A few years ago, I went through a bit of a spiritual growth spurt. It led to some new thinking about how I see myself, my relationships – even God. Especially God. The growth spurt came at a time in my life where I was hemmed in and unhappy in my marriage, and ultimately it led to my divorce and a different level of happiness and independence.
During this period, I started meditating. If you aren’t familiar with meditation’s many benefits, here’s the one I want to emphasize to you today: with practice, meditation allows you to be still enough to listen to your heart, to your intuition, and to your Higher Power or the Universe, or whatever name by which you call God. (I use all of these terms and both genders when I think of God. Name and gender are so irrelevant when you’re talking about the wisdom of the universe.)
In your conversations with God, who’s doing all the talking? Prior to my spiritual growth spurt, my prayers consisted of offering thanks for the blessings in my life, followed by asking for a laundry list of further wants and blessings. I was doing all the talking. Where’s the wisdom in that? Basically, prayer was a way for me to dictate to God what I wanted Him to do next. It occurred to me that perhaps that wasn’t the best way to converse with the all-knowing wisdom of the Universe – after all, wasn’t it possible that God might have something useful to contribute to this conversation? If I believe that my Higher Power knows what’s best for me and can provide me with the love and guidance needed to move further along on the right path, then why exactly was I talking at all? It was then that I decided that my time with God was better spent listening, rather than talking.
Meditation became a channel I could tune into to listen for God’s voice in my life. And here’s the thing about listening to your Higher Power – the more you listen, the more you hear. You may start by hearing God’s voice during prayer or meditation, and then over time you begin to observe it everywhere you look. You hear God’s wisdom as you might hear your own intuitive voice in your mind. For example, after I had been meditating regularly for several months, one day while I was drying my hair, I “heard” this (word for word):
“This is about more than you learning to not be in control. This is about more than you learning to be in a neutral position. This is about learning to let Him lead.”
I dropped the hairdryer and wrote it down exactly as I’d heard it. It was exactly the message I needed in that moment. I was separating from my husband at that point and trying hard to control all of the circumstances surrounding my living situation, the sale of our home, and many, many particulars that were way out of my control in that moment. This message was like a telegram from the Universe reminding me that instead of always trying to make demands about the way my needs should be met, I should give in, let go, and trust God to figure it out. I needed to let God lead and believe that I’d be led to a warm home and a life filled with more love and compassion and less stress. I needed to stop swimming upstream; instead, I needed to float.
When I remember to float, to stop demanding that the Universe give me my every wish, my life is so much more peaceful. When I remember to stop doing all the talking and let God provide wisdom, I’m flooded with so much more love and support than I could have ever dreamed.
Recently, my boyfriend Mike and I split up. In the worst of that split, on the very day of the breakup, God was all around me, speaking in Her strong, quiet, infinite voice. That morning while I was angry and upset and stressed, I opened up my dresser drawer and there was a little red golf tee laying inside that had been toted home from a golf event. As the drawer slid open, the tee rolled toward me to reveal for just a moment the words “God is Good” printed on its shaft. And with that I was reminded that I was in God’s hands and deeply cared for. Later that day, I was busying myself with a project, going through some family photos to hang in my hallway. I opened up the first folder of old pictures, and laying on top was a letter my grandmother had written to my mom in 1987, supporting her in her choice to leave my dad and reminding her that better things were ahead. She had copied into her letter a famous poem about separations and personal growth entitled Comes the Dawn. It’s a beautiful poem about taking care of yourself, which ends with, “With every goodbye you learn.” I had said goodbye to Mike that very morning, and somehow I was holding in my hands an almost 30-year-old letter from my grandmother about getting through goodbyes. And for days on end, over and over again, I found both whispers and shouts all around me as God held me in Her hand and spoke Her comfort in my ear.
You could look at these things and say they’re coincidences, for sure. But when I do all the talking in my conversations with God, these coincidences don’t occur. It’s when I’m floating instead of swimming up stream, listening peacefully rather than giving God directives, when the wisdom is all around me in what I hear, see, and do. It’s so simple, really: listen and be attentive. Be the child and not the parent in your relationship with God. And be open to the gifts of guidance that are given in return, in whatever form they might appear.