What if you were not really in charge of your life? What if there was a pre-determined path for you and only you, one that was designed with your best interests at heart? What if the key to a fulfilling and contented life was simply to find this path and follow it?
These were questions I was pondering as I read Finding Grace, Daily Comfort for Uncertain Times, by Eiman Al Zaabi. It’s a thin book, containing a saying or short passage for each day of the year, yet it is packed with ideas that will have you questioning the role that God plays in your life.
One interesting aspect of book is that while it is about God, Eiman rarely uses the G word, which comes preloaded with baggage. She instead refers to the guiding force in our lives as the Divine. Eiman is a Muslim, and while it informs her writings, it could easily have been written by a woman with a Christian upbringing. She seems to have tapped into a source of universal knowledge and the basic truths that are at the core of all religions.
In this first story I will write about Finding Grace, let’s look at her ideas on free will vs. determinism—the notion that all events, and all our human actions, are determined by causes outside of our own will. For those who are religious or spiritual, these causes are usually referred to as G*d but could also be termed the Divine, the life force or a higher power.
Al Zaabi writes of the delicate dance that takes place between our own free will and the will of G*d. There is a place where these two intentions meet and the tricky part is finding that sweet spot, the intersection where our own will and God’s will blend as one. This is where we find the path and plan for our own lives.
Eiman is a beautiful writer, her language is succinct and clear. I have picked up her words from Finding Grace virtually verbatim below. in some places I have changed the collective “we” to the more personal “you” and I have also ordered some of her points differently than they appear in the book.
- As a human, you are created with the intention, the blueprint, and the potential to find the truth for yourself.
- Some aspects of your life appear to be within your power to influence. The fact that you have a zone of influence—creates the illusion that you are in control.
- However, our lives consist of a series of moments outside of our control.
- Having free will means that you have the ability to make choices in a governed universe with the resources you have in any given moment.
- We are on a journey in which the Divine guides and supports us every step of the way.
- The beauty and essence of the human connection with the Divine lies in the delicate intersection between willpower and Divine power.
- By listening carefully and cultivating our connection to the Divine, we receive both comfort and guidance.
- Understanding the deep relationship that ties you with the Divine helps you realize that you move in communion, in prayer, in grace.
- Whatever changes you desire, strengthening your connection to the Divine will empower you to achieve them.
- Disconnection from the Divine is at the root of all the suffering we experience during our lifetime.
- Any time you embody or act from love, any time you act from a selfless place, you bring yourself closer to the Divine.
- The Divine is present every minute of our lives. The moment we realize the Divine’s presence, we remember our sacred connection.
- The Divine self is where all power lies.
- Give up control and invite the Divine to sail your boat.
If you, like me, are occasionally flummoxed by trying to determine the Divine’s will, it may help to remember the words of the writer and Auschwitz-survivor Viktor Frankl. Searching for the reason for his existence and our own, Frankl came to the conclusion that the question we should ask is not “What can I expect from life?” but rather “What does life expect of me?” What can I do for those around me, including my family, my friends, my community? How can I best put my skills to work not just for myself, but for others? Know this and you may be closer to knowing the will of the Divine.
Coming Tuesday, June 2: A follow-up to this story titled “How to Determine God’s Plan for Your Life.”