Nothing Random

Ours is an abundant world, but it seldom seems that way when we are demanding more. When we say “Thy will, not mine,” we are saying, “This is enough,” and in saying that, we may actually have that experience. This is an experience of acceptance, and acceptance is usually the sticking point when it comes to our will versus God’s. We would accept God’s will for us if we could just see where it was going. If God would just give us a glimpse of what we were being prepared for, then we would go along with God’s preparations. If we are all indeed being brought along like fighters, then there is nothing random in what we are given. We are given just what we need at all times to further our spiritual growth, fund our spiritual development.

— Julia Cameron, Faith and Will, p. 89

Changing the World with Words

Though it was not part of a lesson plan, it imparted a truth that left me spellbound. Great words, arranged with cunning and artistry, could change the perceived world for some readers. From the beginning, I’ve searched out those writers unafraid to stir up the emotions, who entrust me with their darkest passions, their most indestructible yearnings, and their most soul-killing doubts. I trust the great novelists to teach me how to live, how to feel, how to love and hate. I trust them to show me the dangers I will encounter on the road as I stagger on my own troubled passage through a complicated life of books that try to teach me how to die.

— Pat Conroy, My Reading Life, p. 10-11

Improving with Age

Let us imagine a woman’s life improving as she ages. Age doesn’t have to be bad. It could, in fact, be magnificent, if we would take our spiritual lives more seriously. Throughout our twenties and thirties, we care so much about what the Joneses think, even if we think we don’t. These two decades are the time when we’re most tempted to try to live for others. Around forty, it occurs to us that the Joneses are either going to like us or they’re not, that the Joneses have holes in their socks too, thank you, and that we have less control over what other people think than we ever imagined.

— Marianne Williamson, A Woman’s Worth, p. 49


The idea that God can be invited to co-create a life with us gives us a vested interest in the life we are making. We are not the victim any longer. On the other hand, we are not the sole creator. We are the collaborator. We are involved with God in a partnership, and this is where it gets interesting.

If God’s will and our will are not at opposite ends of the table, they may be said to be in communication with each other. We may find, as we pray, that what we pray for becomes more and more what we have. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Which came first, God’s will for us or our will to do God’s will? We are endowed with freedom, and it is our perfect right to use that freedom to pursue an understanding of God’s will for us. That is to say, we can entrain our own will to a higher will and in so doing experience more freedom, not less.

— Julia Cameron, Faith and Will, p. 87

Riches from the Library

Books permitted me to embark on dangerous voyages to a world of painted faces of mandrills and leopards scanning the vbeldt from the high branches of a baobab tree. There was nothing my mother could not bring me from a library. When I met a young marine in the woods one day hunting butterflies with a net and a killing jar, my mother checked out a book that took me far into the world of lepidoptera, with hairstreaks, sulphurs, and fritillaries placed in solemn rows.

Whatever prize I brought out of the woods, my mother could match with a book from the library She read so many books that she was famous among the librarians in every town she entered. Since she did not attend college, she looked to librarians as her magic carpet into a serious intellectual life. Books contained powerful amulets that could lead to paths of certain wisdom. Novels taught her everything she needed to know about the mysteries and uncertainties of being human.

— Pat Conroy, My Reading Life, p. 4-5

Smelling Salts

Christianity, however, teaches that God hates the suffering and oppression of this material world so much, he was willing to get involved in it and to fight against it. Properly understood, Christianity is by no means the opiate of the people. It’s more like the smelling salts.

— Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God, p. 113

Starring in a Perfect Show

Joy is what happens when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things are. Joy is not necessarily what happens when things unfold according to our own plans. How often that’s happened — we married the right man, had the children, got the job — and we’ve still known despair. Joy is what happens when we see that God’s plan is perfect and we’re already starring in a perfect show. It demands that we have the audacity to embrace the knowledge of just how beautiful we really are and how infinitely powerful we are right now — without changing a thing — through the grace that’s consistently born and reborn in us.

Such an embrace is not arrogant but humble; it is not crazy but realistic.

— Marianne Williamson, A Woman’s Worth, p. 46-47

God’s Yes

God’s “no” to me was actually a “yes” in disguise. I needed only to accept the clear direction I was being given in order for me to start feeling relief.

When we surrender to God’s will for us, we often feel relief. We intuitively know we have been fighting a war we couldn’t win, and when we say, “Enough! I will do it your way!” we can almost hear the synapses of the universe snapping into place as our good starts to move toward us. It is not God’s will for us to be miserable. It is not God’s will that we should suffer. Many times when we oppose God’s will, we are actually in the process of selling ourselves far short.

I can see now that had I stayed married to the man I so loved I would have had a claustrophobic life, one in which many freedoms were curtailed and a great many friendships declared off-limits as well. I was in love with a man who was both possessive and territorial. I was not only his wife, I was his property, and straying too far into my own interests was a real threat to him. I was willing to pay this price, but God was not willing to have me pay it. Whenever I prayed for a knowledge of God’s will, I was firmly given the sense that I was to pursue a separate and equal course, which is what I did do — but not until I had fought with God for the better part of a decade.

— Julia Cameron, Faith and Will, p. 84