We don't get what we deserve; we get what we ask for. The truth is, everything we desire or imagine is already available to us; the gift is already given just as promised almost 2000 years ago by an acknowledged great teacher, Jesus of Nazareth. He said it many times in different ways - "Ask and you shall receive" and "Whatsoever you ask...believe you have received it, and it shall be yours." And please note that he didn't just say "Believe you WILL receive it, he said "Believe you HAVE received it..." It has to be now, not the future, that you believe in. Otherwise, it will always be just out of reach, in the future. That part evaded me for half a lifetime, and it is crucial. We must believe now what we want now. That was a radical and extraordinary concept then, and still is.

Right there is the catch. For most of us in this physical world, believing is often very hard to do. If your family history has been one of lack and struggle, or poverty, or shame whether deserved or not, that way of life becomes your belief and expectation. And remember - what we believe becomes true in our life – whatever you hold in thought, or even in sub-conscious belief, manifests as your life.

"Believe you HAVE received it..." That just makes it tougher, and at times seemingly impossible. But the truth is, nothing is impossible if you have faith - so start small, and see it happen. Ask for a parking place and allow yourself to believe the perfect one will open up for you, just as you drive by. That's perfectly possible, so you can believe it. You'll find that this works beautifully. But of course, only if you BELIEVE it will. If you're really thinking "Okay, but this is silly and it's probably not going to work but I'll try it." Then you can bet your paycheck it won't work. In this life, what you believe is pretty much what you get. Unfortunately, life is complicated and it's nearly impossible to know what you're believing all the time. That's where learning and practice come in.

Why does everything seem to come easy for some people, who don't really deserve it any more than you do? You know them – the ones who always get the breaks, the best job, the promotion, the happy healthy life and beautiful family, the parking spaces, the lottery. We find ourselves not only envying them, but resenting them, angry at them for getting what we wanted too, but we didn't get. "It's not fair" we cry. "God's not fair. He likes them more than me."

No of course it's not "fair" because “fair” is a limited judgment invented by human beings thinking in a mode of polarity and limitation. God cannot be either fair or unfair because God is infinite, infinitely generous and loving. Everything - every thing - is already there in potential, already given to each one of us, but we must claim it and become truly open to receiving it, in order for it to manifest in our individual physical lives. We must ask believing that the gift is given.

But (you say) "I prayed and prayed for this, and I still don't have it." God's universal laws, like the law of gravity, always work the same way for everybody. The universe responds to you precisely; it is totally objective and does not does know grammar or future tense. It unfailingly reads and delivers the exact message you send. If you pray with the words or idea of "I really want this" or "I truly need this." then God's universal laws will ensure that you SHALL want that, and need that. The condition you hold in thought is what your prayer transmits. When you pray "This is my heart's desire; I claim it now, and I see it already manifesting in my life." (This basic teaching of Jesus was rediscovered in Religious Science, founded by Earnest Holmes back in the early 1900’s.) When you speak this from your heart, believing it is true, and giving thanks for it in advance because you know it is true, then you will see it manifest in your life.

"Wait a minute...” (you insist) “I can't tell God what to do! I can't order Him to give me something! That's blasphemous! God will strike me dead with a thunderbolt! Or a car crash or something!" Well, if you hold thoughts and visions of thunderbolts and car crashes, you are sending that message to the universe (and make no mistake about it, the universe is always listening) then you will tend to attract those kinds of things into your life. Remember when Jesus said "If there be anything good, if there be anything beautiful, noble (etc.) ...think on these things." Jesus usually said what he meant in the simplest clearest way, and he meant what he said.

Although we don't have any true power over another person's life, and others have no power over ours, all our beliefs, our thoughts, and our words have power, and continuously exert the power that creates our individual life events and conditions. It's really true as the saying goes: "Thoughts are things." Change your mind, and you change your life.

In the work I do, I see human beings from all walks of life and in various places of various paths. For some of us, life is a dance, for some a walk of faith, for some it's more like a blind hitch-hike to who-knows-where, and for some it's a painful, miserable crawl. I have seen “up close and personal” everything from joy and success, to basic happiness and health, to life-destroying alcoholism, multiple drug addictions, homelessness, and debilitating life-threatening disease. I have asked myself and God, How can it be that some people go the way they do, and create the lives they have?

There is no simple answer, because life itself is complex, and our human comprehension is limited. I know that the questions of illness in particular are very intimately connected with our inner doubts and fears, and the ways that our soul heals itself, playing out through our physical bodies. I also am aware that in addictions, life-choices are the key issue. When we take a wrong fork in the road, the farther we continue down that wrong road, the farther and harder the way back seems. But we can turn around at any time. The reason so many people don't, I think, is because it takes hard work to go back, to get clean. And their addiction is a misery that is known, versus attempting a new way of life which is uncertain and unknown.

In truth, it can only be harder to keep on going down that wrong road. But in this life, every soul has the right and the responsibility to make his/her own choices, and walk their own path. We can try to help them at those turns, but the choice and commitment must be theirs alone. We cannot live another person's life for them, no matter how much they may want us to, and ask us to. The very essence of human life is the God-given right and responsibility of free choice. It can't be taken away, or given away, or thrown away, no matter what. It can’t be legislated away, or made unnecessary by welfare programs. Even God will not save us, if we really don't want to be saved.

The master principle, and the secret to success and happiness in life is this: All God's power and principles, which are our personal power too, are located NOT outside of us in the physical world of circumstances and events, but inside of us. We are always creating our lives from the inside out, whether we know it or not.

Universal human life is very large. Nobody has all the answers; no one knows it all. Perhaps the best we can do is share what we discover with each other, and that’s all I’m going for, here. Of the known, basic life-rules about how God/the universe works, I'm addressing only one of them right now. It's the one that goes something like this:

Ask and you shall receive. Don't ask and you won't receive. Whatever you ask for, you do receive. So be aware that you are continuously asking in thought, either consciously or unconsciously, and be careful what you ask for.

One of the sad but profound lessons of my own life, and something that still haunts me, is the memory of my birth-mother. I look at her life, what little I know of it, and my heart aches for her. She was a quiet, kind, and generous person, who worked hard all her life in a low-paying service job. As a young woman she supported a husband who couldn't get work, and two dumb kids, my brother and me. She ended up divorced and lost what little she had. It's true she made some mistakes, and alcoholism was one of them. Even though it took ten years to do it, she pulled herself out of it, by herself, without family or welfare support. Only now do I understand how hard that was, and how courageous. At heart she was a good person, and I never saw her express anger but once in my childhood, and I know she never intended any harm to anyone on earth.

And yet her life was bare of luxuries and full of disappointments. Her marriage ended in divorce and the loss of her children, and always, always she struggled for enough income to just get by. She deserved so much more. My own life has been so much more blessed, even though I have done nothing to deserve it more. The question has haunted the dark corners of my heart for a lifetime - Why did she get so little from life, when she deserved so much more?

The answer has only come in bits and pieces, hints and clues from the experiences of my own life and my own mistakes. At first I refused to see it. Then when I saw it, I didn't want to believe it. But after years of events, experiences, and inner knowing, it could no longer be denied. My mother's life was so much less than she deserved because she had never learned to ask.

I grew up like her, thinking it was wrong to ask for anything – for realistic reasons – we couldn't afford it; I didn't deserve it; other things were more important; it was impossible, etc. Of course, all of those things were probably true, and certainly reasonable. But the tragedy of it was not the doing-without things; the tragedy was that it canceled out Believing. Nobody in my childhood told me the truth about the power of faith, because they didn't know it. They only knew the limitations of the physical world, and so they accepted its laws. The Truth and Laws of Spirit, God's rules, are different.

The truth is, the universe is here to bless us and support us in our evolution. First it developed the physical/biological of us, then the mental/logical, and now in this present age, the new frontier is spiritual. The function of the natural universe is one thing only - serving God as a manifestation of God, which we are also. Every form of Life is a form of God expressing.

God/the universe is not separate from us and withholds nothing from us, the beloved children of God's creating Mind. The rules of life, the laws of God/the universe are unchanging and unchangeable. When we discover the rules, we can use them to bless ourselves and others. The rules were given to us by Jesus of Nazareth, but he knew we were not ready to receive them yet. One of the rules was "Ask and you shall receive." and he went on to assure us, in plain words "...every one that asketh, receiveth."

My birth-mother was a good and decent woman who never learned how to ask, and never knew she had the right to. Never learned how to expect more and better from life, and so, never received it. The joys she had, and we all have from time to time, were simply gifts of grace from a loving God. She hoped, and she worked hard, and she was a good person, but she didn't know how to believe. Her history and her mother's history had taught her to think she didn't deserve the things in life she really wanted, and so those things never came. Her lack of faith in herself played out in her life and circumstances, and she unconsciously taught that to me.

For most of my early life, I struggled under the same false beliefs, even though something inside of me dreamed a bigger dream, and would not let it go. When I heard in a Unity church a few times that "life could be different" I really wanted to believe it. And so I began to move, if only in my heart at first, in that direction. Toward the light. When I began to break through some of the limiting false beliefs that I inherited, my life started changing. It became different than I would have dared to think was possible for me. I did things I would not have thought I could ever do, but I decided not to let myself doubt, and I tried things anyway. Those times when I could not believe, I just decided to suspend disbelief and stay positive or at least neutral (that grain of mustard seed...) Time and time again, the gift I asked for was given. Even quite a few “impossible” ones.

And so, I suggest this to you. KNOW this, and hold it in your heart and practice it in your thoughts and actions in your daily life. Even if it's just parking spaces at first, BEGIN. Know this with absolute certainty, teach your children and teach your heart to believe it because this is the truth about you: You are God's beloved daughter or son, and every one of you is His favorite. That's how much God values you. You are loved by God completely, not like any human love, but much more than that. You are loved completely. You are absolutely unique in the whole universe, infinitely valuable and beautiful in potential, and the outcome and manifestation of that potential have been entrusted to you.

There are no real limits to what you can be or what you can do, except the ones you create in your own thoughts and beliefs. Know this, and you set yourself free. Look into your truest heart and see what you find there. What is there was put there by God, and it is is your special gift. It may not look big to you, but it is important. Or it may look much too big for you, but it is not too big for God to do through you. Begin to believe in it, begin to live it. Whatever you want or need to make it real in this physical world is already set aside for you, waiting to be asked for. Ask knowing that this is so, and give thanks now, because the gift is already given.

this Month's New Thought Essay, Poetry, and Blog.