Who – or what – is the source of all the good things that happen in your life? You might be surprised to find out the answer to that question.
Who – or what – is the “source”?
More specifically, who or what is your source?
What do I mean by that?
Who, or what, is the source of:
– Your livelihood?
– The roof over your head?
– Your shelter?
– The food on your table?
– Your health?
– All the good things that have happened to you over the course of your life?
If your answer to those questions is you, then you may want to stop reading right now.
This post will likely not be of interest to you.
But if you didn’t answer those questions that way – or maybe you’re not entirely sure how to answer those questions – then I would respectfully ask you to keep reading.
How My Perspective Has Changed Over Time
I should provide some additional context and commentary before I continue.
I’ve lived most of my life with what I think of as the “default perspective” with respect to what I believed was the source of all the good things that have happened to me.
That is, while some of those things felt like they were the result of blind luck, and other things resulted from the generosity of others, by and large, I’ve lived most of my life thinking that I – me, mois, yours truly – was the source of the vast majority of the good things that have happened in my life.
Instinctively, I’ve believed that, if I wanted something to happen that benefited me, I needed to be the source of whatever that thing was.
If I didn’t do it personally, it wasn’t going to happen. Period. End of story.
That’s a normal assumption, right?
Most of us think that way, don’t we?
Over time, as I’ve gained more life experience and some basic level of wisdom, I’ve come to realize that that perception may not be accurate.
Like so many things in life about which we make assumptions, sometimes we discover that – when we put those assumptions to the test – we may have been wrong.
As I wrote in this blog post, last year I sat down and analyzed the 25 best things that have happened in my life, and discovered that, in 24 of those instances, neither I, nor any other person, was the primary source of that good thing.
Yes, you read that right: 24 out of 25 – that’s 96%, if you’re keeping score – of the very best things that have happened in my life were primarily sourced from the unknown.
At the end of this post, I’ll talk about how coming to that realization has affected me, and how it’s impacted my view of life in general.
What About You?
But, before we get to that, what about you?
What has your experience been with respect to the sources of the very best things that have happened to you?
What has been the “dominant source” of such things in your life?
If you’re not sure, here’s how you can figure that out:
– Step One: Create a list of the most significant good things that have happened in your life.
– Step Two: Consider the alternative sources, and – for each good thing that has happened in your life – decide which one was the most probable source.
– Step Three: Do the math in terms of how much each of the sources contributed as a percentage of the total.
– Step Four: Critically analyze the results, and learn whatever you can from them.
Let’s go through each of those steps individually…
Step One: Create a List
Prepare a list of the very best things that have happened to you.
You met your significant other.
You got your current job.
You recovered from a disease.
You won an award.
You narrowly avoided what could have been a tragic accident.
You get the gist.
Step Two: Assign a Primary Source for Each Item
For each of the items that appear on your list of good things, assign a primary source.
Here are the options, as I see them:
– Some other person.
I would suggest you do this in the form of a spreadsheet, or a simple list with four columns (one labeled “Description,” and three others, labeled as per the three potential sources detailed above).
Allow me to expand upon each of the three potential sources…
Option One: You
You did it.
It was your work, your thinking, your planning and your efforts.
Others may have helped in some way, but – at the end of the day – there’s no question you were the primary source of the good thing.
Option Two: Some Other Person
Someone other than you was the primary source.
Your parents helped you with a down payment on a house.
Your grandfather gave you an heirloom watch.
Someone saved you from a burning building.
Someone else was clearly the primary source of the good thing.
Option Three: Other
This is the catchall category.
This is the source you choose when neither you, nor any other person, were the primary source of the good thing.
An important situation turned around when you were certain it was over.
You found something valuable on the street.
You were inexplicably healed of a disease.
Something good happened to you, and it’s not exactly clear how or why that happened.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that – in order for the source of a particular item to be considered “other” – you (or some other person) couldn’t have had any involvement in the creation of whatever that good thing was.
If that were the case, then nothing would fall into this category, as – by definition – we are somehow involved in everything that happens to us.
I’m talking about situations where neither you, nor any other person, were the dominant force that ultimately created the good thing that happened. That’s why I’ve used the qualifying term “primary” a number of times already within this post.
Step Three: Do the Math
Once you’ve completed your list, and after you’re done assigning sources to each of those items, just add up the numbers and calculate the percentages for each source as a percentage of the total items on your list.
For example, if you had 20 items on your list, and eight were sourced from you, two were sourced from other people, and 10 were sourced from neither you nor another person, then your percentages would be:
– You: 40% (eight divided by 20).
– Other people: 10% (two divided by 20).
– Other: 50% (10 divided by 20).
Step Four: Critically Analyze the Results
Now that you’ve done the math, what were your results?
Maybe you can attribute the majority of the good things that have happened to you to your own efforts, or perhaps the generosity of other people.
In that case, then perhaps this has been a fruitless exercise for you, and for that I apologize.
On the other hand, maybe – like me – the majority of the good things that have happened to you were not the result of your own efforts, or the largesse of someone else.
Are we just lucky?
Is “the universe” simply smiling upon us?
Let’s dig a little deeper into that one…
Analysis/Potential Explanations for “Other”
As I see it, there are three potential explanations for the source we’re referring to as “Other,” as follows:
Option 1: Random chance/luck/fate/karma, etc.
I’d be the first to admit that some of the good things that have happened to me over the course of my life thus far probably were the result of purely random occurrences. Or of luck, fate or karma. Whatever label you want to apply to the concept of good fortune.
But 24 out of 25?
As noted above, those are my actual results so far.
I don’t think anyone is that lucky, or has that much good fortune, or that level of amazing karma, or whatever you want to call it.
I obviously don’t know anything about you and your experiences, which of course may be very different from mine, but “random chance/luck/fate/karma, etc.” is just not a realistic explanation for me, based on my experiences.
Some other force must be involved to create such a skewed, illogical statistical result of that magnitude.
Option 2: “The universe”
With respect to the next potential explanation for “Other” – “the universe” – I’ve never understood that one.
IMHO, “the universe” is in reality a concept that secular people invented to attribute things to God without actually having to use the word “God.”
In suggesting “the universe” somehow had a hand in creating some specific positive outcome, those who espouse such thinking are, in fact, arguing that a higher power exists.
They’re just detaching that higher power from the theology that supports and explains it in the first place, and calling it by a different name.
Why would anyone do that?
Because it’s so much easier to reconcile “the universe” with the philosophies that dominate our culture these days, namely humanism and secularism.
Somehow, when we call that higher power “the universe,” that’s totally cool and politically correct.
Nobody gets cancelled for referring to “the universe” as a thing that could somehow influence actual outcomes in our lives.
But when we refer to that higher power as “God”?
Yeah, that’s an entirely different story.
Beyond that, and without opening up a can of worms and detracting from the larger point being made here, even if “the universe” was a thing, who created it?
Did the universe create itself?
If you believe in the Big Bang theory – that is, that the universe came into existence from nothing, and that no higher power was involved – then I would respectfully suggest you read this.
And if contemplating that information doesn’t alter your perspective a bit, I would remind you that a (the?) primary purpose of the Big Bang theory is to attempt to explain the creation of the universe without acknowledging the involvement of a higher power.
Ergo, to suggest “the universe” is, in and of itself, some kind of higher power, is, at a minimum, oxymoronic.
That inference is a complete and total contradiction of the theory itself.
From a common sense/logic perspective, that just doesn’t add up.
Once more, your results and your perspective may vary, but – for me – “the universe” is not a viable explanation for all the good things have happened in my life that were not primarily sourced from me or some other person.
Option 3: God
That leaves only one remaining option as the possible explanation for “Other”: God.
Sidebar: Before I continue, and to keep the scope of this post as narrow as possible, let’s agree that we’re talking about the God of the Christian Bible, as opposed to some other god. As Christianity is the dominant religion in America, and given that I’m an American publishing this blog in America, my guess is that most people reading this are either Christian, or agnostic/atheist. Let’s also agree to defer the debate as to which god is “correct” for another day. 🙂
You may obviously disagree based on your experiences, but – for me – this is the only option that makes any sense.
I simply cannot reconcile these two things:
– The idea that 96% of the very best things that have ever happened to me were not primarily sourced from me or some other person, and
– The idea that those results happened – or were even reasonably possible – without a higher power being involved.
FYI: At the end of this post, I’ll provide some additional context and commentary that will more fully explain why I’ve come to that conclusion, but I don’t want to throw this discussion out of balance by doing that now.
Additional Thoughts RE “Other People”
Before we continue, please allow me to add some color RE “Other People.”
That source may not be as cut and dried and it appears on the surface.
As an example, have you ever had someone do something good for you that really didn’t make any sense?
Or, better yet, have you ever done something good for someone else that didn’t make sense… to YOU?
On a number of occasions, I’ve done random good things for other people that didn’t make any sense to me, at all.
In each of those instances, I had an overwhelming compulsion to do some very specific thing for some specific person.
Never was it a generic thing.
Never was it a feeling like, “You should do something nice for someone today.”
Every time, it’s been, “You need to do THIS SPECIFIC THING for THAT SPECIFIC PERSON. And you need to do it NOW.”
A few times, I resisted those promptings.
And those promptings disappeared.
For a while.
And then they returned, with a vengeance, and with even greater intensity.
In every one of those instances, I ultimately obeyed the prompting.
Where did those urges come from?
I really don’t know.
But I do know this: in each of those instances, I don’t consider myself the actual source – even though it was me that did the good thing – because I know with absolute certainty that neither the idea nor the compulsion to do the good thing came from me.
Those things, I know for sure.
My point: just because we can associate a good thing with a specific “other person” doesn’t necessarily mean that person was the true source who made that thing happen.
Perhaps that other person was being compelled or prompted somehow, exactly as I was in each of the situations I’ve noted.
Potentially related, one of the surest signs of the involvement of a higher power is illogic.
When something happens that makes no sense whatsoever, I believe that is a potential indicator that things may not be as they appear on the surface.
Also and potentially related, know that God often uses people to do things in the lives of other people. The Bible is full of such references.
Ergo, sometimes, I believe we may assume a person was the source of a good thing, when, in reality, it was – just maybe – God working through that person…
Impact on Me
To repeat something I wrote earlier:
As I wrote in this blog post, last year I sat down and analyzed the 25 best things that have happened in my life, and discovered that I had little or nothing to do with 24 of them.
Yes, you read that right: 24 out of 25 – that’s 96%, if you’re keeping score – of the very best things that have happened in my life were sourced from someone, or something, other than me.
At the end of this post, I’ll talk about how this realization has affected me.
To close that loop, here’s how:
Confirmed Veracity of God’s Word
First, that realization has (once again) confirmed the veracity of God’s Word.
One of the most significant things I’ve learned over the course of my life is that God’s Word can be trusted.
God is faithful and true.
And so is His Word.
In so many different situations and contexts, that reality has been clearly demonstrated to me.
In the context we’re discussing right now, here are some examples of what God’s Word says about Him being our source (emphasis added):
– Deuteronomy 2:7 – The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.
– Isaiah 41:13 – For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
– Psalm 34:10 – The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
– Psalm 84:11 – For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
– Psalm 107:9 – For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
– Psalm 118:7 – The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
– James 1:17 – Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
– Luke 12:24 – Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!
– Matthew 6:26 – Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
– Matthew 7:11 – If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
– Philippians 4:19 – And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
– Matthew 6:31-33 – So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Note that this is just a sampling of what God’s Word says with respect to this topic.
The Bible has many more instances that express the idea that God is our ultimate provider and our true source of all good things.
All that is to say that discovering that 96% of the very best things that have happened to me may have been sourced primarily from God is completely consistent with God’s Word.
And that has led me to believe in God’s Word that much more…
Made Me Less Impulsive and Reactionary
Second, that realization has made me less impulsive and less reactionary.
Not that long ago, I was highly impulsive and highly reactionary.
Pretty much all the time.
Why? Because I believed I was solely responsible for creating positive outcomes in my life.
And that is a fairly heavy burden to carry.
I couldn’t allow myself to miss out on opportunities, or to lose out to someone else who was faster to respond to something than I was.
So, I was on hair-trigger alert most of the time.
I’m still very much a “Type A” personality. Nothing will ever change that, probably.
But, because I now realize that God is my source, I trust Him – now, more than ever – to deliver the good things I need in the future, with or without my involvement.
And that has allowed me to relax and not worry so much about providing for myself.
Slowed Me Down and Lessened Time Pressure
Similar to the prior point, coming to the realization that God is the true source of almost everything good that has happened in my life has slowed me down significantly and made me far less sensitive to time pressures.
That’s a really big deal for me personally, as I’ve never been able to enjoy or live in the moment, and I’ve always been hypersensitive to time pressure.
The people closest to me have noticed how I’ve changed in these areas.
I’m more content.
I’m less edgy
I feel far less stress.
I’m more chill.
I’m actually living in the moment every now and then (what a concept!).
Bottom shelving it as best as I can, I’m happier.
Made Me Less Reliant on Me
Coming to the realization that I’m not the dominant source in my life has made me more reliant on God.
Which is great news for me, because it would seem that I suck at creating good things in my own life.
And that is once again confirmed by something in God’s Word; in this case John 15:5:
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
That last part is, for me, the key, to all of this: “apart from me you can do nothing.”
That’s really what discovering that 96% of the very best things that have happened in my life were sourced from God has, once and for all, made me realize: that, apart from God, I can accomplish NOTHING.
That Epiphany is bookended and further confirmed by another verse, which shines a light on what happens when we embrace this realization and choose to actively acknowledge that God, truly, is the source of all the good that happens in our lives, which can be found at Philippians 4:13, which says this:
I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.
That is, when we invite God into our lives, and we actively involve Him in everything we do, we really can do all things.
But it’s actually God doing the work.
He’s still the actual source.
He just does what He does through us.
To add a little more perspective and context, and to help you understand why I believe God has been actively involved in the creation of the results I’ve achieved personally, it’s not just that 96% of the very best things that have happened to me were sourced from “other,” but also the specifics of each of those situations (and of other situations that had nothing to do with the best things that have happened in my life) that have led me to this conclusion.
– The slam-dunk, can’t miss business opportunities that crashed and burned in spectacular fashion.
– The relationships that appeared perfect only to wither and die at the first sign of conflict.
– The erratic, illogical and unprecedented changes in behavior of people I’d know for years.
When those kind of things happen once?
Yeah, maybe that was bad luck.
But what about when they happen multiple times?
At that point, it starts to feel less like bad luck, and more like something – or someone – is actively involved and preventing things from playing out the way it seemed like they absolutely should have.
And the way I wanted them to, from my selfish, limited and ego-driven perspective.
On the flip side, when you’ve seen, as I have, other, lesser opportunities – some of which felt long dead – blow up into amazing successes, when things happen that defy all odds and all probabilities to become big wins, or when you enjoy significant windfalls that seemingly come from absolutely nowhere, and THOSE things happen with a frequency that makes no sense, that only serves to reinforce the feeling and the belief that there IS a higher power somehow involved.
When I look back on the totality of the things I’ve experienced, it’s as if God has consistently derailed my plans, and replaced those plans with other things that ended up being, in the end, far better and far more positive for me than what I was hoping for in the first place, based on my own plans and thinking.
And that brings to mind two of my favorite scriptures:
– Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
– Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Time and time and time again, I’ve experienced exactly what those two passages suggest…
Still Working On It
Full disclosure: I feel very fortunate, and incredibly blessed, to have figured out that God is the primary source of virtually every good thing that happens in my life.
But I’m still very much a work in progress in terms of how that knowledge has affected my behavior, and how I live my life on a daily basis.
The truth is that – far more often than I care to admit – I still live as if I believe I am the source.
And I do this, even though I am completely and unequivocally convinced – on a spiritual basis – that God is my source.
I know God is my source in my spirit and in my heart, but in my brain and my body, my first inclination is to continue to rely on myself.
And wen I think and behave as if I’m the source – as already noted – almost nothing works out for me.
But when I’m humbled, and when I turn to God and freely admit that I can accomplish absolutely nothing without His direct intercession and involvement, things always seem to miraculously work out for me, and often in much bigger and better ways than I could ever imagine.
Looking back over my life, it’s been a series of stumbles and setbacks, followed by a series of miracles, as I first attempt to do everything in my own strength, and then I ask for God’s help when I realize that I’ve failed, or that I’m about to fail.
At which point He does something to either save me, or to allow the failure to happen, only to then open some other door that leads me to some better thing or some other opportunity that was superior than what I had in mind in the first place.
So, yeah, I’m still working on all of this.
But I’m optimistic, because I can look back on all the progress I’ve made with respect to realizing and internalizing the fact that God truly is the source of all the good things that of happened in my life.
And, looking forward, I’m excited to see how I might continue to evolve and improve as I (hopefully) leverage this knowledge to effect change in my life.
The questions that keep coming back to me:
– How much time have I wasted chasing and the wrong things, pursuing plans and ideas that ultimately failed?
– How could I have better spent that time, if I knew then what I know now?
– How can I incorporate this knowledge into my future decisions and actions?
All that said, I would ask you to go through the same process I did – in terms of sincerely trying to figure out where all the good things in your life have come from – and letting that discovery lead you wherever it may lead you…
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