My first memory of not wanting to be alive anymore was when I was nine years old. I loved my father and my stepmother, but I didn’t feel I was loved by them. To the contrary, I believed they didn’t love me or my two sisters.
It was about this time I started praying to God. We were not particularly religious as a family and I only recall going to church a few times. Nonetheless, I would pray to God often and ask him to make my family happy.
I cried myself to sleep most nights, pleading with God. I begged him to make my father and stepmother love me and my sisters. I asked him if he would change my stepmother and make her nicer towards us. There was constant yelling, abuse, locking us in our room’s for long periods, and even placing padlocks on our kitchen cabinets so we couldn’t get food.
Despite my constant pleading, I always woke up the next morning disappointed because I felt the same way I had the previous night. My stepmother never became any nicer and the abuse continued.
I began to think God was not very fond of me. Maybe he sided with my father and stepmother. Maybe my sisters and I were just bad seeds. I began to accept that my sisters and I deserved to be treated like this. Perhaps we didn’t deserve to be happy or loved. But I still crawled into bed every night and prayed. I turned to God to fix the situation because I thought I had nowhere else to turn. Nothing changed, though.
Years later, at the age of sixteen, I found myself standing motionless in my bedroom. I raised my hand and put the barrel of a gun in my mouth. I locked the hammer back into firing position. I could feel the cold steel frame of the gun on my lips. I stood there as my mind raced.
There were a thousand thoughts coming and going from my mind, all at the same time. I mentally listed all of the reasons I should pull the trigger—the list was long. Then, I tried to list all of the reasons not to pull the trigger. I came up very short.
Despite this, at that moment I decided to take control of my life. Not pulling the trigger was the hardest decision I have ever made. Thankfully I had the courage not to take the easy way out. I had another epiphany in that moment. I would no longer ask God to fix my life; I suddenly knew I had to fix it myself. God would not save me; I needed to save myself. I realized then that all my pleading with God to save me had actually taken the power away from me to save my own life.
This article is not meant to be a debate as to the existence of God. I believe in God. But equally as important, I believe in myself. If I am going to accomplish anything in this world, it is going to be because I accomplished it. I will make it happen, not God. I am in control of my own destiny.
One of the issues I have with religion is it takes the power away from us and puts it in the hands of a higher authority. We are taught to pray with phrases like, “Give me strength,” or “Help me overcome,” and “Guide me.” Psychologically there is a transference of power from us to God. We are suggesting that we can’t do things on our own and that we need to get what we need from a higher source.
We have been taught in religious settings that when something bad happens, “It’s God’s will.” If we can’t figure something out, we are taught, “It’s not our place to question God’s path for us.” If we don’t end up with what we want, it is suggested, “It wasn’t meant to be.”
These are all powerless statements, suggesting our destiny is not within our control. They suggest a pre-determined, unchangeable path. If that’s the case, why should we bother trying at anything? If our path is pre-determined, why not just sit back and let life happen? In that way of thinking, God just puts us wherever he thinks we should be and we have no say in the matter.
A friend and I were talking about her business. She told me that she had prayed to God to bring her new clients this year and help grow her business. After patiently listening to her, I asked, “Who is in control of your business, you or God?” Adamantly she responded, “I am.” “Then why,” I said, “are you asking God for new clients and business growth?”
This seems like a silly conversation but it demonstrates a way of thinking. My friend felt ultimately the power and ability to grow her business came from God. With that transference of power, she failed to recognize her own ability to control her outcome. But God was not going to grow her business. She would have to do that herself.
This is not an article against religion. This is an article that embraces the power of you. When we buy into the earlier statements about God’s will, etc., we assume a position of having to ask for strength, courage, direction, or ability. When we think we need someone else to solve our problems for us, we inherently assume a role of being in the passenger seat instead of the driver’s seat. It’s like when you want a raise at work. To get that raise, you have to ask your boss, because he is in control—not you.
We have the power and ability to govern our own lives. We control our outcome. We have the power and strength within ourselves to accomplish whatever we want. We don’t need to seek that power from a higher source or anyone else. We need to recognize it within ourselves.
There is one person responsible for your successes and failures in life—you! Knowing that, we each must take full responsibility for our successes and failures. When you have the mindset that you have to ask a higher power for clients and business growth, it’s easy to pass the buck when that growth doesn’t come to fruition. It’s easy to say, “Well, it wasn’t meant to be.”
The key is this: the power to be successful or grow your business or get new clients comes from you. The power to be a good person and be happy also comes from you. Likewise, the responsibility when those things don’t come to fruition also falls on you, not a higher power. The power is within you. Use it!