In Judaism there exists the concept of the klippot, which translates to the layers of an onion. However this concept is figurative for the layers of ego a person peels off of themselves in order to uncover and expose their divine essence.
In the summer of 2015, I observed within myself a tendency – the tendency to remain in situations which compromise my emotional well-being for a false sense of security, all while suffering with anxiety because of the disharmony the situation brings into my experience. I have done it with jobs (the security being money and insurance). I’ve done it with locations and situations because I feared the unknown. I’ve done it with people. I thought because I had identified and worked through this correction, it was a done deal. Something I would not revisit. But I found myself doing it again in a recent situation – remaining in a toxic space because of a false sense of security. A situation in which the cons far outweighed the pros. An unnecessary situation that I perceived as necessary through the lens of anxiety. Apparently I had just pulled off one or several layers of the onion, but there were more underneath.
As I recognize this, I feel disappointed in myself – because I know better. However, when faced with anxiety, which can be paralyzing, sometimes I simply freeze and make poor decisions. I’m trying to have compassion for myself while I move through this challenge. I feel grateful though because this time I can see what the core issue really is – it’s about lack of faith. It’s about not trusting God.
On top of it, I criticize myself for this lack of trust. God has always led me down the right path. He has always provided me with what I needed despite my sleepless nights. How dare I not trust him? And here I am again, judging myself for having fear. Isn’t that what fear is? A lack of faith and trust in God? I “should” be stronger right? I “should” also remind myself that unconditional love exists only in the absence of judgment.
Sometimes this journey just breaks me.
I can’t help but recall a recent interaction I had with the mother of my childhood friend while home visiting loved ones last month before my next travel. A wise, older Greek woman with metaphysical abilities who, throughout my childhood, welcomed me into her home and treated me like I was her own. We sat down, just the two of us, and I told her about my recent journeys and how I feel like sometimes I lose the battles to fear, something I am fully aware of is an illusion. I communicated about my confusion between destiny and free will, and expressed my discouragement towards my path.
The woman explained to me that she, too, struggled with the same fear, especially with flying. She told me a story of a king, who was told that his son, the prince, would one day be killed by a lion. In order to prevent this, the king built everything the prince could ever want within the walls of a giant castle, thinking if son had everything he needed there, he would never have the desire to go outside of the castle and risk being attacked by a lion. One day, the son was playing inside the castle. A picture fell off of the wall and onto the boy, killing him. The picture was of a lion.
The woman went onto explain that she was told this story throughout her childhood but it never fully resonated with her until she faced her fear of flying. That she understands now that fear is pointless because her fate is not something she can control. She no longer has a fear of flying since she made the decision to surrender. What a profound message.
The funny thing is, we really don’t know what God is testing us for. It could look like one thing and completely be another. During this most recent experience, I kept looking for God, for signs or omens or answers. But there was only silence. I kept thinking of that saying, “When you’re going through difficult times and wonder where God is, remember, the teacher is always quiet during the test.” I couldn’t help but think I was doing the right thing by remaining in a situation because I had a purpose there. Now I see that my purpose was to simply leave the situation – to honor myself, as my clarity returned the moment I made the decision to do so.
The spiritual evolution elevator doesn’t go straight up. It goes up, then down, then up again. Sometimes the elevator gets stuck. Progression, regression, repeat. Sometimes we find ourselves revisiting corrections (for me it’s surrender, trust and self-compassion/acceptance). We may not pass the tests that God gives us, but we do better than last time and so technically that’s progress, right?
I’m tired. Delirious actually. Broken down, exhausted, yet in the hands of the universe and all of it’s magnificent intelligence. I’ve been reunited with the beautiful Muslim friend who took me in when I was in India in February. I thought I would never see her again yet I am reunited with her in Toronto, of all random places. I explained to her how and why she is so special to me. I am in awe that she has helped me again and I thanked her for coming to my rescue, now twice. Her response stopped me dead in my tracks. She got up and hugged me, and said, “it isn’t me who saves you Micah, it’s God who saves you. God loves you.”
It was in that moment I realized, the teacher had returned. She is the vessel. And I am humbled.
photo credit: Akash Singh, Bangalore, India