Today’s sharing is something I received from a young man who attended one of my workshops. I share it with you hoping it will touch your heart as it touched mine. Thank You Derrick. A lesson learned and shared guarantees continued blessings.
Start with Prayer
How many times have we heard that prayer changes things? As much as I personally agree with that sentiment I sometimes fail to look at prayer from all of its aspects. I had to learn that to develop a more profound understanding of how prayer changes things in ways that I am sometimes do not appreciate and, ways I have difficulty being peace about. I realized that my perspective of prayer often causes me to doubt my faith or to lose faith in its power.
I was taught that if ever my life gets turned upside down, without prayer it will be difficult to flip it upright. Nonetheless, I fail to pray as often or consistently as I should. I also forget the prayers that I have prayed.
A few years ago I experienced a shake up in the form of an ugly breakup with a woman that I had dated off and on for eight years. It turned my life upside down and I thought equal but opposite energy was needed to flip it back to its correct side.
Eventually I learned that the initial flip was the crisis, and prayer was the energy needed to make the correction. Whenever I slip out of tune with my spirit I loose the ability to differentiate between crisis and correction. Although one can exist from a lack of prayer and the other can exists as a result, I often experienced the crisis and the correction in the same way – – I didn’t want either.
In hindsight, the answers to my prayers often showed up much sooner than I was able to accept them. As a result. I often missed them completely. I lost sight of the answers to my prayers because I didn’t want to do the work that went into making the corrections that answered prayers offer. On a very unhealthy level it was gratifying to completely miss the answers to my prayers because it allowed me to stay in my comfort zone of self-pity and denial. I would then either forget the prayer request or write it off as a prayer gone unanswered.
In my arrogance I sometimes ignore the things that the universe is kind enough to show me. Life has shown me that shake-ups are inevitable and even when I don’t invite crisis I can’t always prevent it. It has also taught me that I should always be receptive to correction and opportunity. This has not been my state of mind; I often want the rebuild without the renovation, but ripping apart and destruction must take place first.
The second phase of a renovation is the most cumbersome and tedious, the cutting away, and removing of unwanted or unnecessary materials. After a lot of measuring – twice, cutting once, and reconstruction the end result is the refreshed new space. This is a metaphor for my life. The breakup wasn’t about the woman, it was about a prayer being answered. The process of rebuilding an outdated life is often as unsettling as the incident that incited the overhaul.
When shake-ups occur we need to stop, be still and think back to what we have prayed for. We can become so busy racking up prayers that we forget them. When we fail to remember our requests we often perceive the prayers as unanswered. Once upon a time forgetting what I prayed for didn’t seem like much of an issue. I would lie to myself that I had moved on from a certain person or obstacle then a new major crisis would show up. It’s a bad habit that led me to a host of ways that I’ve taught myself to deal with crisis. I have resorted to anger, guilt or fallen into depression.
As I take a new look at prayer’s power to change me and my life has clear that a forgotten prayer can be as detrimental to my spiritual well being as not praying at all. The answers to my forgotten prayers stress my consciousness’s attempt at spiritual and mental wellness. Often it appears that many things going wrong at once.
In the past I would literally began to believe that some supernatural force was punishing me. I know understand that when I pray a series of prayers, certain events are put into motion. Each of these events is supported by God’s love. Instead of falling back into my same toxic patterns of dealing with upsets and/or disappointments, I have learned to accept that changes MUST take place in order for my prayers to be answered. I’m not always going to like the changes, but I must recognize that upheavals and breakdowns in life are not punishment or retribution by the God. It’s not universal karma negatively coming back on me, or even a curse.
It’s simply balance, and balance is always peaceful. God and the universe only want peace; whether I understand it in the moment or not. What pleases God will always benefit me. The more willing I am to understand this spiritual design the less leverage I give to my ego.
My answered prayers almost never look like my limited vision of God Almighty’s will. The truth is my prayers are being answered every nano-second of every day that I acknowledge God’s presence. An answered prayer will, on occasion, arrive disguised as a mishap; meaning anything from a stumped toe to something as large as terminal illness.
I’m learning to have faith knowing that somehow I prayed that shake up into my life. The momentary strife or life changing predicament also has the potential to be a correction or an opportunity for me to learn and to grow. Contention has enabled me to clean up the messes that I’ve made in my life. I can’t clean up my mess without getting to know my mess. I have to experience it in order to clean it up. It’s to be expected that I will have to revisit all of the mess that I made. I can’t accept the sweetness of life without accepting the sour.
Don’t Help Crisis
Calamity isn’t such a bad thing. In the moment of crisis my obstacles seem very heavy and immobile and at those times I remain mindful of the decisions I make. When I fall back into making habitual and unhealthy choices the chaotic outcome will frequently lead me to the correction I need. I am still not completely healed of this behavior. I am still prone to engage in some form of this coping method.
I’ll go visit my ex-girlfriend after a hard and frustrating day with work. Out of aggravation with potential clients, I would pick her apart or pick an argument with her. I would actually think I felt better afterwards. In reality all I did was give myself more work and more stuff to clean up. Now on top of all the work involving finding new clients, I have to mend a broken relationship with my ex-girlfriend.
I forgot my prayer requests. I had forgotten that I previously prayed for something that went contrary to acquiring those new clients. As a result I didn’t understand the evolution of crisis. The universe was supporting me. My failure to make new deals was an opportunity. I could have released my irritation by taking a long hot bath or by taking a long run; things that prepare me for correction.
While in that bath I could have come up with ideas conducive to deepening the bond between my girlfriend and I, or while on that run I could have realized that the prayer to run further has come to fruition because I’m running further than I ever had before. I must remember that unfortunate events will occur from time to time to bring my prayers to fruition.
Praying In The Best Way That We Know How At That Time
I remember being eight or nine years old and being upset with my parents because they denied me something that I felt entitled to. Surely something minor like an expensive toy, an opportunity to go outside and play, or some really unhealthy food. Today it’s clear that I really didn’t need any of those things but at the time with my limited understanding it felt as if I was being denied the right to exist.
My parents were always church going people so even at this age I understood what prayer was supposed to do, so in retaliation against my parents, and with my parochial depth of understanding I would pray for some heinous event to be visited upon them. Thank God for his mercies, and that he protects babies and fools, that none of those prayers were ever answered, but I can’t help but to think about all of the times that I have done this as an adult. It makes me cringe to think about all of the times that I prayed out of anger, or out of ego. What a dangerous thing for me to do!
Within months of my relationship horribly ending I had to sell my home because I lost my job, and then my grandmother passed away after a long battle with cancer. In the span of less than a year three major fixtures in my life were gone.
This cocktail of events had me at the lowest place I had ever been in life. The hurt and the pain were vivid. I felt slighted and disgusted. I was hurt. I felt stupid, betrayed, lost, confused, scared, angry, unimportant, and unattractive. To get a reprieve from the catastrophe much like I did as a child, I fell to my knees and in retaliation I prayed the most heinous prayer that I could muster; and that was for retribution.
Today, I know that whenever I allow my ego to take hold, prayer will bring me back – – to my senses. I have made it a practice with a tremendous amount of help to take the time to pray everyday and to honor my prayers by remembering them. I am learning to be more patient with myself and with others especially when I am in a crisis and working to remain open to all opportunities for correction and for growth. I commit to these truths understanding that God will support me as I willfully travel his road. Don’t just enjoy the day let the day enjoy you.
Iyanla Vanzant is the best-selling author of five books on self-empowerment, personal growth and spiritual healing, with the most recent book being Peace from Broken Pieces. As the founder and executive director of the Inner Visions Spiritual Life Maintenance Network, she conducts workshops, seminars and lectures nationally. Drawing from her own experiences of family dysfunction, abuse, and poverty, Iyanla encourages us all to look at ourselves, laugh at ourselves and then take the necessary steps to heal ourselves. Her practical message is based on the principles of universal law, self-determination and the power of Spirit. You can learn more about her work at www.innervisionsworldwide.com.
Iyanla has recently appeared several times during Oprah’s Lifeclass webcast segments. You can view the classes here: http://www.oprah.com/oprahs-lifeclass/oprahs-lifeclass.html She also recently appeared on Super Soul Sunday with Oprah, speaking about what she had to go through to get to where she is now. You can view these segments here: http://www.oprah.com/own-super-soul-sunday/Full-Episode-Oprah-and-Iyanla-Vanzant-Soul-to-Soul-Part-1-Video
Iyanla has a new show on the Oprah Winfrey Network called “Iyanla, Fix My Life!”. To learn more about it and apply to be on Iyanla’s show and have her help you, please visit http://www.oprah.com/ownshow/index.html?team_type=HarpoStudios