Themes in this article (and the story of the frogs) you’ll see repeated from issue 13 (frog or fish), earlier this year. This article explains, step by step how to go from obligation to preference. If you follow these steps, you can get what you want.  Yes. You will. It’s not magic. It’s logic. Read it and you’ll see. It might take 9-10 months to do, but it can be done. I know. I’ve done it.


I counsel wedding couples, and I love performing weddings. It is just a most wonderful joy. I help couples create a ceremony that reflects their unique, and yet universal, love and dedication to each other. And then I get to officiate at the ceremony. (I’ve been doing weddings for 21 years!)  If you know of folks who are looking for a fantastic officiant, I would love to see if I can be of help.
In planning the ceremony, I often ask each member of the couple, “with whom would you like to walk down the aisle?”
I have worked with many couples for whom a traditional giving away is not the right thing, and we have come up with delightful alternatives.
Nonetheless, I start with the question, “With whom would you like to walk down the aisle?”
Often I hear an answer along the lines of, “Well I should walk down with….”
I quickly interrupt and say, “No, no, no. I didn’t ask ‘With whom do you think you should walk down the aisle?’ I want to know, ‘With whom do you want to walk down the aisle?'”
It amazes me always how people unconsciously answer in terms of what they think they ought to do
It amazes me how often I answer in terms of what I ought to do, not what I want to do.
Obligation is powerful.
We all feel it.
Getting what we want starts with knowing what it is that we want.


When it comes to our spiritual life, most folk know what they want.

  • We want less anxiety
  • We want to forgive
  • We want connection/intimacy
  • We want ___________ (fill in a want here)
  • We want ___________ (fill in a want here)
  • We want ___________ (fill in a want here)

But we don’t always get there.
We often know what we want.  But we don’t get it.
Why? Let me answer with a little quiz/joke:
There are three frogs on a lily pad, and one decides to jump in the water. How many frogs are left on the lily pad?<ANSWER: Three. One only decided to jump in the water. It didn’t actually jump.>
Sometimes, while we know what we want, and while we have decided to do something about it, we haven’t always gotten ourselves to get it. Yet. So, let me unfold for you a system as to how to go from knowing what you want to making it happen.


There is a logical progression from the start (obligation) to the end (making it happen).
This is a process I learned from Dave Ellis.
Dave uses this system with anything about which one might want to be passionate.
I am a clergy person passionate about nourishing spiritual religious hunger, and I am going to show you how to use these steps with regard to incorporating the spiritual-religious notion of accepting reality as it is and then for God. (If those are not things you desire in your life, make substitutions to reflect your desires.)


Let’s start with the idea that you wish to go from OBLIGATION (I should accept reality as it is) to PROMISE (I do accept reality as it is).
(Surrender is the spiritual-religious-faith notion of not fighting with reality. Here is some writing I’ve done on it. 1, 2, 3, 4.)

  • I should accept reality as it is

can become 

  • I do accepting reality as it is

Let’s start by looking at six sentences about acceptance of reality and changing the verb (and a few words as needed) in each sentence.Obligation – I should accept reality as it is.
Possibility – Maybe I can accept reality as it is.
Preference – I’d like to accept reality as it is.
Passion – I strongly want to accept reality as it is.
Plan – I plan to continue accepting reality as it is.
Promise – I commit to live my life as someone who has accepted reality as it is.
Try reading the above sentences aloud. Really. (If you can find a friend to whom you can read them one at a time, that would be even better.) Read them out loud and listen to your voice. The idea is that you will hear in yourself what level feels genuine.
Then, once you know where you are, you can figure, one step at a time, how to get to the next step.

  • should 
  • can 
  • like 
  • want
  • plan 
  • commit

We only can advance one or maybe two stages at a time. When we passionately try to jump and skip some steps, we condemn ourselves to failure. One only can go up this ladder successfully slowly.
I tried this exercise with the idea of wanting to find more joy in my life. 
This is how my sentences worked:
Obligation – I should have more joy in my life. 
Possibility – Maybe I can have more joy in my life.
Preference – I’d like to have more joy in my life.
Passion – I strongly want to have more joy in my life.
Plan – I plan to have more joy in my life.
Promise – I commit to having more joy in my life. 
And, I’m at the last stage. As you might have read in my article “FE_joy_AR: finding joy amidst fear,” I am taking this seriously. I am committing to having joy as though God has commanded me to. (And, I’m at about at passion right now.) Past paths from obligation to preference have taken me about 9 months from inception to full commitment. But, hey, I got there.


Think of the thing that you want in your life. You want __________.
Hints: Do you have enough compassion? Are you mindful to a degree you find appropriate? Do you find meaning in your life? Are you angered for reasons that no longer make sense to you? Do you easily accept reality as it is and easily accept love?
1) Fill in the sentences below, one at a time.
2) Listen to yourself say each sentence and find out where you are stuck.
3) Don’t judge where you are stuck. Just notice it.
4) Set your heart on the next step.
5) Work towards it.

Obligation – I should __________.
Possibility – Maybe I can __________.
Preference – I’d like __________.
Passion – I strongly want __________.
Plan – I plan __________.  
Promise – I commit to live my life as someone who__________.
You can level up your spiritual-religious life.
If you want help, let me know.
This is what I do.
Some people can do this without support.
Some need more hand holding.

#wisdom_biscuit: have the spiritual life you want.
(Do you think I can help you with that? I’d like to help.)

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