From the School of Pain to the School of Vision
Always there and waiting for an invitation from us, the Grace of God is truly the answer to our prayers and beseechings. When we embrace the Grace of God we are no longer forced to learn our life lessons at the mercy of pain, but we are open to living life guided by Vision and Inspiration.
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Many, many of us have struggled with some aspect of lack in our lives — not enough time, opportunities, food, well-being, quality relationships, education, money, friends, etc., etc. Whether we realize it or not, we have been using the pain of those “apparent” conditions as a very powerful teacher so that we may learn to know Oneness in God. Rather than allowing Vision to pull us into awareness of how beautiful, powerful, wonderful and holy we are, we have chosen to be pushed into that awareness through pain, believing that we are separate from the Infinite Source of all. Exquisitely tormented by the pain of not enough love, time, money and/or health we have been forced to resort to one or more of the following human solutions to our suffering:
• We create addictions to work, drugs, food, alcohol, or sex to numb the pain; or
• We live lives of quiet desperation, feeling like this condition must be the punishment we deserve for being such bad people, and hoping that by some miracle it will all go away; or
• We grovel around for yet one more solution we can impose that will “fix” the situation or make it better, such as changing jobs, trying one more health cure, divorcing our mate, etc.
Eventually, we will have exhausted any number of these methods and hit our wall. Feeling utterly defeated, we will know that the jig is up when we can’t haul our accumulated baggage forward one more step. Down on all fours under the unbearable weight of our “teacher,” pain, we can do nothing but wave the white flag of Truce and yell into the void, “I give up!” The end has finally come and we have no recourse but to “Let Go and Let God.” What an overwhelming time this is.
And what an enormously powerful time! Yes, powerful. Because it is only when our ego minds have run out of temporary solutions, avoidance patterns and rationalizations that the Mind of our Hearts can open to the Grace of God. Always there and waiting for an invitation from us, the Grace of God is truly the answer to our prayers and beseechings. When we embrace the Grace of God we are no longer forced to learn our life lessons at the mercy of pain, but we are open to living life guided by Vision and Inspiration. As one of my mentors taught me at a critical crossroad in my journey: “When you have nowhere else to turn, you are teachable.”
From the Low Road to the High road: My Personal Journey
I used to be a professional student at the School of Pain. For well over 40 years I believed that I was a helpless victim of my life circumstances and the lack of money. I was certain that I was being punished for untold sins, as I struggled to “make it” in the world. Pain became the professor in my chosen survival major — Finances. Convinced that I was helpless to solve the never-ending problem of too little salary and too many bills, I felt entirely justified in blaming my situation on all sorts of scapegoats. I claimed that I was a victim of the economy, my marital status, my sex, my education, my boss, my God (who had surely forsaken me). I held the belief that the number of dollars in my checking account defined my self-worth.
You can imagine how low my self-esteem fell during the financial ebbs of my life, such as the time when the ATM would not allow a withdrawal because my balance had fallen below $20! I also believed that all the dollars I did receive had to be earned by the sweat of my brow and that it was my lot in life to never have enough money. I just knew that life was meant to be a struggle, and then you died!
As I matriculated through the School of Pain I finally came to one accelerated course that had life-changing effects. A few years ago I found myself at the wedding celebration of my precious daughter with not a single dime to pay my way, much less contribute to her special day. Having to tell her and her wonderful husband-to-be that I had to renege on my promise to contribute to their marriage day took me down to all fours. “Oh my God,” I thought, “could I get any lower than this?” The shame and guilt I felt over earlier debt I had incurred, the bankruptcy I had declared seven years before, and the begging I had done from friends just to pay the rent all paled in comparison to the utter hopelessness and despair I felt on this occasion of the happiest day of my daughter’s life.
Reduced to ashes, I cried oceans of tears in the wee hours of that wedding day morning. “How had I gotten myself into this pathetic place?” I screamed from my inner pain-wracked self. I’ve worked so hard, raised three kids as a single mom and been a religious person — what did I do to deserve this? What am I missing? I spent the pre-dawn hours of that day submerging myself in my familiar victim mode of self-blame and self-flagellation. At one point in this vicious downward spiral, in a space between the torrent of tears and wails, I heard a soft voice say, “Be Still.” Startled, I obeyed and stopped my sobbing. “What are you grateful for right now?” the Voice quietly asked. “That I’m breathing,” is all I could answer. I felt the tiniest measure of calm inch its way through my shuddering body. “Will you surrender all your problems to Me?” the Voice asked. “And will you trust Me?” It gently inquired. “I have no choice,” I sighed. “I have nowhere else to go. I have tried every way I know to fix this endless financial mess. All I want to do right now is to enjoy being the mother of the bride,” I declared, feeling a little bit less hysterical. “Continue to be grateful and watch the miracles unfold today. Turn it all over to me and have a wonderful time,” the Voice said. “When you are grateful you open the door for My Abundance to flow into your life.”
That fateful, extraordinary day I summarily transferred from the School of Pain to the School of Vision. Little did I realize how easy it is to be accepted at this school and how welcoming it feels. I received so much support from others there that I never felt like “the new kid on the block.” And what a surprise it was to find everyone around me expressing their gratitude that I had made the decision to join them.
Attending this school guarantees every student a degree in listening with the inner ear to the Divine Plan for one’s life. Here we are taught through inspiration, intuition and imagination what our true purpose is. Here we learn to choose the high road to clarity. And here we hone the skills needed to express that clarity. By the time we graduate from the School of Vision we have recognized that the Universe is for us and that It truly works for our highest good. The diploma we receive certifies that we know with God all things are possible.
In the School of Vision my teachers have been many and my path one of joy and harmony, with only a few stumbles along the way. Through this new curriculum I have learned that what I was getting in life was determined by what I was giving out. As I gave out fear and the belief that there was not enough so was I receiving, with predictable accuracy, a life experience of fear and lack. It slowly dawned on me that I was using the Law of Giving and Receiving — “As you give, so shall you receive” — in ways that actually kept the cycle of lack going in my life. The many profound classes I have taken in the School of Vision have taught me to “give out” everything that I want returned to me, including money, laughter, healthy habits, love, compassion, peace, and harmony.
As You Give, So Shall You Receive.
The Happy Ending
It was on a cloud of profound Gratitude that I floated into the bride’s dressing room on my daughter’s wedding day — gratitude for the bride, my son-in-love to be, my two ex-husbands who were attending to last minute details, the sprays of beautiful flowers and corsages that had just been delivered, and the flush of excitement on my other children’s faces. Everywhere I looked I said, “Thank You, God!” God’s floodgates opened, the miracles poured forth and I received. Money was slipped into my hand by a wise and generous sister to pay for my hotel room. “Thank you, God!” An offer to buy my breakfast came from my loving son from across the table of 10. “Thank you, God!” An idea for the perfect gift to give the newlyweds that cost my time and my talent, yet would be priceless to them, suddenly occurred to me. “Thank you, God!” A request for my counseling services came from a guest among the crowd of friends and family at the reception. “Thank you, God!” And as I gave each prayer of Gratitude, I received even more from the Infinite One Source, God.
In the School of Vision, we are asked to “major” in 5 spiritual “Gifts” that when fully practiced will guarantee our graduation with honors. “Gifts” is an acronym for these transformational principles: Gratitude . . . Intention . . . Forgiveness . . . Tithing . . . Surrender. Why these particular “Gifts?” Because each of these “Gifts” has been carefully “test driven” for the power to shift consciousness. The ancient and modern mystics alike, no matter what their root tradition, have consistently referred to these five principles as essential disciplines in any spiritual practice. We have the power as spiritual beings to transmute the appearances of the conditions we see about us. In other words, we can use our inner eyes and hear with our inner ears and use those “senses” to see and hear beyond what is delivered by our sensory selves — our human be-ing-ness — to fully understand that we are beings of infinite possibility, unbounded by any appearance to the contrary.
The transforming power of these “Gifts” is that they allow us to move beyond the impoverished realm of appearances — namely, the data delivered by our five senses — and connect with the vast true wealth of Life that lies in the realm of the invisible, the place of Pure Potential and Pure Possibility. For example, when we are in a state of Gratitude even in the face of a painful situation, we are lifting ourselves “out of the line of fire” of that pain by choosing to enlarge our focus to the greater good (God) that is there, along with what is immediately apparent. This does not mean that we deny, minimize, or override the facts of our three-dimensional reality, but rather that we simultaneously affirm the greater Reality of which the three-dimensional is but a part.
It does mean that we have come home to the Mind of the Heart, the place where our intuitive wisdom — that “still small voice,” also referred to in the Bible as the Voice of God — resides. Here, guided by authentic Wisdom and Divine Intelligence, we cannot help but realize our greatest purpose and the reason we are here: to let God out! To BE the Abundant Divine Expression of God: “For this have we been called.”
Will you enroll in the School of Pain, or School of Vision this Fall?