More often than most of us care to tell, we run into unwanted moments that seem to challenge the very fabric of our being. Almost anything can be the proverbial straw that breaks us: a friend’s betrayal, loss of health or a loved one, unexpected financial strain.
Even a shattered dream can throw us into a dark nightmare. Certainly, no one gets out of his or her bed in the morning thinking, “Today I hope to encounter impossible circumstances!”
It is well known that storm-tossed waves often expose new treasures along the shoreline; there is unexpected wealth to be collected by those who know the secret value of rough seas. And yet, even though most of us have little tolerance for anything that “rocks our boat,” the truth of the matter is self-evident:
Unwanted moments introduce us to parts of ourselves that would otherwise never get healed were it not for the difficulties that first reveal them, and that lead us to release their pain.
The problem is that, when things go “badly,” we tend to do battle! Hoping to put right what’s perceived as having gone wrong, we work to rebuild our former sense of self by struggling to restore what life has washed away. But each time we resist life in this way, we miss uncovering a new and fearless understanding that is the greatest treasure of all:
The only reason life changes as it does is to reveal the secret goodness underlying those same changes.
When things go “badly” for us, we’re not intended to “return” to who and what we have been. To see the good in this idea, we must be willing to see that the pain in unwanted moments can either be a rock into which we crash time and time again — a tempest without termination — or that same suffering can be used as an inflection point, a place of real change that exists only when all seems lost. Let’s look at a simple illustration to illuminate this idea.
When the right two stones are struck together, a spark will appear; there is a flash of light. This same principle holds true whenever we “collide” with life. In that instant parts of us that we’ve never seen before are illuminated. For instance, who hasn’t crashed into that dreaded moment when we realize that someone we love has had a change of heart towards us?
Suddenly we see, perhaps for the first time, how painfully dependent we had become upon his or her company or approval and — connected to that same fearful neediness — our willingness to compromise ourselves, to do whatever it takes to keep that relationship in place.
It’s this “spark” — the light of this new and higher self-awareness — that is our real friend in unwanted moments. It reveals what is concealed within us, releasing us from the psychic bondage of serving what had been secretly limiting our right to live without fear.
If we will fan this spark of inner light, embrace instead of resist what it reveals about us, it becomes a kind of spiritual fire — a higher level of awareness that will always help us to see the secret goodness in seemingly “bad” moments.
In this way we discover behind every bitter disappointment lives the presence of a sweet light whose power can turn any unwanted event into a new kind of victory not yet imagined.
Let me share three ideas with you about this strange and wonderful kind of spiritual goodness that seems to arrive in a package marked: “Caution! Contents under pressure!” Welcome their light into your life and you will learn to exchange resistance to unwanted moments for being receptive to the lessons they bring with them. Soon you will know, without taking thought, the greatest secret in the universe:
All things good come to those for whom the Good is all things.
1. Even though we may feel bad when we lose whatever we hold near and dear to ourselves, it is good to see that nothing in this world — or that we can imagine — is permanent. Learning to welcome events fostering this understanding helps liber-ate us from painful attachments to relationships, possessions, and of course, our own bodies. What follows is freedom from all forms of false dependency and their attending fears.
2. Even though we may feel bad when our sense of self-worth is shaken by events, it is good to see in these experiences that any sense of self derived through images, social powers, acclaim, or peer approval is not who we really are. Learning to welcome events revealing this truth helps free us from the impossible task of trying to be all things to all people and strengthens our intention to realize our unshakable original Self.
3. Even though we may feel bad when we run into a limitation of some kind, it is good to see that, apart from the certainty behind our own pressing demands on life, nothing else stands in our way. Learning to welcome events that illuminate this new understanding reveals two key lessons about limitless living.
The more we resist seeing our own limitations, the greater they become! When we realize this truth, we see limitations are illusions: they exist only for as long as we resist going through what we must to prove them false.
There is an old proverb that goes something like this: “God never takes anything from us without giving us something greater in return.” The task for those of us who seek the life divine — those who seek to live from their original fearless Self — is to prove the trust of this timeless idea. Through it, we are set free.
(Excerpted from The Courage to Be Free, Weiser Books, 2010)
Guy Finley is the best-selling author of more than 40 books and audio albums on self-realization. He is the founder and director of Life of Learning Foundation, a nonprofit center for self-study located in southern Oregon where he gives talks four times each week. For more information visit www.guyfinley.org, and sign up to receive a free helpful newsletter emailed to your desktop once each week.