Ok, I am a visual-spatial learner (for those of you who are not familiar with that term, it is a fairly new classification of learning ability whereby the learner prefers to learn visually and spatially more so than through audition.) For me, this is a method of learning, a style really, that I have relied on most of my life. It can be a blessing, especially when I need to recall directions (I simply visualize a map), or have to tell people how to find their way out of the store (at Macy's - I load the floor plan and then rotate it to direct them to where they need to go). I am fairly adept at moving 3-D images around in my mind, and at taking things apart (like in those explosion diagrams that help you see the inside of a part). It can be a negative though when you need to listen and listen carefully.
The Lord often says, "Carol, I need you to listen to me." The Word is full of moments when the LORD God said to someone, "Hey, Listen to me!" (my paraphrase, of course). Listening is a skill formed through careful attention to detail, and it requires that you submit your visual ability to your hearing ability for a short time. I usually have to close my eyes to listen closely or I focus off in the distant so that my vision will be cloudy and blurry. This helps turn off my VSL style and turn back on my AL (auditory learning) style. We all have both styles, and most of us have learned to integrate them into our daily life. Some people, like me, still prefer one mode over the other, and that is why we struggle at times. My VSL style simply will not subjugate itself to my ears, and as a result I often miss key details and important points. I need to "see" things written down, I make lists to remember what I was told, and I study pictures, maps, and charts to help me grasp understanding.
When it comes to the Lord, and His will for my life, I have needed a road map to really understand it. Though I listen well, after much practice and a lot of error (the Lord tells me I am progressing so I am pleased). I still make huge assumptions based on what I see, even when I can only partially "see" where I am going. If I would only listen more carefully, then I wouldn't always find I was in error. Well, lesson learned, and relearned. The more I listen to the Holy Spirit, the more I hone my listening skill. I need to shut down my eyesight a bit so that I tune my ears towards His still small voice. I can hear Him when He speaks to me, but I don't always pay close enough attention to then DO what He intructs me to do. This is called HEEDING and it is a part-and-parcel with OBEDIENCE. What good is hearing the Word, if you will not actually DO what the Word says to do? Exactly! James said it this way:
But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. James 1:22 NLT
Yes, Brother James, we must be doers of God's Word.
In an effort to put God's will for my life into a picture format, last evening, I drew this picture
It took me a while to figure this one out, but once I did, it made immediate sense to me. I have considered that there was ONE PATH only, and it was just like my life (a straight line from today through to the day when I die and head on into GLORY!) I didn't consider that Glory was fluid, just as my life is fluid. I like things to be rigid and fixed, for them to like points laid out on a grid. Instead, life is not like that at all. It is more ribbon like, more of a tapestry that contains many threads woven together to form a picture. In my limited sense, I was so linear that I simply couldn't accept that God's will might include OTHER PATHS for me. There had to be ONLY ONE, and that was the crux of all my difficulty and even depression.
In thinking more abstractly about reality and how I fit into the grand scheme of things, I realized that there are many PATHS (know that I am not speaking of "to God" as some New Agers like to say it -- I am stating that for the Christian, there are many paths open for career, for success, for the daily aspects of life) to follow. These paths are merely options or opportunities for us to consider. Some are better than others, some are more closely aligned to God's will (specific) for our lives. If we take the wrong path, we could find ourselves in a situation that will pull and tug us away from God (whether we go will be determined by our level of faith, and how easily we are tempted). It is best to listen to the Holy Spirit and let Him guide us to Good paths, those that will build us up, encourage us, and develop within us the keen interests and passions He desires us to have in our work. We do not want to choose paths that will constantly tempt us, hurt us, or cause us to suffer outside His will.
I have been on a path that brought about a great deal of suffering (life long), and now I am at the point where I am to choose a new path to follow. I didn't want to make any mistakes, and I didn't want to choose a path that would be similar to the one I am on. Some people believe that you are on ONE path and that you simply can change your circumstances or mind and alter your existence. However, this is not how I have perceived the Lord's description of paths and journeys. They are really like trails in the forest, and they intersect at times. You can take another road, another trail, but only when you come to that point of intersection. Until then, you can either go forward or backwards (but note, time continues on so if you have to go backwards, you still move forward in time). It is vitally important to pay attention to where you are going, so that you don't have to go backwards. If you do, you want to turn around quickly, as soon as the you pass by the trail intersection. This way, you don't lose much time having to adjust your life. You just turn around, and go back and then take the new trail. If you miss that trail, then you might have to wait a very long time for another trail to cross your path.
This has been the case with my life. I have been on the wrong path, and though there were trails that I could have taken, I didn't. I passed them by, choosing to continue on this one. I thought I could change my life by remaining on the same path (accomodate, change, shift my focus, adjust my thinking and so on). Instead of turning around at the first hint that I was going down the wrong road, I marched on (determined to prove that I had not made a mistake). Now, all these years later, I see where I am, and I see the hard truth of my life. I missed some God given turns that could have helped me find peace and create a more satisfied life.
Now, I can choose more freely, but the opportunties are not always available to me. This is where I am at and the crux of my struggle to move on into the future. I want to get off this path NOW, but there are no trails up ahead (right up ahead). I know there are some, and they will come my way, but for now, there are no options open to me. My friends wonder why I don't get out now (leave my home, divorce my husband, etc.) I try to explain this to them, but they think I am enabling my husband, being co-dependent, etc. I am not. I am being realistic, and since there are no roads for me to follow, I have to stay on this course until such a time as one presents itself. If I were to jump off this path, I would land in the wilderness or a dense thicket of bushes or trees (thinking naturally here). I would not be on any path, just in a pile of thorns. No, I have to stay on the path, even though time is marching on, and I am walking further and further down a road that leads away from where God wants me to be.
Now that I have a better understanding, my job hunting and lack of opportunities makes sense to me. I have been applying for work but nothing has produced opportunities. I have looked at the problem as one of technical failure only -- my resume didn't convey my abilities (true). However, I wasn't seeing that perhaps these jobs were not open trails for me to follow. They were just pictures along the way, but they were not open to me at this time. I need to keep on walking until I find that exit and then I need to take it -- go through the door, walk out onto a new path. Until then, I have to 'keep on keeping on' (as the axiom goes).
Therefore, with a new 3-D image in my mind, I am better able to understand that while I may not like where I am at present, there is nothing I can do about it until an opportunity presents itself. If the opportunity pleases the Lord, then I need to take it. If not, it will not be open to me (this I know). I can rest in the assurance that the Lord will bring me GOOD jobs only. If they are not to His liking, they will not come to pass. I don't have to worry about choosing the wrong job. I just have to TAKE whichever job is offered to me. I have been too particular, to unwilling to try things out, and I have missed some open doors. I have suffered as a result, and now I would glady take whichever door was open today. Until a new door opens, I am simply stuck where I am now. There is no place for grumbling or complaining -- God knows where I am, and He knows how much I want to go someplace else. He knows my needs, but time moves on, and I have to wait for a new door to open -- I cannot wish it to open up, and I cannot magically force it to appear. It will open when it opens, so be it.