This spiritual/human journey isn’t all joy, happiness, faith, and miracles. It isn’t all positivity and “manifesting” every good thing you dream of. It is not all peace and zen, “love and light.” It certainly isn’t all “The Secret” or “The Law of Attraction” and holding positive feelings and intentions. Have you noticed? I’m trying hard to not use profanity here, but I want to acknowledge in the most clear and real way possible, that sometimes it just f-ing sucks!
The spiritual/human journey is more like an amusement park. There’s the “Sit and Spin” where you seem to be going around in meaningless, dizzying circles. There’s the roller coaster, where you have your ups and downs, sometimes violently jerking you around – just when you think you’re riding high, you go plunging terrifyingly toward the ground. Something inside of you trusts that you won’t actually hit the ground, but there are still moments where you feel your heart in your throat and an adrenaline rush that can floor you.
There are the funhouse mirrors where you and everyone and everything look distorted and you can’t quite get your bearings or your focus. It’s not fun when your perspective feels like it’s slipped and you feel completely disoriented. There’s the spiral ride, where you keep spiraling up, going through the same issues at increasingly high levels. There’s the drop tower where you go all the way up … you’re riding high, peacefully enjoying the view … then the bottom falls out and you go plunging down and there’s nothing you can do but hang on and hope/pray you survive.
There’s the carnival food that seems fun, but leaves you feeling queasy. You get the picture – digesting the experiences of life doesn’t always feel good, no matter how much we meditate or pray or try to bypass our experiences with spiritual principles. Sometimes human life is just painful, no matter what we try to do to alleviate that pain – no matter what crystals we hold, or Tarot/Oracle cards we pull, or spiritual circles we have supporting us. Sometimes we simply have to face the “dark night of the Soul” – and just be in it without any defenses or comfort. Sometimes it’s a series of small/medium challenges, the cumulative effect of which can feel overbearing, causing us to feel like we can’t catch a break and things will never get better.
And yes, there is always something to be grateful for. And yes, sometimes gratitude can pull us out of these dark places. Sometimes, though, it feels like we’re climbing up a slippery slide – and there’s never a place to rest. If we stop carefully hanging on, we’ll slide right back down into the mess … and it’s exhausting always trying to hang on. Do you know that feeling? You just want to be able to find some stable ground where you can lie down and rest? Just to catch your breath. Just to have some peace and quiet – to get off the rides for a minute, to stop feeling like you have to struggle and fight all of the time. You know that feeling?
I did this guided gratitude meditation the other day – and when I pressed the “gratitude button” deep in my “heart sanctuary,” I was surprised at the flood of images that came to me. It wasn’t all love and light. It wasn’t just the happy moments and my favorite people. There were scenes of a whole spectrum of feelings, from joy to pleasure to grief to fear to love. There were people I love, yes, but also people who have harmed me, betrayed me, and whom I thought I had shut out of my heart. But right there in my heart space, in my gratitude space, were all of the people and experiences that had shaped my life (in what I would call “good” and “bad” ways) – and there was an ineffable sense of peace and love about it all. It was a beautiful experience.
I am not miraculously healed from my feelings about the people and things that have caused me pain. I have gained some insight and been able to see the beauty of it all, to connect with a river of peace and knowing deep inside of me. I am able to bring some more gentleness and compassion back with me to apply into my life. I can intellectually understand that everything has its own beauty and purpose and that everything works out in Divine Right Order and Timing. That doesn’t necessarily translate into me feeling any better about my past or current struggles, pain, and disappointment. It doesn’t exactly alleviate my fears or allay the desperate urges that wash over me to just give up, just let go. Sometimes all I can do is keep breathing and wait for the feelings to pass. That doesn’t, by the way, mean that I’m “failing” at spirituality. If you’re struggling, it doesn’t mean you’re failing. It just means you’re normal. And human.
I love “love and light,” don’t get me wrong. I find great comfort and pleasure in spiritual connection, in meditation, in various forms of inspiration. I enjoy communing with my Angels and Spirit Guides. I treasure my crystals and candles, Oracle cards and essential oils. Being out in Nature fills me. Sometimes I am filled to overflowing with the gratitude of just Be-ing. Sometimes my heart feels so expansive in love of life. Yes, yes, yes (!!!) to all of that! YES! In this moment, I am looking out my window at a beautiful sky filled with puffy white clouds that feel joyous and uplifting and peaceful to me. When I’m done writing, I’m just going to sit watching the clouds for a little while, feeling immersed in the serenity that provides for me. AND …
Even though I’m feeling this moment of wonder, peace, and tranquility – this sense of “All is well with my Soul” – I’m also still feeling some angst, agitation, and a despair that I can’t even put into words. I’m feeling hopeful, excited, guided and protected – and also sad, tired, and very alone. Even as I say that, I have an awareness that I’m not alone – that I have circles of friends and loved ones connected by love – and a whole team of Angels and Guides and my Soul Council, who love me unconditionally. I know that love. I feel that love. And, I still have plenty of moments where I feel disconnected, alone and separate.
I think that for many, there’s an expectation of all being “love and light” – the belief system that if we just visualize and feel and believe in the “right” ways – if we are just “good enough” at our spiritual practices, then we will “manifest” only/all good things in our lives. And that, my friends, is dangerous bull-hockey. There isn’t light without the dark. There isn’t happiness without sadness. And there are no guarantees in this life. Sometimes Life has lessons for us that we need to learn – and that we cannot wave a magic wand and dismiss ourselves from that life lesson, no matter how ardently we try. Sometimes no matter how much good we do in the world, Life still knocks us down. I suppose there’s a reason for that, a purpose. It still feels like hell, though, doesn’t it?
Sometimes we do everything “right” – and we still can’t manifest a Soul Mate or a job to save our lives (welcome to my current life). It can be super-frustrating. We can rail against God/Goddess/The Universe/Life (whatever you want to call the Higher Power/organizing Force of the Universe). We can scream into the abyss. We can angrily demand a divorce from our Angels, who clearly aren’t doing their job (!!!). None of this makes a difference. Life still goes on, indifferent to our tumult of emotions and existential crises. Our Angels keep loving us and looking out for us, no matter our temper tantrums and lack of appreciation.
We have moments of spiritual awareness and connection. We have moments of bliss and joy. We have times where we notice signs and synchronicities and feel guided and held. And we have times where we feel alone and abandoned, disillusioned and in despair. It’s ALL part of the spiritual/human journey. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re doing it “wrong.” Your journey is your journey. It will have its ups and downs. Give yourself lots of grace and compassion. This living isn’t easy! Ask for help when you need it. Be willing to reach out, to give and to receive. Notice that last part – and to receive. So many people think that the spiritual journey is just about giving – that to be “good” we have to sacrifice our selves. NO. It’s about balance. It’s about honoring our selves and loving our selves and each other the best we can in each moment (and sometimes our best totally sucks! – it’s okay!). Sometimes life is joyous and sometimes it’s f-ing hard. Yes, sometimes it is love and light. But sometimes it’s shadow and darkness and despair. Just hang on, hang in there the best you can. The wheel is always turning. You can’t see from here what new joys await ahead.