I came across a couple of different quotes recently that had some things in common: looking and God. The quote in the illustration says, “Looking behind I am filled with gratitude. Looking forward I am filled with vision. Looking upwards I am filled with strength. Looking within I discover peace. – Q’ero Indians.
The other quote comes from a friend of a friend, Ken Jablonski, who posted on Facebook, “Look back and thank God. Look forward and trust God. Look around and serve God. Look within and find God.”
Looking back is generally frowned upon, if you’re focused on feeling guilty, angry, or bitter about situations that you no longer have the power to change, but there is power in focusing on outcomes that have been fortunate, perhaps not “good,” per se, but better than expected (as in, “It could have been worse”). Putting a positive spin on things that have happened in the past sets us up for a hopeful outlook for the future, and an attitude of gratitude opens our hearts to more of God’s precious love.
Lookingforward into the future fills many with unease, fear, or even dread, because the future represents the unknown. When we have done all we can in the present to assure ourselves of the best possible future, then we can look forward with vision and hope. Our goals give us a reason to get up and get going in the morning. Revisiting and refining our goals every so often to keep them realistic and doable keeps us from having to dog paddle through life in water that is too deep for us.
Looking upwards to find strength has to do with accepting help from Divine Spirit. I don’t know why we always seem to think of “heaven” as up in the sky somewhere, but if you think of Divine Spirit as the highest energy possible, then perhaps upwards is as good a direction to look as any. In fact, when you think about it, I’m not even sure why people bow their heads and look down when they pray, if they think God is “up” in heaven. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that we should be looking up, rather than down, when talking to God?
Lookingaround is a good thing to do when we want to connect with our fellow human beings and our environment, in general. Instead of being told what we can do to be of service, we should get into the habit of being proactive, and finding for ourselves something that we can do to serve. When we do one thing each day to be of service, no matter how small the act may be, our focus is outward, and our fears and worries seem to vanish as we focus on others rather than on ourselves.
Looking within is really the only place to find God for ourselves. It doesn’t matter how often you go to church. If you haven’t got a personal connection with God that you can take with you wherever you go, you won’t find it in a church building on Sunday – or any other day of the week.
From these two quotes, then, I can extrapolate some specific daily practices.
1) Keep a gratitude journal or take time each day to thank God for the blessings of the past 24 hours, even if you repeat some things daily.
2) Take the time to list and prioritize your life goals. Are your daily activities moving you toward meeting these goals? If not, take the time to re-evaluate your goals and re-state them, changing elements that are no longer workable. Keep revisiting your goals to make sure you are not spending energy on a dead dream that will never materialize.
3) Don’t forget to ask God for help and direction in every phase of your life. No problem is too big or too small. And don’t forget to listen for the answers or recognize the help when it comes. It often comes in unexpected ways.
4) Do at least one thing each day “just for love,” without any expectation of thanks or recognition. Go out of your way for people. Spend some time and energy making someone’s life or the natural world around you a better place to live.
5) Take time each day to establish and maintain a relationship with the Creator. Talk to God in your head, and expect an answer. Maybe not a booming voice, or even a faint whisper, but perhaps a nudge of intuition, a word of advice from a friend, a snippet of conversation or song lyrics on the radio, or a sign on the way to work. You never know how God will talk back. 🙂