Chapter 9, Part 2 - U2, RUSH, AND MY THEORY OF HOPE

Lesson: Live to create hope.

Cheat Codes for the Game of Life

While I don’t go looking for new games/apps to download on my phone, if my kids are playing a game then I make an effort to join in to see what they’re up to and to see if I can offer some fatherly advice (which is never really welcomed). The two games that I’ve played for the longest period of time are Candy Crush and Clash of Clans. Believe it or not, my theory of hope that I will describe later in this chapter, was most certainly informed by my experiences with these two games. The discussion in this chapter will focus on Candy Crush but I could have written this section solely utilizing Clash of Clans as an example. It may have even been a better example, but that is an analysis for another day.

I’m sure, if you ever even played Candy Crush, that most of you have probably already abandoned the game for other popular games and apps. I get a late start on my wife and kids when it comes to new games because it takes me a while to figure out that the next big thing is a thing. I often spend my time playing catch up to show that my prowess is worthy of note. Such was the case with Candy Crush. I found myself struggling to catch up so I observed the approach of the masters of the game in our home. I noticed that they were using hammers, a switching tool, and other short cuts. There I was playing the game in its purest form and quite often found myself stuck every few levels. When I accused them of cheating, they said that if the game had these features then how could it be cheating? I had to stop and think about that claim long and hard.

I had earned quite of few of those maneuvers. I had not purchased them. I had actually earned them based on the rules that had been set-up by the game’s designers. Don’t get me wrong. It is really helpful to have those tools at your disposal. When I started using them, I soon caught up to and surpassed the other family members engaged in the Candy Crush Saga. I thus started viewing THE PURCHASE of these tools as cheating and not the acquisition of these features when earned in the course of playing the game. To me there is a big fat line and not a fine line to be drawn between these two approaches. They are as opposite as night and day. In one instance, you advance in the game because of the availability of disposable income, not skill, and the willingness to use that disposable income on a gaming exercise. In the other instance, you are using your game skills to acquire resources and then to deploy them wisely.

It was clear that with these games, it was privilege that was giving the appearance of gaming prowess. A true gamer would not want to have the appearance of prowess, they would want to have earned the reputation. But people who jump from app to app and game to game don’t care about prowess, they want to be entertained (i.e., move through the game without being hampered by the limitations of the game). They want to have fun, and when it’s not fun anymore (i.e., when it ceases to be easy), then they move on to the easy level of the next, best thing. I have now surpassed Level 3000 of Candy Crush. I am happy to say that with the exception of a purchase or two at the start of my Candy Crush adventure, I have not purchased any gold bars, extra moves, bundles, mystery deals, etc. My skills are legit.

By this time, I’m sure you are asking yourself: where IS he going with this? I will get to the point. If a video game includes certain features that help you to navigate the game more easily, and if life may be described as a game, then are there features in the game of life that help you to navigate life more easily? Are there unwritten rules that if made known to us and if followed could help us to succeed at life (whatever that means)?

The interesting thing is that the Creator really has revealed what behaviors are desirable through the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the writings and teaching of other spiritually enlightened beings that have inhabited our world. Just as Queen Cersei’s secret to winning the Game of Thrones is a useful thing to know and to respect, the “cheat codes” that the Creator may have planted in the game for us might also be useful. Because behaviors advocated by the Creator are interpreted by us to be commands and because we don’t like being told what to do, then we don’t really appreciate God because of the limits we feel this places on our behavior and choices. The thing is, we are not limited in our ability to choose.

We can choose to utilize the “cheat codes” that have been offered to us, or we can struggle through life and, later in our years, realize that we could have a avoided a heck of a lot of pain and suffering. This book would have been much more useful to me when I was in my 20’s and 30’s. For the remainder of this chapter, I will focus on a theory that I developed: live to create hope. Please note that the theory does not say, “be hopeful.” Creating hope is different from having hope. When we create hope, we are creating it in others. Our self-serving actions will not create hope in others. Thus, the act of creating hope must be a selfless one. Someone else must clearly benefit or else it won’t have the effect of creating hope.

I will reveal a second “cheat code” in the next chapter, but that one will have more of a foundation in biblical teachings. The “cheat code” for this chapter is really my theory. Pieces of my theory have been alluded to in the writings of others, so I do share how my theory builds on concepts put forth by others.

My Theory of Hope

So as to establish the rock ‘n roll roots of this theory, I will introduce my theory with a reference to two songs by U2: “One” and “Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own.”

Much has been written about the power of hope and the positive impact it can have when people are faced with difficult situations and seemingly insurmountable challenges. Not much is out there about the power that there is in us serving as a vehicle of hope for others. We can glean from the song, “Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own,” that there are times in our lives where we need the love and support of other people. When we help out a family member or friend in a time of need, it is helpful to the person needing support in an actual/physical sense, but my hypothesis is that it is helpful to both parties in a spiritual sense. This may sound confusing to some of you and intuitive to others. Either way, I will try to lay out my theory in the simplest terms possible. This is challenging because we are dealing with a dynamic that is not observable, measurable, or provable.

I find it very difficult to believe that out of seven billion people who currently inhabit the earth and the tens of billions that have ever lived that not a single one of those people has reached the same conclusion (i.e., my theory of hope) that I present in this chapter. If the need for us to create hope truly exists and truly is a fundamental truth, how could it have escaped the great philosophers and theologians? This would not be the first time that I get an idea for a book only to find (through the power of the internet) that the book has already been written. I have yet to find the book that explains what I will be trying to explain, but I would be very happy if I am able to find it and share the theory as a reference and not as my theory.

As we live life, it becomes clear that we need hope. We hope that our kids grow up to be good people. We hope that this week at work is not as crazy as the last. We watch movies where the good guys always win and where love always triumphs. We read headlines that are horrifying and hope that the world is not really going to hell in a hand basket. We read works of fiction and non-fiction and identify with the hopes and dreams of the characters involved. We yearn for things to work out for us, our families, and our friends. Unfortunately, we are not usually deliberate about the things for which we hope. We let our emotions or desires do the work of picking what our hopes and dreams will be. This is not the ideal way to make such a decision, just as letting your emotions and desires determine how you spend your money is not the best path when it comes to personal finance.

While it is clear to me that we need hope, I feel that where we miss the mark is how we choose to pursue the hope that we and the people around us need. Let’s take the example of a family member with a potentially terminal condition. The person who is ill needs to be faithful/hopeful, keep a positive attitude, and envision a positive outcome. Our love and support can help them be faithful/hopeful and demonstrate to them that they are not alone in their belief that a positive outcome is possible. When we, the people offering love and support, see that the person in need is strong of faith and full of hope, then that strengthens our faithfulness/hopefulness (i.e., it strengthens our spirit). I argue that it is the two-way exchange that is most powerful in these situations and not the one-way exchange (i.e., not just us seeking to strengthen their spirit but us strengthening each other’s spirit because the situation is challenging to everyone involved). It is from this way of viewing hope that my theory of hope emerged.

In reality, hoping that a family member or close friend overcomes a personal challenge could be viewed as another way of looking out for ourselves. Even though we may be hoping for a good outcome for the other person, partly we feel this way because we want to feel joy and not pain. WE do not want to worry or be stressed out about THEIR situation. The question I would pose is, “Are we truly helping them or ourselves by hoping that everything works out well for them?” Unless we are helping that person meet one of their physical, psychological, or spiritual needs in some way, we are probably not helping them or ourselves. We must be selfless in these situations. We should think about who needs what in the situation and endeavor to give those people what they need.

If we all think in this way, then there will be no doubt in our hearts that others will be looking out for what we need and looking to make sure we get what we need. This is the ideal. However, when we are one of many who have been hurt, it is our tendency, because of the way we have been socialized, to worry about our hurt first and not to worry about the hurt of others until our hurt is addressed. Our knowledge of the process at work in this sort of crisis situation can help us determine how to carry ourselves in non-crisis situations. In a crisis, if we put their hurt before ours, then we create the conditions where hope can flourish. In a non-crisis situation, there may not be an obvious hurt to help alleviate, but if people know that you will be there for them when a time of need arises then that can be a source of hope.

Our need for hope and creating hope are part of our overall need for spiritual fulfillment. When I think about spiritual need, I tend to focus on our need for faith, hope, and love, drawing from the powerful biblical quote that happens to have been read at my and Theresa’s wedding ceremony: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). I think we have each spent some time wondering: what is love, why do we need it and how do we get it; and what is faith, why do we need it and how do we get it? But have we ever really taken the time to ask ourselves: what is hope, why do we need it, and how do we get it? As I developed my theory on the importance of hope, I arrived at the conclusion that hope is just as important as faith and love and is a prerequisite for maximizing the faith and love we are able to experience and enjoy. If it is true that “love is the greatest of these,” as spiritual beings we must put ourselves in a place where we can maximize our access to this strongest of spiritual forces. Meeting our needs for hope and creating hope helps to put us in a position that we can maximize the faith and love that we and those around us are able to access and enjoy.

The Role of Hope

Understanding the philosophical and spiritual underpinnings of my conclusions regarding the nature and importance of hope is not possible if you don’t understand my view of the role hope plays in our lives. To hope is a powerful thing. I feel that hope is a need that we have just like we have a need for food and a need to love and be loved. One way to look at this is that love is the spiritual food that provides a constant source of sustenance for our faith and hope. The diagram below is a representation of this relationship to which I will continue to refer throughout this chapter.

I will refer to this diagram as the Faith-Hope-and-Love (FHL) Diagram. As you can see there are three circles/spheres, one for each area of spiritual need. (Note: I visualize these three spiritual qualities as three-dimensional spheres and not two dimensional circles, so I will refer to them as spheres throughout this book.) Our spheres of hope and faith move toward and away from each other and toward and away from the center sphere of love. You will note that the sphere of love is larger than the other two spheres. This was a way to visually represent the fact that “love is the greatest of these” and to show that love is the focus for our lives since “God is love” [1 John 4:8, 16]. I believe that the parts of our spheres of faith and hope that intersect with the sphere of love represents the purest form of faith and hope. It should be our life’s work to bring the spheres of faith and hope entirely into our sphere of love (i.e., to have love be the driving force behind everything having to do with our faith and hope).

The intersection of the spheres of faith and hope with the sphere of love is meant to represent the portion of the spheres of faith and hope that are driven by our love for God. Often times there are other things in which we put our faith and for which we hope that may not be guided by our love for God. For most of us (except for those with the highest degrees of spiritual attainment), the spheres of faith, hope, and love are in a constant state of flux. Sometimes our faith or hope is high (i.e., it has a high degree of intersection with the sphere of love) and sometimes it is not (i.e., it has a small degree of intersection with the sphere of love).

The other critical feature regarding my theory of hope is my view that we all have a need to both give AND receive faith, hope, and love. Due to our nature as well as societal pressures, we tend to focus on doing what we must to meet our own needs with regard to these virtues. In other words, we crave faith, hope, and love so we seek to satisfy that craving. My view is that only half of our spheres of faith, hope, and love can be filled by our efforts to obtain faith, hope and love for ourselves. The other half of these spheres can only be filled by helping others to obtain the faith, hope and love that they need. Thus, if we focus simply on meeting our spiritual needs (as the self-centered approach to living that is promoted in our society demands), we will never reach our true potential for spiritual well-being that would bring us closer to God. It appears to me that when I focus on helping others (i.e., acting in ways that will bring them faith, hope, and love), then I feel “full” from a spiritual perspective. At least it is easier for me to feel spiritually full when I focus on these kind of actions and not when I simply read the bible and/or pray (i.e., actions where I am focused on me and my needs).

As I considered this question, I went back to see if there was some guidance in the bible that would help to elevate hope to this level, and I re-discovered the following words from Jeremiah:

I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
(This is the only instance where I am not drawing from the New International Version for a bible reference. I draw from the Common English Bible (CEB) Translation. The NIV translation states: "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”)

If indeed as Christians we are to wish upon our family, friends, and fellow human beings “a future full of hope,” how exactly would that world come into existence? It will only come to be if we do our part to bring that world into being. The institution we call “the church” (regardless of the denomination) cannot do this because it is an institution that has different types of needs and desires. We as human beings tend to distrust institutions. If we are to create a “future full of hope,” then it must be the people who make up “the church” who must build that future. Creating “a future full of hope” is not as difficult as it may sound.

What my theory of hope appears to demonstrate is that the key lies in seeking to fulfill our needs in a way that is not only personally satisfying but also effects a positive impact on fellow human beings who struggle with similar personal needs and challenges. By serving others in this way, we will have the added benefit of supporting the spiritual well-being (for faith, hope, and love) of the people we seek to serve. In return, they will help fulfill our need for faith, hope, and love by returning some of those virtues to us. It is a really a brilliant and beautiful system of exchanges that drives home the importance of mutual interdependence in our world/reality.

Why should the focus of our spiritual work be on creating hope and not love or faith? Honestly, the focus of our spiritual work needs to be on all three areas. But as I mentioned before, we as human beings tend to be more comfortable focusing on one thing at a time (or maybe that is just human beings like me). If we are going to choose one area of spiritual need upon which to focus, I would advocate for that area to be the sphere of hope.

It is easier to inspire hope in someone than it is to make them feel loved or to help them have faith. Love is such an intense and intimate emotion that we may feel uncomfortable when someone tells us that they love us unless there’s an established relationship with that person. Likewise, if someone we don’t know tells us to “have faith,” we may feel like that person does not know us well enough to know the status of our faith. Hope, on other hand, is something that is familiar to us. Especially since I started writing this book, a day does not usually go by when I don’t hear someone at work or someone on television or radio use the phrase, “I hope.”

I believe we are all hard wired to hope. This is why I feel that the sphere of hope is a powerful vehicle by which we can attain our highest level of spiritual fulfillment (i.e., that will help us move towards oneness with God). You may be left wondering, how can this theory of hope help me to navigate life? We will spend some time exploring the answer to this question by honing in on a slightly narrower version of this question, specifically, “How does meeting our spiritual need for hope help us navigate life?”

As alluded to earlier, our tendency is to focus on what we can do to help ourselves. This is unfortunate but something that can be easily altered or reversed. I believe we have some measure of control over how hopeful we feel about our own future and our community’s future. In my life it’s true that other people have given me hope. I didn’t ask for it. I may not have been looking for it. But somehow, these individuals created something in me that was not there before. They created something out of nothing. To put it another way, they created something in me without taking something from me. That was good for me, and I argue, good for them too. By extension, it is true that we possess the same power to create hope in others, and that doing this is good for us and for them.

In closing, I would note that the golden rule applies nicely to the exchange of hope describe in my theory of hope.

In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you. (Mathew 7:12)

Fillers vs. Dippers

The closest thing to my theory of hope that I have encountered was introduced to me by my daughter, Sofia, at the age of 6 or 7. When I was pointing out something that she did wrong or could have done better, she told me that I was a “bucket dipper.” When I asked what that meant she said that I was emptying her bucket of good feelings. If any of us were to hear this from our son or daughter, then it would certainly give us pause. We want our kids to have good feelings and not bad feelings, so obviously there was a disconnect here. Basically, Sofie had been feeling good, but after I made my comment, she wasn’t feeling good any more. I explained that my goal was for her to learn how to do things the right way and not to make her feel bad about herself. As parents, we have to make our kids do things that they don’t like so that they learn how to behave, interact with others, or take responsibility. You know why you are doing it, but for our kids it seems like we’re being “downers.” Thus, how we communicate with our kids is ultra important.

The children’s book, Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud is the source of my daughter’s comment to me. The week that she shared her opinion of my “bucket dipping” tendency was the week that her class had read the book. This children’s book is based on the self-help best-seller, How Full is Your Bucket by Tom Rath and Donald Clifton. The book is essentially a guide to creating a more welcoming and supportive work environment through praise and recognition and through positive interactions between the people with whom you work. The core of the idea is that we all have a bucket of good feelings, and our interactions with people either add (fill the bucket) or remove (dip from the bucket) the concentration of good feelings. If you are around a bunch of people who are dippers and not fillers, then you will never feel good about yourself or your situation.

One of the statistics shared in the book is that “9 out of 10 people say they are more productive when they’re around positive people.” If people are overworked and unappreciated, that will affect the productivity of the individual and the overall operation. Although there is an organizational culture and theory aspect to the book, the book presents the bucket dipping concept as fundamental to human relations and well-being. McCloud took this simple concept and put it in terms young children (and anyone really) could easily understand, and the way she is able to explain the bucket theory also clearly explains what I am trying to say with my theory of hope. Instead of having a fundamental need for filling our bucket of good feelings, in my theory, we have a fundamental need to fill our spiritual sphere(s) of good feelings (i.e., faith, hope, and love). To borrow her language:

People are “happy when their buckets are full and they’re sad when their buckets are empty.”

“You need other people to fill your bucket and other people need you to fill theirs. You can fill your own bucket, too.”

“When you fill someone’s bucket, you fill your own bucket too!”

“You feel good when you help others feel good.”

Though the Fig Tree Does Not Blossom by Ellen Ott Marshall is a book whose theology aligns closely with my theory of hope. She draws from Aristotle, Aquinas, and liberation theology as well as feminist and process thinkers to define the virtue of hope as one that is action-oriented (i.e., that makes us feel empowered to act) and is “accountable to the hopes of others and labors to identify common goods [rather] than pursuing self-interest.” Thus, hope does not only involve a desire for a certain outcome. Real hope also requires movement towards the desired outcome (i.e., a commitment to do what you can to realize the desired outcome). A hope without movement or personal commitment presumes that the Creator should allow that in which you hope to come to pass for no reason other than the fact that you want it. Such hope also presumes that you and not the Creator know what’s best for Creation.

An additional argument that Ott Marshall makes is that “we cannot hope in God without hoping in one another.” When we hope in something for which we do not have absolute power, then we must believe that the whole of humanity (i.e, God’s Creation) has the power to achieve that for which we hope. It becomes clear that we have a responsibility in addressing that for which we hope, but that others must also play a role in the realization of our object of hope. Likewise, we have a responsibility to play our role in realizing the hopes that others have. Through this process of helping each other out, we also fuel the hope that drives our beliefs and actions. This concept is reminiscent of the impact that I suggest we have on each other’s spheres of faith, hope, and love (i.e., that when we act in a way that fills someone else’s spheres of faith, hope, and love, they likely respond with a thought or action that fills our own spheres of faith, hope, and love).

The final idea that I want to share from Ott Marshall’s book has to do with the relationship we have with the Creator. She cites a model for divine power put forward by Sharon Welch that “affirms God’s relationship with and concern for humanity and establishes mutuality as a norm for human behavior.” Creation functions at its highest levels when we act in ways that are mutually beneficial to each other from a standpoint of advancing spiritual well-being. I’ve defined spiritual well-being in terms of the fullness of our spheres of faith, hope, and love (FHL). In my theory, mutuality means that we cannot fill our FHL spheres on our own. To return to the theme presented in the book by Rath and Clifton, we must be in relation with others in such a way that we are filling their spiritual buckets and they are filling our spiritual buckets.

Past, Present & Future

The power that lies in hope is echoed in a line that I recall from the television mini-series Roots based on the book by Alex Haley where the character, Chicken George, states, “He took from me the one thing no one should ever take from a man…hope.” He says this in response to a conversation with his “owner,” Tom Moore, about how he would never allow Chicken George to purchase his own freedom. This statement clearly implies that taking away hope is negative and creating or giving hope is positive. Tom Moore could have opted to give his slaves the opportunity to purchase their freedom like some other slave owners, but he chose not to do this. While Tom Moore may have just been answering a question posed to him, the answer he gave had implications beyond just the words that were uttered. The physical and environmental reality for Chicken George had not really changed, but his emotional and spiritual condition had been severely affected.

We are spiritual beings. If we believe this, then we must acknowledge that everything we say and do could or should have a spiritual impact on ourselves and/or on other spiritual beings. The theory of giving/receiving relating to our needs of faith, hope, and love that I have advanced is consistent with this assertion. I have also argued that hope is the spiritual need that we can more easily affect in other people and that other people can more easily affect in us. If these assertions are true, it would seem advantageous to examine the way we live and the decisions we make in terms of the hope it creates for us and others. I created the Past-Present-Future diagram shown below to further dissect the idea that the decisions we make in the here and now matter more than we can possibly imagine.

I got to thinking about the relationship between past, present, and future based on a song, “The Garden,” by Rush from their album, Clockwork Angels. Here are the operative song lyrics:

The future disappears into memory
With only a moment between
Forever dwells in that moment
Hope is what remains to be seen

Rush, The Garden

The Past, Present & Future Diagram is a visual representation of the relationship between our past, present, and future. By illustrating this relationship, I want to drive home the point that at any given moment we have the ability to steer our lives toward the path that leads us closer to oneness with God, which I consider to be our true path and which leads to the “X” that marks the spot. At the moment of our birth, we are on the path toward oneness with God (the dashed line), but we will stray from that path. Part of growing and developing involves learning the rules of engagement for life. As children, we don’t know the rules of engagement, and thus we will naturally stray from that path. If our parents do not do a good job of teaching us how to stay on the path, then we may stray pretty far from the path God intended us to follow (shown in the diagram as path “A” and path “B”). Since we, as parents, are also trying to find our own path while we are teaching our children to find theirs, then the things we aim to teach them will vary at different points in time which will confuse the heck out of them (sorry kids). This dynamic makes it virtually impossible for ANYONE to stay on their true path throughout their entire life.

The key point behind the PPF diagram is that the “Present” (shown as the large dot on the diagram) is always the right time to steer our life in the direction of our true path. Whatever we decide to do now (in this very moment) will forever affect what comes afterward. It is never too late to change our trajectory (demonstrated by way of the dotted lines that takes from where we are toward the X, spiritual enlightenment). As long as we have a breath left in us, we have the chance to course correct. For example, my father quit smoking cold turkey when my two sisters and I were small children. He did so after a coughing fit where he felt that smoking was choking the life out of him. This decision had a profound impact on his physical well-being. I am happy to say that earlier this year, he celebrated his 77th birthday. His decision also altered the future. It altered his future by extending his life expectancy, and it altered the future of his kids because our likelihood of not smoking if neither of our parents smoke is a lot higher. Neither I nor my two sisters smoke.

By making a conscious decision to move in the direction of our true path, we can drastically alter the direction of our lives. It is very difficult for people who struggle with addiction to do what my father did and quit cold turkey. But the important thing is that a conscious decision must be made to change for the better (to alter the trajectory of our lives). Without my father’s decision to change his behavior, the final outcome would not have been possible. The road may not be easy for a person after making a life altering decision. If the decision was made with hope for a better future and faith that we will get the help that we need, then two critical elements needed for success to continue down that road are already at our disposal.

What this suggests to me is that by living to create faith, hope, and love in others, we can drastically alter our life’s trajectory. We may be headed in the wrong direction currently, but by making the right choice at this moment we can change our trajectory so that it more closely lines up with our true path. That is why someone can quit drinking or smoking cold turkey, or why someone might be scared straight into leaving a life of crime to serve the Lord. It is possible! Actually, it is nowhere close to being impossible, but we often act like figuring out God’s plan for us will forever remain a mystery. It all boils down to our decisions and what we use as a guide in making decisions. I do not want to downplay the fact that overcoming addiction is much more easily said than done, but by making the right decisions and with the right support, it is possible to do so.

The two diagrams I have shared thus far [i.e., the faith-hope-love (FHL) diagram and the past-present-future (PPF) diagrams] both stemmed from the realization of the “cheat code” I have shared in this chapter: “live to create hope.” Each diagram has led me to discover something I had not been trying to find. In looking at the FHL diagram, it became clear that our mission in life is to continually strive to move the spheres of faith and hope into the sphere of love (our spiritual center). The PPF diagram helped me realize that “NOW” is the only thing that matters. If we decide at this very moment to act in a way that creates faith, hope, and love in others then we not only enhance the probability that the future of others will be brighter, we also enhance the probability that our future will be brighter.

When we observe people who are driven by a love of God and demonstrate a commitment to serving others, doesn’t that strengthen our faith in God and give us hope for the future? So if some people can inspire faith and hope by the way they live, then couldn’t all of us? Truly, we can if we make the commitment to do so RIGHT NOW. We all have different God-given gifts and face different personal challenges. Thus some of us may be able to do more than others, but we all can do something. Most of the time, we can do more than we are currently doing. Being conscious of the unconscious choices we make each and every day can lead to personal revelations about how much of an impact you can actually have in your own life and the lives of others. You may think to yourself, “This is not going to help me get ahead,” but that is only true if you define success as looking out for your own best interest. I honestly believe that when you help others get ahead, the universe responds by helping you get ahead (i.e., it helps you meet your physical and spiritual needs). If your physical and spiritual needs are met, then what is there to worry about?

Daily Prayer 4

To Our Lord Jesus, the Blessed Mother, and the Angels and Saints:

Thank you for entering into my life.

Because if you had not entered into my life, these personal, professional and spiritual experiences would not have been possible.

I thank you for the time, energy and attention you have directed towards me.

And I ask that if you are able to help me in some way that you help me arrive at a place in my life where I can focus on my spiritual advancement and the spiritual advancement of my family, humanity, Mother Earth and our Universe and not on the problems of this material world which many times cause us to veer from that path to the Creator.

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