My Life Seems to Have a Plan

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DarkJedi
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Re: My Life Seems to Have a Plan

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InquiringMind wrote: 19 Sep 2022, 23:36 The life he got was better than the one he had wanted, and God stopped him from moving down one path and pushed him towards a better one. I guess all I can do is hope that's true for me.
Up front, I haven't previously responded to this thread because I don't believe God has individualized plans for each of us nor do I believe God directs certain experiences. However, I respect your freedom to believe it. Everyone's experiences are different and while mine don't lead to me believing certain things, other's experiences could very well lead them to believe very differently. I believe our experiences and our individual needs to maintain sanity and equilibrium greatly influence what and how we believe. (In other words as Obi Wan said "Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.")

That said, this is why I quoted the above. I've actually always disliked this story, but mostly because it doesn't match my own experiences. As I get very near retirement and look back at the major turn my career took as a result of doing what I believed God wanted me to do I am most certainly not better off than had my career continued on its prior trajectory. It should be noted that this major change also became the core of my faith crisis. In my case I can't say the bush grew back bigger and better, it is in fact quite the opposite. But my behind is in the past and I am ready to embark on the next portion of my journey - on the path I am choosing without worrying about what "God wants." And God and I have come to an understanding (or I have come to an understanding of God) and we're good - I don't bother God, God doesn't bother me.

It does appear to be human nature to hear what we want to hear or see the confirmation of our own belief or desire to believe when there really may not be a confirmation there.

And one more observation regarding the story - I'm not really sure this whole idea of God molding us into what God wants us to be is really scripturally supported (except perhaps in one parable that's trying to prove a different point). Again, I respect the idea that many people have that God is involved with their lives, but it's one of several Mormon paradoxes. From my point of view God can't really be the vineyard keeper pruning at will for our own good and at the same time allow us full agency. I'm not really trying to be crude, but sh*t happens - God directed sh*t would be a whole different story.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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InquiringMind
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Re: My Life Seems to Have a Plan

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DarkJedi wrote: 20 Sep 2022, 07:01
Up front, I haven't previously responded to this thread because I don't believe God has individualized plans for each of us nor do I believe God directs certain experiences. However, I respect your freedom to believe it.

...

(In other words as Obi Wan said "Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.")
I would have thought that you would have been the first to believe in the Hero's Journey, because Luke Skywalker was deliberately written this way. The hero starts in a boring life in the ordinary world, and receives a call to adventure, whereby he eventually gets a much better life than the one he left behind. Luke was headed to a life of relative mediocrity in "the Academy." But after having heeded the call, he ended up saving the galaxy and his father. He didn't have much choice either - he initially refused the call, but after his aunt and uncle were killed, he had no choice but to accept. I might be willing to believe that it is God who calls people on these adventures.

I'm sorry to hear about your job. I had a roommate in Salt Lake whose patriarchal blessing said that he should be a doctor. The trouble was, he had no interest in medicine. He went to medical school and didn't like it. He dropped out, and also lost his faith.
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Re: My Life Seems to Have a Plan

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InquiringMind wrote: 20 Sep 2022, 23:07
DarkJedi wrote: 20 Sep 2022, 07:01
Up front, I haven't previously responded to this thread because I don't believe God has individualized plans for each of us nor do I believe God directs certain experiences. However, I respect your freedom to believe it.

...

(In other words as Obi Wan said "Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.")
I would have thought that you would have been the first to believe in the Hero's Journey, because Luke Skywalker was deliberately written this way. The hero starts in a boring life in the ordinary world, and receives a call to adventure, whereby he eventually gets a much better life than the one he left behind. Luke was headed to a life of relative mediocrity in "the Academy." But after having heeded the call, he ended up saving the galaxy and his father. He didn't have much choice either - he initially refused the call, but after his aunt and uncle were killed, he had no choice but to accept. I might be willing to believe that it is God who calls people on these adventures.

I'm sorry to hear about your job. I had a roommate in Salt Lake whose patriarchal blessing said that he should be a doctor. The trouble was, he had no interest in medicine. He went to medical school and didn't like it. He dropped out, and also lost his faith.
The career story is of course more complicated than the brief summary given here and is meant to be illustrative of my own experience. But the fact is that I'm retiring very soon after initial eligibility not because I really want to retire (I am very likely going to do something else) but because my career path is not what I chose it to be and I'm tired of doing something semi related to my career choice for more stress and less pay than what I could have been doing had I done what I wanted. My choice path was there and while it is difficult to know what would have happened had I stayed on that path, it is not difficult to see what happened with others who did take very similar paths - and to a person they are better off than I am in several ways (including fairly significantly reduced retirement pay for me in comparison). But the only one I have to be angry with is me, I have lived and learned and while I'm not of a habit of giving unsolicited advice (except on rare occasion with my adult children) I will advise caution when making choices that have long term effects, sometimes unforeseen ("The dark side clouds everything. Impossible to see the future is.") By the way, Gen Z did not invent quiet quitting, but I'll let them think they did.

I don't disagree with you about the hero's journey - many an epic story has been written about such journeys. To Star Wars specifically Luke Skywalker was one tale of a hero's journey. I always thought the story was about a different hero's journey - Anakin Skywalker. Anakin's story was manipulated by a greater force as well - the dark side. In the end as in all hero's journeys good/light won. Light and dark and good and evil influence all of us and we do all choose. But I believe we can and mostly do choose our path, I do not believe in predestination (and I believe the LDS theology of foreordination is only there to "solve" another paradox brought about by the prevailing theologies of Joseph Smith's day which he also couldn't reconcile himself). I believe in the Deist version of God because I choose to but I only choose that option because it's the best one for me. Based on my experiences the other versions of God, particularly the one where God is involved in the every day minute details of individual lives, are untenable. My own equilibrium depends depends on it. For me the choices are the Deist God, no God, or a very cruel and sadistic God.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Roy
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Re: My Life Seems to Have a Plan

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InquiringMind wrote: 20 Sep 2022, 23:07 I'm sorry to hear about your job. I had a roommate in Salt Lake whose patriarchal blessing said that he should be a doctor. The trouble was, he had no interest in medicine. He went to medical school and didn't like it. He dropped out, and also lost his faith.
I think there are a big distinction here. 1) What the individual feels that God is calling them to do and become. 2) What others tell the individual that God is calling them to do and become. To put this in wildly simplistic terms, it is a matter of your life calling vs. your church calling.

I would encourage anyone to consider carefully the internal voice and compass (again, as long as it does no harm to others), and take what others say with a healthy amount of skepticism. Part of this advice comes from a place where the individual is the one that will eventually live with the consequence of any decisions that are made - they need to be empowered to make them.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13
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Re: My Life Seems to Have a Plan

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DarkJedi wrote: 20 Sep 2022, 07:01 From my point of view God can't really be the vineyard keeper pruning at will for our own good and at the same time allow us full agency.
And this is much of the point of my original question, and probably a paradox that is not talked about much in the Church. You can't have unrestricted free will, and also have a God who is the lord of the vineyard. Any pruning of the vineyard that God does will definitely infringe on your free will. That's the point of the currant bush story - if Hugh B. Brown was left to his own free will, he would have stayed in the Canadian military. But if we are to believe that God essentially forced him out of the military and into a life that ended up being better, then Hugh's free will was obviously overridden by God's will. My question in that case was wether God was acting unilaterally, forcing His own will on Hugh for the greater good, or whether Hugh had some pre-mortal agreement wherein the whole thing was previously planned out.

Free will becomes paradoxical when thinking about an omniscient God. One of them is - if God is omniscient, then He knows what we will choose before we choose it, and therefore we really don't have free will.

It's the same with Luke Skywalker, right? Luke's free will would have led him to go to the academy with his friends. But God (as it were) forced him in another direction, taking away his free will, it would seem.

If God does act in such ways, I don't think that all life events would be directed this way. Many things are indeed up to us to choose. But it is seeming to me that certain specific things are directed this way - and it may not always be the things that I anticipate.

The question I have often had is why God didn't intervene when I wish He would have. There are times for all of us when when it sure would have been useful for God to step in and force a change of direction or show me the right way, but God doesn't show up most of those times. Then when it's not expected, some more "pruning" happens. It's completely maddening, and so far, it's impossible for me to develop anything that looks like a relationship with such an unpredictable and capricious being. But that's how it's been.
DarkJedi wrote: 21 Sep 2022, 06:30 For me the choices are the Deist God, no God, or a very cruel and sadistic God.
This was really at the heart of my faith crisis. Either God is cruel, or God doesn't exist. I found it easier to believe that God doesn't exist than to believe that God is cruel. The Problem of Evil is still the biggest obstacle to belief in God for me, and the topic probably deserves a hundred threads on this forum. I'd even say that the Problem of Evil is the fundamental human question. I was never able to resolve it as many believers do, by saying that God is not responsible for evil. That seems a little too convenient, a god who has found a way to take credit for everything good in the world and avoid responsibility for anything bad. If God created the universe, then of course God is responsible for evil. The best I can do with it right now is to believe that we knew what we were getting ourselves into when we came here, there is some good reason for being in a world with so much evil, and after we die we will in some way be better off and all the evils we experienced will somehow be made right.
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Re: My Life Seems to Have a Plan

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InquiringMind wrote: 21 Sep 2022, 23:24 The question I have often had is why God didn't intervene when I wish He would have. There are times for all of us when when it sure would have been useful for God to step in and force a change of direction or show me the right way, but God doesn't show up most of those times. Then when it's not expected, some more "pruning" happens. It's completely maddening, and so far, it's impossible for me to develop anything that looks like a relationship with such an unpredictable and capricious being. But that's how it's been.
I don't want to bore anyone with the intricate details of my faith crisis, but some is quite relevant to what we're discussing, including the Brown story. Very briefly, since I believed God had pushed me to accept a certain position from which I was fired, I also believed that if God had a plan and did see the end from the beginning that it would all work out and God would intervene. Alas, it did not work out and God did not intervene. Hence I lost belief in God.
DarkJedi wrote: 21 Sep 2022, 06:30 For me the choices are the Deist God, no God, or a very cruel and sadistic God.
This was really at the heart of my faith crisis. Either God is cruel, or God doesn't exist. I found it easier to believe that God doesn't exist than to believe that God is cruel. The Problem of Evil is still the biggest obstacle to belief in God for me, and the topic probably deserves a hundred threads on this forum. I'd even say that the Problem of Evil is the fundamental human question. I was never able to resolve it as many believers do, by saying that God is not responsible for evil. That seems a little too convenient, a god who has found a way to take credit for everything good in the world and avoid responsibility for anything bad. If God created the universe, then of course God is responsible for evil. The best I can do with it right now is to believe that we knew what we were getting ourselves into when we came here, there is some good reason for being in a world with so much evil, and after we die we will in some way be better off and all the evils we experienced will somehow be made right.
Same here - it was easier (and more logical) to not believe in God than to try to reconcile why God was cruel, or at least uncaring. And of course we can't not mention Mormon worthiness theology - what was wrong with me? And I also struggle with the Problem of Evil and should note that I also don't believe in Satan (not even a Deist one if there were such a thing). I'm not really sure how to explain it, but I suppose in my personal Deist definition God created and set everything in motion and let it be. From one point of view that would seem to indicate that God is responsible for both good and evil, but from another point of view God could be responsible for neither - they both just are (or perhaps both are creations of and perpetrated by people). I have no idea what happens when we die, but I do have hope/belief that we might better understand the purpose of this whole experience.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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AmyJ
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Re: My Life Seems to Have a Plan

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DarkJedi wrote: 22 Sep 2022, 04:28 Same here - it was easier (and more logical) to not believe in God than to try to reconcile why God was cruel, or at least uncaring. And of course we can't not mention Mormon worthiness theology - what was wrong with me? And I also struggle with the Problem of Evil and should note that I also don't believe in Satan (not even a Deist one if there were such a thing). I'm not really sure how to explain it, but I suppose in my personal Deist definition God created and set everything in motion and let it be. From one point of view that would seem to indicate that God is responsible for both good and evil, but from another point of view God could be responsible for neither - they both just are (or perhaps both are creations of and perpetrated by people). I have no idea what happens when we die, but I do have hope/belief that we might better understand the purpose of this whole experience.
I found myself at the foot of that dividing path (Existence of God vs Cruel God) after I tried to calibrate my ability to receive inspiration/answers from God after learning more about myself. Why God would stop "talking" to me after I learned how to communicate better and wanted to communicate better is a question that I have heard countless pithy, insufficient answers to.

At first, it was easier to see that God would have nothing to say if God didn't exist - and set off a nihilistic world view that I didn't want to have.

Since then, I have come to the conclusion that the root of the issue is perception. It isn't so much a question of whether God exists or not - it's a question of a) how do I perceive God, b) what do I need from God, and c) what do I do about what I need from God, and what I think God needs from me. Which is actually one of the main themes of the OT and NT as examinations of those questions.

In hope, I choose to perceive the existence of God. I see it as "I need to see that God exists and is not out to deliberately and cruelly harm me.".
- It isn't a case of "God needing me to see God a certain way/serve God a certain way" at all.
- God and I are either a) not on talking terms at all, or b) God is talking to me through everything - and I am still not getting that.
- I don't have a definitive answer for the Problem of Evil. I think some of it is humans striving to continue social inequalities (read "The Broken Ladder" for more insights about that) because humans like hierarchies. Whether God actually blesses individuals or individuals need to feel and have experiences that make them feel blessed - I don't know. I half jest/half admire a "placebo effect" here basically.

- The bible and the other scriptures are the least instructive materials (or at least on that list) I have discovered about how being a human actually works (which is one of those big Life questions). I have also learned for myself that the cultural "space" assigned to me at church because of my gender is a REALLY POOR fit for me because I don't "perform gender" in a conforming way.

I choose to believe that the spirit, the essence of makes a person a person who is loved here (I am using person as the default - but my limited theology has no reason to assume that non-humans don't experience the same) continues to exist in some state somewhere - independent of God's existence. I also choose to believe that those entities are not to deliberately harm or scare me and other humans.
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Re: My Life Seems to Have a Plan

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InquiringMind wrote: 21 Sep 2022, 23:24 ... and all the evils we experienced will somehow be made right.
That's one of the things that helped crack the nut for me. What is "made right?"

Person A might feel like action P is what is required as restitution but action P might be a "wrong" in person B's eyes.
Person B might feel like action Q is what is required as restitution but action Q might be a "wrong" in person A's eyes.

Both person A and person B are justified in what they feel they need for restitution. Both person A and person B are justified in feeling wronged by the solution that is required by the other person. Who wins to make things right?

Dunno, but I think the solution requires a LOT more mercy than what many are comfortable with. Funny how some bristle at the idea of extending more mercy towards everyone. I guess I'm person A and showing an increase in mercy is my action P. There's a person B out there with an action Q. I should try to be more merciful to them. ;)
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Re: My Life Seems to Have a Plan

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nibbler wrote: 22 Sep 2022, 06:10
InquiringMind wrote: 21 Sep 2022, 23:24 ... and all the evils we experienced will somehow be made right.
That's one of the things that helped crack the nut for me. What is "made right?"

Person A might feel like action P is what is required as restitution but action P might be a "wrong" in person B's eyes.
Person B might feel like action Q is what is required as restitution but action Q might be a "wrong" in person A's eyes.

Both person A and person B are justified in what they feel they need for restitution. Both person A and person B are justified in feeling wronged by the solution that is required by the other person. Who wins to make things right?

Dunno, but I think the solution requires a LOT more mercy than what many are comfortable with. Funny how some bristle at the idea of extending more mercy towards everyone. I guess I'm person A and showing an increase in mercy is my action P. There's a person B out there with an action Q. I should try to be more merciful to them. ;)
The side question is whether "Right" = Brings the person enjoyment/joy/pleasure/connection or "Right" = greater health/stamina/personal character improvement.
There is no definitive answer...

Sometimes it is absolutely "Right" to eat ice cream as part of a shared experience - understanding that there are negative consequences down the road (likely) for this.
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Re: My Life Seems to Have a Plan

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AmyJ wrote: 22 Sep 2022, 05:56 In hope, I choose to perceive the existence of God. I see it as "I need to see that God exists and is not out to deliberately and cruelly harm me.".
- It isn't a case of "God needing me to see God a certain way/serve God a certain way" at all.
- God and I are either a) not on talking terms at all, or b) God is talking to me through everything - and I am still not getting that.
- I don't have a definitive answer for the Problem of Evil. I think some of it is humans striving to continue social inequalities (read "The Broken Ladder" for more insights about that) because humans like hierarchies. Whether God actually blesses individuals or individuals need to feel and have experiences that make them feel blessed - I don't know. I half jest/half admire a "placebo effect" here basically.
I was agnostic/atheist for several years during my faith crisis. The very catalyst that started to move me from crisis to transition was an acceptance of the idea that there is a God (and this is still the foundation of my Deist belief). Interestingly it was Carl Sagan and "star stuff" that led me to that point of believing there is a God, but I digress.

My relationship with God is much more complicated and much as you describe in the quote above. I could confidently say that God and I are not on speaking terms (and we definitely were not for a while) but I'm not sure that's really true. It's not like I never "talk" to God even though I rarely formally pray. And it's not like I never feel anything in response or randomly - I do (usually nothing more than a peaceful feeling, but a distinctive peace). It is possible God is saying things I don't recognize, and if that's the case it's God's problem and not mine - if God has something to say then God should say it.

And I totally agree - I don't believe it has much to do with God's need for us to see them in a certain way as it is a human need. I think many religions and churches (and individuals) can't get past the idea that we all need to see God the same.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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