Soundtrack in my head: Five Man Electrical Band, “Signs”
In re-reading my journals from 1996 and 1997, I noticed that I deliberated quite frequently over whether something that recently happened was a sign form God. Anyone reading what I wrote back then would have probably considered me to be annoying, neurotic, or both.
In the spiritual path that I’ve been involved with for eleven years, there is a teaching that says, “Everything on heaven and on earth is the voice of God.” However, I misinterpreted the teaching as telling me to vigilantly be on the lookout for signs of what God might be trying to communicate to me. Thus, the pages of my journal often had me latching onto little things that happened and saying, “This must be a sign from God!” and “This must be what God is trying to tell me.” I chuckle to myself upon reading these things because while a few of these signs that I identified were dead-on accurate, most were not. Some weren’t even close.
A few years ago, I was in a heated argument with a close friend of mine while we were walking down Gilman Street in the evening. As we were walking, a drunken college student came behind my friend, pinched her in the buttocks, and quickly disappeared before we could get a description of him and report him to the police. Needless to say, that put a rather abrupt end to our argument.
A couple of hours later, we went to a café in a different part of town. At one point in our conversation, I said that maybe the incident with the drunken student was a sign that what she and I were arguing about was trivial. My friend reacted angrily, saying that she was tired of interpreting things as being signs from God.
She was right. I clearly believe that many things can be truly a sign from God do exist. But in that case, I later realized that my interpretation of that incident was more of a reflection the noise in my head than the actual voice of God. Quite frankly, I’m surprised she didn’t read me the riot act.
I see a lot of spiritually minded people do the same thing I did. But I think it can become problematic when people decide to take liberties and start giving spiritual interpretations of other people’s experiences for them. Once in awhile, someone might hit the nail on the head, interpret such experiences accurately, and give their friend new insights. I think this is quite rare, though. I think it pretty much only occurs between people who know and trust each other well, and even then, one might still be way off base.
Looking back at my old journal entries from eleven years ago, I realize now that it’s better not to leap to conclusions about what this or that incident means spiritually. I’ve learned to simply observe such phenomena over a period of time and see any patterns emerge. Sometimes they do.
Might what I’ve written here may be a sign from God about something relevant in your life, gentle reader? A sign from God perhaps? Well, you are free to interpret what I write any way you wish. And then keep you ears peeled to see if you hear God chuckling.