“To fall into truth, then, the illusion must be torn away from us.
It is unfortunate that sometimes we must lose everything in order to understand this. But, really, it is only the way. We are prone to want to hold on to things, but once there is nothing to hold on to, we can’t help but realize that the only thing we can truly hold on to is something deeper and impenetrable—something undying and eternal that we can hold on to at all times, both during the good and the bad.
That undying and eternal part of us is our spirit. And nothing, no nothing, can ever break that. When we understand that our spirit is our anchor, our captain, and that ever other part of us–our emotions, our thoughts, our bodies, our careers–are there to serve this captain and follow its orders, then we move through life with greater ease, with greater peace, and with greater respect for life.
But without the tearing away, without the losing of everything, we can never know that we had everything to begin with. We can never know that it is our spirit that is the core of who we are, and that nothing can ever tarnish it.”
– an excerpt from my post When You Have Nothing Left To Lose, You Only Have Everything Left To Gain
There are times in our life when we feel as if the sun sets.
The world we thought we knew suddenly darkens, becomes obscure. All old rules seem to go out the window. Even our fundamental understanding of God can fall under question.
We lose faith. We lose our moorings. We lose our way. We lose ourselves. We lose our path. We lose meaning. We lose purpose.
Fear overwhelms us, clouds our thoughts, motivates our actions.
We want to scream. We want to run away and hide. We want to crawl into a corner and rock back and forth in a fetal position. We want to crawl underneath the bed covers and not leave our home.
We have absolutely no idea where to go. Life is one big, upside down question mark to us in that moment.
This (what I am describing to you) is the night of your life. (One could also aptly call it the “winter” of your life. It is also a period that I referred to in the past as The Courage Moment.)
We all go through this time. And it is part of a cycle. A never-ending cycle.
In this night, your senses are heightened. You are more cautious. You walk more slowly. It is very much like the way you act in the physical, real night that you experience on a daily basis, but the night of your life is different: it is internal, not external.
When I speak of the night of your life, I am speaking of an internal night, not an external one.
But just like the external night, the internal night must always end. It cannot last forever. The sun must rise. The day must come.
But here you are. Here you are and it feels like the sun is setting on your life, not rising.
All is becoming dark, all is becoming obscure. You are not so sure anymore. You are confused. You are lost. You are doubtful. You are hesitant.
You become quieter, more withdrawn, more thoughtful.
The night is colder. It feels very lonely. It feels less comforting… and yet…. If you only knew…
This night is really kinder than the day. It is more loving. By making you blind, the night of your life is forcing you to see. By making you lose it all, the night of your life is forcing you to gain everything you already had. By making you confused, the night of your life is forcing you to arrive at clarity. By making you lost, the night of your life is forcing you to find yourself again. By making you afraid, the night of your life is forcing you to summon up the great courage you were born with. By slamming you into a brick wall you cannot possibly move through all on you own, the night of your life is forcing you to surrender to something bigger than you. By making all the traditional options unavailable to you, the night of your life is forcing you to create a new option that was never there before, until you arrived on the scene.
As you can see, the night of your life is forcing you to forge your own path: the path of your destiny.
The Sun Also Rises
Today, I speak to those who feel like the sun is setting on their life, not rising.
Today, I tell you that this is the beginning of a great adventure for you. I know: it is cold comfort, and if anyone had told me the same thing when I was going through the night of my life, I would have rolled my eyes and thought to myself:
“Wow, clearly this man doesn’t know what it is to suffer.”
But I assure you: I know.
I know what it is to suffer greatly. I know how dark the night gets. I have been through that hell and back again. I’ve stared that devil straight in the face and I have found that he is not as scary as we make him out to be.
We are far more powerful than him. And part of the reason you are going through this night is so that you can prove it to yourself—so that you can prove it to yourself that you are far more powerful than even the greatest darkness of this world.
It is during the night of your life that you will prove it to yourself that, alas, fear can do its best, but it can never cripple you. Strife can do its best, but it cannot vanquish you. Everything can be taken from you, but nothing can rob you of your very soul.
Also, it is during the night of your life that you will come into closer relationship with God, the universe, the source, or whatever you choose to call it.
It is during the night of your life that you will go from a mere “belief” in God to a knowing of God. (Knowing is a deeper form of understanding that is the result of real life, hands-on experience. No, I’m not saying that you will witness God, I am saying that you will come to know God, which is a concept that is impossible to describe unless you have experienced it for yourself.)
There is this notion that God just wants you to believe in Him.
I am discovering that this is not so.
God doesn’t want you to believe in Him: God wants you to know Him deeply.
If you just “believe” in Him, He will not stand for it. He will work with you until you and Him are one, and all doubts are blasted away.
But in the interim, while He is working with you to establish this greater union between you and Him, it may feel as if He is abandoning you, when what he is really doing is only getting closer to you.
To paraphrase the wise words of The Tao Te Ching:
The Tao (or “The Way”) that seems to be approaching is really receding; The Tao that seems to be receding is really approaching.
The moment you feel as if something is falling away from you, know that this is the exact moment in which it is actually coming much closer to you.
Far from tearing you away from God, your descent into the night of your life is a time in which God will bring you closer to Him.
Of course, God will not force this process on you. He is far too loving and respectful of you. If you do not wish to cooperate, God will leave you alone.
However, if you do not choose the journey, be warned: you may experience a daybreak eventually, but it will be a false sunrise. Soon the night will arrive again, even colder than before, and you will remain ill-equipped to face it. Once again you will be forced to make a choice: come to know that-majesty-that-cannot-be-described-in-words more deeply, or continue living a life in which you believe everything is meaningless.
However, if you choose the journey, I can guarantee you the daybreak. By that I mean: if you welcome this night with open arms, you will not struggle as much. If you do not resist and simply pay close attention to what the night is trying to teach you, you may find a blurry path you can follow back home.
If you allow the night to guide you and challenge you, then you may find yourself growing in ways you never imagined were possible for you.
If nothing else: if you just allow yourself to endure the night, this courageous act of resilience will be rewarded with wisdom, strength, and clarity of purpose when the dawn arrives. (A dawn that may arrive sooner than you think.)
But these are all only fragments of the great gift that will be awaiting you on the other side. This gift is far bigger than anything you could ever imagine—far bigger than anything I could ever describe in words.
And if you embrace the night of your life, and don’t resist it, this gift will be yours, and one day…
The sun will rise.
The sun will rise.
The sun will rise.
I see the sun rising now, in my own life, and I have to tell you: it is glorious.
Today’s Courage Exercise
If you are experiencing a nighttime in your life, make a silent promise to yourself that you will endure and that you will prepare for the moment in which you will rise again.
Because there is no doubt in my mind: you will recover from this.
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