skip to Main Content

The Voice of God is easy to miss

Most of us have heard the story of the drowning man who prayed to God for assistance. After being offered help in three different ways by three different people, the man died because of his insistence on waiting for God to save him. Upon arriving to heaven, God informed him that the three people were sent as an answer to his prayers. The man was a victim of his own presuppositions; because divine intervention showed up in a way that contradicted his assumptions and expectations, he dismissed it as just another everyday occurrence.

In the Bible, the story is told of God calling the prophet Samuel by name. Immediately after hearing the voice of God, Samuel ran to his mentor, Eli, and asked him if it was he who called him. This happened twice. Samuel, the prophet, completely missed the voice of God because, whatever God’s voice must have sounded like, it was possible to mistake it for just another familiar sound.

As a kid, growing up in church, I frequently asked “why doesn’t God speak to us today as he did to the people in Bible stories?”

I never realized the false assumption my question was based on: that if God spoke to someone, it would be so obvious that it would be impossible for anyone to miss.

Since I always imagined the voice of God as a loud thunderous sound emanating from the sky, it seemed pretty reasonable for me to assume that I would know with absolute certainty whether God was speaking to me or not.

Here’s today’s two cents:

Our assumptions and expectations play a major role in the way we interpret the things we hear.

That which is spectacular can easily be mistaken for that which is insignificant and that which is Divine can easily be mistaken for that which is familiar.

The divine guidance you and I need, may very well be speaking to us at all times. But because it speaks to us in a tone that we don’t expect, it shows up on our radar as silence, background noise, just another song on the radio, meaningless mumbo jumbo from strangers, friends just saying what they’re “supposed” to say, our own “silly” thoughts, or something else that we feel no need to take seriously.

Our ability to recognize the divine element in our experiences, requires us to be open to ideas and possibilities that may threaten many of our cherished, but limiting, fantasies regarding what it must be like to encounter God.

We must strive to approach each moment with reverence, knowing that the God who dwells beyond any of our ideas about God, may break through the interference created by our beliefs and speak to us in ways that belong uniquely to our individual journeys.

T.K. Coleman

Suffer through the mediocrity

One of my favorite definitions of “learning” comes from Chalmers Brothers in Language and the pursuit of Happiness:

Learning = Doing the thing (whatever is to be learned), while not being able to do the thing. That is, learning to ride a bike = riding a bike while not being able to ride a bike. Learning to be a better manager =managing while you’re not yet a “better manager”. Learning to be a better parent = parenting while you’re not yet a “better parent”.

We can never reach a state of competence, let alone achieve mastery, in any craft or discipline unless we’re willing to suffer through mediocrity.

The people who look brilliant in the end, are simply the ones who got over looking bad in the beginning.

This is the paradox inherent in any of our efforts to consciously evolve: we must choose to be what we are not, as the very means of becoming it.

That’s today’s two cents,

T.K. Coleman

Why “being right” doesn’t work for me

“I don’t care who’s wrong or right. I don’t really wanna fight no more. I don’t care now who’s to blame. I don’t really wanna fight no more. This is time for letting go.” -Tina Turner, I Don’t Wanna Fight

There are two basic models we can use to assess the ideas and practices of others: the first model is referred to as “the right/wrong orientation” and the second model is known as “the work/doesn’t work” orientation.

In the right/wrong orientation, we tend to evaluate people against a given standard or definition of “goodness.” When people think or behave in ways we deem acceptable, we label them “good” or “right”, while other ways of thinking and behaving are judged as “bad” or “wrong.”

In the “work/doesn’t work orientation”, we tend to determine the value of people’s thoughts and deeds in terms of how compatible they are with what we need or desire. Judgemental statements are directed at the agreement or disagreement we feel towards the results we get out of our interaction with others, not towards the actual people and their ways of thinking or behaving. Either something works or it doesn’t. End of story.

We all get to choose which orientation is best for us, but here’s two cents I’d like to offer you from the vantage point of my preferred model, the “work/doesn’t work orientation”:

I experience as much disappointment as anyone else I’ve met; Some people fail to keep their promises with me. Others say and do things that I find unpleasant. People whose attention I would love to have may ignore or overlook me. The list goes on.

BUT,

My contrasting experiences with people are relatively simple for me to process and wrap my mind around because they aren’t layered with judgmental theories about why others are so “wrong” and the stressful feelings that typically accompany such judgements.

This allows me to deal with my problems in their simplest possible form because the “work/doesn’t work orientation” doesn’t require me to analyze, change, or punish the people whom others may label “bad.”

If someone fails to call me back, that result doesn’t work for me. Simple. I ask myself the following question: “What adjustments am I willing to make to get what I want?” Next, the brainstorming begins until I find a solution. More importantly, that brainstorming session is VERY efficient since my mind is unclouded by resentful thoughts and totally free from any need to figure out what is “wrong” with the person who failed to meet my expectations.

I am able to address my needs with others, successfully modify relationship conditions in which needs are not being met, and effectively eliminate those relationship conditions that are incompatible with my standards WITHOUT losing sleep or making enemies (on MY end).

Does this mean my approach is right? Absolutely not.

It means that it works very effectively for me.

Once upon a time, I was very pleased with myself for having lots of “right” beliefs and I was ready to debate with anyone who was “misinformed.” This attitude became very costly for me as it led to a dominant mood of being frustrated and annoyed with all of the people who didn’t “get it” and all of the ways in which their “not getting it” was hurting the world.

One mantra I’d say to myself as a little reminder was, “When I need others to be wrong, my sufferings are prolonged.”

Making the shift from a “right/wrong orientation” to a “work/doesn’t work orientation” has given me peace of mind and it’s deepened my gratitude for life and it’s helped me attain laser like focus on the things I truly want.

For what it’s worth, that’s my two cents.

Cheers,

T.K. Coleman

Success is the best revenge, but that’s only half the story

In Anatomy of the Spirit, Carolyn Myss says:

Forgiveness is not the same as telling the person who harmed you “it’s ok,” which is more or less the way people view it. Rather, forgiveness is a complex act of consciousness, one that liberates the psyche and soul from the need for personal vengeance and the perception of oneself as a victim…the consequence of a genuine act of forgiveness borders on the miraculous. It may, in my view, contain the energy that generates miracles themselves.

In Language and the pursuit of Happiness, Chalmers Brothers, writes:

Forgiveness brings peace. It’s just that simple. Show me a person in your life that you say is peaceful and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t have a list of 10 people they haven’t forgiven.

Here’s today’s two cents:

Success may be the greatest revenge, but forgiveness is the greatest success.

The best way to get back at an enemy is to be the best you can be. And the best way to be the best you can be, is to get rid of the need to get back at those who offend you.

Cheers,

T.K. Coleman

Whatever you do, do it deliberately

There’s a huge difference between “trying” and “holding yourself accountable to a result.”

The former is experimental. It evinces a state of mind that’s open to negotiation, compromise, and reconsideration. The process of trying usually culminates with statements like “I tried.”

The latter is committal. It’s expressive of an attitude that’s willing to walk decisively towards a given destination, while burning the bridges that lead backwards. The person who holds herself accountable to a result has deliberately excluded specific options and eliminated certain luxuries in order to ensure that a certain goal is obtained. The process of holding oneself accountable to results usually culminates with statements like “I did it” or “It changed my life forever” or “I accomplished and learned a heck of a lot more than I could have done otherwise.”

Both attitudes work in some cases and both of them fail in others. Neither one is entirely right nor entirely wrong. “Trying” MIGHT not be a very effective way to plan a wedding, for instance, but it may be an optimal state for making friends or discovering new interests.

The important thing is for each of us to consciously think about which state of mind we’re in as we’re making decisions to start creative projects or explore new opportunities.

Sometimes, we may think, speak, and act as if we’re simply trying when we’d be better off holding ourselves accountable to the results that we actually wish to have. I’ve seen many people, including myself, become miserable because of the negative way things turned out, while simultaneously being completely unable to identify what positive result they would have preferred to see. Expectations were clearly present, but they were never consciously reviewed or expressed until much later.

At other times, we may hold ourselves accountable to certain results when trying things out would be more suitable for what we really need. I’ve observed many, including myself, who suffered from unnecessary stress because they were addressing what should have been casual tasks with military-like discipline. The intention, ability, and time to commit were never really there, but the honest and legitimate desire to casually explore was lost in a hurried attempt to meet expectations, avoid embarrassment, or simply “get the ball rolling.”

Today’s two cents?

Don’t determine your disposition on the go. All of your plans and desires don’t need to be taken super seriously, but they are important enough for you to be deliberate, beforehand, about what you want, what your expectations are, and what attitude and approach best fits your true priorities.

Different dispositions not only lead to different emotional experiences, but they also orient us towards different actions and, consequently, different results. We become more or less likely to hit our target depending on how deliberate we are in determining its level of importance to us.

So, do as you please. But whatever you do, do it deliberately.

At least that’s the way I see it.

Cheers,

T.K. Coleman

Back To Top