--Prepare Your Heart--An Excerpt from The Age of Miracles--
By: Marianne Williamson
Sometimes it’s the one who takes away all our pain who then piles on even more of it. I once had the most beautiful romance, or at least I thought so. Then one day it was simply gone. I had heard stories of people suddenly walking out on their families, never to return. But, I always thought there must be more than that; surely it wasn’t that simple. No one just got up one day and said, “It’s Over,” and that was it. Or so I believed until it happened to me.
I’m one of those people who needs to talk…to understand, to give and receive forgiveness if nothing else. But some people find all that talking at the end too much to take. Or perhaps the talking might expose too much. For whatever reason, it seems better for them to surgically remove the other person from their life, burn the bride behind them, and throw a bomb into a beautiful garden that could have lasted a lifetime.
This man had given me a gift. With him, I’d had the experience of love that didn’t conflict with my larger sense of mission for my life. For once there seemed to be no competition, no split, between my romantic life and career life. I didn’t feel like I was neglecting one in order to best serve the other, and for me that was new. Instead, I felt his love like a raft beneath me, on which I could just lie back on serenely. Often before, I had felt as thought the different elements of my life were like plates clanging against each other in too-crowded dishwasher. Yet while he was there, there was no clanging. Things that usually seemed difficult weren’t so hard to hold together after all. He’d meet what for me where the most stress-producing issues with some line like, “Yeah, well, so what should we have for dinner?”, and I would melt.
But then it ended, in an abrupt and unkind way. I , of course, had a choice to make. In the words of A Course in Miracles , I could be a hostage to my ego, or a host to God. I knew that there is not letting go of others-the kind of release that frees no only them but you as well-without giving them your genuine blessing. It wouldn’t be enough to say, “I release you .” I had to be able to say, “I release you and pray that you walk with angels. I release you and hope your dreams come true. I release you and wish you happiness.” I resisted, as I was filled with resentment. But I prayed.
Soon after, I was reading, A Course in Miracles and came across truth that I needed to hear. I was reminded that all of us are holy in God’s eyes…that whatever grievance I hold against another person has more to do with my own need to find blame with anything they have done….and that regardless of what mistakes have been made by anyone in their past, in the present I can choose to see their innocence. Reading such things had the miraculous power to alchemize my emotions, to remove the painful impurities that, after all, weren’t ruining his day---just mine!
The ego feasts on all this pain, like a scavenger dog delivering endless evidence of other people’s cruelty, wrongdoing, injustices, and so forth. it’s so tempting to monitor someone else’s issues, leaving out of the equation what we ourselves might need to learn from a situation. One of the most important gifts of any relationship is the gift of self-awareness. In the final analysis, that is the reason for love: that one day we will become love. And everything that ever happens will be used to show us how we’re doing so far.
One morning I woke up thinking about him. I found myself saying a spontaneous prayer, no longer that God help me through this experience, but that God help him. I’d known intellectually of course, that this man’s behavior at the end of our relationship was not that of a cruel person, but that of a wounded one. But the intensity of my own pain had made me unable to see beyond the wound he’d inflicted on me to feel true compassion for the wound in him. And that was my lesson, clearly: to feel deeper compassion for someone else’s wounds so I could be healed of my own. Finally, on that particular morning, I could imagine how much pain he would have had to be in, on some deep level, to so casually throw away the kind of connection we had had. I thought of Emerson’s words: “Whenever you meet anyone, remember they are going through a great war.” I could see that about him. I prayed for him, and I wished him healed.
Then I could see what perhaps had been the forged agreement between our souls. Like so many women, an anger at men-from unavailable fathers to unavailable lovers- had left a toughness in my heart that did not serve me well. Forgiving this man, praying for him, really wanting in my heart for him to be happy, I felt a shift inside myself. He stood for every man who had ever made me feel dismissed. Forgiving him helped me forgive them all. And then, in a deeper way, I was free.
The blessings was simply that I’d had the experience, and an experience cannot be possessed, it’s there when it’s there and it’s gone when it’s gone. Ultimately you come to realize everything is yours and nothing is yours. As Helena says about her beloved Demetrius in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: And I have found Demetrius like a jewel,/Mine own, and not mine own.”
When you’re young, you hold on tightly to love in the hopes that it will last forever. When you’re older, you know that you don’t need to hold on because it does last forever. People come and they sometimes go. But love remains, if it remains in you.
People often say, I’ve been hurt so bad. How can I ever trust again?” But faith in love doesn’t mean faith in someone’s personality; it means faith in ourselves. It means faith in our capacity to love fiercely, yet with the full understanding that who and what we love today might be gone tomorrow.
True love is always a risk, in that sense. But the universe isn’t invested in just giving us what we want. It’s invested in teaching us how to love. And if we bless others when they’re with us, but withhold our blessing when they leave, then we ourselves have not yet received or become the blessing. A blessing that isn’t constant is not a blessing.
What we trust is the will of God. We’re brought into each other’s lives in divine assignment, spirit working through the subconscious mind to draw us to people with whom we have the greatest opportunity for soul growth. But that doesn’t mean that the lessons will be easy. In fact, someone might have been brought into our lives in order for us to master the lesson of discernment--in other words, to teach us what to turn away from.
Sometimes it’s an experience of what you do not ultimately want that teaches you what you do want. Sometime it’s the one who shatters you who releases you to your truest love. Something didn’t turn out to be what you hoped for, but perhaps that was the point.
It was a relationship that released you to you, thus, setting you on a higher path. True love can’t come until you know yourself, and you couldn’t know yourself until certain appetites were blasted out of you. You might have had an appetite for the less than committed because you weren’t ready to be committed. Now, having been run from, you are ready to stop running. Now having been stung, you are ready to stop stinging. And now a true love--someone who neither stings nor runs nor is attracted to pain--is on their way to meet you. In the words of the Persian poet Rumi, “Out of a shattered open heart springs forth a fountain of fiery sacred passion that will never run dry.”
Don’t skip a beat. Perfume your soul. Make ready your house. Prepare your heart. Perhaps, you were let down by a love of this world, so you learn at last to lean only on God.
I surrender to You
My past relationships
Teach me how to forgive,
That I may be weighed down no longer.
I release the ones who have wounded me:
May they find their joy.
May I be forgiven
For the wounds I’ve inflicted.
May all of us find true peace.
"Why should there be hunger and deprivation in any land, in any city, at any table, when man has the resources and the scientific know-how to provide all mankind with the basic necessities of life?" ~Martin Luther King, Jr.