Updated: Feb 23, 2022
The main article Sing From the Center of the Prison (Part 1/3), was born from a two-part, divine lesson in my own life. The first part started when I spoke to God about prayers my wife and I would say over our child. I'd wanted to know why my wife's prayers were more effective than mine.
My answer took about two months to unfold. Out of almost all of the self-improvement work I’ve done, this was one of the only big lessons I had left and one of the most elusive for me.
As usual, I got an answer that was clear and concise. The reason Grace's prayers were more effective was because she had fewer contaminants in her life. In other words, I had anger over things that were happening to us while Grace was letting that anger go. I also had a few bad habits that Grace didn't have. Her spiritual power was stronger because she was keeping her persona more clean.
The solution starts
It just so happens that about that time I came across some free classes, once a week for a month. It was a bit like going to church. The lessons had somehow directly related to what I'd just started working on, getting rid of bad habits and letting anger go.
One specific point is how to handle unexpected stress. It was about how to curb the itch to hurl things during angry moments, like insults... chairs maybe. I'd not been chucking objects, but I have been ignorantly skilled at saying things I shouldn't. So of course it got a bit weird that the four classes I took just happened to be directly related to what I was working on. They happened to come just after I needed to know what kept my spirit weak.
I'd been having specific trouble with one issue. I’m talking (vaguely) about a recurring moment when I was being tested and tested again. Something was happening to us that kept pushing my patience into triage. It was uncanny how this type of unusual moment kept recurring more and more as this lesson went on.
One Saturday, another of those moments came. It didn't go well. Our outside negative influences spiked. Inside, a mishap that caused a frustrating setback for us and others around us. Grace and I argued for a while as I retracted my better side. We ended up silent for some time, feeling bad over things that weren't our fault. We were so much at odds that the cold streak lasted until the next day.
The following Sunday...
That vague situation I typed about above, it grew to an almost unmanageable state. This happened in large part because of things beyond our control, things that often feel like a personal prison. On top of what had happened the day before, now came the stress of being late to church. It was all so much that I kept saying we shouldn’t even go. My wife, Grace; she pushed me into making my way to church. She repeatedly heard; “He needs to hear the message.”
Things got downright weird
That message during Sunday service, it was about getting through tough situations without shutting doors to positive solutions. The pastor threw in the story about Paul and Silas in prison (Acts 16:16). It ended under the idea that we need to shine and give thanks for what is right in our lives, even through our worst moments.
After that, our personal situation continued to mix with the messages we were getting from God, classes and church. It was like having a team of people helping me lock down a tent in a loud, oppressive wind storm. Then, as I approached a state of solidarity and calm, a day later, my family and I left for a small road trip. Soon began more small, unexpected battles, but this time was different. This time I had a truckload of information about how to duck, bob and weave my way through it.
Where we went
As we rolled toward that first destination, Mammoth Cave, I was tested by many technical and automotive mishaps. Next came our stay in a place that was not well cared for. Frankly it was dirty, dark, decorated in the 80's and the beds made great sleep deprivation devices. Next test, while in the cave on a tour we couldn’t leave; surrounded by people trying to hear the tour guide; our daughter got hungry, tired and turned into an often loud, flailing, yelling mess.
On that trip we hit a few other quick stops that brought more tests. We were pushed out of many comfort zones and had much more opposition to work around than what was planned.
Unexpectedly, I made it. We came through with this crazy, unrecognized way of passing through challenges without breaking the family foundation. We kept our regular conversations with God (prayers). We stayed grateful and continued to support each other. Where there should have been argument, laughter swept in. In place of negativity came logic and calm thought. In our own way, we sang from the center of the prison. And, as usual, God came through with reward. He blessed us with unexpected moments, time after time; some when people went out of their way to show us surprising amounts of kindness.
How the trip ended
The last leg brought a surprise I’ll never forget, a trip to our previous city of residence. We made a stop at our old church where we heard a message that caused a few double takes.
Let me back up just a bit. During the week before the visit to our old church, I had just been exploring one certain, specific aspect of self control. My wife (Grace) and I had just spoken about how I’d been getting a specific spiritual message. That message was about how negativity was stopping me from connecting to positive things. We'd just talked about how I had been attempting to work in the positive and suspected that energy was never around when I was feeling negative.
So now back to the sermon at our old church. The series was about the fact that the spiritual realm exists, as do ghosts, demons, angels, etc. It was also about how to communicate with God. The specific subject for that night? It was about keeping the Holy Spirit within us, that divine spirit of wisdom.
The pastor spoke about how we could squelch The Holy Spirit with negativity. He talked about how we need to stave off anger and poor mood, nasty words and ugly attitudes.
The Wrap up
I'll sum up how the article came about...
I'd asked for God's help in making my prayers and my work with positivity more effective.
Every single sermon and class I attended for the following 6-8 weeks was directly relevant to what I'd asked for.
During those weeks I was constantly being given the opportunity to work on this lesson.
The lesson ended in success. In the two weeks between the time the trip was over and the time of writing the articles, I've made about a 95% improvement in how I handle tough situations and negative, outside influence.
Now, instead of hunkering down and stewing in what goes wrong, I do my best and work hard to keep up what's right... I sing from the center of each prison. My outlook is different and my times are filled more with joy and positive energy, instead of letting the nastiness that often knocks at our abstract doors. I'm not perfect at it, but It's just another example of how learning to listen to God has changed my life.
See the main article Sing From the Center of the Prison (Part 1/3)
See the resources Sing From the Center of the Prison (Resource Article - Part 3/3)
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