“The LORD is my shepherd:…he leadeth me beside the still waters.”

Audio from PLIR Prayerful Living Internet Radio.

God is not fluctuating between misery and joy. He is constant good and constant love, and as His image and likeness, we reflect His goodness and love. I know it doesn’t seem like it sometimes, but in truth, we are like Him; He is not like us. 😊

Years ago, where I worked, I learned a business process called ‘root cause analysis,’ which has been an immense help in my personal life.  As I mentioned in my previous blog, problem-solving is the result of this process. Finding the root cause is only to identify the error. It is not used for blame and finger-pointing. That never solved a problem, and only causes hurt feelings and anger; it is certainly not an expression of love. It is used to implement corrective action.

Jesus was a master problem solver and always did it with love. He never shook his finger at someone and told them to get their thinking right, or they would never find happiness or health. He inspired people by example and parables and let people find their way. Finding our way cannot be forced; it needs to be inspired.

As I look back on my life, I realized which TV shows I watched, and what I read and what people said that made me feel inspired, and which ones made me feel worse. I learned not to listen to things that brought me down or expressed sympathy for my past. I found friends that inspired me to do better.

I thought my past was the root cause of my problems; then I realized it was not a problem that needed to be solved; it is done, over, nothing would change it. What is more important is I needed to see where I was going and solve the problems along the way that I believed came from my past experience but now seemed to be a present reality. I had to decide if I wanted to live in God’s creation of love and harmony or continue living in a flawed misconception of life, where things are unpredictable and often chaotic. It was an easy choice; I want peace and harmony, who wouldn’t.

I recently read another blog talking about the shepherd as a problem solver. Sheep have a fear of moving waters because they cannot swim well, ‘root cause.’ When the only drinking water available was moving waters, the shepherd used rocks to block the water, making an area of still waters so they could drink. Problem solved. He did not berate or think less of the sheep for their fear; he just solved the problem.

That made the line in the 23rd Psalm about being lead beside the still waters make more sense. I see now why the still waters were so important. The shepherd did for the sheep as God does for us. He makes our path safe by leading us beside the still waters. Unlike animals, we need to resolve our fear to solve the problem. Just stopping the waters does not prevent them from coming up again. To solve the problem, we need to eliminate the root cause.

Years ago, struggling with the effects of child abuse, trying to find my way free from my fears, I found myself working for a man with a personality much like my father who abused me. He was abrasive and talked down to me all the time. I was unable to brush off his disrespect.  I would often go home in tears. I would be angry and hurt. Most of what he said and did, had nothing to do with me or anything I had done. I did not know how to fight back. I was afraid of him, afraid if I did or said anything, he would retaliate.  This situation happened early in my spiritual education while trying to learn how to use metaphysics to demonstrate the resolution of human problems in my experience.

I decided that there was nothing I could do humanly about the situation, so I prayed about it. I was learning about a different kind of prayer that I had had some success with. It was that prayer that led me to the root cause.

Prayer for me always starts by declaring who God is, then stating my relationship to him as his child and what that means.   Then I acknowledge that Christ is still here in my life, teaching me and leading me down the right path.  Then I expose the error in my thinking and deny its reality, and put out of thought anything that tries to turn me from God. Then I reaffirm God and my relation to Him. “For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, forever.” That is the way I pray, not necessarily the words that I use. 😊 After praying about the problem, the still small voice came to me with words of comfort that put me in a state of mind where I could see things differently.

Following is an excerpt from my unpublished book. I hope it will be coming out soon.

“There was another incident, and I do not remember all the details, but what I do remember made me feel good. I had at last done the right thing. Leo was his usual self and was hollering at me about something, when it occurred to me as God’s image, I reflected his courage and strength, that I was not a child anymore, and I did not have to sit there and take his abuse. I felt the fear lift; I stood up, turned my back, and headed for the door. He jumped up and shouted, “Don’t you turn your back on me.”

I heard him move and turned just in time to see him catch himself. He had raised his hand and was about to hit me. I looked him straight in the eyes and said nothing; there was nothing to say. I think the look in my eyes said it all.

I felt compassion for this man, maybe even love. He was doing the best he could, but for me, all the anger, the frustration, and wanting to strike back were gone. I was free. I was able to see past the angry man to the man God created, the good man in his likeness. Now that did not mean I suddenly liked him. I did not like his human personality, but I knew, under that, he was a good man, and he just had not been able to bring that man out. Just as I had not been able to bring out the goodness in me, how could I judge him?

I think I had just learned what it meant to love your enemy. I was starting to understand not only my relationship but everyone’s relationship with God. We are all here in this experience, struggling to find the goodness, both in ourselves and others. Some of us are doing better than others, but that does not change the fact that we were all created equal as God’s beloved children. That is our essence, and when we discover that and understand what it means, it changes us. We see everything around us differently.

I just turned then and left the vault. Leo knew it was over. He never talked to me disrespectfully again. That was when I truly forgave my father.”

As you can see, all I needed to do humanly was turn my back on the lie about who Leo was, and when I turned back, I looked past the angry man and saw the man of God’s creation. Not one word was exchanged. There was no retaliation. It was over.

The root cause was that I had never forgiven my father. Forgiveness is not about the other person; it happened when I gave up my anger, frustration, and desire to strike back at Leo. I realized that what was true about me was true about him and everyone in the universe, including my father. We are all God’s beloved children, though in different stages of evolution.

I learned that the root cause is always mental; it is not a thing. It is not easy, as it is all about us, and sometimes we do not want to admit we are holding to a mistaken idea about something, and need to let it go.  It is an unresolved issue like forgiveness, fear, guilt, or an unnecessary burden we carry. We cannot hide from our problems; they follow us around until we identify the cause. It is not our past; it is our present, and once identified it lifts us out of the problem and leaves us in a place of peace and harmony.

I was learning that the life of Jesus was the only solution to the problems of human existence. He showed us the way to salvation. Jesus’ parables, the beatitudes, the Lord’s prayer, the sermon on the mount give us all we need to solve our problems. None of this means that we will never have obstacles in our path, but they give us the tools to solve our problems and find peace and harmony.

“Who would stand before a blackboard, and pray the principle of mathematics to solve the problem? The rule is already established, and it is our task to work out the solution. Shall we ask the divine Principle of all goodness to do His own work? His work is done, and we have only to avail ourselves of God’s rule in order to receive His blessing, which enables us to work out our own salvation.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, p. 3:4)

Go out there and be a problem solver; it will change your life, it changed mine.

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