Many years ago I fell and hurt myself. Badly. My mother had been unloading groceries from the trunk of the car when my 7-year-old niece rushed out to meet her. She put her hands in the trunk and my mother, not seeing her, slammed the lid down on my niece’s fingers.
Her cries were excruciating and I, envisioning she had lost her fingers, dashed down the deck steps to help.
Instead of helping, however, I made things worse. I ran so fast I tripped over loose gravel and went flying into the air, landing on my chin and then my nose. Rising unsteadily from the ground, I was a bloody mess.
We trekked off to the hospital ER where my niece was proclaimed good as new.
I, on the other hand, needed considerable mending. Every part of my body hurt. I had sprained arms, shoulders and my face had puffed up and turned shades of deep purple and blue. I was going to have to rest and let myself heal. Most of all, I was going to have time to reflect.
As I rested in bed, I asked myself what I was supposed to learn from this experience. The lessons flooded into my soul.
I had been in a stuck place for some time, hesitant to make some major life decisions. I came to realize that the experience was a blessing, calling me to decide where I “stood” in life. Did I really want to “step” forward or was fear paralyzing me?
I also looked at where I was “grounding” myself. Was it in the Divine within me, or was it in my ego, in the business of saving others when there were parts of myself I needed to save first? Most of all, could I love myself for what I had just experienced and grow from it without “falling” into blame?
The major lesson, of course, was the realization that I had been trying to take care of others, to save them. Instead, I needed to focus on my own journey and that when I took care of myself, everything fell into place and I didn’t “fall” in place.
All of us have faced “something” in our lives. It may be traumatic, such as the death of a loved one, loss of a job, a divorce, a life-threatening illness. Or, it may be smaller in scope, such as a week-long flu or a broken leg. Whatever “it” is, the experience is there to love us and teach us.
This can be difficult to accept, because being human, we don’t want pain. We want it to go away so we can go about our lives the way they were before. We want to stay in our stuckness because it’s comfortable.
At that time in my life I thought I had learned all these lessons — learned how to trust and let go. To accept.
Now, as I look back, I smile. Obviously, I hadn’t. As I mended I came to understand that learning is never done and over with.
Sometimes we felt we had learned what we needed and tackled a huge area of growth — such as losing weight, quitting smoking, or exercising and meditating daily — but then, during a time of stress or vulnerability we slipped back to old behaviors.
Ironically I was learning that this was also part of the learning. That as humans, we are constantly evolving; we are never static.
The good news is that when we feel we have gone backwards, we really haven’t. We can never go back to where we’ve been because every experience changes us. We are no longer the same.
Therefore, we are responding to each experience in a new and different way because we are new and different. It can’t be the same because we are not the same.
As a result, our soul is asking us to look at our situation from this newer perspective, calling us ever deeper into our own unique truth and wholeness. And only we can decide and know what it is we need to grow within us.
Right now, as I care for my father who had a stroke, I find that again I am in a space of learning, to find balance between his care and self-care. But this time, I know I have new strengths and tools to move forward.
I may fall to the metaphorical ground at times when I don’t focus on self-nurturing, but I also know I am no longer who I was those many years ago. I know that now I am “grounded” more deeply in the sacred and in past experiences that have taught me well.
It’s never easy. None of it. But if we can indeed bless whatever is happening, no matter how painful, it’s a gift with much to teach us. If we allow it. It is a step forward into acceptance. It is a falling into grace of the most amazing kind.