It can be difficult to make sense of life. People get cancer, have accidents, and die unexpectedly. No matter what you do, just getting by is often an uphill struggle. You do the best you can and you still end up in the soup. It’s not fair, is it?
Sure, you sometimes make bad decisions, and although that certainly complicates things, there is a great deal more going on than that. You are one participant in a mass process of spiritual transformation. It feels like a solo journey, and although the process is individual, everyone on the planet is participating in his or her own version of what you are experiencing.
Your decisions, when driven by fear and anxiety, provide the power for the engine that will bring you to enlightenment. You tend to focus on outcomes, but what is really important is the process you use to make decisions. For example, is your process rooted in compassion or do you tend to operate from fear and anxiety?
We all do “the best we can,” but what does that really mean? To be blunt, doing the best you can is not what it seems. It means going as far as you feel safe, but also not pushing yourself so far as to take a significant risk. It means going only partway, having one foot out the door, never really committing yourself to anything or anyone. Other than perhaps your children, what are the things you are fiercely committed to?
When we hold back from commitment, what is at risk? Setting physical harm aside for the moment, what is really on the line when it comes to “being hurt?” Your pride? Your feelings? Not being embarrassed or seeming foolish? The risk you guard against is your ego getting bruised.
You are capable of generating enough compassion to fill the Grand Canyon, and yet you hold back. It is too threatening. The truth is, you really don’t care what other people do, so long as it does not affect you. But, when you allow yourself to be impacted by their responses, it becomes necessary for you to protect yourself.
The thing about holding back is that even though you can slide through the moment, it is guaranteed to cause you pain. And that may be one of the most important secrets to life. If you don’t want to hurt, do the right thing! And by the way, that’s especially true in regard to loving yourself, (something we are terrible at!). One other thing, when you hold back, you can still spin your wheels and look like you are really working hard, while avoiding the fears and anxieties that caused you to hold back in the first place.
Now, you might think that a loving God would be more accepting of your foibles and therefore be more compassionate and understanding when you get yourself into trouble. And there’s the rub. You came here to address (and heal) the parts of yourself that do not feel worthy. Ignoring these aspects defeats the very purpose of your earthly existence! And although God truly does love you, He also cannot ignore the choices you make. When you chose to protect your ego and turn away from loving yourself or someone else, there has to be an alarm warning that you have wandered off the path. That alarm bell is the pain you feel.
Pain is not punishment, although we often see it as such. And it isn’t that someone “up there” is messing with you or doesn’t like you. In fact, quite the contrary is true. You are loved beyond anything you can imagine! It is simply that there are Universal Laws and when you resist following them, your resistance generates friction. Without friction, there would be no reason or motivation for you to change! This is how The Universe maintains order. Life seems unfair because every time you arrange things to make your ego feel safe (which means sacrificing your spiritual self), your decisions set in motion the very forces that will disrupt what you have created.
Let’s look at an example: Assume that the Universe presents you with the perfect partner. This person is emotionally healthy, vibrant, sensitive, open, sexually alive and desires you to be all that you can. What is your likely response? Will you throw open your heart and welcome them in? Or will you head for cover and find someone less threatening? What has been your history? By the way, this dynamic affects every choice you make – friends, your career, intimacy, openness, how you treat your children, how you diet and exercise, your political leanings and especially your spiritual development.
Consider another example. God’s guidance about how to live has been with humankind for thousands of years. What do you do with that advice? Sometimes you pay attention, but when things get touchy, those admonitions usually get tossed out the window. Why? Because when things start getting tense, you get scared! And the question we must ask, once again, is of what? Turning the other cheek means that you could get hurt (again)! Giving what you have to those less fortunate means giving up the comfort of your hard-earned lifestyle. . .
A concept worth remembering is that life is not about avoiding challenges. Whatever you choose, you are going to be challenged, in some fashion or other. Living a successful life is not about not having challenges, but how you handle the challenges you are given. To borrow an old phrase, “We are not defined by what we ask of life. We are defined by what life asks of us.”
A healthy partner and healthy life choices will challenge you to grow. An unhealthy partner or unhealthy life choices will pull you down into a cesspool of pain and codependency. The unresolved forces lurking within you will determine the choices you make. In other words, the issues you bring to the table will determine the challenges you face. That is what life is about – being challenged in the places you feel vulnerable. The Universe perfectly balances what you need with what you get – and you’re not likely to feel good about that, until you realize what is really going on.
Having said that, I do not mean to suggest that you should run out and do a bunch of stupid things or ignore the consequences of your actions in order to generate pain so that you might learn. Life does not work that way.
I’m sure that you have seen the climbing walls people use to learn rock climbing. Let’s assume that you want to learn to climb. After you get into your safety harness we are going to set up the wall so that it challenges you both physically and psychologically. Why? Because when you push the limits of who and what you think you are, you change, you grow. You can no longer hold the old image you held of yourself. That is the essence of how life works and how we evolve. Are you going to like the process? Probably not. But this is the most important part of the process of you completing what you came here to do.
There is a limit to how much you should take on at any one time, but we can generally actually handle a great deal more than we think we can. The ideal will be to push you out of your comfort zone and encourage you to grow, but not so much that it overwhelms you. And there is almost always a conflict between what you are comfortable with and what you are capable of. In other words, in order for life to work, it needs to seem unfair. If the challenge is too easy, the experience may be enjoyable, but you will not learn much.
Setting physical limitations aside, what will stop you on the climbing wall will be your attitude. You will set a “risk threshold” that determines how much of a risk you will take. Your threshold will be established by your history; therefore your reaction really has little to do with the present situation. Current circumstances merely trigger the painful memories that led you to conclude that you were inept, incompetent, and incapable, etc. and require that you create a threshold.
Your previous life experiences will either restrict or support your willingness to risk failing and how you will interpret that experience – especially when you fail. The climbing wall may be challenging, but typically your inner dialogue will shut you down long before your muscles do. Some people will approach the wall as a challenge, going as far as they are able, learning from the experience and growing in the process, while others will collapse inwardly in self-doubt and shame before they even touch the wall. Most people will fall somewhere in-between.
Given what you believe, it often seems safer and smarter to turn away, or to only put in enough effort to not be criticized. The sad thing about refusing to love in the moment is that in addition to causing you pain, you deny yourself the real joys of life. You condemn yourself to a life of stress, anxiety and worst of all, to live a life of mediocrity.
So, returning to our original premise, is it really God who makes your life so difficult?
“The only devils in the world are those running round in our own hearts, and that is where all our battles ought to be fought.”
Sir James M. Barrie said, “If you have love, you don’t need anything else, and if you don’t have love, it doesn’t matter what else you have.”
St. Paul wrote: “Do everything in love.”
RULES FOR LIFE
Revised by Ross Bishop
People can be unreasonable, irrational and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you are kind, some will question your motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and jealous enemies.
The good you do today will be forgotten.
Do it anyway.
If you are honest and sincere, you will feel vulnerable.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
Small minds resist great ideas.
Think big anyway.
Everyone feels fear.
What they need is love.
To paraphrase Simone Weil: “Do not wish for your troubles to disappear,
Pray for the grace to transform them.”
What you spend years building can be destroyed overnight.
People can be reluctant to change.
Love them but remember, you cannot go through a closed door.
Give the world your best and you may be rejected.
Give your best anyway.
It is between you and God.
It has never been between you and them anyway.
Source: This was originally created by Dr. Kent M. Keith, and called
“The Paradoxical Commandments.” It has been modified a number of
times. One version was found on the wall of Mother Teresa’s office. I
have made a few of my own additions.
copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2016