Today I was listening to a Christian radio station on my way home from work. A man had evidently called in and had asked the radio host to pray for him. I had missed the reason why, but heard the host's reply as he volunteered to pray for him right then. During the prayer, a phrase struck with such force that instantly ideas began to flow. He had asked that our will be intersected with God's will. I had heard of aligning our will with God's before, but this new phrase caused me to think. I turned off the radio and began to ponder the geometry of thriving.
Intersecting lines meet at one point. When I heard the man pray that our will intersect with God's, I thought "Intersecting is good." But then I began to think about the kinds of lines and intersections that could be drawn out of this analogy. If God's will is a straight line leading back to him, my question would be how many times do we intersect our will with His? Are we like the intersecting lines in the diagram above that only meet once as we walk through God's path and then continue on in another direction? Perhaps we were close to him at one time, but even a minor course change eventually sent us off in a direction gradually pulling away from God.
Are we like a wave that intersects with God many times, but in between wanders off in search of something else? The distance off-course and the time in between intersections all affect our happiness and ability to thrive.
The interesting thing about parallel lines is that they never meet. They can be far apart or very close, but they never meet. As I thought about running parallel to God's will, I realized there are times when I want to come close to doing what He wants, but I'm just too stubborn to fully commit. Perhaps I have a favorite sin that I'm just not willing to give up yet and so it keeps me from fully enjoying the happiness of being on God's path. It's like listening to a radio station with my radio adjusted to within a few degrees of the correct station, but not quite taking the last step to be in tune to the exact frequency. We may hear some of the music or speaking, but it's distorted, crackly, and difficult to understand. True enjoyment comes when we're completely in tune and have eliminated any static or interference. Neal A. Maxwell said, "Only by aligning our wills with God’s is full happiness to be found." (October 1995)
So how do we bring our self into alignment so we can experience the true joy and happiness of a life in tune? Every day we make hundreds of choices. Some of those may be good and some not so good. Improvement comes as each day we try to make more good choices and correct the course of our bad ones. If yesterday I did not meaningful pray, today I can choose to pray sincerely and with real purpose. If yesterday I did not speak so kindly to my children, today I can work on showing more patience and kindness. If yesterday I didn't use my time wisely and ended up wasting much of it away, today I can refocus and make decisions based on better priorities. David A. Bednar said, "Line upon line and precept upon precept, gradually and almost imperceptibly, our motives, our thoughts, our words, and our deeds become aligned with the will of God."
How does all of this apply to thriving? In my experience, the days that I am most invigorated and truly feel alive, are the days that I am doing God's will. When Laurent and I sing to someone in a hospital, when I listen to someone who is having a bad day and needs a compassionate friend, when I'm worshiping in the temple, when I'm creating music, or when I'm spending quality time with my family, these are the moments when I'm happiest and feel I'm on the right course. I think the question I'll ask myself in the mirror tomorrow morning is "What kind of line will I be today?"