Everything’s Gonna Be Alright

this-too-shall-passMaybe it was my new header photo, taken in Jamaica by one of my students, that inspired me to recall the Bob Marley song, Everything’s Gonna Be Alright. The lyrics popped into my mind yesterday while I sat at the kitchen table paying bills. Outside, dark clouds covered the sky and nearly two feet of snow covered the ground. I should have been depressed, but I felt hopeful.

For a long time, I’ve felt rather hopeless and stuck. I won’t bore you as to why, but suffice to say that if there is a purgatory on earth, it seemed I was in it. Then on this dreary day, hope and Bob Marley’s lyrics filled me. The sense that I was reaching the end of a dark period has been slowly infiltrating my psyche of late, and in that moment I felt the light at the end of the tunnel beckoning me. I am embracing this light with open arms and resolve that I am worthy of it. This last is important because if we don’t feel worthy of something, we are far less likely to get it.

We all go through mini, and sometimes extended, purgatories, stuck and dark periods from which we can’t seem to escape. Maybe they are needed to process trauma or grief. Maybe they are an incubation period for new growth. Maybe they exist so we can appreciate the beauty of life when the light returns.

If you’re feeling stuck and/or hopeless right now, take heart: This, too, shall pass. The light will return in your life and everything will be all right. If you don’t believe me, take Bob Marley’s word for it.

How can anyone not feel happy listening to this song? Thank you, Mr. Marley, for sharing your beautiful spirit with the world through your music.

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The Devil Disguised As Fear

“What if I fall? Oh but my darling, what if you fly?” ~ Erin Hanson

Sometimes it’s a nagging sensation of unease in my belly.  Other times it flat out wakes me in the middle of the night from a sound sleep and won’t let me rest. It makes me do crazy things, like fight with my husband over money and contemplate leaving him. Too often it keeps me stuck, small, and afraid to take risks.

“It” is fear, and I’m convinced it’s the devil in disguise.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve lived with some level of chronic fear.  In an attempt to analyze why,  I’ve concluded that the opposite of fear is faith. Apparently, I don’t have as much of the latter as I thought, and that’s the problem.

When it comes to faith, whether related to pursuing  my dreams, leaving a job that’s draining me, trusting my husband to provide, or turning hobbies and passions into a livelihood, nearly always I let fear win out over faith.

Part of me wants so much to believe that God will swoop in and catch me as I take a leap of faith, and the angels will sing, because finally I have stopped being afraid and trusted in a higher power and purpose. A larger part is convinced that if I step off the edge my entire world will come crashing down.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. Too many of us let fear rule our lives. We play it safe, stay stuck, reason and rationalize our God-given talents, gifts, and dreams away.

Living with fear is the equivalent of letting the devil rule our lives. It keeps us small and in check by keeping us frightened. Each time we give in to fear, we let the devil win and take one more piece of our soul.

Faith, on the other hand, is trusting in a higher power to guide us to our greatest potential. Each time we act with faith, love and courage, in spite of fear, we let God win.

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This disturbing image of the devil and Jesus arm wrestling comes via ebay.com.

Recently, I was reminded of this when I found myself on an online forum after Googling “How to get my husband to support my career change” (as if the Internet can answer this question for me). A woman had posed a similar question about leaving her job, and received dozens of responses. The vast majority of them were rooted in fear-based “what-ifs”.

What if, someone said, you leave your job and then your husband loses his? What if one of you gets sick? What if you need to go back to work and can’t find a job? What if, what if, what if…

This woman was miserable in her job, longing to be home more to care for her small children, and seeking the support of her life partner in creating a life worth living – and she was being told not only that she shouldn’t even consider taking a step toward her soul’s calling, but that she was selfish for wanting to do so.

Too many people are living lives of misery and/or mediocrity, not fulfilling their potential, and encouraging others to do the same, all based on a bunch of hypothetical, fear-based “what-ifs”.  How crazy is that?

We need to stop the madness, one person at a time, beginning with ourselves.

Let’s each pick one thing today that we’re afraid of, however large or small, and start working hard to overcome it through faith. Let’s trust in a higher power and purpose, and in the beauty, bounty, and goodness of the universe. Let’s believe with our whole heart that loving arms will catch us when  finally we take the leap.

 

Proof of Faith

A book on meditation, a prayer to St. Jude, and a mustard seed. Alone these things might be brushed off as strange coincidences; combined, they are nothing short of a series of small miracles designed to send me a message from beyond. Of this, I am convinced.

The book on meditation suddenly appeared on the tank of my downstairs toilet last month. To this day, not one person in my household can explain how it got there. It had been sitting on a closet shelf in an upstairs bedroom for years, forgotten.

In and of itself this was strange, but even more eerie was that the night before I found it, I’d committed to beginning 21 consecutive days of meditation, yoga, and journaling in an effort to turn inward for answers to my life’s problems. From prior experience, I knew the most important aspect of this challenge was the daily meditation.

And here was a book on the topic, given to me by my meditation teacher, whose guru from India had written it, suddenly appearing out of nowhere. I nearly brushed off the incident, for no other reason than I couldn’t explain it, but then the prayer to St. Jude happened.

On Monday, while I was home from work due to a snow day, I was reading through old personal journals in between doing housework, as part of my quest to do some self-examination. I’d been feeling desperate because once again my husband lost a great paying job and the new one is not paying well. I could feel myself sliding into fear mode.

I started to vacuum, but the machine suddenly stopped working. It does this sometimes when it’s over-heated. So I sat down and starting flipping through a journal from 2008. On one of the pages I’d written the Prayer to Saint Jude. Hope suddenly ran through me. I tore out the page, said the prayer, then put it aside and tried the vacuum again. It still wouldn’t work.

The phone rang. I kid you not – I swear on my life – on the caller ID were the words “St. Jude”. Yes, I have donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital before, and they do call fairly often, but still…

I picked up the phone, politely listened to the woman, and promised to donate. Then I got off and immediately called my closest girlfriend, the one who wouldn’t think I was crazy, who would believe me, who didn’t question that the meditation book had appeared out of nowhere.

I took this incident as proof that St. Jude was letting me know he’d heard my prayer.

Now for the mustard seed. I’ve been thinking a lot about fear lately. I ended up writing a blog post about how the opposite of fear is faith, and that I needed more of the latter (yet to be posted). Anyway, my son goes to parochial school and every Thursday night he must study for Friday’s religion test. Usually we read his religious text together for this purpose.

About a month ago, we read a story that included a mustard seed, which I learned is a symbol of faith in God. It was then that my son told me his teacher had given a mustard seed to him and each of his classmates a while ago, but that he’d lost it. He explained that it was very tiny, which was why he lost it.

Again, on Monday (so much gets accomplished on snow days), I was surfing the Internet and came across a blog post about mustard seeds and faith that included a picture of one. I called Christian over to show him, and to tell him that I understood how he could lose his mustard seed, because they really are so very tiny.

Once again, I kid you not – I swear on my life – yesterday morning, as we’re preparing to leave for school and work, my son says to me, “Mom, I found my mustard seed.” It was deep in the pocket of his uniform pants. For some reason he decided to stick his hand in the pocket and viola – the mustard seed! Those pants have been washed so many times, yet there it was, the near-microscopic seed, back in the hand of its owner. Even my son thought it was kind of a miracle.

That was the final straw for me. There is no doubt these events are far more than coincidences. A higher power is telling me that I am on the right track, that He hears my prayers, and that I need to have faith.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.