Life is a challenge; it was meant to be. When we came to this earth, I believe we came to learn and to perfect our souls so we could be more like God, filled to the brim with unconditional love. Relationships help us do that—to experience real, physical relationships with other imperfect souls. That interaction with one another is the sort of challenging environment that allows us to practice becoming more loving, more forgiving, more helpful to one another and at all times, more understanding. They aren't always easy but they're always part of our individual journey and it's from those we learn the most.
It’s difficult to imagine that we can accomplish perfection in one lifetime; I don’t think we can. So, since it takes a while to achieve such a state, some religions and some people believe we come back over and over until we grow closer to mastery. It’s then we can retire forever from this recycling journey.
Now, humor me before you totally discount this train of thought. Whether it’s through reincarnation or just a great self-disciplined single lifetime, the principles apply—regardless of the process one uses.
Whether we experience one lifetime or multiple ones, it’s the relationships to which we’re exposed that are key to our growth. The yin and the yang, the positive and the negative, the good and bad, all the interactions of life that create conflict, stress, challenges and other opportunities for choice are experienced within relationships. In this highly charged environment perfection is most difficult and that’s how our soul grows. Like they say about New York, “If you can make it there; you’ll make it, anywhere …” ! Earth is like New York; the place to come for a crash course in learning how to live in love.
Every day we experience opportunities that allow our souls the benefit from reflection, reinvention and repetition—if we’re doing things right. Again, some believe that once on the other side and “our life flashes before us” we're able to see how well we did, applaud ourselves a bit or eventually decide on a “do over” to refine our skill at forgiveness or judgment or another such human emotion. Soul perfection is always the desired deliverable.
So, now back to the principles involved. Relationships are the key—which is why isolation is the coward’s way out of life. Isolation through drugs or alcohol or whatever we do to hide from life, itself. Even today’s technological society could bear some responsibility for human bailout. In each lifetime we’re meant to learn and grow—because, again—according to some, coming here was our choice.
Those of you who believe in a God, likely believe that God gave us free will. In fact, it says that in the Bible. Free will with strings? Nope, complete free will. We can follow Him or not, we can be good or not, we can be kind and loving or not—in fact we have such free will that we might actually be able to determine the overall course of our lives and the lessons we’re here to learn while here. But, that’s the subject of another blog.
So, when people say, because of some traumatic life experience, “How could God have let that happen?” or “How could God have done that to me?” The fact is, God didn’t do anything to you. He just watches over us all—sometimes happily and sometimes very sad—witnessing the havoc we create for ourselves. He may try to pull a few strings to clean up our messes or to make our journey easier to bear—but he doesn’t interfere with our life path or the lessons we’re to master. He set up this entire system for what we choose to execute. It’s part of our soul's learning curve.
Choice is also a biggie. Eve could have chosen not to take a big bite out of that apple; emperors could have decided not to wage war on other countries; business people could have been more ruthless or generous; spouses could have been more faithful or kind and children could have been more obedient or defiant or even more resilient. It’s always in the eventual choice we make and it’s through the result of those choices that we learn. Bad choices have consequences – perhaps immediate and perhaps way, way down the road. Sadly, the bad choices also often hurt others we love.
The most significant choices we make, however, are all tied to relationships—primarily human relationships but always relationships. With Adam and Eve—the relationship was with God; with emperors or rulers—relationships were with other countries or civilizations; with businessmen—it was relationships with their customers, employees and other stakeholders; and with friends and families—each other.
Less significant are the choices between people and things: quit a job, open a business, move a residence or write that book. Those may help you become more successful, more famous or allow you to make more money but they aren’t the qualities that make people truly miss you when you’re gone. The qualities people miss are those that made them happy to be in your presence. How you made them feel when they were around you. Those are the qualities that make God happy, too.
The toughest thing to understand is when bad things happen to good people, but we have to remember that even those experiences teach us something—how not to be or how to turn something negative into a force for propelling us forward instead of repelling us into victimhood and defeat. It's always a matter eventually of the choices we make.
Relationships are the venue in which our choices are the most meaningful and where the soul work really lies. So, when you think of a challenging relationship you face with a particular friend or relative, realize it may be painful for a short time but it is there for a reason. It's a gift that will help you find your soul's perfection.