We carry a lot of misconceptions about love. Putting love first isn't a life of "sacrifice," for example, as many have been taught. In fact, putting love first means knowing who you are, which means accepting the fact that you're entitled to miracles. Putting love first means knowing the universe supports you in creating the good, the holy, and the beautiful. It means knowing you’re on the earth for a purpose, and that the purpose itself will create opportunities for its accomplishment.
Making love your bottom line doesn't make you "lose." Putting love first is ultimately the way you inevitably gain. For what you give, you shall receive; and what you withhold will be withheld from you. Most of the world's religions share this core idea. Or, as a friend of mine once described the idea to me, the universe keeps a perfect set of books. You give love; you get love.
Making love the bottom line doesn't mean you have to give everything away or that you'll never charge for your services. The principle of fair exchange gives love to both giver and receiver.
Making love the bottom line doesn't mean you're compelled to do anything anyone ever asks you to do. Love always gives the loving response, but sometimes the loving response is "No."
But it does mean that we take seriously the idea that we are on the earth to do as Love would have us to do. I know from personal experience that when I've done this, I've gained financially as well as in other ways. And when I have not done this, I've lost.
The path of love might not lead to an immediate, short-term bundle of cash. That is not how the Law of Divine Compensation works. But following the path of love leads to trust, deeper relationships, and therefore greater probability of further good. Our internal abundance is ultimately the source of our external abundance. Who we are, not just the services we provide, creates money.
Someone who is positive and energetic when they show up for work; are they or are they not the person most likely to be promoted? Someone who is kind and helpful when you walk into their store; do they or do they not have a business to which you're more likely to return? Someone who inspires genuine trust and faith in the excellence of their work; are they or are they not the person you are more likely to hire for your next project? You know that line about how nice guys finish last? It's a lie.
Yet at times we fear that if we give ourselves to love, we will somehow devolve into a puddle of weakness—that love will make us vulnerable to hurt or to being less effective in the world. We think God can have our spiritual lives, but we better not hand over our finances! A woman once told me, “I don’t mind giving God my money, but if it’s over $200,000, I think I better handle it myself.” And here is what makes that such a joke: it is often in the area of our finances where we need miracles the most!
Love is our sanity. It does not lead us to unwise behavior. It does not lead us to give our money away frivolously when there is a need to save it and provide for our family. It does not lead us into a lack of respect for principles of money management or the appropriate laws of commerce. It does not lead us into unreasonable or immoderate behavior. Love doesn’t ruin things; love makes all things right, by aligning mortal events with the natural patterns of an intentional and creative universe.
Love makes us wake up in the morning with a sense of purpose and a flow of creative ideas. Love floods our nervous system with positive energy, making us far more attractive to prospective employers, clients, and creative partners. Love fills us with a powerful charisma, enabling us to produce new ideas and new projects, even within circumstances that seem to be limited. Love leads us to atone for our errors and clean up the mess when we’ve made mistakes. Love leads us to act with impeccability, integrity, and excellence. Love leads us to serve, to forgive, and to hope. Those things are the opposite of a poverty consciousness; they're the stuff of spiritual wealth creation.
In 1992, I published a book called A Return to Love. At the time, I was bit naive—I had never spent time thinking about things like book contracts, bestseller status or book royalties. I was excited to be able to live off the suggested donations at my lectures on A Course in Miracles, and while writing the book I don’t think I even thought about how well it might sell. In fact, due largely to the enthusiasm of Oprah Winfrey, it was the fifth bestselling book in America that year.
I had a strong sense at the time that the money hadn’t really come directly from the book—that it had come through it. It felt like the money was divine payment for something more than the book, particularly the charitable work I had been doing for years before, for no money at all. It was payment for how I had been trying to live my life, cleaning up any mess from my past and trying to be of service to others. The seeker isn’t looking to “get money,” but to exchange energy. And when the energy we’re putting out is filled with the consciousness of love, then the energy flowing back to us comes in whatever form most serves our good. I figured that if I lived a good life and worked hard, then I’d be taken care of somehow.
There was a level of naiveté to the life I was living before my book was published. It wasn’t that I was so pure or anything, so much as blessedly unaware of the more sophisticated principles by which wealth is supposedly created. There’s no way in the world that my activities during those years would have been thought to be good for business, because there was no business! But I was, in my own way, about my Father’s business. And then, when the book was published, I saw what I had done for love came back to me a thousand fold and more.
Such is the Law.
Excerpted from THE LAW OF DIVINE COMPENSATION by Marianne Williamson with permission by HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright 2012.