For 18 years, I had chronic back pain. It began four or five months before I was in an automobile accident or I might have blamed the other driver. I had been working full time, doing research for my doctoral thesis, moved in with my husband’s family, taken a new job which I barely tolerated, left it for another job with higher visibility, and regularly traveled internationally. I began to have constant pain during those months and then I was hit from behind by a van at a stop light. The entire back of my car was crunched to the back seat. I wore a neck brace off and on for months. This began my chronic pain odyssey.
Looking back, my way of responding to all this could be summed up as pushing, harder and harder. I did not really reevaluate my choices, take care of myself, ask my Greater Power for help or work less. In truth, I did not personally know a Higher Power. I was determined not to let the pain, hold me back, keep me down or seal my fate. I simply ramped up doctors’ appointments, scheduled more exercise, added weight lifting, and mostly tried to ignore the pain during the week. However, every Saturday, I was either a whiny lump in the bed or an angry, impatient demanding person, still on the treadmill of life.
I don’t know if someone had suggested then, that I meditate whether I would have listened. Probably not, as I was not listening much anywhere and certainly not to myself. I was so determined to “get this pain licked” that I pursued all types of treatments and doctors looking for a cure. I went about this with my relentless determination to conquer the pain. I simply would not give up and I would not be beaten.
One day when I had gotten my husband to rig up a picnic bench on a 45 degree angle and had strapped myself to it with bungee cords, head down, feet up, I did briefly wonder whether I was completely beyond the pale. Bless his heart, he did not say a word ! I could have been dubbed “the little train that could”. At that point, I had not yet encountered anything that I could not manage, respond to, overcome or solve, myself. The idea of asking for help from God literally never crossed my mind. There was help everywhere. Along this pain trek, I had personally experienced enough pain management techniques to write a book. I knew I was an independent woman, completely competent and self-sufficient, just one in constant pain.
The pain finally wore me down. My stubborn independent streak was very deep, however and persisted for 16 years until I actually asked out loud for help. I was away on a weekend with my husband and was in such excruciating and constant pain that I was in the bath tub crying, running the water so he could not hear me. In a moment of great surrender, I said out loud that I so desperately wanted to be free of pain so that I could stop focusing on me all the time and use my energy to help others. By that time, all my discretionary time went to pain management and seeking help. I had lost myself in all that misery. I had hit bottom.
It took me hitting bottom before I really, really asked with all my heart, my soul and my energy for help from the Great I AM. When my time came, I was calling out for help from a sense of deep anguish and pain. The moment though froze in my memory because I realized it was the first time I had actually asked for help for myself. I had spent years and years trying to get well myself and I suppose I thought this was my last hope.
My general learning from this odyssey in looking back is:
- ask for Divine help in the beginning
- ask in as many ways as needed
- ask knowing without a doubt help will come
- hold the healing space until it comes
- stay open as to how it comes
Ask even if you don’t think you know how, even if you don’t think you know God, even if you think you have asked before and feel you were not answered. Ask anyway. Keep asking.
The question may arise, do we ask God for help in the same way we might ask a friend for help? Maybe yes, maybe no. No, if we think of asking for help when we feel lack, insufficiency, need or frustration. Yes, if we ask friends for help from a place of appreciation, possibility and expansive positiveness. When we come to a place where we feel imbalance, ask knowing that all the help that is needed is available, that your positive energy is expansive, that the Universe is full of infinite possibility. Limitation is fear speaking, not possibility speaking.
These are the most powerful commands I know, which I take to Divine Knowing now, when I am in a situation which is unbalanced.
- Show me where am I separated from God/Divine Peace/The Great I AM.
- Show me what lessons I need to learn before I can move on from here.
- Show me the fear I am I carrying which is fueling my pain/this situation/my thoughts and feelings.
- Show me what benefits I am getting from continuing to live my life the way I have been in this situation.
I have to be absolutely sure I am fully ready to ask for this type of support and insight before I act. What usually follows is a series of very tough interactions with people or myself, usually resulting in my feeling upset, angry, embarrassed or all three until I “get” what is fueling my pain, my situation or my relationship. Before I knew this, I did not realize I was jumping into the flames and that this was super hard and super productive. Typically when I ask to be shown, I get many, many chances in the space of a few days to fully see what I am doing which is manifesting imbalance in my life.
One week when I was just beginning to see what was behind my back pain, I got very angry with everyone in my path because I felt I was getting no support on several projects at work, on every single task at home and from committee members at my church. By the end of the week, I was literally steaming and in horrible pain as well. I finally got that if I continued to think I needed no help, was totally self-sufficient and continued to make no space for people to want to help me, I would continue to feel as I was feeling.
As I let this all sink in, my back started to relax. Here was a tiny glimmer of connection. This glimmer continued to grow and grow as I learned to stop pushing myself, began to ask for needed help with appreciation and felt moved to feel gratitude inside for my blessings. At the end of the week, I remembered that I had of my own accord, asked to be shown what lessons I needed to learn. I was dumbfounded by the entire week. It had all been orchestrated for my learning. This was both humbling and utterly amazing for me to experience my very own self.
We can only change ourselves. However, we can spend as much time as we want to thinking of how to change others, what it would look like if another would act in a certain way and what it would be like for us if they would simply change and do it our way. In fact, we can spend whole lifetimes thinking in this way. We have all the time we need. It is up to us. We can change our thoughts and feeling now, or later, or never. We only have consequences ahead to encounter, depending on our choices.
Focusing on changing others is a great way to remain separated from our own power. If we work out our imbalances as other people’s issues, we can repeat the situations over and over again in all kinds of settings until we do finally get good and tired, or good and sick, or good and fed up. Then we might begin to ask to be shown what we need to learn with our entire heart and soul in order to work our way out of the imbalances we are in.
This is doing our spiritual work. This is growing our consciousness. This is claiming our power. This is creating with the bountiful love that is all around us. This is the future that awaits us which is full of the amazing choices for love in every aspect of our lives. When we look at our part in imbalance, with love and seeking, we are likely to see what we have not seen before, name it, release it and move on. And so it is, for all of us.
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