Who’s REALLY in Charge?!
The other day, I woke up early and took my coffee out to our deck where I could just sit in silence with my dogs, letting emotions and thoughts wash over me. Lately, I’ve found myself pulled in different directions at once, and the tension has left me a bit (okay, a lot!) overwhelmed at times with so much going on around us.
I see the challenges of the larger world we live in — the pain, the struggles, the imperfections — and part of me gets sucked into grief and sadness. But at the same time, I see the beauty that surrounds us: People standing up for each other and using their voices to lift each other up, the natural artistry of the changing seasons, and the Divine love that weaves through and connects us all, from the largest mountain to the smallest blade of grass or speck of pollen. It’s all connected, yet we seem so separate at times!
A lot of my own personal journey has involved coming to terms (slowly!) that multiple contradictory things can be true at once.
I can be hurting for our world… AND I can savor a latte on the back deck as I watch the birds in flight above me.
I can feel injustice deeply… AND I can live in a space of hope and change.
I can own my power as co-creator… AND I can accept that I am not always in charge!
Whew, that’s a lot to take in first thing in the morning, right? (Maybe I need a second cup of coffee!)
The past months have brought up a hugely important question: If I am a co-creator of my reality, why is so much going on that I don’t control?
The answer is that we live on multiple levels at once. Yes, we have sovereignty over ourselves — what we think, what actions we take, how we interact with the world around us. But at the same time, there’s a larger universe that we’re part of, one that we impact but we don’t control. Things happen that we haven’t predicted and that we may not, in our limited view, even want. (Pandemic and social injustice for $500, Alex!) We wonder how these things can be part of the “highest good” for anyone… yet they’re what we’re going through as a collective right now.
We’re like a ten-year-old who doesn’t get to choose the game the kids are playing at recess, so stomp off in a huff and say, “Fine, if I don’t get to be boss, I’m taking my ball and going home!” If we can’t control EVERYTHING, we’re not gonna play! As a result, we can start thinking that what we do has little or no impact on the larger story that’s unfolding around us.
But just because we can’t simply “mantra” the tough times away or wave a magic wand and see the obstacles dissolve, doesn’t mean that what we think, do, and believe has no effect. Just because we don’t control EVERYTHING doesn’t mean we can’t control ANYTHING. (See how dangerous all or nothing thinking can be?)
What it comes down to is what we believe about our relationship to our Higher Power and Divine will.
What I’ve learned (after years and years of practice and work!), is that I have to know what’s my part to do and what is Spirit’s. I have to surrender my willfulness. I must focus on taking the next right action that is in my power and pray to be of service. I must hold my desire, yes, but loosely. I cannot be so focused on what I want that I lose sight of the larger picture. When I can do all this, that’s when life begins to unfold much more gently and easily.
Virtually every spiritual practice asks the individual to let go of the self in order to become part of a larger collective whole. We are asked to release focus on ME to instead become part of WE. In doing so, the individual sees how all things are connected, one, interdependent. At the same time, though, the individual recognizes the unique role he or she plays in the larger collective. We are all needed and celebrated. Our small self can decide, choose, and act, but ultimately it’s in service of the Whole.
As I journey further in my life, I see this truth more and more. When I look back on the adventures I’ve had, nothing that has occurred in my life has been according to any of my specific “here is exactly what I want” plans. Not one thing! The exact form was never the point, as I have experienced so much more than my limited thinking ( although you do have to start somewhere!). From my music career to my husband to where I live, it’s all been guided by a much wiser, loving hand that saw the big picture when I only saw the blurry dots right in front of my nose. Yes, I played a critical part in the journey, but if it had all been up to me, my life would have been much more limited and a lot less interesting!
What I know for sure now is that when I lock onto one outcome like a heat-seeking missile, I miss the gifts and blessings intended for me. But when I focus loosely on an outcome and take step after step in faith, miracles happen.
If you’re feeling like your efforts don’t matter right now, hear this: You are needed. Your gifts, your talents, the unique expression of the Divine that can only exist through you — we need all of it! Sing your song, and sing it loudly. Otherwise, the symphony of life will be missing the miracle that is YOU.
Sending you love, peace, and hope…