Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Finding God's Grace During A Late Lunch


Sometimes grace is handed over to you at 3 PM on a Wednesday afternoon during late lunch. Gratitude fills your heart and overflows through your eyes. The feeling that you get when you realize that your biggest adversary in life was in fact rooting for you all through is more overwhelming than most. All that is left is to fall to your knees and cry with relief and joy…that everything is going to be alright…always.

It was while reading the story of this son of privilege who learns to live like everyone else through a series of events, that I had my epiphany. The passage that flipped my perspective read as follows:

He had been born in Nice, fled the Nazis, and his family barely made it out of Europe alive. But he seemed to view that horrific past as a great adventure. What a gift, I thought as I made my way back down those iron stairs, to be able to take all that happened to you with such a lighthearted spirit, a genuine sense of humour about a mixed-up world. At Yale he didn’t even consider the fact that anyone could ‘fail’ at life. Life was life – with all its bizarre twists and turns.

I realized I had spent most of my life trying not to fail. Trying to meet my parent’s high expectations. Terrified of letting my family down. It had all been, I felt now, a terrible burden for me. And so stupid of me!

And in that moment I realized something. My ongoing tiff with God was no different from a teenager’s rebellion against his parents. I wasn’t being tested at any point in life. I wasn’t being handed down the tough life while others were born to privilege. I was in fact chosen for God’s tough love. I was the one born to real privilege.

I have always believed that whatever happens in life, even the most trivial of events like a button falling off the cuff, happens for a reason and for the better. Everything is part of a bigger plan. Optimism is my breakfast and eternal hope is more stimulating than caffeine to me.

But there were certainly points when life felt like a stress test and I started believing that God was being unfair to me. Yeah I know there are those who have lives that are much worse off but frankly relativity is overrated. So I complained. And I developed an ego of sorts that I could take whatever it was that He intended me to face, I was proud of being so strong. 

I started believing that He was beginning to desert me or play games with me…that I was God’s entertainment. It had been more than a year that I had met an angel; that was in a better time, of stronger faith. And I saw no sign from Him that He was even listening to what I was saying now. I felt abandoned. 

Last week, it must have all gotten to Him. Like an exasperated parent who has to prove his love to their offspring, He sent me an angel again. On a very regular Sunday afternoon when I thought the day would end on the usual desolate note, He sent a complete stranger with a message. It was everything I needed to hear. When I was scarred silly inside somewhere and tottering to heal my damaged creative self, this person paid me a genuine and elegant compliment. But more than that, he stated God’s message verbatim…that there is always happiness and it’s a beautiful world…and beautiful people…who will remind you all is well. It made me cry to read that coming from someone who didn’t even know me. It hurt somewhere deep inside, the beauty of that message.

I still struggled with my belief and sulked at God…because I couldn’t take it any longer and he wasn’t done with his test. Until today.

In a few moments of an epiphany I realized that the real test had never been dealing with death or potentially terminal illness or being hurt so bad that you believed you would die just from the overwhelming emotion. The real test all along had been to trust God with my life. That is the only test.

For most part of my teenage life and later, I have had to look out for myself. Make my own mistakes. Learn. And move on. I have never handed my well-being over to an adult and closed my eyes trusting that they would take care of everything. And hence, it is no surprise that I found it hard to trust God as well.

I also realized how and why I had become so paranoid about my people, the ones who matter. I convinced myself that anyone who comes along and starts to matter will eventually leave because maybe that’s God’s way of hurting me. And from a naïve trusting person I became someone who had the ability to doubt…that people would stay. I was horrified and appalled at the realization. I was fighting for them all along…with Him and hence with myself. Until today.

Today I realized that God was bestowing the gift of experience on me and honing me. For what, I don’t know yet. Whatever I have faced in life I have come out stronger or wiser and with a renewed understanding of the human spirit. It has made me sensitive. Maybe over-sensitive. But I hope I am more capable of compassion, if nothing else, because of my past. And I hope today is the beginning of my journey to grace.

Today I realized the need to let go. The idea seemed downright repulsive to this control-freak, organized, paranoid self of mine, it was way outside my comfort zone, but I realized I had to give up fighting for my life. I had to accept that God had a better plan and the only thing coming in the way was ME. 

So as much as it felt like a freefall, I let go. I stopped analyzing, I stopped rationalizing, I stopped obsessing about the minute things I had killed myself over in the last one week…and I just released control. The day had dawned pretty well anyway and frankly post lunch I have been slightly delirious. Because it took literally a few hours for things to start turning around. I stopped fighting and God took over. I am still dizzy from how light my head feels after giving up the constant struggle in my head. And I am humbler.

For, whatever it is that comes my way now – the good, the bad and the ugly – I will know that it is part of God’s plan for me. I know I have angels watching over me to save me from getting to badly hurt. I have to agree that things could have been a whole lot worse in life. I could have got hurt at points from where there was no recovery for the soul, not an easy one anyway. But they all pulled me back. It hurt and I suffered pain for days and weeks together. But it wasn’t off the edge.

Life is beautiful right now and it keeps getting better by the day. I know that for a fact and yet I have the audacity to complain. I know I am being watched over with love. And I know I have angels waiting around the corners.

And that is all I need to know right now. And always. 

Amen.




3 Thinkers Pondered:

AA said...

Beautifully written!

Guess it all happens in phases, disappointments,denials,anger,prayers,acceptance.Whatever be it,'hanging in' there and accepting things as they are without cribbing much matters. Optimism and the thought that we are a part of a bigger plan helps!

"Optimism is my breakfast and eternal hope is more stimulating than caffeine to me." -- Me likes it :)

Shravan said...

That's quite a profound one.
Liked most part of it. But, something that always convinced me in every unfortunate desert I ended up ... "For, whatever it is that comes my way now – the good, the bad and the ugly – I will know that it is part of God’s plan for me."

Vibhushan said...

कर्मण्ये वाधिकारस्ते... मा फलेषु कदाचना...
मा कर्मा फला हेतुर भुर्मतेय संगोस्तव अकर्मणि...

You have right only to your action, to your duty; not to the result of the action. Attachment should be with the action, and not to its result.

Good karma will return to you, someday or other, for sure.