Is your will your god, or are you looking at the stars?
I grew up in a household that was very focused on goals. The honoring of each member of our family was not the focus. Despite the good things that I received by growing up in that family, our family also had a sickness, a darkness. Perhaps it was my father’s darkness — for his need to achieve, and his internal struggles overshadowed the spirit of our family. Our inner worlds were not recognized or nurtured. Nor did we understand the magic of living.
When I became extremely ill 10-years ago, I didn’t know why. I had been pushing myself relentlessly. I was in a transition in my life, and I didn’t see how things were going to fall into place. It was as if I had to make everything happen myself. I pushed and pushed myself. I had a strong will and had always been able to make things happen before.
One day I collapsed. I couldn’t push anymore. I didn’t have any reserves: I had no physical strength. I had headaches, chills, and nausea. After even minor exertion, I had to lie down and recover. I had to be very careful about how I used my energy. I stopped all strenuous exercise and cut back significantly on my workload. I started seeing doctors hoping somebody could help me.
Did I make myself ill?
On occasion, people suggested that I had made myself ill. Made myself ill? How? I wasn’t depressed, and I didn’t have a bad attitude. What were they talking about? Now, years later, I understand what happened. The pieces that eluded me are becoming visible. Mine was a broader, more profound problem that was spiritual in nature. It had to do with how I understood the world. I wasn’t honoring myself. I couldn’t.
It was as if my will was the center of the universe. To feel safe, I needed to know that I could make what I needed happen. I didn’t know any other way. I didn’t know how to trust my life. I thought I was alone in my life; that life itself wouldn’t be there to assist me.
The need to navigate my life using my will alone was compelling. And although having a strong will is a useful skill, it is only part of what is needed to accomplish in the context of a whole and healthy life. My willfulness was too disconnected from the larger currents of life. I was living as if I were a machine. I was not going to be allowed to continue that way. My life had decided this for me — only I didn’t know it.
Through the years of grappling with illness, questions, diagnosis, and treatments, I struggled to find a ballast that could provide a new base for me. I could no longer take health for granted. I no longer had the physical resources to power my will.
A new understanding
Although I was on the journey to find my health, the journey itself was the teacher. Health was the outcome. What emerged for me was a new understanding of how the world works. My will is useful when I am correctly aligned with my highest good. But what if we are turned in the wrong direction? What if we’ve disconnected from the deeper currents of our lives? Sometimes we hit a dead end, and the only option is to turn around or move in a different direction.
I found that I live in a world of synchronicities. I learned that if I honor myself, the world will mirror that back to me. If I honor others, the world will also reflect that back. When I am off-balance, an event occurs to reflect that off balance. Something interesting was happening. I found each piece of my life to be alive. Each person and event has something to teach me, for if I didn’t need to learn that piece, it would not be happening.
I began to learn about divine will. What does that mean? It means if I can trust the universe, and trust that if I ask for what is in the highest interest of all, that I can get out of my own way. I can bypass my blocks, areas where I do not see, and allow the best possibility to manifest. It is knowing that underneath it all, the universe has blessed us and wants the best for us.
Given the atrocities we witness or experience, I know this is hard to believe. And yet, I find that believing so helps my life enormously. I choose to believe that which will help me get unstuck and evolve. So I must believe that the universe is good. I don’t know how else to live. To believe otherwise leaves me fearfully crouched in a corner, or pushing too hard as a way to compensate for my lack of control.
My life has become a living journey, that shifts and changes as I grow, offering new challenges, new ways of seeing, and new support. By tuning in, I am no longer in the realm of an isolated will, but the realm of relating. When I tune in, when I look at my world with respect and gratitude, I am part of a marvelous whole.
There is a universe within each of us. Within every person or animal, plant, bacteria, or star, is a vibrant and bountiful world. Looking at the outside, we see only the shell, the external form — not the incredible wealth of possibility of that being. Every time we ‘use’ someone or something without recognition of the universe inside of him or her, we are limiting the other, our world, and ourselves.
When we live in a one-person script, it is as if we are surrounded by cardboard characters put there to serve our every need. We ourselves become more limited and less able to access our spirit. The possibility of connection, love, and the recognition of the wonder of each of us is lost. It is our loss and all of our losses.
Tuning in, allows me to engage with my life in an alive way. I am able to experience more of who I am. I become responsive to my life and my life responds to me. I engage in the magic of living. It is a very different place to be than living out of one’s will.
Do you cooperate with what your life is asking of you?
The point is, we can cooperate with our lives with love, recognition, honor, and respect. Or we can plow through more unconsciously, caught in something we cannot see. As I had been doing before I got sick.
So, how are you engaging with your life? With the others in your life? With yourself? Do you know that you are a sensitive instrument that you can refine and tune until the sound you emit is pure and beautiful? Do you know that if your life is mucked up, it is on you to clear your energy, your intention, and open your heart?
I still fall off the wagon and find myself caught in old habits. I again get caught in the dilemma of push versus flow. But I know that this journey called life requires my full participation. I am not a premade mannikin deigned to populate fantasy situations, thinking that events should go my way. No, instead, I step up to the dance floor and allow the dance to emerge.
Loving yourself demands that you recognize your role in your journey. We are dancers creating magic as we open our eyes to the dark sky filled with the stars of possibility.
If you need relationship help, check out my WeConcile Blog.
If you want to learn more about family dynamics, check out The Gift of the Black Sheep.
First published in Change Your Mind Change Your Life, a Medium.com publication on October 14, 2019.