Friends periodically share bits of wisdom from their e-mailboxes that they think will make me shout, “Amen!” One of my recent favorites came from my friend Jean Hill, who passed along a post from life balance expert Mary LoVerde’s “Words of Wisdom” newsletter. In it, Ms. LoVerde recounted the experience of meeting U.S. Airways pilot Chesley B. Sullenberger, III. It was Captain Sullenberger who skillfully executed that miraculous landing on the Hudson River last January, saving all 155 physical bodies on board.
Thinkers probably noted that I didn’t make the claim, as many news outlets did, that Captain Sullenberger saved 155 lives. That’s because he didn’t, not really. It’s impossible to save a life. Life is invisible, invincible and eternal. Physical bodies, on the other hand, are a different story. On occasion, there must be some intervention so that they can continue to be seen in the physical world. And that’s what Captain Sullenberger heroically did. But I digress…
During LoVerde’s brief chat with Captain Sullenberger, he described the death-defying crash landing. He recalled that, seconds after he brought the Airbus A320 aircraft to rest on the icy river, he and co-pilot Jeff Skiles turned to each other and said in unison, “Well, that wasn’t as bad as I thought.”
Ah, yes. How often do we discover, after we’ve been through the fire, that the adrenaline-pumping journey wasn’t as bad as we thought? All we could see when the flames were nipping our heels and hind parts, were that we were catching sho-nuff hell.
For many years, that certainly was the case for me. As I have detailed in my books, many of my life dramas have had minimal entertainment value: divorces (no, the “s” was not a typo), evictions (ditto), negative cash flow and mounds of debt, un-Christlike co-workers and employers, non-paying clients, relationships with silly boys wearing men’s bodies, and the deaths of loved ones. None of it was the least bit pleasant until I decided to see those experiences differently—yes, even the deaths of those who are near and dear to my heart were no longer painful.
Changing your perception will change your response. I’ve taken you chapter-by-chapter through the epiphanies that rose to meet me during my “spiritual sleuthing” expeditions, my investigations of the behind-the-scenes causes of my unpleasant dramas. In every case, I concluded, “Well, that wasn’t as bad as I thought.” In fact, the drama was actually good because every situation delivered a blessing—most notably, a deeper understanding of myself, of Life, and of God.
When you understand the difference between life and Life, power and force, when you know who and what you are, God no longer works in “mysterious” ways. Nobody goes through life on Planet Earth without challenges. Nobody. Based on your understanding, you will respond to those challenges by:
- Concluding that you’re a victim;
- Fighting the current condition by leaning on your limited human understanding; or
- Patiently trusting that what you’re experiencing right now benefits you in some way, and asking for the guidance necessary to move on.
Each response reflects your understanding of who you are, what Life is and what God is. As the late Emmet Fox, a profound New Thought Christian minister, once said: “There’s no such thing as undemonstrated understanding.” In other words, what you understand is evident in the outer world.
What I understand is that every life experience has a purpose. Because I believe that God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent Love, I understand that whatever happens, no matter how potentially painful, lovingly serves me in a powerful way. Nothing happens to me, it happens for me.
Recently, several persons have revealed a surprising lack of integrity. That’s good information to know. At an earlier time, I would have responded to them very differently—probably with anger and pain—because I had a different understanding of Life and God. I’m sure I would have judged them. I would have strung together a series of adjectives that described them as less honorable than I—as if I’d never done anything dishonorable. Please. They were just showing me what it looks and feels like from the other side. The appropriate response: Empathy and forgiveness because I’ve been there, and done it. How can I be unforgiving if I want to be forgiven?
I don’t have to understand the reason everything happens. My understanding tells me that there was one—and a good one at that. For all I know, the reason might have been to give me an opportunity to balance out my own errant behavior or practice reacting in a less judgmental, more Christ-like manner. After all, how do you reach enlightenment? Practice, practice, practice.
Those of us who desire to grow spiritually (and what soul doesn’t) are bound to attract negative people and woeful drama. These bad acts and actors serve us in mighty, mighty ways. We bless them and we love them for working on our behalf. They’re not doing anything to us; they’re doing it all for us. Yippee!
And there’s an additional benefit: I have discovered that I am consciously aware of how peaceful I am, even as these situations are occurring. How empowering is that? It’s not an “I’m more enlightened than you are” moment. It’s a “Yes, I remember when I wasn’t totally honest” moment.
C’mon now, we’ve all had crazy moments. Some of them might have been crazier than others; but all of them had one thing in common: They did not reflect the God in us. So who are we to get mad or judge somebody else’s crazy?
Empathizing with the other person—loving and forgiving them, even if I don’t like them or their behavior—doesn’t generate the negative energy in my soul or poisonous chemicals in my body that anger and resentment do. Aside from pitting out a perfectly good silk blouse, an angry response revisits me as an angry response when I err. Ultimately, my understanding serves me more powerfully, and reduces my cleaning bill.
Understanding Life and God gives us the confidence to trust that the Law of Reciprocity will balance all behavior perfectly—and it will direct our path so that we will respond appropriately and in a manner that does not put us on a collision course with the Law.
Whatever you’re going through right now, what is your understanding of it? Does your understanding bring you peace or fear? Worry and fear constrict the body. What solutions can flow through to you if you are not chatting regularly with the God within you, and leaving yourself open to receive the guidance you need? I’m not talking about telling God what you want. I’m talking about listening, really listening. Then act on the guidance you’re given.
Chesley Sullenberger demonstrated his understanding of the Law of Aerodynamics when he bravely landed that plane on the Hudson. Notice what understanding you demonstrate when confronted with a crisis, and see if you don’t more frequently conclude: “Well, that wasn’t as bad as I thought.”
Love you. Mean it!
Love the Loud Mouth LIVE at an Upcoming Event in Chicago!
If you missed the three-day Women’s Conference in June, I have good news: By popular demand, authors Shirley Lawson, Stephanie Wilson-Coleman and I will conduct sessions at “The Women’s Conference Follow-Up” on Saturday, September 19. This time, it’s in Chicago, at Power Circle Center, 9350-64 S. South Chicago Avenue.
This special event is presented by the Training, Development and Networking Team of the Alpha Omega Sisterhood, a ministry of the Power Circle Congregation, the Rev. Joseph E. Hill, founder and senior minister.
For more information and to register for only $40, visit Drama Queen Workshops.