It happened Thursday. I was taking my daughter to the airport after a blissful weeklong Independence Day vacation from everything. I even played hooky from the home-church:
“Uh oh, here comes the tough part.”
I looked at Maiysha and instantly felt a little knot in my stomach. I had forgotten how much she dreaded goodbyes. As I pulled up to curb outside the American Airlines terminal at O’Hare, my mind instantly flashed back to the TV Guide documentary about her journey to the Grammy Awards as a neophyte nominee.
That video gave me the first glimpse into what happens every time my little girl and I leave each other and head to another city: I watched her close her hotel room door as I left to go to the L.A. airport. Then she sobbed. She revealed to the producer that it has happened ever since she was four.
Separation is a heartbreaking ritual familiar to all children of divorce, particularly if their parents live in different cities. While excited to see one beloved parent, they dread leaving the other.
At this point, this heartbreak seems to have lodged itself in Maiysha’s memory because, even though she’s grown, and we’ve lived in different cities since her freshman year in high school, she still cries the moment I leave her sight. Now that the TV Guide cameras have shown me what that looks like, I cry, too.
Letting go. It’s one of the toughest things we do, and it can be painful if we don’t understand that there is always a time for departure. We cannot go to the next level without leaving the last. We forget that we’re on a path, and only a fraction of a millimeter of that path is here on planet Earth. Some of us exhaust a lot of energy, much of it negative, trying to control that blink of an eyelash moment in Universal Time.
Perhaps you’re displeased with your current circumstances. What led you to this moment and these circumstances? Sure, you can trace your physical path to this spot—your decisions, educational preparation and the skill sets, the places you went and organizations you joined, the previous jobs you held, the network of people who influenced your personal or professional lives—but that doesn’t always answer the “How’d I get here from there” question, does it?
You did all the right things for all the right reasons. You gave your relationship or your job all you had to give, and more; but it didn’t last. In the immortal tearful words of Nancy Kerrigan: “Why? Why? Why?”
I get this question from many who seek my counsel. For each, the response is specific to their situation, but the core of it my answer is always this: If you were supposed to have a different experience, you would be. What you’re experiencing now is the result of all of the choices you’ve made throughout your eternal life, times that you cannot even remember.
That’s the “tough part,” the “letting go” part: releasing old ideas of how things are “supposed to be,” based on the choices we’ve made in these bodies. As far back as we can remember, we’ve treated people well, worked hard, and followed the Golden Rule. Well, mostly. Still, the few times that we veered from the straight and narrow don’t explain why our lives look like this. Or maybe it’s the other way around: I know, as I sit here perched high, high above the crossroads of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, with a horizon so rich with possibilities that I can barely sit still, I wonder: What in the Universe did I do to deserve this fabulous life?
That would be a clue: There’s something happening that we cannot see and cannot remember. The tough part is accepting that whatever we’re going through right now is either the unfolding of our souls’ plan or our bodies’ decisions to throw a monkey wrench in that plan; everything we do right now impacts us at some point on our journey. If you don’t believe, just do something that you don’t want done to you. Go ‘head. We’re watching.
We forget that Life is invisible and infinite; bodies are not. To help us remember, we’re granted ample opportunities to learn to get out of our soul’s way, go with the flow, and accomplish the goals that the soul intended when it showed up on this drama-filled planet wearing a body costume or, as it’s called in Genesis 2:7, a “tunic of skin.”
That’s another tough part: We think we’re only visible and we focus all of our attention on the visible. This is your soul’s life. Your body and all the physical trappings that you’re fixated on are merely trappings, and you can get sucked into a gooey vortex by allowing those trappings—the job titles, the car, the house, the endless quest for financial prosperity—that distract you from why you’re really here. Prosper that.
At the end of the day, all of us will leave behind all the stuff we fought so hard to own and far too many of us will be just another carcass that got tricked by the devious ego, who stuck his leg out and made us trip over the props. While they put our worthless physical remains in a box and plant it, we’ll schlep our vacuous souls over to a corner and mourn the growth opportunities that we blew.
Everyone is here for a unique reason. What’s yours? Are you fulfilling your mission? How close are you? This is urgent, so let me “go Loud Mouth” for a minute: Are you walking around with a big ball on your head, deluded into thinking that only what you can see, touch, smell, hear and taste is all that exists, and everything you ever wanted resides inside that ball? You can let your ego keep “punking” you—or you can become more intimate with Life’s unlimited reality.
I was counseling a distraught young woman the other day. She graduated with a high GPA from a very good university a year ago, and despite her strong work ethic and high acumen, she has been unable to find a job. Many of her friends are similarly situated, but just as many friends are enjoying what she perceives to be successful careers in the corporate world.
Unhappy that she was not enjoying the same success, she told me that she has repeatedly prayed to God, “What am I doing wrong? What am I not doing? Please give me some direction.” After asking, what did she do? She actively looked for ways to follow the same direction as her “successful” friends. She was so busy that she probably wasn’t even able to hear the direction she was being given from the spark of God within her. She expected the direction to take her where she thought she should be going.
Like most of us, she wanted God to do her will. We’ve been taught to do this. It’s what we think prayer is: “Ask and it shall be given.”
What if it’s not yours? What if it’s not the right path for you? What if your body’s desires aren’t in alignment with your soul’s? What if you tried to release your human understanding of the situation? You might see things differently.
My young friend, for example, had been mightily blessed; but she appeared to be unaware. After graduation, a relative reached out to her and, acknowledging how hard she had worked to complete her education, made her an offer that her friends probably would envy: She was invited into the relative’s comfortable home and told not to worry about paying a thing. Yep, I’m talking free room and board. Blessing, or no?
This young woman could hardly wait to move out on her own. She was desperate to be like her friends who have income, independence, and are now accumulating rent receipts, credit card debt, car notes and all of the bills associated with owning a late model car, suitable business attire, furniture and appliances.
I asked her several questions: First, why are you here on this planet, in this country, in that place at this time? Like most of us, she wasn’t sure. Exploring some possibilities provided tremendous insight for her. You might find this exercise helpful, as well. Try to look at your situation from a different perspective, higher than the ego-level.
I wondered if this talented, ambitious young woman had considered the possibility that living in her relative’s home might actually have been a blessing for her relative. She paused, a bit confused. I tried to clarify: I asked her to tell me what it feels like when she presents someone a gift—an unexpected, generous, selfless gift. She could feel it instantly—and it felt GREAT. I asked her to imagine that she had blessed her relative with this incomparable feeling. Her spirit began to brighten at the empowering thought that she might actually be delivering the gift in this situation.
Then I asked her to look deeper, look at the scenario spiritually, beyond the physical appearance and consider the possibility that the eternal soul who currently is wearing the body of her relative is one that her soul has known for a long time. I didn’t ask her to accept it as a fact; I just wanted her to write a script with this scene.
Next question: What if, at some point in your eternal life, you did something selfless for this soul or another and the Universe was returning your generosity? What if you refused to allow this soul to repay its debt? She then began to stop resisting her situation, but actually embrace it.
Like most of us, this young woman had focused her attention on the drama on her life’s physical stage, where the ego-self is only capable of rearranging the props on the stage or trying to direct the actors to do what it wants. Those who are heavily controlled by their egos even try to manipulate situations and people in a forceful rather than powerful way.
When something goes awry and things aren’t going as our egos desire, those who believe there’s a God cry out for help. They look up rather than within because they’ve been told that God is a being that looks like a man, which is a limiting portrayal of Spirit or Love. They say that “He” is far away in the heavens, and will come down here and intervene, or will favor us over “His” other kids. They confuse us and confound our search for a close relationship with God and complicate our search for divine answers to our most troubling questions.
We pray and pray and pray for God to do our will, and we feel rejected, abandoned or even angry when “He” doesn’t comply. At that point, we’re ripe for the pickin’. Our egos convince us that we have to take control. WE have to make it happen, since we can’t count on God.
We don’t give a thought to the possibility that things are the way they are because it is for the Highest Good of our souls to have this experience. Through it, there is a wonderful growth lesson for the only Life that really exists: the eternal life of the soul.
Maybe, if we made uncharitable choices during a period that we can’t remember, this is an opportunity to settle that debt. If given the option of paying off a debt or carrying the burden throughout all eternity, which would you choose if you know that physical life is not real life?
We don’t know what our soul’s plan is, and we haven’t done the spiritual homework to figure out how to neutralize those debts painlessly. If you’re interested, I provide those tips very simply in “Crossing an Unseen Bridge: The Law of Attraction Secrets No One Wants to Talk About.”
Taking full responsibility for our life’s circumstances is tough. Letting go of our limited vision of a God who is off in the heavens, instead of within us, is even tougher. We have to leave behind that ancient caricature borrowed from Greek mythology, if we’re going to get to the next level in our spiritual development. At that level, we revere each individual as a spark of the living God and we treat each individual with the divine respect that we would accord God if “He” was wearing a tunic of skin. As a consequence, what returns to us in this “reap what you sow” world is always divine.
Our every thought, belief and action has a corresponding consequence, and the only thing that you really can control are the consequences of your thoughts, beliefs and actions. Be still, seek peace, and you will hear the directions rising from the Divine within you.That’s what happened to my young friend:
Because she had left her iPod at a friend’s earlier in the week, she found herself jogging in silence, the realm of the Divine. As a consequence, she was better able to hear the Divine speak to her.
She wasn’t sure why, but as she ran that day, Spirit moved her to call me. After we gained some clarity on her situation, it occurred to me that I knew someone who needs an energetic, hardworking entry-level public relations person with events management experience. The position would require frequent travel, which she loves.
Because she and I had not spoken in a while and she lives out of town, she had not crossed my mind. Apparently, she was supposed to. I hold a lot of influence in determining who gets that position.
This was just one of many reminders that there are no accidents; there is a Divine Plan. It was written before our souls entered these bodies; in fact, our souls co-authored it.
If we could pull our contributing chapters from a shelf and find the pages that explained how our current circumstances serve our souls’ growth, if we could remember that we are not finite bodies and that this is just a momentary experience in this tunic of skin, we could relax and go with the flow. We wouldn’t be upset when things change, no matter how abrupt or seemingly unfair the change is.
If we could trust God enough to know that everything serves our Highest Good, we wouldn’t be angry when un-Christlike Christians or other ego-driven souls try to harm us. We called them onto our stages to push us onto another one because it was time to go. Our ego-selves don’t like change that they don’t orchestrate; we needed these souls’ help. As mean-spirited as they seem, they are fulfilling our missions in meaningful ways. If we could remember that, we would know peace beyond all understanding. We would be joyful when things change.
Nobody on this planet has achieved Enlightenment. If they had, they wouldn’t be here. No matter what our level of spiritual understanding, new, sometimes greater challenges await us down the path. Stretching can be uncomfortable. But if we trust the divinity of the God within us, we will never again perceive them as “tough parts.”