Accepting the Invitation
by Neale Walsch
I’ve talked to many people who tell me that as children their lives were filled with metaphors and aphorisms.
You made your bed, now you have to lie in it, they were told. All good things come to those who wait, they heard. And here was one of the favorites: As you sow, so shall you reap.
Most parents usually used this particular saying when they wished to impress on a child that something was the child’s fault. The child was told that his undoing was his own doing. Rarely did children hear this aphorism when they had achieved something grand. The result was that when their outcomes were bad, many children ‘got’ that it was they who produced that. But when their outcomes were good, they ‘got’ that they’d run into a powerful bit of luck.
That’s it in a nutshell. People think they’re lucky when things go really well, and at fault when things go not so well. I’m hoping that today’s children are being told a different story, and will grow up to experience a different reality.
Here’s the message that I send. It comes straight from the Conversations with God series; books that I believe can change the world.
I say to young people (and to older people as well), It is true that what we sow, we shall reap. But there is a secret about that that hardly anyone tells you.
‘You can plant a new crop whenever you please. And the time of harvest need not be in the distant future. In fact, the more you have absolute confidence in this process of planting and harvesting, the quicker will be your harvest.’
In other words, I tell them, it is not true that ‘you’ve made your bed, and now you have to lie in it.’ You can get up from the bed, and walk away from it. You can even experience a Lazarusian miracle. You can lift yourself from the bed when others had thought you were finished for good.
I know. I did that.
Back in 1993 I was in terrible shape. I was living in a tent at a campground just outside of Ashland, Oregon, and unable to pay my $25 a week tent space fee. By rights I should have been thrown out, but the campground manager felt compassion for me and gave me a chance to start over.
I’d broken my neck in an automobile accident and was unable to work for many months. Living on my own at the time, there was no family welfare income available to me, and since I’d been self-employed, no disability insurance, either. I was living on a pittance in food stamps, under the stars, in a tent with a sleeping bag and a Coleman stove and a flashlight. I thought I’d reached the end of the line. A street person at 49.
As I looked back over my life I could see how I had sown the seeds of my present discontent. In my earlier years I’d had all sorts of thoughts about my unworthiness. It wasn’t that I thought I wasn’t bright or clever or talented or capable. In fact, just the opposite was true. I thought that I was all of those things. The problem was, I did not think that I was worthy of being all of those things. In other words, I felt like someone who’d taken gifts that didn’t belong to him.
Don’t ask me where this thought came from. I have no idea how I came to feel this way. I only know that I felt it. Constantly. I saw myself as an interloper, an intruder, an unwelcome guest at someone else’s party.
So when things went well, I did feel incredibly lucky. I felt as if I’d had nothing to do with it. And when things went badly, I did feel absolutely at fault.
I also carried what I would now call a ‘struggler’s’ mentality. That is, I felt that I was more of a ‘life hero’ if I had to struggle for everything. So even when things did come easily to me in life, I would make them into a struggle by incredible acts of self sabotage.
But the most damaging mindset of all in my earlier days was the thought that I was on my own, that it was me against the world, that I was separate from everyone and everything, out here surviving.
This consciousness of separation produced that in my life. I experienced nothing but separation from everyone and everything that I ever loved, all of my life.
Now here I was, at a campground living in a tent, separate from my loved ones, from whatever ‘stuff’ I’d collected in the world. Someone had even stolen my car a few weeks earlier. In it, in the back seat and the trunk, were my last few remaining things–some personal effects, a few photographs, a book or two, and some other little treasures that I’d been dragging through life with me to keep some connection with my past and with the few moments when I’d felt happy…
Does any of this story sound familiar?
I can only thank God that, as I sat there in that campground pondering my future, wondering what in the hell life was all about, somehow I came to the realization that I could start over, that this wasn’t the end of the line, that it didn’t have to be the last stop.
I don’t know exactly how or why that hit me. It was what I call one of life’s Moments of Grace, when for a brief moment everything seems clear, and one’s deep connection with God and with all of life feels very real. I am only grateful that I acted on that clarity. So many people move through such moments and dismiss them.
But I decided right then and there in that campground that I was not going to quit: that I did not need to quit. Most importantly, it was there that I began to drop my ideas of Separation. I saw that I was not without resources, that I was worthy of my talent, and that what I thought of as ‘luck’ was God’s way of saying ‘yes’ to my biggest, wildest dreams. All I needed to do was believe that He would always say yes for my life to change completely.
Then I experienced, through a series of events, that I really was one with everyone else, and with everything, and I began to create and accept the assistance of a Universe, which was only waiting for me to do so, if I’d open myself to it.
All of this is detailed in my book Friendship with God, which is more autobiographical than any of my other writing and shows in vivid detail how God works in all of our lives to make them work–if only we will let Her.
And, as soon as we accept the goodness of the Universe, as soon as we make a real Friendship with God, as soon as we open ourselves to the wonders of life and the goodness of others and to our own self worth, all of God’s gifts shower down upon us. Instantly. There is no waiting room. There is no line forming at the left, and God never puts us on Hold.
So that’s the great secret about the seeds and the harvest. The time between the planting and the harvesting can be reduced to practically zero. You don’t have to wait for miracles.
The time of harvest is at hand. Always. In every moment. As is the time of planting. So plant now, and harvest, the grandest version of the greatest vision ever you held about Who You Are.
That is the invitation of God. That is the purpose of your life.