Many things happen in our lives that are beyond our control. I fully recognize this. To believe otherwise is to live in a fantasy world. And yet, so much of our experience of life is within our control and influence. I appreciate the rich wisdom of the “Serenity Prayer,” made very popular through the 12-step addiction recovery programs:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Today I want to focus on how much power we do have over our own lives and experiences. So much of who we are, who we become, and what we experience in life is driven by what we believe about ourselves, one another, and life in general. The best way to find out what someone really believes is not to ask philosophical questions about their worldview. Just look at their life and actions. We act on what we believe, regardless of what we say we believe.

For example… a married person may say they believe their spouse loves them. However, if they continually mistrust and defend themselves against their spouse, this person clearly doesn’t really believe genuine love is there. Otherwise, what is there to fear? When husbands and wives can challenge their own beliefs that their spouse is their enemy, and embrace the fact that they are partners and friends who truly love one another, the marriage begins to breathe fresh life once again.

Or take the parents who say they are in charge in their household. Then you observe their children defying and disrespecting them, essentially doing whatever they want – or perhaps you witness the parents pleading with the children to obey. Who is really in charge here? Often times the solution is not for the parents to learn some great behavioral parenting technique. The key may be as simple as the parents beginning to genuinely see themselves as being the authority. That’s when the tide begins to turn, and order begins to be restored.

Others have a philosophical/theological belief that God loves them. They may regularly attend church, pray, read their Bibles, and participate in other religious activities. But this belief of God’s love hasn’t penetrated the mind of the heart. It remains upstairs in the head, in some theoretical place that doesn’t really carry much weight. And the person lives with a sense of fear or emptiness or shame or anger. The deep security and rich blessing of living with the constant love of the Almighty Creator of the universe is not there to fill one’s life with joy and peace and hope and fulfillment.

But when you really believe in something good and big and hopeful, it changes your life. Read the histories of the individuals who have changed the world. Ask the people around you who are living with hope and peace and purpose what it is that motivates them. Watch inspirational films like Rudy or Miracle or Dreamer or The Pursuit of Happyness or even The Matrix. Read the Bible and discover God for yourself, without looking through the lenses that others may so desperately want you to use.

Bottom line – If you want your life, your relationships, your experiences, your feelings to rise higher and bring greater joy and fulfillment, start with what you really believe. If you need someone to help you develop better, more hopeful and fulfilling beliefs, please feel free to call on me or someone else you know who seems to be living on purpose.

With Hope – Roger

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