We’ve all had those moments in life when we’re facing an especially tough decision or proverbial fork in the road, and we’d like to have a little help from on high to guide us. “If God would only steer me in the right direction,” we think, “I would know just what to do.”
If you ask Simran Singh, she’ll tell you this advice is available to you at all times—if you’re just willing to pay attention to it. It’s the basis of her book Conversations with the Universe, How the World Speaks to Us, in which Singh tells us her personal story of how she was guided at a vital time of her life—and how we can receive the same guidance.
You may know Singh as the host of the popular 11:11 Talk Radio where she interviews leading spirituality authors and speakers. In the book (and a TedX video) she tells us how at one of the lowest points of her life, she began getting clues as to what she should do next. It started with her seeing the numbers 11:11 everywhere she looked, eventually leading her to create a spirituality magazine and radio show by the same name.
At the beginning of the book, Singh asks us to break from our traditional way of thinking and consider life from a fresh perspective:
What if none if it were random at all? What if everything that shows up, every single thing, is a distinctly personal message to the individuals involved?
Have a big life question or issue you need help with? Singh believes that the Universe (which I take as a code word for God) is there to assist us. In its own unique way, the Universe speaks to us, offering us the guidance we seek. She advises us that “the beauty of the human journey” is that:
We are never alone and always supported… look around and you shall see the Universe smiling at you, speaking constantly to you.
The problem is we often ignore the Universe’s messages to us. The key to hearing and seeing them is to approach life with our senses wide open. Singh believes that nothing happens by accident and that “life always leaves clues”. These clues often appear in the form of synchronistic events—where we suddenly encounter words, people and situations that are connected to our question. She recommends:
Fully open your senses and engage to wisdom of the heart and the gut…the Universe will call, it will whisper, and at times it will yell…it has a really quirky sense of humor and always conspires toward the greater good.
But what about those who say “I’m talking to the Universe and the Universe just isn’t responding.” Then what?
It may be time to locate the elusive inner voice. I’m talking about the tiny voice that pops up every now and then and assures us everything will be alright or instructs us to take a specific action or even steers us away from danger. The problem is this voice sometimes seems to go silent, MIA when we need it most.
Author Eileen Flanagan offers advice on finding this voice in her book The Wisdom to Know the Difference, When to Make a Change & When to Let Go. Similar to Singh, Flanagan believes “there is a source of divine wisdom in the universe” and because we are connected to this source, by “listening within” we can access the vast wisdom it has to offer.
The idea of the inner voice and “divine wisdom” can be traced back to the Kaballah and Bible where it is referred to as divine revelation. Napolean Hill has another name for it, Infinite Intelligence, and wrote that “the small still voice which speaks from within is superior to your own powers of reason.” The reasoning is the voice goes beyond our own inherent abilities, and pulls from a universal source of wisdom.
The key to finding this divine wisdom? Faith. You must believe the guidance is there and available to you, even if at first attempt you’re unable to access it. What we need, and what’s often lacking, is patience. To this point, Flanagan suggests that finding the answers we seek may not come as quickly as we would like:
Divine guidance is not always so rapid or clear. Many people experience it as more of a gradual dawning, like a sunrise rather than a lightning bolt…allow time for answers to unfold, rather than demanding an immediate solution.
And in her book, Flanagan illustrates how, in time, people find the guidance they seek and their true path in life. One woman found it through serendipity, meeting the right person at the right time to land a dream job. For another, it was paying attention to a series of coincidences in her life. Others actually hear the voice of God speaking to them, while for one woman it was simply a matter of “learning to listen to myself”.
To know the advice you receive is true, the author points to a Christian tradition of checking it against the “fruit of the Spirit” listed in Paul’s letter to the Galatians: “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. If the guidance we hear leads to these qualities, it is much more likely to be trustworthy.”
Ultimately, Flanagan believes it is up to us to call the shots and steer our decision in whatever direction is in the best interests of ourselves and those around us. This might be best summed up by a woman in the book named Marcelle. After finding the answer to her own difficult life decision, she concludes:
What you want is the same thing as what God wants. Be open to letting God make that happen.
This post previously appeared on my Patheos column Wake Up Call, September 22, 2013.