for it! — “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
So if you’re like me, it makes you wonder, “what really IS the Lord’s part, and what is mine?”
“When pursuing a goal, how far can my belief really take me?” And if I dare ask, “How much can I accomplish without it?”
The fact is, on the way to goal achievement, it’s a fine line we walk between making it happen and letting it happen. If we go too far off in either direction, we can expect negative consequences.
If eternal life with God is the ultimate goal, then the principles that apply to achieving it can teach us much about how to achieve every other kind of goal as well:
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:13-14
The narrow way: the fine line between making it happen, and letting it happen.
If we try too hard to make a goal happen, we can ruin our relationships, we can ruin our health, and no matter how clever or hardworking we are, there IS A LIMIT to how much success we can achieve on our own. Even if we keep all these things in balance, we can force the accomplishment of a goal that may or may not give us the satisfaction we expect it to provide.
(Be careful what you wish for, as they say, because you just might get it.)
Related: Human empowerment, in perspective
We are human. We can really only go so far on our own, and the sooner we acknowledge that, the sooner we can partner with God to accomplish so much more.
“But Jesus …said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
On the other hand, if we do too little and just let our goals happen on their own on the principles of faith or belief, then opportunities will surely knock but we won’t step forward to open the door. It is by faith that opportunities come, but it is by our action that we receive them.
So here’s the thing. No matter where you are on the spectrum today, there is a little voice that will help you get the timing and the direction right for the shortest, most effective path toward your success. In other words, if you’re hearing, “Slow down…” then pay attention to it, and heed its counsel.
If you’re hearing, “Paddle fast, right NOW!” then pay attention, and get your hustle on because the wave is coming and you’ve got to get yourself in motion immediately if you’re going to catch it.
The voice knows you, your situation, your desires, your dreams, as well as what opportunities exist within your reach (that you may or may not even know about), and so it speaks to you individually with very specific guidance based on where you are and where you’re trying to go.
However, there is not just one voice trying to get your attention.
Thankfully, the voice of God your Creator (like a good Father) has your best interest at heart, and it leads you to happiness and life eternal. But there are also other voices that do NOT have your best interest at heart, which attempt to lead you away from these things.
So just because you detect “a voice”, it doesn’t mean you should always follow it.
For example, if you have a goal to receive great spiritual manifestations, there is a very good reason to walk the fine line between making it happen and letting it happen:
“In the great revelation on signs, the Lord says, ‘He that seeketh signs shall see signs, but not unto salvation.’ (D&C 63:7.) President Spencer W. Kimball explained: ‘I believe if one wants revelations enough to crave them beyond the rightness of it, that eventually he will get his revelations—but they may not come from God. I am sure that there can be many spectacular things performed, because the devil is very responsive. He is listening and he is eager to do it.'” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 458)
You can certainly desire revelations from God, and even seek them:
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8
…Just don’t seek them “beyond the rightness of it”.
There is a difference between a healthy seeking, and a consuming obsession. Live in harmony with God’s laws, in patience believing, and let Him decide when and what he will reveal to you.
Walk the fine line. Be patient. Trust in the Lord’s timing for the accomplishment of your goals. Do what you can, calmly. Therein lies the key to keeping a proper balance between faith, belief, and works: doing what you can with a calm and trusting heart.
If you begin doing too much too fast, you’ll lose the ability to remain calm, and that will be your clue that you’ve gone too far off the path. It’s time to return to that fine line between making it happen and letting it happen.
If you stop moving your feet, you can become the limiting factor in what God can do to help you achieve your goal. Without forward motion, it’s almost impossible to hold onto faith and belief. So when you feel your belief wane, or your faith falter, that’s your clue that you’ve gone too far off the path in the other direction, and it’s time to get up and DO something. It’s time to return to that fine line between making it happen and letting it happen.
Related: The Unexpected Cure for Doubt
So set your goals, and work your way diligently toward them with an active, living faith in God’s help.
How can you know if you’re hearing His voice?
I’ve shared this before, but I’ll share it again:
I believe that when your desires are clear and in check with scriptural counsel, then the voice that helps you achieve them will be gentle, encouraging, and soft.
Even His urgent messages will feel quiet, but piercing.
Check your desires:
What you seek will determine which voice will lead you.
If you choose goals that are in harmony with gospel principles, then you’ll hear the right voice from God to take you there.
If you choose goals that are NOT in harmony with gospel principles, then you’ll still hear a voice that will get you to your goal, but it will also drop you flat at the end of the road if the thing you desire leads you to unhappiness or lack of fulfillment.
“And …thus we see that the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell.” Alma 30:60
Each of the different voices are like a radio broadcast on different frequencies, and we naturally become attuned to the broadcast that matches the desires of our heart.
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:21
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” Isaiah 55:8
As we adopt the kinds of goals that scripture teaches us to seek, we think like God, tune into his broadcast, and hear his voice more easily. (See Matthew chapter 6)
So back to the original topic. If someone tells you that you must RELAX to achieve your goal, they may be right. If someone else tells you that you must WORK HARD to achieve your goal, they may be right, too. But timing matters, and only God knows what that timing needs to be for you.
Listen for that still, small voice sent by Him. If someone else has advice for you, then listen for the still, small voice that confirms the truth about whether or not that advice is the right message for you at that time.
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