Life can be wretched. This I know. I’ve felt the sting of unworthiness work its poison through my veins. I’ve experienced loneliness that shook me so hard my bones throbbed. I’ve laid in the depths of depression, hoping for its torture to take me out of my misery.
And although I wasn’t always able to hear it in the fleeting moments that life left me gasping for air, the universe was always there whispering sweetly: ‘this is your initiation.’
We all want an easy life. One that provides us with what we need, one that feels safe, one that is comfortable. We all want to feel good and we all want to be happy. But as we all know, it is impossible for this to be possible all of the time. As hard as we may pray each morning for unicorns and rainbows, the universe sometimes has different plans for us. Sometimes the plan involves divorce, sometimes illness, sometimes it involves losing a job, sometimes losing a friend. Sometimes life’s plans throw so much heaviness into our hearts that our legs get weak and we lose the strength that would normally keep us from falling to the earth and breaking into a thousand pieces.
To stumble is a part of what it means to be human. This is truth. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t meet hard times every now and then. But our hard times don’t have turn into heavy weights to be lugged around with us throughout our lives. Hardship is a rite of passage. It is life’s way of seeing that you are ready to be pushed beyond what you know. Bound within each hardship we face lies a precious gem; one more precious than any other. For this is a gem that holds the power to unlock a door to a more powerful, more beautiful, more expanded you.
Imagine a life in which you never experience difficulty, where everything is handed to you on a silver platter. Sounds nice to me too. But when I think about that story deeper, I get bored. I get bored because in that story I’m happy enough to stay put, satisfied in remaining my same old self, glad to be in my comfort zone…forever. In that story, there’s no reason to grow. In that story, it doesn’t make sense to contemplate, to go on quests, to seek any sort of path or connection.
When there are no challenges presented to us, there are not many opportunities to evolve. In fact, every evolutionary push that we have experienced since the beginning of time has been based on some external challenge, forcing us to move away from our comfort zones and step into a more enhanced version of ourselves. And look at how far we’ve come: if it wasn’t for those challenges, all of us would still be floating around the ocean, with no arms or legs, no way of expressing ourselves. We remember this and think, ‘I sure am glad that my ancestors have gone through all that they have so that I can be here now, wearing my Nikes, with my iPhone in one hand and my Starbucks in the other.’
Yet when hardship is thrown at us, we forget that there is some very potent life-expanding energy in there. We forget that it is a rite of passage towards our highest. We forget about the gem. We forget and we tighten. In all effort to avoid it, we shove the challenge in the closet and lock it up tight so that we don’t have to deal. But it doesn’t disappear in that closet. It waits, lurking in the darkness peering out at us through the cracks. We feel it there and hope to God it will go away or find someone else to stalk, but it doesn’t budge. Hardship does not begin to dissolve until we open the door and face it.
Facing challenge sometimes feels like standing in the middle of a highway waiting to be hit by an 18-wheeler. This is not an easy task. Facing hardship is hard. Duh. But even though it may seem easier to ignore it, I promise you that carrying the weight of it leaves you with much more work for a lot more time. This is the path of resistance. This is the path of swimming upstream, against the current. You fight and you tire, but you get nowhere. And as hard as you make it on yourself to take the path of resistance, still there is a greater shame in lugging around the dead weight of the challenges you have not dealt with: for this route never leads you to the gem of evolution within.
And so, it is up to you. Ahhh, what a blessing it is to be human: to have a choice in deciding how to respond to what life gives us. There is a choice between carrying the back-breaking weight of your challenges with you as you walk upon this earth or seeing through challenge with deep recognition that within it lies a pull toward your higher self. Your response is your choice. And what comes after will be the difference between you standing still and rigid, feeling heavy and broken or breaking out of your old skin and stepping toward a higher version of you. It is a choice to respond to hardship by standing tall, having the courage to be knocked over, and then – when the time is right – to begin unwinding and untying the binds of the challenge until you are able to see and embody the gem within.
Life knows when you are ready for change. Maybe you’ve seen much more hardship than you would ever wish on anyone. Perhaps you’re trying to orient through a dark storm as we speak.
As one human to another, I feel you.
My heart goes out to you.
This is your initiation.
For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends Sacred Woman: A Guide to Healing the Feminine Body, Mind, and Spirit.
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