Posted November 23, 2013on:
Alright guys, a quick warning right up front, this one is a bit spiritual (in case the title didn’t give that away) so those of you who are all “ewwww God” you might want to skip this one. On the opposite side of the spectrum, those of you who have rather rigid views of religion may also want to avoid this….as many of you are aware my own concept of religion is cobbled together from the pieces of various traditions that resonate with me specifically and not necessarily strictly in line with that dictated by any one particular organized religion or denomination of a religion. Okay, warning over on to the real stuff.
There’s a Jewish proverb (and I suspect versions of this same thing exist in other traditions, but this is the one I’m familiar with) that states “Ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders.” This has always resonated with me as I don’t really picture god as some sort of overworked office manager in the sky dealing with an overloaded inbox (now I’m picturing Jim Carey in Bruce Almighty lol!). For the most part I don’t think God interferes too much with our day to day existences….the bigger picture, however, that’s God’s domain. So while I don’t think God is worried about individual stressors and pains in our lives, I do believe that he gives us the tools to deal with them. Sometimes (in fact quite frequently) I think that those tools are given to us through the very trials and tribulations which we are normally so quick to bemoan.
I’m definitely not perfect and I’ll admit there were definitely times I’ve prayed to get a certain job or to avoid a particular hardship. In the cases where I’ve asked for something (like a specific job) I’ve frequently not received it….and those few times I did I quite quickly learned that it really wasn’t a good fit for me and I would have been better off pursuing something else. The lesson I learned from all of this was that I don’t always have the big picture view of my life and destiny that God does and don’t really have very much business meddling in it. So rather than asking for specifics I’ve learned to ask for two related but still very different things. When facing a decision I’ve learned to ask for insight and guidance. I don’t always get it, but a surprising amount of time when I ask I do in fact receive it.
Second, and I think most importantly, rather than asking to be relieved of a certain burden I’ve asked instead that I be allowed to understand at some point in time why it was that I was given the burden to bear. I’ve been amazingly blessed in that regard. While I’ve sometimes had to wait years or even decades for the answer, I have in fact discovered many of those answers. Those that I haven’t yet learned the answer to I’m assuming I’m simply not ready for.
To some this view on life would be extremely simplistic and naive. Others would say that it abdicates responsibility for my own destiny. Still others would say that I shouldn’t even be asking for the things I do. I won’t call them little things because in fact I think a request for understanding of meaning is a HUGE thing and quite a bit to ask of God. I’m extremely grateful that my request has been granted so frequently.
To those who ask for more trust in a higher power and fewer answers I don’t really have a good response. I’m simply not built that way and if we presume that we’re all constructed the way we are for a reason, then I think that’s probably answer enough.
To those who think I’m naive and simplistic or not taking enough responsibility for myself….well my viewpoint leaves plenty of room for making your own decisions and mistakes (in fact it virtually demands it). It’s simply a perspective that allows for the idea that there is greater meaning to our existence than simply plugging through the daily grind. It allows for an understanding that not everything in our lives will go perfectly, that we will have times of struggle and times of failure and it makes each of those things okay….a normal part of our existence as humans. Most importantly it allows for a perspective of self-compassion.
We each have to find our own answers to the big questions in life, a defining framework for our existence. I think that finding something that you can truly believe in and live with, whatever that may be, makes it easier to live consciously; to connect with your own values; provide a foundation for the major decisions in our lives; and finally impart our “auto-pilot” with functional programming the daily activities that we go through sub-consciously.