Lately I’ve been repeating a simple prayer: “Guide me where I need to go for my highest good and growth; show me what I need to see for my highest good and growth; grant me the breakthrough that I desire.” As I’ve settled into repeating this — at times like a mantra — I’ve started feeling a new layer of peace. I’ve always been one to believe that everything happens for our highest good and growth, but there is something deeper happening as I’ve consciously applied this prayer to my life.
Recognizing that every experience I am having is an answer to this prayer has allowed me to see what I need to see and then have the breakthroughs I desire. When I can take whatever experience is happening in my life — even those that are painful, difficult to understand, or seemingly without any merit — and view these experiences as an answer to prayer, I stop resisting what is happening. I can stop getting caught up in the drama of my life, stop trying to change it, and stop being disappointed by it.
Relaxing into acceptance of what is happening isn’t always easy, but when I’m able to do this, I find incredible peace. This requires me to stop fighting my experience, stop reading into and trying to control it. When I look for the lessons the present is offering me, then I can incorporate what I am learning into my future and let go of the past. In essence, I can be more fully here in the now moment.
I used to think there was a paradox in saying: everything is happening for my highest good and growth because I don’t believe in predestination. I do, however, believe we have much more power over our experience than we think. We do have ultimate control in the meaning we are giving things and the stories we tell about what is happening. Viewing it all as an answer to prayer lends a personal and empowering perspective.
I’m also reflecting on times in my life where my personal growth has felt or become stagnant. I certainly wouldn’t say this state of being stuck or repeating over and over lessons that I need to learn is necessarily happening for my highest good and growth per se. The way that my highest good and growth is best served by when I can recognize and quickly assimilate the growth and learning being presented. But I will be the first to admit, it’s not always easy.
However, by seeking the meaning in what is happening and how I can use that to grow, it feels easier to get unstuck and let go. Seeing everything as an answer to prayer helps me examine things from this perspective. Similar to what Viktor Frankl writes in Man’s Search for Meaning, “suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning.”
Of course the reality is I’m going to circle back now and then to relearn and re-experience certain things. Sometimes perhaps that is necessary for the third part of my prayer to occur, so that I can have the breakthrough I desire. Being critical of myself in the process of finally learning certain lessons doesn’t help me get them any faster. Neither does being complacent in the “oh well, it’s just meant to be” as a platitude or excuse for continuing to make the same choices that result in keeping me stuck or having certain lessons circle back over and over again.
I’m convinced the acceleration of our spiritual growth and understanding can be much easier and happen much faster when we stop resisting; when we catch ourselves getting caught in the drama, and we consciously choose to learn and incorporate the message that we have been given. We make this process of self change more complicated than it needs to be. It is as simple as making a different choice next time around.
I also think there is an illusion that personal growth is linear. I know for me, I’ve cycled back again and again to old lessons. This gives me the opportunity to incorporate what I’ve learned. Sometimes I remember to choose differently and other times I may forget. So then the lesson comes back again and again until I finally get it.
The pain in these lessons is often of my own making, and over the years I’ve seen how I’ve fallen into the trap of distancing from my emotions so I won’t have to feel that pain. Because — as we all know — life sure can offer up some heaping plates full of it. I do my best to remember the old adage that pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.
I’m guilty of attempting to rationalize or intellectualize how I’m feeling rather than just sit with the feelings. I tend to get into my head and be cerebral, often cutting off the connection with my heart. I’ve begun to recognize that some part of me bought into this idea that one day I’d arrive at some nirvana where the only feelings I experience are peace, happiness, love, harmony, etc.
The reality is the other feelings will always be there, because life is constantly changing. Things outside of my control are constantly coming in to challenge me. It is an illusion to think I will reach some place in time where all of a sudden I have complete and total equanimity. As long as we live and breath and have our being in this human body, we will have certain degrees of highs and lows. Life is messy no matter how spiritually aware we may become.
So, I’m committing to drop into my heart more often. And I still believe it is possible to experience greater tranquility when I search and find the gifts inherent in my present, release my need for ultimate control, and accept whatever is happening as a gift. This does not mean, however, the journey is always easy. Some of the answers to my prayers are tough to swallow.
I’ve added an affirmation of intention to my prayer each day which is helping me have more self-compassion as I learn some of the tough lessons. I’m still tweaking the words but will share it here and encourage you to come up with your own version.
May I be the very best version of me as possible; May I embody love, peace, and compassion; May I remember to trust in the flow, step into it and let go of control; May my words, thoughts and actions serve to uplift myself and others.
In December I wrote about how maybe it was time to pray. I am still praying for understanding, tolerance, acceptance, healing and peace. I’m also praying in this new way of requesting guidance and committing to showing up in the world with as much love as possible. I’m glad you’re here.
As always, thank you for being a part of my journey. I share freely so that I may assist those who can relate to what I’m saying. We are not alone — each connected to one another in our own unique and individual ways, a part of a greater cosmos beyond understanding. I am committed to this connection — to unity, to growth, and to love. This, I know.
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