Saturday, July 30, 2011

God Works in Mysterious Ways, But he (or she) DOES Work—if You’ll just Follow the Signs

Are you one of the millions of people that believe that God answers prayers in splendid fashion? Are you expecting your answer to be delivered to you with fireworks and a neon arrow pointing to a flashing sign that says “here’s the answer to your prayer”? If so, you’ve probably missed most answers to your prayers. God’s answers, you see, are usually far more subtle than that. To decode God’s answer to your prayers, you may have to do some work—you may have to follow his signs.

What are God’s signs?

God’s signs are subtle but, with a little practice, you can easily learn to spot and to follow them. This is the method that I use:

·       Follow the coincidences. If you run into a friend that you haven’t seen in 20 years, it means something. Talk to your friend. Ask questions. Find out why God put her on your path. She may lead you to the answer to your prayer. Special note: the more unlikely the coincidence, the more likely it is to be an answer to one of your prayers.

·         Follow your hunches. That little voice inside your head telling you to go here or there or to take this or that action is God’s voice. Listen to it.

·         Follow the unplanned twists and turns on your path. If you are driving to a meeting on one part of town but a traffic accident reroutes you to another part of town, take time to ask why. Notice all the scenery along your route. If anything piques your curiosity, take time to investigate it.

If all of this seems complicated, don’t worry. God can combine signs in such a way that you cannot doubt that they are coming from a higher place, that they are an answer to your prayers.

My Search for Answers to a Medical Condition

Here’s an example from my own life to demonstrate how God uses signs to answer your prayers. But first, I need to give you some background:
Since I was a child, I have suffered periodic attacks that resemble a neurologic event. My attacks include light-feeling limbs and heavy-feeling head, double vision, dizziness, vertigo, loss of coordination, and slurred speech.

Pretty scary, huh?

Yet I have had at least three MRIs and at least three EEGs in my lifetime, and none of these tests have revealed any neurologic abnormality. So I was left with only one conclusion—my attacks were psychological, probably panic attacks. When I was younger, these attacks did not bother me much. In fact, they tended to hit me when I was not in the midst of a crisis or stress.
But then came menopause and my attacks became worse, were triggered by minor incidents, and seemingly took control of my body and of my life. For the past ten years, I have struggled with an onslaught of these attacks, which my doctors diagnosed as a panic disorder.

Yet, I have never been comfortable with this diagnosis. My attacks were so far from the typical panic attack…but I could not find another explanation. So I tried to tame my attacks with anti-depressants and counseling, but these methods never helped for long.
Over the years, I made some feeble attempts at finding another cause for my attacks. A few years ago, I was sure that my attacks were caused by Chronic Hyperventilation Syndrome, until a smug specialist in heart/lung conditions informed me that my hyperventilation was intermittent, not chronic. Recently, I read that a certain vision condition, which I have, can cause dizziness and anxiety. I got a new eye exam and new glasses which helped my vision but did not help my attacks.

These failed efforts, as well earlier visits to other specialists who, essentially, told me that my attacks were “all in my head” deeply scarred me. I became ashamed of my attacks. I felt that if I were causing these attacks (even subconsciously) I should be able to stop causing them.
How God Answered my Prayers

While at work one day, I had a severe attack. I could not walk, had lost my coordination, and was slurring my words so badly that no one could understand me. I have had these attacks at work so many times that my co-workers don’t get freaked out anymore. Occasionally, I will have them call a member of the medical team at work to check my blood pressure, but that’s about it.

This particular day Bob, a co-worker and a member of the onsite medical team, was in the break room when I had my attack. He had never witnessed any of my attacks before and was concerned. After trying, and failing, to get through to any other members of the medical team, he called the paramedics. (I did not know that he had done so until they came into the room carting a gurney and carrying their medical equipment).
After listening to my efforts to talk, they said that they had never seen a panic attack present itself with these symptoms. They advised me to let them take me to the hospital, but they left the choice up to me.

For some reason, I said YES. (I never go to the hospital because of my attacks).
They transported me to the hospital and a nurse named Renee (which happens to be my middle name) came into the room. She asked me some questions, but I badly slurred the answers. Renee said, “Your symptoms sound like my vertebrobasilar migraines.”

I did not know much about migraines and asked her some questions about this condition. I had never considered migraine to be responsible for my attacks. Heck, I didn’t even think that I had migraines. Weren’t migraine headaches extremely painful, nausea-producing events? Although I have had headaches throughout my life, the pain was the dull, aching kind. And what did this have to do with my strange neurological symptoms anyway?
After being released from the hospital, I got on the Internet and read about migraines. I found out that a migraine is a neurological condition, not simply a bad headache with nausea. I found out that you can have a migraine episode without having a headache (although I had noticed that about 50 percent of my attacks included a headache, I never considered the headache to be part of the attack). I found out that migraine symptoms can include fully reversible neurological deficits.

And, for the first time, I found my exact symptoms listed under vertebrobasilar migraine (also called basilar type migraine and Bickerstaff Syndrome.)  Last week, I went to a neurologist who is also a headache specialist and he confirmed the diagnosis. I suffer from a rare migraine disorder that manifests itself in neurological symptoms. My neurologist has put me on preventive medications which should lessen the frequency and the severity of my attacks. Prayer answered.
Following Signs

How did this miracle happen? It happened because of a series of strange coincidences and because I followed the signs.

-          I had my attack in front of Bob, who had never witnessed any of my attacks before.

-          I had my attack at a time when Bob could not reach any other member of the medical team.

-          Bob called the paramedics without asking me first. (If he had asked me, I would probably have said “no.”)

-          I said “yes” when the paramedics asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital, something unusual for me.

-          When I arrived in the emergency room, the nurse (who just happened to bear my middle name) feels the urge to tell me that my symptoms resemble her migraine symptoms.
Just think of how many of these events had to happen with perfect timing in order to bring me to the hospital to meet this nurse. Can anyone just call this event a fortuitous coincidence? I can’t and I won’t. I call it following God’s signs for the answer to my prayer.

Yes, God does work in mysterious ways—and so does his miracles.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Spiritual Power of Acceptance

Image by majaFOTO
The spiritual power of acceptance, like most spiritual laws, is directly opposite from human nature.  Humans, especially we American humans, believe that we must immediately fight against whatever undesirable circumstance we find ourselves in. But this is not the way out of misfortune. Rather, spiritual law says that you must first accept—totally accept—your circumstances before they will change.

I know what you’re thinking and…NO…this does not mean that you are helpless victims of circumstances. It does NOT mean that you passively accept your fate and never strive toward your loftier goals. It simply means that you accept, without judgment or sadness, what God has given you at this moment.  Then, and only then, will you truly be able to change your circumstances.

How Does the Spiritual Power of Acceptance Work?
But why must you first accept your present circumstances? The answer is amazingly simple. You see, whatever you fight against grows stronger because you are focusing your attention on what you perceive as a negative. As a result, the negative situation grows bigger. It does not shrink.

For proof of this, you need only look at human history:

-          Did Nancy Reagan’s “war on drugs” end illegal drug usage?

-          Has the “war on terrorism” made the slightest dent in terrorist activities?

-          Has the war on poverty ended, or even relieved, poverty?

In fact, wouldn’t you say that the above situations have gotten progressively worse?
Now look at your own experiences:

-          If you struggle with obesity, has your life-long war on fat (and consequent non-acceptance of your body) caused you to permanently shed those excess pounds? In fact, haven’t you lost a little, and then gained a lot countless times throughout your life? In fact, hasn’t the numbers on the scale gone up and up and up as the years go by? In FACT, has your war on fat really helped you to permanently lose weight?

-          If you struggle with finances, has your war on your personal poverty level really increased your finances? Or has your scrimping and saving, your coupon clipping, and your penny pinching only seem to have increased your financial hardship?
What is the Answer, then?

The answer, as I said earlier, is to accept your present circumstances. This does not mean that you are destined to remain in those circumstances. On the contrary; the spiritual law of acceptance guarantees that once you fully accept your present circumstances—with love and without judgment—you can then change those circumstances.

Because when you accept your circumstance, you are no longer struggling against it. Your present circumstance is no longer your enemy. Consequently, you are no longer giving it any power over you.

You are then free to change your present circumstance by focusing on what you do want to achieve, not on what you don’t want to experience. i.e I see myself weighing 120 pounds and wearing a size 4 dress NOT I want to lose 100 pounds.

Money flows to me in a constant stream of abundance NOT I will be debt-free by the end of this year.
Do you see the difference? Always focus on what you want not on what you don’t want! But first…accept what you have.