[I am publishing for the first time this blog post written in the Spring of 2013. I am tremendously encouraged by the revelation that had come to me before the storm I was about to face. He is so faithful. He does not ask us to walk on water in the midst of the wind and the waves except that He Himself has prepared us and will meet us there in that storm.]
What no one ever told me about getting to "Happily Ever After" could fill volumes. Understand, just because no one ever came up, put their arm around me and said, "Let me tell you the keys to living a happy life" doesn't mean the information is not out there. It's out there. The happy people, the people who have gotten comfortable in their own skin from an early age, they might have grown up with other happy people around them. The unhappy people may or may not have. There is a word for this effect of one person's wisdom or lack thereof upon another: Influence. In the business world and motivational speaking circuit, that positive influence is called mentoring. It's called parenting within the family structure. It's called coaching in the sports world. It's called discipleship in some churches. It's called grooming in certain circumstances, with a positive or negative connotation depending on who is grooming whom for what. Regardless of the label given this influence, it is a powerful force for reproducing good or evil. It is the ultimate pyramid scheme. I have been influenced and I have influence with generations of people that my early life mentors will never meet, but their influence for good or for evil may still be powerfully felt. So nobody really ever offered me any sound advice on how to live a happy life, but there was the inescapable power of the influence of those who passed through my life and what I chose to do with the power of their influence. Getting to "Happily Ever After" in your job or career, in your marriage, in your parenting, in your life, wherever you go in your own skin is a daily process of deciding what to do with the imperceptible power of influence. First, you have to get that "imperceptible" that has been talking to your subconscious to a level that you can perceive.
The source of influence may be insidious and difficult to trace. Right now the intelligence community is trying to figure out who "influenced" the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombing. No one is admitting to having radicalized the bombers. No one on the whole planet is admitting to the media to having encouraged their cowardly and heinous acts of terrorism. A few are saying that they very quickly dissociated from them when their radical views became known. Even some of their relatives are saying they had disowned these two brothers or even that whole branch of the family for their adoption of radical terrorist views--whether the views were politically or religiously motivated is still being debated. The bombers brand of "Happily Ever After" was so extreme that they were bent on killing or being killed to get there. Even so, many will triumph over the hatred and destruction wrought by two destroyed and bent on destruction by the power of influence. Those who will triumph are clearly many of the actual victims of the same bombing.
The families and friends of marathoners know something about happily ever after that the bombers did not. Even as the newsfeed swirls around speculations of what could have prevented the bombing and what more can be learned. We see stories of the beautiful families of many of the victims of the bombings coming around them with amazing outpouring of love and support. We hear that many of these were runners or marathoners themselves and some are already making plans they have to compete in "para-athletic" events as soon as they can master the use of prosthetics. "Happily Ever After" is a lot of work. It is up to ME to make my "Happily Ever After" work from what ever "Once Upon A Time" I was born into or has transpired since then. It is my parents job to make their own "Happily Ever After" work, whether or not their four adult kids figure out their own "Happily Ever After" at 18, 28, 38, 48 or never at all. My "Happily Ever After" does not depend on my parents, my ethnicity, my intelligence, my health, my spouse, my kids, my job, my neighborhood, or even the absence of war, famine, pestilence or plague. There will be people who overcome every type of disadvantage and obstacle and there will be healthy, wealthy, upper middle class, ethnic majority offspring of happily married parents from any and every country on the earth who somehow squander or destroy every advantage and opportunity. It all depends on what you do with your circumstances, your power to influence and the influence that has always surrounded you.
Maybe we cannot choose our preferred "Once upon a time..." but "and she lived happily ever after" really is up to me and what I choose to do with the power of influence.