I had a challenging weekend and had some setbacks. I felt all out of sorts-- irritable, cynical, intolerant, and I couldn't form words to articulate exactly what it was I wanted or needed. Couples have a way of being emotionally in sync, for better or for worse, so everything came to a head Sunday night. That's the pretty, diplomatic way to say it. I'm sitting here in Starbucks with some time and space to myself, and am now able to process what this weekend taught me about myself and Truth.
Lesson #1- Challenges come.
In an effort to teach about faith, positivity, and intentional thinking, some religious or philosophical leaders send the mixed message that if we are faithful then the path to our goodness will be linear. The mountains will disappear and the yellow brick path will be revealed and we'll go skipping off into the sunset, end scene. This might sound like a silly thought, but tell the truth. You sort of hoped that, didn't you? The reality is that challenges come and there are a myriad of reasons. They come because we are interacting with others experiences and karma. They come because there is a lesson for us to learn. They come because they simply do. They are not punishments. Despite the whys, they are opportunities for us to remind ourselves Who we are and what tools we've developed to get clear and centered.
With my own challenging weekend, I saw the places where I had started to get comfortable with my previous practices. Truthfully, I was getting spiritually lazy. I was running on "e," trying to coast off the last fill up. I actually had this internal debate Sunday morning when I got up on time, looked at LA's hair and decided I didn't feel like doing anything to it to make it presentable for church, even though I had the nagging that it would be for my benefit because it always is, and that it had been 3 weeks since the last time I went. I had the same experience when I caught myself avoiding opening my blog because I knew I hadn't done much writing at all. Those of you who are my twitter friends may have noticed that I was incognito all weekend. I'm not saying that these are practices that YOU should have, but I know how meaningful they are for me, and I purposely ignored them. Major lesson learned.
Lesson #2- Faith doesn't mean unwavering happiness.
Continuing from the previous lesson, sometimes we feel guilty that life isn't always shits and giggles. (Yes, I really said that). When we feel guilty, we avoid. When we avoid, the opportunities to recapture the lesson come louder, stronger, and more frequently. Even though we eventually get back on track, how much easier would it be if we knew and accepted that we are spiritual beings having a human experience? Having sadness, grief, and pain are as valid as peace, happiness, and joy. God is not the vindictive, head shaking deity in the sky to whom we've ascribed human attributes. Divine is not disappointed in us for feeling the "bad" with the good, so we need to stop beating ourselves up and thinking that our human feelings are a non-renewal contract with God. Sometimes, we just need to have that pity party, but we need to be conscious that this is what's going on and not believe that it's indicative of the rest of our experiences.
Lesson #3- The truth of who you are will not bend.
Pity parties, challenges, and grief are temporary. They are not the truth, or even half the truth of Who you are. Just as you remind yourself that you are having a human experience, remind yourself Who you are-- made in the image of God and embodying His/Her divine essence. When I was first learning insight meditation (Vipassana tradition), our leader would coach us to notice when we were thinking and simply bring our minds back to the mat. No blame, no guilt, no worry, no process. Be aware and return to the truth. This lesson extends beyond the zafu. Sometimes it takes a friend (thanks Jae and L) to call you out. Sometimes it takes a new dawn or morning. Sometimes it takes apologizing to your Self for thinking that being human is bad. Whatever it takes, You are right there waiting.
Author's note: In this post, I described what I mean by the capitalized word Self. In short, it's the part of us that is connected to God and honors that shared essence in all that we do and all that we are. Whenever I use a pronoun that is capitalized, that's the differentiation I'm making.