When one embarks on a spiritual path, it's natural to believe that life is about to get really good. Spirituality means everything falls into place, right? Well, not exactly.
Yes, things will change for the better. You can expect to feel happier, more fulfilled, and more connected to others. But life (and all the struggles and challenges in it) aren't going to magically disappear. In fact, they may get worse.
Because it's the hardest struggles that will wake you up to your greatest strength. The strength you wouldn't see in yourself if you hadn't been forced to do so.
Many successful people will talk about the gratitude they feel for their greatest struggles. In hindsight, they know that had it not been for these struggles, they wouldn't have found a deep strength within. Hardship is often a key component to great success.
I don't think it works this way because Universe has a sick sense of humor. It (whatever It is, anyway) isn't cruel or mean or demented. I actually think it's all part of the divine plan of evolution.
We are here to grow.
Some of the greatest minds in psychological theory have talked about this drive toward growth. The heart-centered Humanist, Carl Rogers, believed that we are innately programed to self-actualize (that is, to heal and evolve). The Transpersonal theorist Carl Jung believed that we are driven to wholeness through the integration of the ego and Self.
Whether you believe this process is spiritual or not doesn't really matter. What does matter, though, is that you relate to an inherent, internal drive to grow and change. It's an unspoken desire within us all.
As I walk the trying-to-be-conscious-and-loving path, I have to be honest, my experience has shown me that the tests get harder and harder. This wasn't what I expected when I signed up for conscious living. I still get caught in the false belief that everything is supposed to awesome all the time, and if it's not, it means I'm doing something wrong. This couldn't be further from the truth.
Sometimes when struggles present themselves to me, I find myself saying, "Why me?!" I doubt that I'm up for the challenge. Then, after a fair amount of resistance, I eventually come around and recommit to the path of the heart. And you know what has happens next? Every single time?
That's right. My biggest setbacks, the hardest struggles, the times when I really didn't think I had it in me, are the exact experiences that force me to be greater than I've ever been before.
I find a strength so powerful, all within myself, that allows me overcome whatever challenge I'm up against. I discover on even a deeper level who I am and what I am here to do. And I feel grateful for the very thing I once cursed.
If it weren't for the challenges, I wouldn't of have the opportunity to experience the best version of myself.
If you identify with being on a spiritual path and challenges are arising, please don't blame yourself or think that you're doing something wrong. Challenges serve you in being the greatest version of yourself that is humanly (and, in some cases, not so humanly) possible. It's all part of the master plan.
Rise to the occasion. Show us what you've got. Trust me, you've got what it takes.
Please leave a comment below telling us how struggles have led you to become a greater version of yourself. I look forward to hearing from you.