Reading from Rick Warren's "The Purpose Driven Life" helped Ashley Smith, the hostage in Georgia, touch the heart of her captor, accused killer Brian Nichols. A national best-seller, the book has brought meaning, comfort, and a new sense of direction to millions. Below, Beliefnet members shared their insights about the book in a recently concluded dialogue group.

God put me on this earth for His pleasure. It is not about me. I used to be so self absorbed, trying to do things to get people to like me. I learned I cannot control people and not everyone is going to like me, and that is okay. My purpose is to share my love of God by example, by giving love to others. -- Margarett123

It is mystery but when I have my lowest points it is wonderful to remember that God had me etched in the palm of His hand long before I ever existed in the flesh. I may not understand the path at times but if only I will learn to allow God to direct that path I will be the better off for it. -- Ibee4Jesus

On page 23 in The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren says, "There are illegitimate parents, there are no illegitimate children. Many children are unplanned by their parents, but they are not unplanned by God. God's purpose took into account human error, and even sin." This helped me realize that my 17 year old daughter's soon to be born son has a purpose already and that before my daughter was ever born God knew that she would have this baby. It is amazing how uncomplicated things become when our issues are given to God. For people suffering from depression and rejection they ought to remember day 2 and put those words in your heart. "I am your creator. You were in my care even before you were born." Even when we don't like ourselves God loves us and if we get off me and get into God life will become a lot simpler, because God has put you here for a reason and that reason means a lot to God. -- Aangell

There is an intenseness in my demeanor was offensive to people I tried to cover it with a meek appearance but the truth was I always wanted things to be RIGHT or as close to perfect as possible. I've since discovered that it is really a fear of failure. From reading the WORD of GOD, I have come to know that this is really a form of Pride. And GOD hates it but I so GLAD, HE LOVES me! sometimes I wonder how? But there is a great relif in knowing that HE does. Now I need to know what HIS plan is for my life. I'm Glad I'm not my own, otherwise I'd be a floundering perfectionist on a suicidal mission. -- ppatterson26

God loves me and has a plan for me. It helps me to know that each day I am here is for a reason. Even when it is seemingly small and insignificant. I belong to a weight loss group of girls and there is this one girl who alway seems to be negative and have a hard time just enjoying life. It is sometimes hard to remain positive and express joy around or to her. Today after reading this book it really helped guide me when she came to me and needed to vent and just talk. I saw past her negativity and how I really didn't want to deal with it. I thought "it is not about me" and that God has a plan. Maybe me talking with her gaver her something she needed. And because of this small step i really felt very good. The hard time I have with the planned life is with sin. As I have said in my intro I had an abortion at 18 and am dealing with anxiety and panic bc of it. If God has a plan for me how did this fit in? If it is against His will to do that, could he have planned it? At this point, I see it as a way for me to grow as a person. And the anxiety and panic after it is drawing me to Him and making me a more Godly person. -- vanishingvixen

The first day has already put perspective in my mind. It really makes you stop and think about the "me, me, me" attitude that we have placed upon ourselves, as society and I know as an individual. I read something off www.purposedrivenlife.com today that related to this I think. It was about a lady who was suffering from depression and went and talked to her pastor who talked to her then told her to do this: Every day, bake a batch of cookies and give it to someone. The woman of course said "how will this help me with my depression" but she followed the instructions anyway. And it helped, bc it "forced" her to do some thing for someone each day and take her mind off of herself. This is what I think we need to do with God...make Him a" batch of cookies" each day by serving Him and relating that it is NOT about what We want but what HE has planned for us. -- vanishingvixen

When my life was falling apart due to marital abuse and eventually abandonment, God showed me that I had created much of my own chaos through choice. My life was a mess and I was trying to fix it myself. I wanted to die. I found myself prostrate before Him, begging for mercy and peace. He later led me to Psalm 51: "For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." -- MammahBunn

Every trial I go through now I try to see the lessons to be learned from it. I let go and let God and His Holy Spirit works through me. I know I still have a lot to learn but if I trust in the Lord I will grow in my spiritual relationship with Him. Somehow I want to gather up my family and others and bring them into a intimate relationship with the Lord. God wants us to gather up his lost children, not scare them away. This is where wisdom and guidance from God is needed. I love sharing my spiritual experiences, strength and hope with others. This brings pleasure to God. --Margarett123

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