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a rant on faith and fear
how my reality is shifting before me.
i think i cried so much that something broke inside me. i realized just how powerful my mind was and how much it had controlled my reality. i made myself completely sick and sad over the stress and anxiety and worry of so many things that it actually paralyzed me.
i got stuck in this cycle of feeding my ego every negative thing it wanted to hear from self-criticism to external hate and judgement. my brain didn’t want to take in any information that could have calmed me down and set me straight. there was a ravenous weight on my chest that wanted to be fed. there was a backwards satisfaction to the unbearable pressure of heartbreak and grief and anger residing there that i didn’t want to let go of. i wanted to ball it up into a pit of anger and suffering and tragedy big enough for me to pick up and throw at God and say, see, this is why life is so hard, this is why you’re so unjust, this is why people are suffering, this is why people don’t love you. maybe if i concentrated enough suffering into one spot it would actually catch God’s eye. from far away, he’d notice the glint of a whole lot of sadness and think, oh, that’s not what I intended; has all that suffering been there all along? I must not have noticed it among all these people; I didn’t mean to sprinkle in so much suffering into this timeline. then he’d straighten things out one by one. he’d cure this and that; he’d reunite the long-lost ones; he’d match us up with the people that love us the way we want to be loved. death and disease and discomfort and disharmony would start to feel like an afterthought, not things to grapple with and overcome every day.
only that’s not what happened. after tears and tears and endless tears, i realized it had all been in my head. my mind created a reality that it wanted solved exactly the way that it thought was best. it didn’t want God’s input or wisdom; it didn’t want the humbling conversations with my partner that showed me where i had gone wrong; it didn’t want to learn to choose bravery and increase my tolerance for new experiences; it didn’t want to step outside of my comfort zone and realize what was on the other side; it didn’t want to take responsibility to risk taking the blame, being a failure, being incapable; it didn’t want to let go of all the icky illusions i was grasping tightly to my chest, ready to shove them in God’s face as proof that this world just sucks; it didn’t want to entertain the possibility that these self-sabotaging beliefs were rooted in pride and stubbornness and a bit of trauma. maybe they had been planted by coping mechanisms and the effort to make sense of the world, but they had been watered and nurtured by spirits of bitterness and resentment and arrogance.
something in me had been waiting for the famous “when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing” shift. well, it happened. apparently, i didn’t want to sell myself short and go on changing before i really had to. my negative, cynical, self-sabotaging beliefs had been quite comfortable. they buoyed my ego and reinforced the usual behaviors and fortified the ol’ neural pathways. only, that’s not all they did. they darkened my worldview, tinted synchronicities with skepticism, fringed my good days with anxiety, filled my relationships with doubt, permeated my accomplishments with criticism. the comfort of my ego feeling like it was on a roll blinded me from the day-to-day agony that the reality of my beliefs caused.
my subconscious thought the safest path forward was to reinforce what it knew—i kept on believing what it told me until the underbelly of those beliefs actually became exposed. i continued giving in to all my doubts and fears, thinking they would keep me safe and sound in their familiarity; but instead, my surrendering to them revealed to me what they really were. and what they were making of me. i followed these corrupt belief systems to the end of their rope and discovered that that’s all they were. an end. a barrenness. disparity. nothingness. these beliefs would ultimately take me absolutely nowhere and make of me absolutely nothing.
there wasn’t even the glimmer of hope that resides in the unknown.
i barely stopped to reflect on this shift before acting on it. instinctively, i let my day flow. i immediately began to trust.
the morning plans shifted from intimate time with family to socializing with a crowd of relatives. what would have caused stress and guilt and indecisiveness simply became a chance to practice flexibility as i course-corrected to host family members, knowing i ultimately had the freedom to guide my day. my intuition seemed elated to be kicked into gear, animating my choices and desires with clarity and confidence.
as i snacked in my parent’s kitchen after the impromptu family brunch had died down, i read in a local magazine that a Native American festival was happening 15 minutes from my house. i would arrive just as it was ending so i decided to go. i spent the next hour soaking up the stories of a Native American Indian woman while she packed up a countless amount of her beautiful display pieces. she bounced between stories of childhood, her current career, her people’s history, and the meaning behind the items on the table. she told me why she brought the small model longhouse, how she made the giant headdress of turkey feathers, and the importance of the materials composing the cross around her neck. she shared stories from boarding schools, how her people were nearly wiped out by the disease spread to them from European immigrants, how the Wyandotte tribe was moved and kicked out and moved again from their home in Canada to the Dakotas to Ohio. she shared how people dug up the graves of her ancestors and filed away the bones of children for research and safe keeping. on this particular day, thousands of bones being filed away, a gust of wind swept through, blanketing them in the dust of their ancestors. i stood and listened and soaked it all in, my cup overflowing with gratitude.
my day continued to flow. the inevitable contrasts and conflicts seemed to slide right off me. i had a deeper trust that everything was happening the way it was meant to, even when it was uncomfortable. i spent the evening at a hole in the wall listening to troubled comedians tear themselves down with rehearsed jokes. i chuckled a couple times each set and mostly felt sad for them. i didn’t take their struggles to heart or store them in that heavy place in my chest for a future day when i would shake my fist at God and say, see, look at what you’re putting your people through. i had realized i needed a place to put this sadness—somewhere outside of myself. i realized Mother Earth and God were both fully capable of soaking up the sadness and tragedy and holding it even better than i could, caring about the injustices better than i could, seeing people in their suffering better than i could see them. they had been practicing their whole existence, while i had been barely mustering through, stumbling under the impossible weight of it all—i hadn’t realized all along it wasn’t actually mine to carry.
when i made it home, i was filled with the energy, enthusiasm, and confidence of having stepped outside my comfort zone, socialized with strangers (i walked away unscathed…), discovered a new pocket of my hometown, and, most importantly, allowed my day to be guided from faith instead of fear.
it’s possible that this grace-filled weekend of flow won’t become the norm immediately. it’s possible that it will take years of practice to feel this in-tune and this aligned when i’m having a bad day.
what i do know is that i’m capable of choosing it. i’m capable of offering to the earth all the tragedies that would otherwise weigh me down. i’m capable of recognizing the cycle of self-sabotage before putting it into action. i’m capable of surrendering to the flow of life and trusting that there’s a higher power working all things for my good. even if that’s not true and the world is a nihilistic, evil place, i don’t actually enjoy living in that reality. i’d rather live a life of ignorant bliss, believing that we’re all extensions of an enigmatic source of love we can choose to be tapped into and animated by. i think life will be a lot more fun if i operate from this belief system instead.