There is an assumption back in the depths of our minds. For many of us it just stands to reason spiritual life exists to make our lives better. We tend to equate “better” with “easier.”
It is not that we never want anything difficult to happen to us. We do feel, at some level, there should be a reward for practicing behavior which strengthens spiritual life. Maybe spiritual life might limit or reduce our pain and suffering.
Our experience does not seem to become easier as we open ourselves to spiritual life. If anything, spiritual life might make things more challenging.
As we practice spiritual disciplines we come to see things in new light. We begin to appreciate spiritual life is not a reward we receive. Those who appear to pay no attention to Sacred truths still have extravagant ways of life.
People who put little effort into spiritual reflection do not seem to suffer more than those who do. If anything, their lack of reflection might allow them to enjoy life more.
How Are We Holding On?
The people who take spiritual life seriously do not look like they are prospering more. Those who appear to ignore spiritual life do not seem to be suffering more.
We feel that neither strikes us as fair nor encourages us to become resilient.
The fact is we do not become resilient because life is easy. Our resilience grows stronger as we deal with difficulties.
One of the many ironies of spiritual life is we learn to hold on as we are faced with needing to let go.
Our expectations tell us spiritual life will solve our problems and smooth our lives. We presume everything will be resolved when we are relaxed and centered. One of the challenges we face is we expect to achieve, to earn spiritual life.
The fact is spiritual life is already all around us and within us. We struggle to learn how to live this spiritual life. As we learn to let go of distractions and dead ends, spiritual life becomes alive in us.
We believe resilience, like our other strengths, is inherent in our lives. In fact we develop the skills and qualities in our lives as we are challenged. Resilience does not flow naturally from our hearts. We discover and strengthen it like a muscle.
Our personalities may or may not be naturally inclined toward resilience. Whatever resilience is within us becomes stronger as we learn how to hold on well.
One significant factor in learning how to hold on is recognizing how and when we let go.
Learning to Let Go
We believe in our own assessment of our abilities. Part of our belief is an unwillingness to exceed the limits we impose on ourselves. We think we understand what we can do and are not willing to push ourselves further. Exceeding the limits we believe we have makes us uncomfortable.
Throughout our lives we gain experience which teaches us we are more than we expect.
We cannot hold onto everything all at the same time. We learn how to hold on wisely and well by learning when and how to let go.
There is an intricate relationship between holding on and letting go we need to explore. We are not able to understand it by merely analyzing or thinking about it. It is something we need to practice.
It is in struggling to hold on that I learn the most about the value of letting go. Recognizing the importance of letting go teaches me the deepest truths about holding on.
The Ironies of Spiritual Life
One of the things I find attractive and challenging about spiritual life is how ironic it can be. Spiritual life confounds our assumptions and expectations. It is always more than we thought, always beyond our control.
Many people find spiritual life elusive and difficult to grasp. It may feel conceptual or ethereal, like smoke in the wind.
We cannot hold onto spiritual life by trying to control it. It is beyond our control and always will be. The key to getting a handle on spiritual life is letting go of our need to control it.
The ironies of spiritual life can make it feel difficult to understand. Like many valuable parts of our lives, it is not an academic subject we can learn about in theory. Spiritual life is not an experiment, but a relationship.
As we enter this relationship in more depth we learn to let go of what we expected. We learn how to become intimate through practice.
The struggle to learn how and when to let go teaches us how and when to hold on. Resilience is revealed to us in our balance between holding on and letting go.
We find the balance and continue growing. We push through the rocky soil into the light.