As unwelcome as adversity may be, it does shape and define us in ways that nothing else can. Life does have a way of presenting us with what we most need to learn when we most need to learn it. While these “lessons” may not come in a form we would welcome, almost always they prove to be our most important teachers.
The good news is that nothing is ever wasted. All things do come bearing a gift, whether it seems like it at the time or not. It may take a while to find that gift, but it is there. And why is it there? Because life is always conspiring to bring the best that is possible into your life.
There will always be dark valleys to walk through. At times we may even feel there is no way out, but there is a way out, and we will find it if we can just go with the flow and see where life is trying to take us.
Trust is an awesome tool. It brings a new dynamic into our experience and allows us to find both meaning and purpose as we encounter the truths we have been seeking.
One of the ways we find those truths is by letting go. Letting go of how things were. Letting go of how we would like things to be. Letting go of the need to try to change what we cannot change. Letting go is incremental to our healing. Until we let go, we cannot move forward.
As the old saying goes, you have to put both feet in the boat before it can take you where you need to go. Letting go means putting both feet in the boat. It means accepting the lessons inherent in your situation and then moving forward on the strength of what you have learned.
Victories of the spirit require – indeed, demand – letting go of things as they were. Letting go teaches us to be comfortable with uncertainty, perhaps even learning to welcome it as a friend. This “simple” act of letting go is an austere discipline, and yet its rewards are generous, for through it we learn acceptance. Acceptance allows us to see what is possible. In that understanding lies the seed of our ultimate healing.
One of the things that makes it so hard to let go of established patterns is the resistance we feel toward change. We struggle with it, perhaps even fight against it. Although this is only natural, resistance never wins. Resistance is always in a state of battle. Acceptance leads to the way out. Acceptance allows us first of all to see things as they are. It gives us the perspective we need to see what we can or cannot change. Then we are free to choose, and what we choose are our thoughts, our feelings, and our response to what is happening in our life. This means going inward to where our thoughts and feelings originate, so we can align those deep inner processes with how we’d really like to live our life. In this way, we consciously enter into the creative process that makes our life what it is.
Thoughts are strange creatures. They are community-oriented critters, and they tend to multiply into more of the same. Over time they cluster into patterns. They develop into habits. Before we know it, those habits end up governing our life. We become so accustomed to their sheer repetition that we just slip into automatic. While being “on automatic” does not require much actual thinking, neither does it allow us to live life consciously or creatively.
Becoming aware that we do have a choice in how we think and feel is the first step toward bringing our habits into the light of conscious awareness. When we aren’t on automatic, it is easier to recognize when we are being given an opportunity to learn something. If we choose to focus on that lesson, we open ourselves to change – healthy change. This is important. When we change our response to life, our experience changes, too, which of course is what we wanted all along.
Although our challenges will all be different, there are some basic things you can do to make the going a little easier. At least they did for me.
For example, you might begin by looking at the patterns in your daily life. Pay attention to how you respond to what life is bringing your way. Listen to what you are thinking. Audit your feelings. This is a practice, of course, but when you watch your inner activity much as an outside observer would, it is easier to see how you are molding and shaping your days. This frees you to work with the every day events of your life and let them be your teacher, even the events that are the most difficult – especially the ones that are the most difficult. Your most difficult moments are the ones that offer you the most room for growth, so try making a conscious effort to be grateful for whatever comes into your life.
While that may sound pretty simple, it is more important than you might think. Try appreciating how special each moment is. Recognize the precious opportunity inherent in each day. While you are at it, see if you can find ways to put aside some of the busyness that fills your days so you can reconnect with the peace and stillness that are the very ground of your being. Then bring that stillness into your daily life, into your every thought and feeling. Day after patient day, integrate that stillness and that peace into your daily living and see the difference it makes.
If you do, you may even notice there is a presence that is always with you. The faithfulness of that presence just may open a door – a way of seeing – you’ve never known before. You may even begin to sense that same presence in others, too. You may see that same living, loving presence looking back at you everywhere you go. When that happens, you will know you are never really alone, no matter what. That knowing creates a confidence and fortitude that will help carry you through other difficult times.
Another important lesson is learning not to judge. We all do this. We judge things constantly. This is good, that is bad. This is happy, that is not. We like this, we don’t like that. This kind of mindset is a form of resistance. When we judge, we aren’t accepting things as they are. Whenever we resist, our inner peace is disturbed. The peace we are talking about, of course, is the peace you have found in the stillness, in the quiet presence of your soul.
If you find you are doing a lot of judging, it would be good to work on your thinking. At first it may seem like you are trying to catch a river, but if you stick with it, gradually, over time, you will begin to see a difference. It will get easier to let go. To let be what will be. To not get hung up on results. To trust that whatever happens is for the best.
Yes, we’re talking about surrender, and surrender can open up a deep source of strength when the going gets rough.
You see, it really is possible to change how you meet life. It really is possible to direct your mind and teach it what you want it to do. This is important, because then you’ll be able to draw a line beyond which you are not willing to go. You’ll know when you are approaching deep water, and you’ll consciously choose not to go where you do not want to swim. Instead, you’ll focus on what you do want, so you can bring more of that quality into your experience.
Then, regardless of what else is happening in your life, you can still find some measure of happiness. You can still rest in that beautiful, loving presence you have come to know during those quiet, peaceful times. This kind of acceptance, this kind of freedom is very healing. It allows you to use your pain as a means of growth. It allows you to see through your challenge to one of the greatest gifts it offers – who you really are.
So day after day simply, humbly practice being who you are. In all the little daily things, affirm the truths on which you are hanging the sum total of your faith. Then you’ll begin to understand that your thoughts, your life, and even your death are just stages in your journey. You’ll know for yourself that there is no darkness. There is only light, and it is everywhere. More and more, you’ll begin to see that the fabric of your life is one uncut, unbroken whole. More than that, now you’ll know that you are whole, regardless of what else may be going on. This is the ultimate healing of which we spoke. In that moment of silent understanding, all your fears just slip away as quietly as they came.
Copyright Donna Miesbach
Updated: April 18, 2013