I was sitting in a room by myself when it occurred to me there were hundreds, probably thousands, of radio signals streaming all around me. In all likelihood, one of my favourite tunes, along with countless other songs, commercials and news updates were all playing right now, in the very room I was sitting in, but I just couldn’t hear them.
So I turned on a receiver (aka a radio) and began to turn the dial. As I tuned in to different frequencies, various songs and commercials sounded through the speakers. All these songs and commercials were already being broadcast in the room. The radio didn’t create them. I just needed to tune in to them with an appropriate device to hear them.
This wasn’t an epiphany moment for me. I already had a basic understanding of how radio signals work. But I did experience an “aha” moment as I had been reading Proverbs right before this parallel insight came to mind. The author of Proverbs 1 wrote that wisdom is constantly broadcasting her message everywhere, but most of us don’t tune in.
It struck me. Human beings are receivers, like radios, and there are a lot of different “stations” or frequencies available to us. But we have to choose which frequency to tune in to. A lot of things made sense in light of this revelation.
It explains why some people are so angry. They are tuned in to the anger station of life. No matter what happens on any given day, they’re going to find something to get angry about. It explains why other people are so positive all the time. They’re tuned in to the positive broadcasting channel. Some folk are obsessively impatient. Every day they find themselves running into people and situations that make them impatient. Why? Because that’s the frequency they’re tuned in to.
The truth is, if you’re looking for things to be cynical about, you’ll find lots of reasons to be cynical. If you’re looking for things to make you feel undermined or underappreciated, you’ll find plenty of stuff to make you feel that way each and every day. If you’re looking for things to be grateful for, you’ll find numerous occasions for gratitude.
This is by no means a new insight. Two thousand years ago, Jesus said that we find what we’re looking for. We get what we ask for. The doors continually being opened to us are the ones we’re always knocking on. Jesus isn’t talking about the things that happen to us here. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. Suffering and challenges come to everyone, no matter what frequency we’re tuned in to. Life throws us all curveballs. The fact that some people get far more intense curveballs thrown at them than others is just another curveball life has thrown at us. Don’t try to figure it out.
What Jesus is talking about is that what we receive, what we find and what is opened to us when we encounter life’s ups and downs, all depends on what frequency we’re tuned in to.
Most of us know people who have lost something or someone important to them and, as a result, they became bitter and angry. We also know people, or at least know of people, who’ve lost everything and it has made them and their faith stronger. They actually became more joyful. They found more peace and hope in their lives. How is this possible? I believe the primary explanation for this is based on what frequency they are tuned in to.
When something painful or unfair happens to us, we need to ask ourselves: What am I looking for? What am I asking? What door am I going to go knocking on? What am I focused on? If you’re looking for someone to blame and despise, you’ll find them.
If you’re looking for a reason to stop believing in God, you’ll find it. If you’re looking for reasons to withdraw and think nobody cares about you, you’ll find those too.
However, if you look for a deeper sense of community to help you through it, you’ll find it. If you look for insight and wisdom, as clichéd as that sounds, you’ll find it. If you look for the God who walks with you through the mysteries of life, I believe you’ll find this God. Perhaps not right away, perhaps not in the ways you used to find God. But as you fine-tune the dial of your consciousness, you’ll discover the “divine presence” within you and all around you, like a song that was already playing that you just couldn’t hear.
To be continued.
Troy Watson (firstname.lastname@example.org) is spiritual life director of the Quest Community in St. Catharines, Ont.
Part 2 (Oct. 28, 2013 issue)
Part 3 (Nov. 25, 2013 issue)
Part 4 (Jan. 6, 2014 issue)
Part 5 (Feb. 3, 2014 issue)
Part 6 (March 3, 2014 issue)