I have been listening to motivational speakers, and their messages are undoing me.

Not undoing me like they are wrong, or I don’t want to hear them—quite the opposite. Since my relationship separation (see previous post The Solidarity of Surrender) I have been struggling mightily to find direction, grounding, and reassurance that I am doing the right thing. Hoping to hear a message, I have been holding onto these sound bites like a life raft in a sea of turbulent, violent storms which has become my mind. Only now I realize that I was, myself, rocking the boat.

Here are their avowals (<—isn’t that a GREAT word? It means affirmations) that have been so confusing for me:

“God throws a pebble, then a rock, then a boulder . . .” – there are several variations on this, implying that the ramifications get worse when you don’t get the message or its meaning. Also implying It escalates in intensity, like something purposefully turns up the heat for your own good.

“What is this trying to teach me?” . . . – there are also several variations on this, implying that there is a lesson in each challenging situation that I am supposed to learn.

Add these two together— if I don’t get the lesson (read: get the lesson RIGHT) it will repeat and when it repeats it will be more painful and/or intense—and you have an infinite loop of horrible stuckness (<—yep, made that word up) fueled by hopelessness and fear.

THIS IS NOT HELPFUL FOR PEOPLE LIKE ME.

“Do you remember when you were visiting my house and I told you several times as I was leaving for the evening, ‘Do not do the dishes’?” a close friend of mine said during a phone call.

Even though she was a close friend I still felt slimed with guilt.

“Uh . . . no,” I said. “Why . . . what did I do?”

“You did them!” she said, laughing. “And that night I learned something valuable about the way things worked in the house where you grew up.”

“I don’t get it . . . what?”

“The message was: ‘No, I don’t need that . . . [and] . . . you’d better do that.’”

A lightbulb flickered in the damp basement of my brain (think movies where the characters are not supposed to be there) as if she turned on a hidden switch.

You see, I grew up amid a lot of mixed messages. No, scratch that, where mixed messages were the norm. I had to constantly take the temperature of the room to decide not what was being said, but what wasn’t being said, and base my next actions on that.

“Are you a gamblin’ man, Sandy? Let’s play!” (Nightmare Before Christmas)

The problem with this of course the obvious: it’s completely insanity producing. But also, and more importantly, it keeps me stuck in the delusion that it’s MY JOB TO FIGURE THINGS OUT. Add to that, IF I GET IT WRONG, I’M DOOMED—cue hellacious loop I can never escape.

“What if you’re not supposed to get the lesson this time?” a program friend said in an outreach call. “What if you trust that even if all your fears come true God will be there to give you power and strength and you’ll be ok?”

The world rotated, and I took a seat.

If I miss something, I will not be punished. It will not come back to get me like a magnetic asteroid carrying 1,000 tons of trash in tow.

It always takes me by surprise when yet again I need to reevaluate my conception of God. This is not a one-time deal, but an active engagement. It’s like a muscle I have to repeatedly exercise in every new situation. Since I wasn’t taught to believe in anything greater that was personal to me (and that loved me without conditions), my default programming goes back to what is familiar—my parents.

To imagine that I will know what God wants me to know when I’m supposed to know feels miraculous. It’s a shift in focus that allows me to lean in to Source wisdom instead of feeling consumed by all the static interference of others’ ideas, suggestions, and beliefs.

This doesn’t mean that listening to motivational speakers isn’t helpful. It means I need to treat their messages (and any others) with curiosity, rather than conviction. It means I get to feel inspired and also guided by my authentic self.

“You want to know what the key is to decisions?” the same program friend said.

“Yes!” I said.

“Don’t try to figure ANYTHING out and you will never be confused.”

Fair enough.

“Even in my greatest error, God believes it’s right.”
—Amy London