: For the past eight years, I have been seriously ill because of diabetes, circulatory insufficiency, chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), and a brutal Roman Catholic family. Just last night I realized the conflict behind my conflict.

On the one hand, many people, including Larry Dossey, endorse prayer as a means to healing, prosperity, new life, new understanding. And prayer is grounded in "Thy will be done"--not mine.

On the other hand, Wayne Dyer, Carl Simonton, Shakti Gawain, and Louise Hay embrace visualization and imagery for healing, prosperity, new life, new understanding. But visualization and imagery are honed toward the individual's personal choices--not Thy will but my will.

How do I know which way is right? What's the truth? How can I pray and yet visualize and image my body healing itself? Is this why I'm not healing? I want to live, but is it my will or God's?


. You certainly don't ask shallow questions, do you?

Let's see. I'm not sure I agree with you about the way you split up who is in which corner. Nor am I crazy abut this either/or situation that you've created. I think it's both, and your absolutism (which is "brutal" by nature) has put you in a terrible dilemma.

But let me back up a little and say something about our culture as a whole, and then your beliefs in particular. We Americans seem to love leaning into some rather simplistic and unrealistic ways of looking at life. On the one hand, our culture is wonderfully optimistic, generous and sky's-the-limit creative; on the other hand, we are grandiose, narcissistic and suffer from spiritual materialism. We think we can make anything happen. We think if we do everything right, we can have it our way. That's third-grade nonsense. Life isn't supposed to be happy; it's supposed to be meaningful.

At some level, our personal wills and God's will are the same. The problem is we're only human and so we tend to frame our personal wishes in terms of some rather narrow, short-term goals: I want to get better. I don't want Mom to die. I want to get offered this job. I want this guy to love me. I want to get asked to the prom. I want a parking space. And, in our naive way, we think that when we get what we want, everything is divinely ordered!

We have to try to understand what we're here for--what our mission on the planet is, so to speak--from the largest perspective we can muster, from the point of view of our souls. When we have that perspective, which, I grant you, we only get in flashes, we're okay with what happens, because we've got that long view necessary to see the big picture. The rest of the time we struggle with our short-term goals and do the best we can.

So who knows, maybe eons ago, before you were born, your soul said, "Okay, here's the deal. This time I'll be the teacher, but in a really interesting way. I will have a very rigid upbringing; I will grow up strong-willed and feisty, then get sick and become cranky and difficult. I will make a lot of noise, complaining about the unfair way things are. I will annoy my doctors and friends, isolate myself, and alienate my family.

"And I will not quit. I will keep raising issues about life and death, what's fair, what's truly of the spirit, what healing is really about. I will do it really well because I'm smart, articulate, and have a compelling personality. My suffering will be heartbreaking to watch; people will not forget me. I will live a long time and finally die. But not before I give a lot of people pause. I will really make them think, make them feel uncomfortable. And even though I may not win any popularity contests, I will have a tremendous impact. I will teach many people and do a lot of good."

That's one possible scenario, anyway.

So I guess, you work with your imagery to counter the debilitating progress of your diabetes and leukemia; you pray to feel better, to have a good day, to heal your body; you ask for some understanding and peace about the difficult, frustrating lifetime you're struggling with.

But you also try to put this in the larger context, that, at some level, your suffering has meaning and value, and that sooner or later, you'll understand what it is. Maybe you can't see it right now, when everything hurts and you're scared and lonely and angry. But you try to trust that, at some point, you will know, and that it will be absolutely fine. That's the God's will part. In the meantime, you pray for your immediately desired wishes--that's the personal will part.

I hope that helps a little.

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