In all the faiths I have come to know as a religion reporter, leaders have stressed recognizing the hand of God or the influence of the universe in one's life.
I have felt this hand or influence strongly for the past year as I have written firsthand about universal principles of faith in my columns in the Standard-Examiner.
My first column was about a life-changing spiritual realization as I altered a red dress for my daughter, Celeste. This month, I had a similar experience as I altered another dress -- this time a white dress for another daughter, Kendra, who is 20.
Both times, the circumstances were nearly the same -- we needed something special, but we didn't want to break the bank. But I noticed my approach the second time was so much more calm. From the beginning, I had faith that we'd find something we liked that I could afford. Even as our deadline drew near, my faith remained.
Feeling this peace, I realized the growth I'd experienced in just one year, and the thought of coming full circle came to mind.
I understood that through explaining important principles to others, more of these ideas had come into my own consciousness. I could see clearly how what I had tried to share with others had returned tenfold into my own life.
Kendra's dress was a size 18 wedding dress I found in the thrift store for $12.50. Kendra -- who wears a size 6 -- wasn't convinced at first that the relic could be salvaged for her. But I was willing to take a chance with my $12.50 investment.
We went to work cutting away the excess on that dress. In the end, we probably took more off the dress than we kept. And the more we removed, the more beautiful the now saved white dress became.
We were lucky that the construction of the outfit played well into our plans for the remake.
I reflected on the truth of the principle of becoming more through removing the excess in our lives.
As we simplify, let go and free ourselves, aren't we all better able to serve others and ourselves? Isn't there so much more beauty and peace in the simple things in life?
The dress, in the end, fit Kendra perfectly and was simply beautiful and ideal for the occasion for which we had planned.
And the lesson I saw played out from the experience was simply priceless. I discovered that, like the dress, I had changed. I saw that I was so much more, now that I had decided to remove some of the "excess" in my life.
There really is no room for bad feelings in our lives, no matter from whence they come.
"... Don't let the sun go down before you have dealt with the cause of your anger," reads Ephesians 46.
A pastor I talked to also advised me to repent at least as quickly as I am to anger.
I now see how less can be so much more -- especially when what is removed is hatred, envy and strife.
I now see how one idea -- recognizing the hand of God or the influence of the universe -- can bring a person peace and joy.