Your Participation is Required

A lot of times we get mad at God, or turn away, because we think things are not working out for us the way they’re supposed to. We’ve said our prayers, we’re nice to people. We go to church or read the Bible, or donate to someone’s charity. We’ve never killed a person, or robbed a bank. And yet we’re still left heartbroken or frustrated or suffocated by life.

But getting mad at God without recognizing our own role to play is kind of like being in a marriage where one person makes all the money, feeds the kids, plans the birthdays, cleans the house, weeds the garden, and we just sit back feeling bad for ourselves. Buried in our phones, perhaps. Or watching the news. And ignoring all the hard work that’s happening around us.

At one point, that marriage partner is going to be like, “Yo, dude. I can’t do this all alone. I need your help. This is not a one-way relationship. Work with me, here.”

There are no blanket rules for how to be in a relationship with your Source, other than your willingness to open, and your commitment to putting in the time. A spiritual journey is not about checking certain boxes: Did this, did that, working on this. Okay, all good! I’ll certainly get to heaven now.

Your life is bigger than that. Your heaven is right here. You just haven’t discovered it yet.

I had a drinking problem a little while ago. I told myself it wasn’t that big a deal, but I went in stages—sometimes I’d have wine after work, sometimes I wouldn’t. And then I started having it every night, regardless of whether or not I was alone. Two glasses, usually. Paired with cheese and cashews and a good show on Netflix. It made me feel better; it helped me relax. And when I realized I needed to cut back, I told myself I’d only drink on special occasions. But then, slowly, every night became a special occasion, for one reason or another. Until one night I drank too much and made a bad decision.

The next day, I was feeling tired and broken and upset. I asked the Above for help, to guide me. And that guidance came from my yoga friend sitting across from me at Panera, telling me about how she gave up drinking many years ago, and how she never looked back. I told her that life was so lonely, though, and how it had been hard for so many years. Drinking wine at the end of the day was my outlet, my thing to look forward to. And she kept holding my hand, and we decided I’d commit to a month of no drinking. That was all. One measly month. And see how it felt. And see if I wanted to continue being free and clean for another month after that. Take it a little bit at a time. Maybe I wouldn’t give up alcohol forever. But I definitely needed to give it up now.

God shows me, all the time, that the external things I think I need to make me happy are not going to help me get there. And so I made a commitment to God that I’d give up wine. I made a promise in my heart.

I have been so much happier.

I’m not telling you you need to give up alcohol, or cigarettes, or any of the other things that make you enjoy your life. I’m all about a good time. But I also know that there’s something deeper in all of us, something we’re longing for in this world. Maybe we want to help others. Maybe we want to pursue our art. Maybe we want to change people’s lives. If these are things we want, and we ask for our Creator’s help in the process, our Creator is going to give us some ideas. We’re going to know through our suffering what is simply not good for us, what is getting in the way. And we can’t be blind to it anymore. We have to make a change.

God is not going to expect you to become an ascetic, or an evangelist, or a martyr. He or She is not going to say you need to wear a horsehair shirt or whip yourself in order to get in line. (That shit’s just the devil.) God’s advice is always gentle, and it’s always for your best interest.

A relationship with the divine is a dance. At root, God wants what you want. So you decide to participate, and you’ll spin around each other, and look into one another’s eyes. But if you loosen your hold, if you don’t listen to what your Supreme Partner is nudging you toward, you end up dancing by yourself, and the music gets turned off, and you’re on that dance floor in the darkness, alone.

So dance with your Creator. Let Him dip you, let Her spin you around. Take the Holy Hand reaching out before you. But remember, you have to participate. You have to do your part.

Your life can only get better.


“The Dancefloor”by miyoneza is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Categories: spirituality and faith


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