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The Light will disturb us when we're comfortable, and comfort us when we're disturbed. We turn to Spirit for help when our foundations are shaking, only to find that it is Spirit who is shaking them. So be guided by the best that's within you. In any moment you can ask "What would my higher self do?" and you'll know the right course.

– Dan Millman, from The Peaceful Warrior

I’ve heard it said, and I’ve found it to be true, that the most difficult and painful experiences of our lives often prove to be, in the long-run, the greatest gifts. People will tell you that they’re sincerely grateful for some difficult chapter in their life, like a health challenge, or the loss of something or someone they thought they couldn’t live without, because that event, and living through it, opened the door to a new way of life, a better, healthier, happier, and more meaningful way of life that was unknown to them, even unimaginable to them before.

In the growth of spirit there are endless new levels to grow. For me, the greatest doors that opened were optional, or even invisible, until some unexpected upheaval shook the very foundations of my health, my comfortable little world, or even my faith. While I was still comfortable in my old habits, I didn’t grow much.

When a baby chick is hatched, it must struggle desperately to break free from the suffocating shell that has become too small and too limiting. The little creature must somehow, with only its feeble strength, shatter the only world it has ever known, and break free into a huge and wondrous, vast and unimaginable new world and new way of being. It has no other choice, because it is growing.

So are you. The one thing that all living things have in common is that they are always growing and changing. Since the soul lives forever, it is forever growing and changing, even within yourself, and being reborn into a wider, deeper, and vaster way of being. Change doesn’t always have to be painful; it can be joyful, easy and flowing. But sometimes it takes radical discomfort, or even serious pain to move us to choose and commit to the next step of our journey.

There are many kinds and levels of spiritual growth. Some are so gentle and so subtle we may not notice them till much later on. Some may be inner and outer changes we choose and open ourselves to, or dynamic growth steps that take us forward with great strides. But others may be unexpected, unsought, and even life-shattering experiences. These are things like life-threatening illness, tragic life-changing events like fires, floods and earthquakes; events that completely turn our world upside down and leave it looking like rubble and ashes. But we soon learn that every ending is a beginning, so we look for a way to begin, and we will always find it.

We all know that childbirth is profoundly painful for the birthing mother. But try for a moment to imagine how painful and terrifying this process must be for the birthing infant, who knows nothing about what lies beyond this painful doorway. And yet, what lies beyond is the whole world, a new life. Changing your life, at any point in your life-span, can be like that. You are in a sense both the mother and the child of your soul’s creating process. Throughout our lives, we are continually giving birth to our new self and our new life at new levels of Being.

Many writers and thinkers of the New Thought movement over the last hundred years have said “We are baby gods in training.” As the children of God that we are, even though we will keep our soul's individual identitiy, it is natural and necessary for us to grow and become more like our Father who created us.

And yet, most of us have a strong resistance to that, or even the idea of that, for some very logical reasons. Maybe we were taught differently by our family or our religion. Many of the world’s great religions teach God as an all-powerful Giant Person in the cosmos, who may be loyal or unloyal, loving or unloving, trustworthy or untrustworthy. A judging God who punishes us when we make a mistake. We tend to picture God pretty much like our life’s role models have been. Even though we want to believe that God won’t punish us if we dare to assume that S/He will love us even when we make a mistake, we hardly dare to, just in case. We want to stay on God’s Good People List. (and our parent's, friend's, minister’s, priest’s, or rabbi’s list, etc.) We wonder if claiming an actual, real and unalienable kinship with God might be blasphemous, or make God angry at us for expecting too much.

One reason why we resist claiming our identity and our divinity is because it’s a change, and change is challenge. Like a promotion at our job, we want it but we’re not a hundred percent sure we can handle it, and do it well enough. We lose our nerve, and don't go for it.

Another reason we hang back from spiritual growth is because it’s profound. It feels so Big. Growing spiritually sometimes requires discomfort, but always calls forth a new outpouring of gifts and blessings, when we ask believing. (Asking without believing is a self-cancelling prayer.) Recognizing your kinship means also recognizing your responsibility. That’s the tough part. After you know God definitely loves you, and has given you a life of power and free choice, and you admit that, you can’t blame God anymore for the things that go wrong in your life.

We are often very reluctant to claim our already-given inheritance to God’s power to create. But it’s there anyway, and refusing to recognize it does not alter who we are, nor remove our gifts, nor our power, nor the responsibility to use it. We are ALWAYS using these creation powers, whether we do it consciously or unaware. We are always choosing and creating our lives, our circumstances, and our world, by the very thoughts we think, even when we do not act on them.

Little thoughts and little choices count. Minute by minute and day by day, bit by bit they have built our lives. We notice the big choices, but the little ones do more to shape our lives than we realize. Like holding onto anger, resentments, hurts and sorrows, or anxiety and mistrust. Emotions and thoughts like these actually, and quite literally, make us sick, and like a magnet they attract to us the very things we fear.

These days, as ever throughout history, many people are making choices that create something less than joy in their lives, less than peace, less than happiness. The same basic “bad” choices are happening more and more, worldwide. They include circumstances and lifestyles like alcoholism, drug abuse, violence and violent crimes, and seemingly endless cycles of wars. And there are other, less obvious ones too, like chronic illness, depression, prescription drug addictions, sex without love, and the “clean” addictions like gambling and workaholism.

All of these are choices people have made, all children of God, all with the power to choose and create, and the power to choose again and re-create ourselves. The moment we choose and commit, God is right there to assist in miraculous ways. But it may not be a walk in the park. It may be hard.

There is absolutely no question and no valid excuses. (You can do it.) athere is no question that you deserve a better, happier life. There is no one on earth who does not have the full right to all of God’s love and abundance, no matter how many mistakes you have made, God never gives up on anybody. If you truly want to change your life, you have the power to do it, and the resources will be provided by the universe. But you must do it. God doesn’t live our lives for us; that’s our job.

To change your life, you must change your choices and act on them with faith and commitment. When we act in honesty and faith, asking God or Spirit (by whatever name we call our deepest personal connection to life) to guide and empower us, and trust Him/It to do so, the outcome is always a blessing, and usually a greater one than we asked for. But when we act in anger, or in fear, or in doubt, the outcome can never be a good one, even when we get what (we thought) we wanted.

Because most human beings are compassionate, there are people out there who will try to help you, but help from the outside can never change anything. Nothing in your life can be changed from the outside. (Hear that again because it’s extremely important) Nothing in your life can be changed from the outside. If you find yourself feeling trapped in a life-destroying addiction or painfully unhappy circumstances, make no mistake about it, and do not give up your power by making excuses. The unhappy mess we have made with our lives and our world is not God’s choice, it’s our choice, the Free Choice God gave us to make.

Fate didn’t do it to us. We did it. And only we can change it. That may sound cold at first thought, but it is not - it is the greatest news you will ever hear, because it means that if you did it, then you can change it. Take back your power and consciously start to change it. Everything begins with mind and the power of belief, and expresses outward to manifest in the physical world.

The bad news is: We create our lives, and there’s no way out of it because that’s the way God/our Universe works. (If you choose to believe you are a helpless victim in life, you will be.) The Good news is: We create our lives, so we can actually have happiness, abundance, and all the good circumstances we desire, if we choose to.

It all comes from God working through the inside of each of us to manifest in the world. (There really is no inside and outside; it's all one thing - Life.) God has given us free choice and the power to manifest whatever we choose, and He will not take it back. He even sent Jesus of Nazareth and other teachers to tell us this: If we will only ask, believe, and act, nothing shall be impossible to us. He didn’t say “Nothing shall be hard.” That part is up to us.

Every person has the same amount of God’s love and God-given power, and everyone uses it functionally in the same way. Whether we know it or not, that is what we do. We can use this power to create or to destroy. The amazing difference we can make in our lives and in the world is directly proportional to how much we consciously recognize, and how well we use, this power we all already have.

Each of us chooses our lessons and our teachers for our soul's journey and our spirit’s growth on earth. We can grow through joy and kindness to each other, or if we don’t choose that, we will surely grow through struggle and pain. Either way we will grow; that’s what we came here for. If we have to take some pain and rough road to get back to our joy, the journey is well worth it.

Ultimately every experience is an opportunity to grow. Every path leads to our soul’s learning, and every path will be as blessed as we choose and allow it to be. Remember this, and try to choose wisely and kindly for yourself, even if the choice is change, and even if the change is hard. What you give to yourself is all you will have to give to the world.

Darkhorse Press