For as long as you believe that life is happening to you, and beyond your will, that will be your experience, and so, your experience will seem to prove it. But from the moment you realize that it is you, happening to life - that changes everything. In that moment when you recognize and accept your responsibility, you claim your power.

You have great power, and you alone are choosing how you use it, for better or for worse, knowing or unknowing. Things happen within your life. Events happen that may appear to be random, accidental, good luck or bad luck, but in this universe there is no “luck.” Everything happens for a reason, and everything that shows up in your life has been called forth by you, consciously or unconsciously. Everything that happens physically is the result of what you have thought and believed spiritually.

When we build the habit of living mindfully, consciously and awarely, our choices are better and more in line with our real desires and needs. Our lives will be happier and more fulfilled. God does not intend for any of us to be unhappy, but does not disallow unhappiness if that is what we choose. God has created us with free will and the power to manifest our lives and our world, so the life we have and the world we live in are the natural consequences of our thoughts, beliefs, and choices.

We live in a spiritual universe, and all the rest is projected by mind. Your mind, my mind, God’s mind. And we are all God’s mind, individuated in us. When the Bible says “You are created in the image and likeness of God” this is what it means. We are often reluctant to accept this truth, because it seems like a lot of responsibility and a lot of work. Yes, it is a lot of responsibility, but not a lot of work unless we choose to make it so.

God has already given us everything we need to survive and thrive on earth, and God has promised that “whatsoever you ask believing” shall be given to us. But we must realize that we are always “asking” with our thoughts as much as (or more than) our prayers, and most of us spend more time thinking thoughts than praying prayers. We must take notice of what we are really asking for, because that is what we will unfailingly receive.

For example, If I pray earnestly and with all my heart “Please don’t let me fail the test” while holding thoughts of fear and visions of failure, I will almost certainly fail. I have sent a strong message of failure to the universe, and the more I fear, the more certain my failure will be.

Why? Because that is the loudest message I have sent. And also because the positive/negative duality only exists on the physical plane. In God’s law, which runs the universe, there is no such thing as NOT. Everything exists as a positive, an entity. So God/the universal law hears me saying “Fail the test” and will deliver just as I have asked (and backed up with my fears and visualizations of failing). Better I should trust, take hold of whatever faith I can find, study hard, and try to envision myself passing the test magnificently. Then that will be what the listening universe will hear and deliver.

Probably a lot of people are thinking “No; I’ve tried that - It doesn’t work for me.” But when you “tried it” did you really believe it would work? Or did you just think to yourself “Okay I’ll try this...” and yet were holding deeper thoughts of doubt and uncertainty? Believing is the key to it all, but it’s not always easy.

It’s not easy to believe when you have never personally seen the power of believing at work in the world. But when you can bring yourself to believe anyway, or at least be willing to believe (that “faith as a grain of mustard seed”) you will see it work, and believing gets a little easier. As you keep on believing, you will see it working again and again, each time you ask and believe. Whatever it is you want to receive, push away your old doubts and your history, and open yourself to receiving.

Unfortunately by the time we are adults we have been taught and then have re-taught ourselves a vast web of untrue beliefs about life, about ourselves, and about God. These rise up again each time we try to believe differently, each time we try to live differently a better, happier life. So God has left a “loophole” in the law ...

Sometimes good things happen to us, even large, life-changing things happen to us, that we have not asked for, or even dared to believe we could have. This has been called “incredible good luck” or “good fortune.” But there is no such thing as luck, and no such thing as accident. This is not luck or chance. This is Grace.

Grace is the gift unasked for. It is the “Godsend” that sometimes happens unexpectedly, as God steps in, uncalled. God is always “in” our lives because we are each and all the living expressions of God in Spirit taking form in the physical world. Grace is the ultimate proof that we are in contact and communication with a loving, caring consciousness that is greater than ourselves and our circumstances.

We are big in the plan of God/the universe. Therefore we are cared for and attended by the whole of God in innumerable forms, angels and otherwise. You yourself have probably been an “angel” of God for someone, at some moment in your life, when you didn’t even know it. We are all each other’s reluctant angels. Anyone can at any moment become the instrument of Grace, and be used by God to bless someone, even without our awareness. Something as simple as an honest smile, in passing on the street, could save a life that unknown to us was clinging to the edge. Our tiny gift actually mattered more than we could ever know.

I believe that’s why God put us all here together, so many of us, so different, at so many different levels of understanding, and yet each perfect for our purpose here. We are here to learn from each other, and to help each other learn and grow and live abundantly. We can choose to help and be helped, or we can refuse either, or both. We have free will to do that, and we have the power of God available to us whenever we ask and believe.

And so we go, each and all of us, down our chosen path, and we may think we are going alone. But we are never alone, and we cannot hide. We are loved and cherished and sometimes we are used by God, to bless one another even when we may not know it. We are given every gift we ask for, except sometimes, when we are given something better. Sometimes we are given the unexpected, unearned, unasked-for gift that is God’s Grace.

For me, there have been many unknowing angels. There was a time when I was in serious trouble. My life was financially, physically, and spiritually on the edge. I was divorced and on my own, out of work or working part-time temporary and struggling just to survive for nearly 2 years. I lived on oatmeal, cabbage, and brown rice, because it was all I could afford. I was in danger of losing my small apartment for overdue rent, and I lived there with my coat on because the cost of heat was a luxury I simply could not have. I felt helpless, alone, and devastated. I couldn’t see any way out; no matter how hard I tried. I didn’t know God was available, and I didn’t know how to ask.

I often thought about my life, and about Life itself, with a capital L. Tears stung my face as I was walking home from the bus stop on a bitter-cold November day after applying for another job I knew I could not get. It would have been a steady job, a new start - too good to be true, and I didn’t have any experience. Those were my thoughts, with sinking hopes, when a car drove by. I happened to look up and see its bumper sticker. It said “Expect Miracles.”

There are more of those bumper stickers around now, but at the time, I had never seen that phrase before. It struck me like a bolt of lightning, and in an instant I knew that this simple message was intended for me, exactly at this moment in time, when I needed it most. It was not “by chance” and somehow I knew it. I felt a sense of release, and letting go of it all. I felt a strange moment of peace, and I decided to trust God for whatever came. A few days later, I did get the job, and my life began to change.

Coincidence? The book “A Course in Miracles” says “There are no accidents, and no coincidences.” Nothing on the outside of me changed, but something on the inside did. I was given a little glimmer of Grace from a stranger who never even saw me, and never knew that he had been used by God to bless me and to set off a beginning that would open up a new life for me.

You and I and all of us influence each other’s lives in ways we cannot even know. Your kind word, or thoughtless one, can lift up or knock down the spirit of someone in a crisis or a life-crossroads you are completely unaware of. It’s not always what you say, or even what you do, that is your most powerful influence on Life. It is the way you choose to carry your spirit, minute by minute and day by day.

Choose joy whenever you can. Control and cut short those thoughts of anger, resentment, hurt, or fear, because what you are thinking must always manifest itself in your life and draw more of itself into your surroundings. Choose to be as happy as you can, in whatever situation, even if it seems useless. Your happy presence is a gift to all those around you, and to yourself as well, because it will draw more happiness to you, like a magnet. Choose peace instead of worry whenever you can. Let Grace have an open door into your life, and invite it in.

Choose light instead of darkness, for you are the light of the world, and our world is in need of all the light we can bring. Whatever joy you have, whatever understanding, whatever light - it is valuable and needed. It can make a difference you cannot imagine and may never know. Make a promise to yourself this new year, to let your life-light quietly, gently shine. Your little light is bigger than you realize.

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