The last several years have been a time of intense personal growth and spiritual transformation. When I first started on this journey, I had this vision of being loving, patient, kind, compassionate, balanced, wise, etc. I felt as if I was supposed to embody the qualities of spiritual leaders who had come before me like Mother Theresa, Jesus, Buddha, or some other vision of divine perfection. I had this notion I was supposed to be a model of walking divinity; that everything I said and did was supposed to be a living monument of love, patience, justice, humility, and divinity. I had this notion I was supposed to be perfect all the time and was not allowed to have any human moments or feelings. When I did, I found myself judging myself for not being “spiritual enough.” I also internalized it when others told me they were disappointed in me for not being “spiritual enough.”
I went through this phase where I doubted myself, my call, my relationship with the Creator, and my ability to be of service. I questioned myself when I was feeling anger, frustration, fear, or embarrassment. As I began to grow in my own sense of self, I came to realize these moments were an opportunity for me to grow in my own journey and to assist me in my own spiritual transformation. These became opportunities for me to practice being what I wanted to be. It was as if the universe was custom designing a class for me on how to evolve into the person I wanted to be. Like most classes, at times, the learning has been harder then I envisioned, however, what I have learned about myself has been worth the work and the investment.
The growth moments came at those times when I felt the weakest. Those moments when I felt the most lost and didn’t know where this journey was taking me. All I knew is that it was taking me and I had a choice about how I went on this journey. Either I could be angry at the situations, people, and places that were pushing me forward, or I could see them as gifts. I began to take these opportunities to practice what I preach, to do what I tell others to do, to be what I was trying to become, to feel what I was feeling, and to breathe. Doing this work was not always easy. There have been moments when I just wanted to say let me just stay as I am; at the same time I knew it was not what I wanted. So I told myself to stop complaining and to get real with myself, get completely honest with myself, get rid of the masks, the lies, the pretenses, and all the facades. I had to get emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually naked with myself and do the work that I needed to do so that I could move forward in my own evolution and journey. There have been times when it was not easy. I remember one day crying so hard that I was anointing the ground with snot. Instead of worrying about the mess I was making, the spirit in me said, “It’s ok. I still love you.” The tears and the snot were about me letting go of who I thought I was supposed to be or should be and growing into that space where I could love myself for who I am at any moment.
I found that I no longer needed to run from my feelings, but I could be fully present with them. There are moments when I would like to not be fully present with them. There are still moments when I would like to enter the land of denial, however, I pull myself out of denial and stretch myself into the present. As I found myself letting go of my ideal of the perfect spiritual leader, I found myself growing in a new way.
Sometimes I hear from some of you how perfect you think I am. I am not. I am just me. I have my moments when I get exasperated with a situation. I have my moments when I find myself not really wanting to talk to someone. I have my moments when I am fully human. I have felt the need to share some of the gritty moments of my own journey, so that you can understand that it is about exactly that – the journey.
One of the things I have learned in my journey is that when I released my ideas of perfection, I also relieved my inner judge of the power to judge me and how well I was being me. Life is not always easy. There are days that as humans we experience real pains and real pleasures. When I learned to walk with my own pain and pleasures, I learned how to better walk with each of you in your pain and pleasures.