It is always a welcome moment in my life when I recognize that I have defined something based on the past, so that I can then release that meaning.The mind, in its attempts to understand the current moment, is trained to unconsciously look to the past. It finds something similar that it relates to and then we unknowingly apply meaning that is really not there! This is the general premise…
Now for the details. My upbringing consisted of a strict and heavy religious belief system, driven by intense use of guilt and punishment for sins. This is of course a fear based approach that over time, turned me away from the very religion that sustained my parents. I know that their intention was good and that they were simply repeating what they were taught. That part was easy to get over.
But what it left me with in terms of my personal belief was distance from the concept and use of the word God. For a couple of decades I chose to use the words spiritual, universe and the like to describe my personal relationship with a higher power. I both believed that I was guided and also did not believe fully in God.
So fast forwarding to last week, it dawned on me that the reason why I still was not comfortable with using the word “God” was simply because I was applying meaning from my past! How could I open up to what God really was if I kept trying to apply somebody else’s meaning to my experience! No wonder I fought it!
What a revelation! If I were to let go of that past influence and meaning, then where that left me is with the pure understanding that I really do not know what God is. That that can only be revealed to me by being in a complete state of unknowingness. God cannot be known intellectually, but from the heart, by being open to your personal experience of how God works through you.
This openness, or this space of knowing that you really don’t know is so powerful. This is the space of letting go and letting God. It is so hard to describe, yet you know it when you feel it. I had a very neat experience yesterday that may help.
I was experiencing what I call “growing pains” (we never really do fully grow up!), with what I know to be times when residual self doubts, fears, or insecurities are working their way out of me. When I have days like this, I can see how my state of mind is generally reflected in the people I encounter.
Normally when I encounter people, there is an exchange of smiling faces, of kind words, of many laughs. On days when I might be struggling, those encounters change, where when I get frustrated, people might also get frustrated with me. It makes perfect sense that the state we are in is always reflected back to us.
So back to my experience of yesterday, as I was driving to the grocery store, I was feeling this frustration, literally these pains of growing. After all this work I have done on myself how can I still be having days like this? I was not looking forward to having this state of mind reflected back to me in the people that I encountered.
As I usually do, on the 20 minute drive up, I was having prolonged discussions with myself. 🙂 Trying so hard to just choose being happy but not finding it within me. Trying so hard to identify how I was possibly feeling unsafe that I felt so guarded. I tried and tried and finally in my frustration I turned my thoughts to God.
I explained and exclaimed my frustration, but at the end I just came to the conclusion that I knew that I didn’t know. About anything in that moment. I gave up trying to understand, I gave up trying to change, I gave up trying to be different. I just gave it up to God. With a heavy heart I went into the store, determined to get in and get out as fast as I could.
Yet something really strange happened. From the very first person that I saw, I received a big, warm smile, with that person looking directly into my eyes. Then it happened again. And again. And again. That heavy heart started to pay attention and perked up. And I instantly knew what was happening.
In those moments, God was giving me what I needed. He was showing back to me my true reflection of myself through the loving eyes and smiles of strangers. I did not initiate a single one. But before this could happen, I had to let go of what I thought that anything meant of the struggles that I was having.
That is the key to all your relationships to bring that level of healing into them. To let go of the meaning that you unknowingly carry about each and every person, about each and every situation, that you unconsciously give it from your past. Especially the thoughts and the meaning that you have about yourself.
It is in that moment of ultimate frustration when you give up trying to make sense of anything, where you truly suspend all thinking, all meaning, all past association, that you open up your heart in that moment for God to come in.
As long as you hold a single thought in your mind from your past (or the future), you shut that door to God in yourself. Allow your own understanding of God and how God works through you to evolve within you. Actively watch for your thoughts from the past, how you look at people and think you know what they mean.
As I neared the end of my visit to the grocery store, I felt so uplifted by the love that was given back to me that I forgot all about my worries from the drive up. They literally melted away. I was having such a great time I even contemplated for a moment going up and down all the aisles once more just to have more such encounters! But I knew I had been given what I needed and moved on.
This is how you let go and let God.
Reprinted with permission from ‘January 19, 2011, 3:45pm.
Revelation: Do You Know How to “Let Go and Let God”?’ by Ewa Schwarz.