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CHAPTER ONE of The Grace Plan

1 The Call


Everybody has a purpose.


However, it is not until you are lost in the darkness of personal pain that you go looking for it. Pain is the doorway. It is the beginning of the sacred journey and should be celebrated for without it, there is no journey. At the end of the journey is the great prize, purpose.


The start of the journey represents the initial awareness of being stuck. It begins with a moment of realization that the current situation is one aspect of a larger pattern; a pattern with no end, no answers, and no substance. Stuck in the pattern is living an empty and exhausting life. It is running on a gerbil wheel chasing a crumb you will never get. The pain of disappointment, frustration, and hurt feelings becomes compounded by the recognition of a familiar experience too often revisited. This is not the pain of one specific problem but rather an old wound that the problems of life keep brushing up against. The pattern is how the wound keeps surfacing, same experience, different situations. The wound is the source of the pain. The wound is internal.


The journey is the movement out of the limited consciousness framework constructed around the wound. It is the healing of the wound and the detachment of the rationale that supports it. The wound is internal where the journey must take place. As long as the focus of pain, and its management, is external, the journey cannot begin. There must be willingness to acknowledge the internal world or the gerbil wheel continues. The external environment consists of people, places, things, institutions, concepts, conditions, and results in the real world. Controlling the external environment to manage internally generated pain, or potential pain, is the gerbil wheel. It is no way to live but it is how we all live until the pain is enough to interrupt our lives and get our attention in a more significant way.


The prize is received when you are free from the self limiting mindset and its never ending full time job of managing hurt feelings and misplaced expectations. The prize is a life expressing meaning, passion, and inner contentment exercised on the playground of life. The prize is impossible without the journey. Starting the journey is impossible without the pain. The pain is the signal to start the journey. It is your cue. It means you are ready.


The purpose of life is the personal demonstration of the prize.


It is how we create, play, and dance with life once we are free of the wound and the treasure of authenticity has become our new identity. Grace is the life we receive while living a life of purpose. Grace is the realm of the miraculous and it comes with a sense of awe and wonder woven into our daily experiences. Grace is beyond our personal ability to produce. It can only be received. Excitement about the unknown will replace fear of the unknown. Our lists of unmet needs will give way to interest in others and service to a bigger picture.

 

Pain is the call to the journey. Answer the call and everything changes. The tedium of mundane life matters gives way to a path previously unseen. A path towards a way of living previously unimaginable. Deny the call and you enter the wasteland; a place of repeat pain patterns, unlearned spiritual lessons, and states of emptiness void of meaning, purpose, or passion. It is a place full of frustration, resentment, and insecurity regarding an ongoing checklist of things that you think should be different than they are. Time warps occur in the wasteland. Time warps are segments of our lives where time appears to move rapidly. This is the result of being stuck in the pattern directing traffic to navigate the wound. In this frame of mind, there is no new information, no insights, and creativity is greatly reduced. We do time. We think too much, we try too hard, and yet we remain overwhelmed. We are a dog paddling in water with a brick tied to its feet. A year can go by quickly when there is no excitement in life. These time warps get worse with age. Some are genuinely dumbfounded as the years march on, having no idea where the last 5 or 10 years went.


There are moments in our lives when we get the call. We have the choice at these times to stop for inner reflection and reposition our course. It is only in these moments that it is possible to hear the call and start the journey. If we miss the call we may go back into the wasteland. It may be years before we hear the call again.


The call is a moment of individual readiness matched synchronistically with willingness to change.


As we get older the call comes less frequently regardless the level of life dissatisfaction. There is no shortage of bitter old people who, given the chance, will tell you everything you’re doing wrong and everything in life that should be different than it is. They live in resentment still attempting to rule life from the gerbil wheel while feeling less and less competent. Missing one’s purpose may result in a feeling of dread before death if there is awareness of the missed opportunity of living a life of meaning. The opposite is a state of peace and wisdom allowing for greater effect with less effort, an ideal walk through the aging process.


For some, the call shows up as traumatic or horrific events that forever change the perception and experience of reality. We cannot always avoid trouble. We did not ask for it but we must change our view of its effect or it may destroy us. These events can ruin us and entirely put out our interest in living unless we integrate the experience into a new understanding. These occurrences are not coincidental. They are supposed to happen. They are meant to jar us from the pattern of perception that we are stuck in and allow us entrance to the next level of conscious awareness. Seen this way, these painful experiences have meaning. Without this understanding, it is easy to sink into victimization; a conflict position without growth. Victimization is based on what we think should or should not have happened based on our needs, our thoughts, and thoughts about our thoughts. In this journey our thoughts and needs must die.


God sent the call, answer it.


For others, the call comes in many forms of restlessness, irritability, or deep dissatisfaction of life matters. These emotional states may be projected onto relationships, family members, work, income, body image, or any other misrepresentation for what a person has artificially rationalized is upsetting them. The source of the discomfort, however, is internal not external. It will never be solved by making more money, getting a better body, being loved more, working for someone else, or moving to, or away from, any particular place. The attempt to solve an internal problem through external changes is the denial of the call. These attempts are distractions from the call and can be self destructive as sometimes absurd decisions are made based on non-real factors. Typical of this mindset is taking a factoid and adding rationalization for justification all of which is the smokescreen of avoidance. Blame and upset towards others is a common manifestation of an unwillingness to self reflect; it is an unwillingness to take the call. Avoidance is the mechanism and aggression is the compensation. With avoidance comes restlessness, irritability, depression, and anxiety. Compulsion, addiction, and self destructive pursuits are proportional to the level of discomfort caused by avoiding the call. The more we suffer, the greater our need to medicate, blame, and attack.


If you are reading this book and drawn to its content then it might be your time to answer the call.


You know there is a call when the apparent cause of upset in your life is a recurring pattern and the level of discomfort becomes significant enough to interrupt your life. You can try to ignore the call, but at this point the pain is often too high. Life has become unbearable. At this point, there will be one or more areas of your life in which your actions, thoughts, and behaviors are either ineffectual or actually work against you leading to exhaustion, dysfunction, conflict, and demoralization.


The pain that brings patients to my office is often, but not always, related to diseases of the body. As with most types of pain, there is a fact level. The fact level represents an element of reality not subject to interpretation. Factually, a patient may need my clinical skill set to treat a pathological condition. There may even be physical pain but the pain this chapter refers to is not physical. It is perceptual. It is suffering which comes from the interpretation of what is happening. When the patient becomes stuck in a pattern of suffering based on perception, it is internally generated. The level of suffering is mental, emotional, and spiritual in nature. Physical pain is a fact level occurrence but the pain from the call is outlook and life perception oriented. They may have chronic arthritis, ulcerative colitis, allergies, headache, fibromyalgia, infertility, low energy, or any number of conditions. On the fact level, they do need material medical treatment based on corrective physiology. Attempting to handle a fact level problem through spiritual means leads to confusion and dysfunction. It is like praying and then not wearing your seat belt because you prayed. It is just as silly to address a spiritual or internal problem through managing facts or the practical aspects of life. Because the way a patient thinks and feels affects their biological function, they may need adjunctive treatment or guidance that is immaterial or spiritual in nature. When the result of their condition has them frustrated, depressed, anxious and stressed, and upset to the point where they no longer hold a sense of excitement about life, then they must answer the call and start the journey. Without this shift, their mindset operates like a dark force working against medical treatment.


Refusing the call leads to increased suffering and eventually bankruptcy of the spirit.


Perceiving the call as meaningful and the troubles of life as guide points to help us navigate towards a greater truth will forever change the game of life. In patient care, I refer to it as the point of integration. The point in a patient’s illness when they shift from being victimized by their condition to an understanding that their condition has a purpose. It has meaning. It’s part of a bigger plan designed to serve them in a way still yet to be revealed. They stop wasting energy on the fight and begin to have faith in their process of healing. They become grateful for the life shift. The condition appeared in their life to finally stop them for a much needed, and long overdue, deep reevaluation. It was necessary to get their attention.


It’s as if God flicks us in the ear a few times first, but if we don’t listen we may get slapped silly.


In the course of the journey we will have deepened our spiritual walk. Prepare to let go of a great amount of luggage. Insecurity, fear, upset, judgment, and expectations are roadblocks on the path. These conflict points must be exposed and removed or the reception of the divine will continue to be strangled. Pain got our attention and now it is time to commit to its lesson. We didn’t want the lesson. We didn’t want the journey or the path. No one does, initially. People don’t want truth, enlightenment, or a greater connection to God. We want what we want. The source of pain is the effort and mindset that comes from not getting what we want. For this journey to begin we must stop praying for what we want and begin to pray to let go of what we want. It is no longer about us.


It's not about me, Thy will be done.

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