A Sign From God Or A Coincidence?

I am tending to believe lately that most people in this world have asked God at some point or another to give them a sign that everything is going to be ok when they’ve been going through an extremely difficult time in life. I also think that’s even true for people who declare themselves as atheist or agnostic when the pain becomes great enough in their lives. Just over a year ago, I watched my own roommate, who doesn’t believe in souls, heaven, or anything greater than himself, call upon God for a sign that he was going to get better when he was enduring severe mental and emotional upheavals. And ironically, shortly thereafter that request, he got the help he needed and those upheavals subsided. But like many people probably do, he labeled it not as a sign of God, but as a coincidence, and instead gave the credit to the doctors he saw and the medications he took.

A few months ago, I wrote about this very topic, but I felt it might be worth revisiting given something that happened in my life a few days ago, that I’ll be sharing with you in a moment. In that previous entry, I spoke of the biggest thing many people in this world often think of when it comes to a sign from God, and that’s the burning bush experience that Moses had thousands of years ago. But what if the signs from God these days are much more subtle than that? And because they are so subtle, what if it’s just our brains playing tricks on us by telling us that they aren’t signs at all and instead are just coincidences?

This is something as of late that I have been pondering a lot actually. To be perfectly honest with those who are reading this, I still cry out to God at least once or twice a week for a sign that my physical pain levels are going to reduce, and that everything is going to be much healthier for me again one day. Enduring high levels of physical pain for three years now that doctors, medical tests, and medications were unable to provide me any relief from, has taken its toll on me. There are days when I really just want to give up, but it’s on those days that I have ended up pleading with God instead to show me some sort of sign that I’m going to be ok.

In almost every case when I’ve asked for that sign from God, something positive has happened for me that my brain always tries to tell me, it was just a coincidence and wasn’t exactly what I was asking for. I have often wondered if this is the precise reason why God stopped providing those huge burning bush experiences a long time ago? Maybe God got really tired of demonstrating those signs because time and time again we just labeled them as a coincidences and wanted something bigger to essentially prove God’s presence during those difficult times? The only thing that I can say is true, is that I believe God still does provide signs when we ask for them, but they come more as gentle nudges rather than huge knock downs.

Case in point, as I mentioned earlier, I had one of these experiences a few days ago on a particularly rough morning. On that day, my first thoughts were of seriously questioning my sanity with my pain levels and how much longer I could continue to endure them like this. I thought about God and prayed for some type of sign to help me get through the day. Shortly thereafter, I looked at my e-mail and saw I had received communication from a friend who too has been struggling in life, but for other reasons. When I opened his e-mail, I expected to read about some of the struggles he has been facing in life, which I have been praying lately for him. Instead, I saw a very brief gratitude based letter that simply stated he was having a moment of serenity in his life and felt called to share with me a few words he heard from a speaker at a meeting recently. They were that “God didn’t bring me this far to let me fall…”

For someone like my roommate, who considers himself an atheist, I’m sure he would have labeled that e-mail as just a coincidence. But for someone like me, who has desperately been trying to grow closer to my Higher Power, I took it as an example of one of those subtle signs from God. And I believe that it was God’s way of telling me to hang in there for just a little while longer.

So whether you have a faith in something greater than yourself or not, if you should ever find yourself calling out to a Higher Power for a sign when you’re going through a rough patch in your life, I encourage you to take a moment, breathe, and remember my brief story I just shared with you. Signs from God can be so much more subtle than what our brains tend to want. But if you can accept that, then I can assure you that your Higher Power will give you that sign you’re asking for, it just may look a whole lot different than what your brain was hoping for…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

One Reason Why You’re Never Going To Get Everyone To Like You…

Have you ever walked into a room where everyone seems happy to see you except for one lone individual, who you may or may not know, but for whatever the reason, they don’t appear to particularly like you, even if you know you’ve done nothing negative towards them? If so, are you also the type of person who will then spend the rest of the evening letting that bother you where the only thing you’re able to focus on is that one lone individual who is giving the impression that they have some sort of ill will towards you?

A wise person once told me that I’m not always going to be able to get everyone to like me. Unfortunately, that never stopped me from trying anyway for most years of my life. If I was to delve into why I’d say it probably stemmed back to the relationship I had with my mother because I always wanted to stay in her good grace and keep her happy. With her having been an alcoholic, all too often she was complaining about something I was doing that wasn’t meeting her satisfaction. So if she wasn’t happy, without even knowing why, I often thought there was something I did wrong. Because of that, I’d do all sorts of nice things to try to get her happy again but until she did, I had a hard time focusing on anything else. As life moved on from those younger years, that pattern just morphed from person to person where if someone was upset or didn’t seem too happy around me, I would immediately think it was something I did wrong. The result was usually my attempting to make that person happy through any number of things. So in the case of the example I started out with, when I’d walk into a party where most everyone was happy to see me except for a person or two, my evening was spent trying to figure out why those few individuals didn’t appear to like me instead of having a good time with those who did.

Thankfully, with all the work I’ve done in recovery, therapy, the ManKind Project, with my spiritual teacher, and with God, I’ve been able to see things from a completely different perspective when it comes to this trait. And I’m grateful to say that this pattern is finally beginning to dissipate and hold less and less power over me. As I continue to grow more spiritual, I’ve been noticing that the brighter my soul becomes, the more I appear to be having greater numbers of people show signs of not liking me. At first I didn’t understand why, because I thought it would be exactly the opposite of that, but after working with my spiritual teacher, I’ve learned the answer through a simple principle she taught me.

She told me there are many people in this world who will choose to remain in darkness and do dark-based behaviors for the rest of their lives. They will oppose any light which exposes their darkness and will gravitate to only those people and places that keep them in that darkness. In my case, since I’ve chosen to expose myself completely to the light that God is sending me, all darkness from within me is being expelled and I am becoming brighter everyday as a result. In turn, this has led me to accepting the fact that when I see a person, who I’ve done nothing wrong towards, start talking behind my back, snickering at me, pointing a negative finger in my direction, or blatantly verbally attacking me, that’s it’s just their darkness trying to snuff out the bright light within me. This is exactly what my mother often did to me as a kid as she lived in a lot of her own internal darkness. As a child, my light was very bright. In fact, most children’s are, that is until a toxic parent, or toxic friend, or even from their own toxic actions, start to dim it. For years, I allowed my toxic mother and so many toxic others to take away my light. Then I just stayed in toxic behaviors and addictions that lead me into nothing but more darkness. I am so grateful that my relationship with God has led me back into the light again. Now I stay as far away as I can from those people who are consumed with remaining in their own darkness as I don’t ever want to go back to that place and join them.

I try to focus now solely on the people who want to be in the light. And I agree with that wise person who once said I was never going to be able to get everyone to like me. I’ve found that most people who don’t are generally those who refuse to look at their own darkness that’s living with in them. I pray for those people now and hope that I as continue to shine more and more brightly each and every day, that I may be a beacon for them to be guided out of their darkness. Because as they do, I know they will start to find me a whole lot more likable, all on their own, when their own light begins to shine just as bright.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Do You Say Grace?

When I was growing up, grace was a mandatory requirement before I was ever allowed to take a single bite of my food when the family came together for every meal. Ironically, that grace was always the same and was actually performed as a song, if you can believe that. I’m not even sure to this day how it came to be, but I tend to believe it was a concoction of a child’s prayer and something my parents made up. And it went as follows:

God is great, God is good, and we thank Him for our food. We’re gonna thank him morning, noon, and night, we’re gonna thank our Lord, cause he’s out of sight, Amen ch ch ch ch ch ch ch ch, do do do do…”

It’s amazing to think back now and remember the countless meals in which my family truly did sing that grace. At the time I hated every second of it and as soon as I left home at the age of 18, I stopped saying any type of prayer altogether before all of my meals. For the next 20 years, the only time I ever revisited a blessing prior to eating was often only to impress those I was spending time with. During those moments, I’d ask everyone at the meal to hold hands where I would then come up with some type of prayer to bless the food as well as everyone present. Normally that effort was met with general uncomfortability as I found that many people never did grace at their meals either, even if they did have some type of faith in a Higher Power. But regardless, my intentions for most of those prayers I did here and there over the course of two decades were never pure.

When I began to find humility in my life through all the pain and suffering I started going through in my mind and body, my view on saying grace went from being a self-seeking option to one of a pure desire to do so at all times. Much of that is in part due to the knowledge I have today of some of the World Hunger Statistics.

Here are the most alarming statistics I found that relate to world hunger for 2013:

1. Total number of children that will die this year from hunger – 1.5 million.

2. Percent of world population considered to be starving right now – 33%.

3. Total number of people who will die today from hunger – 20,864.

4. Total number of people who are currently suffering from hunger and malnutrition – 800 million.

5. Time between deaths of people who die from hunger – 3.6 seconds.

My Higher Power, or God as I see fit to label now, has shown me how far I’ve been from ever falling into one of those statistics at any point in my life. Since I was a child, I have never, ever, gone hungry unless I chose to fast for any period of time. I’ve even been privileged enough to dine out quite a bit throughout my life at various eating establishments. Thankfully, there was another good behavior in addition to grace that my family taught me about food when I was growing up. That behavior was to always eat everything that was put in front of me. They used to say there were starving people in China when I left anything on my plate. And the ironic thing is how close that was to the truth back then and really still is in this world as you can see with those World Hunger Statistics.

I’m grateful that God has helped me to develop more humility as well as love and compassion for everyone and everything, because that has led me to wanting to say grace at each of my meals now just like I did as a kid. Only now, I really do what to say it. While I don’t sing my grace anymore, I do make it a point to always bless not only the food in front of me and anyone else dining with me, but also for all those people in this world who are going without food at that very moment. I also make it a point to help out where I can when I see people around me begging or if I am anywhere there is a container collecting money for hunger. It’s not my place to judge where exactly that money I donate is used, I just have faith that somehow I’m doing my part for God to help in the world hunger crisis.

So it’s my desire for anyone reading this, that the next time you are about to put all that food in your mouth that’s sitting in front of you ready to be eaten, that you will take a moment, breathe, and say some type of a quick grace. Try to remember all those people out there, especially the young children, who will die today because they were malnourished. And at the end of your meal, try saving your leftovers to eat at a later date, as what you might throw away is probably more than any of what those starving people will ever eat in a week. Hunger is a real problem in this world, and saying grace at your meals can be just the beginning to having a little more gratitude for the fact that your not starving like 1 in 3 people in this world currently are…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson