Growing up in a conservative, evangelical Protestant scene, I was taught to pray “not my will, but Thine.” No way, I thought. What’s the point of prayer if you’re going to let God do what he wants to anyway? Asking for God’s Will also terrified me; as far as I could tell, God’s Will demanded suffering. God’s Will wanted to destroy all the “chaff” of my own desires and teach me humility. God’s Will was a nasty little soldier running around trying to ruin everyone’s lives for their own good.
Based on the books I read and people I knew, I was afraid that God’s Will for my life would involve one or more of the following:
· To eat the pus of lepers (to teach me that serving others is even more rewarding than not eating pus)
· To be a missionary killed by the natives (to teach me, posthumously I guess, the joy of giving my life so that others might be saved—because once natives kill you, they’ll surely repent and read the Bibles you gave them)
· To be tortured for my beliefs (to teach me that I can get through anything if I sing hymns)
· To hit my head when diving & become a quadriplegic (to teach me that I don’t need arms and legs to do God’s Will; I can learn to draw beautiful pictures with my teeth, for example)
· To accidentally fall in love with an old, fat man (to teach me that appearance isn’t important)
· To never marry or have a family (to teach me that my happiness comes from loving God, not from the fulfillment of my most cherished lifelong dream)
· To have a severely handicapped baby (to teach me humility)
· To die (to teach me that this world is nothing and that God is everything)
Clearly, the God of my childhood was worth running from. And His Will? Will was his vengeance, his hit-man, his thug.
A friend told me recently, “You’re still thinking about God as being Out There. But God’s in you, God is you.”
A book I’m reading says to think of God as “an electric current, endowed with supreme intelligence. This ‘electric current’ is there, in you, around you, outside of yourself.”
Sounds great, right? If God is part of me, what’s to fear? God’s Will is, essentially, My Will. But the fear quickly returns. In this version of spirituality, it’s not God who sabotages you: it’s your fear-energy. Your unconscious fears disrupt the “God-flow” and manifest stuff you don’t want. Can’t have a baby? Your unconscious fears of having children are shutting down your uterus. Can’t meet a loving partner? Your unconscious belief systems about partnership are working against you. Blinded by a chemical spill at age 8? You contracted for this experience before you were born, hoping, perhaps, for heightened senses and wicked martial arts skills.
In other words, your problems are your fault; you can work to expose and correct these unconscious influences, but in the end, your crappy circumstances are of your own making.
So that kind of sucks. It’s like saying, “That dog will attack you if you show any fear.” If you can’t calm your fear, it’s your own fault if that dog bites off half of your face.
The Christ Within talks about using the God-flow in us to transform any of our life circumstances or situations into a “state of grace,” in which the holiness in us blesses that situation and we are led, through gentle, intuitive impressions, to bring about that situation’s highest good.
If we surrender a particular situation to the God within us, promising to let go of our sense of limitation, our false perceptions, and the will of our personality, promising to listen for and follow our feeling nature, we will thus enter a state of grace and invite into our lives our highest good. Well, okay, I thought. Maybe I can do that.
Maybe God’s Will is the deepest and purest part of myself, and maybe this Will’s urges are not in service of self-sacrifice but of self-actualization and self-expression and a surrender of all anxiety about what other people think.
Maybe God’s Will is a flowering, a full manifestation of my particular personality in this particular lifetime. Or maybe God’s Will is simply to experience—to be here in this world of illusion and to embrace it lightly, gracefully.
In the end, bad stuff doesn’t come from God. It comes from fear. But instead of getting stuck in the fear of what my unconscious (or the collective unconscious!) will manifest, I can surrender it all to my highest good and focus instead on what I can access: the conscious fears. For example, my anxiety often compromises my well-being: I avoid painful conversations, I try not to ‘bother’ people with my problems, I say yes when I’d rather say no. The process of changing this default, of living in a state of grace rather than a state of tension, can feel difficult and frightening. After all, “God’s Will” might be that I actually ‘speak my truth’ or, worse, say no. But I can trust the outcome if I trust that God’s Will is part of me, that it manifests only freedom and wishes for me only joy.
 St. Francis of Assisi
 Elisabeth Elliot’s husband
 Countless martyrs I read and watched movies about as a child.
 Joni Eareckson Tada
 Couples who said things like, “I wasn’t attracted to him at all, but then I got to know him.” It would be so God, I thought, to trick me into falling in love with a man who grossed me out. Another church message: the more attractive person of a couple is holier than the rest of us who care about looks.
 A few single church women I knew and tried my hardest to avoid, afraid they’d rub off on me.
 I would like to apologize for this fear to the parents of disabled children. I would also like to believe that I would whole-heartedly love and take pride in any child who came into my life.
 We shouldn’t talk about God because He’s everywhere, my 3rd grade classmate said, pointing at her vagina. Even here.
 The Pathwork of Self-Transformation, by Eva Pierrakos
 A CD from the Sacred Garden Fellowship
 This is a very mild example of the effects of fear. Maybe another post will delve into the whole, “why do bad things happen?” debate.