Sep 16, 2010
Do you feel that you are at a juncture, with nothing but a seemingly dark and long tunnel before you? Are you at a stage where you feel that life has no meaning or purpose? Do you feel that you are a victim and fail to realize that the escape route (alcohol, drugs, etc.) you have chosen is actually victimizing others in the family? Ever feel that others are gifted, but you are not?
Human beings, at a point or another in their lives, find themselves in situations that they wish could simply go away. Such situations may be physical, emotional, or environmental in nature. They may either be caused by our own actions, or as a result of circumstances.
There is one grace (unmerited favour) that God has bestowed upon every single human being – regardless of sex, creed, caste, religion, economic status, marital status, and whatever else that comes to mind. It is the gift of FREE WILL. In simple terms ‘free will’ is the ability and freedom to make a choice. Since God never takes back what He gives, it remains with us till our last breath, regardless of our moral standing before Him.
A tiger on a hunt kills its prey because it is driven by instinct. A vengeful man, on the hunt for his betrayer, can still choose not to kill. A person may say something to insult us, but he has no power to hurt us. A wife may nag a husband, but has no power to turn him into an alcoholic. Even though sex is driven by instinct, married men and women have the greater power to say ‘no’ to an adulterous relationship. Both Judas and Peter betrayed Jesus. Judas, overcome with guilt, hanged himself. Peter, trusting in God’s mercy, sought forgiveness and eventually became part of history for the right reasons. They both chose differently.
The human will has greater power over instinct.
I hope this article and the examples given bring hope to those who find themselves in seemingly impossible situations. It is natural to react negatively to an adverse situation; however, it is not natural to make it a part of our lives. Many have used the power of the will - anchoring themselves on faith, trust and conviction - to eventually lead wholesome, happy and purpose-filled lives.
On a grand scale, modern history has seen Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela lead people to freedom against odds that even today seem insurmountable. These great souls used God’s ways to conquer – in circumstances that will bring out, in the best of us, the urge to kill. They not only emerged victorious; they also worked equally hard towards reconciliation with their oppressors.
Mother Teresa left the security of her convent and was out on the streets bringing dignity to the poorest of the poor. She encountered and overcame numerous hurdles practising Jesus’ teachings. Today, even after her death, thousands continue to find shelter, food and other comforts in centres that were established by her. None of what she, and people like her, achieved was possible without the use of the human will - sustained by extraordinary faith and conviction.
Jessica Cox found herself in a situation that would make anyone’s heart bleed. Born without hands, she could have easily given up and continued blaming God. She chose not to! Helped by her mother, Jessica studied and became a psychology graduate. She shops, cooks, types, drives a car, brushes her hair, changes her contact lenses, makes calls and does just about anything a normal person can. She also holds two black belts in Tae Kwon-Do and has earned a pilot’s license. The journey has not been easy for her, but SHE needed to take that first step for God to help her along. Today, Jessica has found a new joy in living – she inspires people.
John Forbes Nash, Jr., (born 1928) was a prodigious mathematician. He earned his Ph.D. at the age of 21. In 1959 he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He suffered a lot, but managed to hold his life together. After 1970 he was never hospitalized again and refused medication. He did not allow his illness to take control of him for too long and rejected the hallucinations that are so typical in patients with his condition. Nash won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 1994 and numerous other accolades. In 2003 he visited India to give a talk on his economics’ theories. Nash, now 82, is still not free from schizophrenia, but continues to inspire people all over the world.
A look at what God has said in Deuteronomy 30:19 needs our full attention, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” WE ARE, THEREFORE, CREATURES OF CHOICE – NOT VICTIMS OF DESTINY THAT WE TRY IN VAIN TO DEFINE.
In the belief system, there are no half measures. If we believe that God is the author of all that happens to us and all that we do, then we should not and cannot condemn the child rapist, the murderer and the kidnapper.
At the root of a loser’s heart is a spiritual malady called the SLOTH OF THE WILL. Losers don’t want to choose a life of living. They also have the ability to pull others into the abyss of their own creation.
We are not machines that run on finite external power. As God’s special creation, we are wired to His infinite power source. Whether we remain connected to His power source, or not, is a matter of our choosing.
Demonstrating what the human will is capable of, Reinhold Messner conquered Mount Everest without the help of artificial oxygen. To many of us, our egos are taller than Mount Everest. Ironically, we are busy trying to conquer the other person’s ego. Overcoming some of our problems may not be easy, but it does require our ‘will’ to make it happen. We want to achieve a smooth ride of the top gear, without ever shifting into first gear first. God’s promptings are always there, but are we listening?
In our relationships, many impediments can be cleared once the will to forgive is exercised, which otherwise has the potential to destroy the self and everyone it touches. Sadly, the potential of forgiveness has been underestimated. Are you afraid to apologize, afraid to forgive, perhaps thinking that you will not get the desired response? Dalai Lama has said it beautifully: “Great love and great achievements involve great risk.” Take heart, seeking to reconcile with a loved one is a very small risk.
‘It is better to die than to live’ does not always come from a cancer patient’s mouth. More frequently these words are uttered by unhappy couples, brought to the point of despair because of their unwillingness to reconcile. Before marriage it was, “Come on darling, there is no need to say sorry – remember we love each other.” Now their entire lives revolve around who will say it first! Soon marital happiness seems like a distant dot in space. I say seems because there are many who feel, “we have lived bitterly for so many years, can we find happiness again?” We must understand that happiness is not a destination; it is an ongoing experience. Choose to love, choose to forgive and experience the wonderful feeling these choices can make in our lives.
Sure, we want all of the milk and honey in our relationships, but are we prepared to ‘give’ something first? More importantly, are we willing to ‘give up’ something? God’s instruction of “give and you shall receive” has been replaced by “when I receive I shall give – that, too, not that easily”! We are fully aware that the bank does not give us anything, unless we first give to the bank. Neither does our boss! We fully understand this logic of economics. This logic is a universal law when it comes to our relationships - and the health of our relationship hangs dearly on it.
There are young men and women who are not willing to give up their damaging habits and they still want to make it big. Some are drowning in self-pity, accusing their parents of not loving them. There is always a solution, but are we willing to seek help? After all not all children of drunken fathers end up in the streets; not all children of abusive fathers become abusive. Ultimately, it comes down to the choice we make.
In many cases, finding ourselves at the crossroads can actually work in our favour. It forces us - which we otherwise would not do - to reassess our objectives and relationships.
Successful companies carry out periodic reviews and audits to help identify areas of strengths and weaknesses. The need for us to review and audit our relationship with God and our relationship with those around us cannot be overemphasized: it is absolutely vital for our ongoing happiness.
We need to ask the right question when faced with trouble. “What can I do?” is proactive and seeks to overcome a situation. “Why did it happen to me?” is passive, and self-defeating if dwelt upon for too long.
Some people might say that we can never become like Mother Teresa or Mahatma Gandhi. The truth is, neither of them knew, or ever imagined, that they would become someone, someday, and receive so much adulation. They just had a purpose, and they chose to pursue it with the right means.
For such people happiness was not a destination: every step they took, every effort they put, gave them joy, knowing that it was the right thing to do. In our relationships, too, we need to make the right choices and enjoy the moments that come with it.
The fruit may not be in our power; but we have the power to make the choice.
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