Broccoli on the Spiritual Path

I started this blog as an avenue to get thoughts out of my head – to help me wave away the mental gnats that kept getting in my eyes, buzzing in my ears, and generally distracting me from getting on with living.  But one of the benefits of having this blog is that it’s opened up a whole community to me – I’ve been able to read the thoughts of so many others, on a variety of subjects – discussions of spirituality, living with mental and physical illness, and where to buy the coolest new scarves ever.  It’s a virtual buffet; there’s some of everything here.  And I’m free to take a little taste of everything – if I don’t care for something, I don’t have to take additional helpings – I don’t even have to finish what I’ve dished out, and if I love something, I can have it delivered to my inbox as soon as the casserole comes out of the oven.  Sweet and savory, healthy and indulgent  – it’s all here and it all contributes to my level of balance.

So this morning, I read a post that got me thinking – BEFORE I EVEN HAD ANY COFFEE.  (This is not insignificant, by the way.)  So I’d like to share that post here.  It’s from a fellow WordPress blogger that I follow for a regular dose of spirituality that speaks to me.

In this particular post, the author talks about graduating with a Chemistry degree, and accepting a gig at a call center shortly after graduation to make ends meet.  She goes on to explain that the call center job helped her develop skills that were of tremendous value to her eventual career.  This spun off into a “what does God’s plan mean, anyway?” discussion, which you can find here: Whoa! How Did I Get Here? Posted

I have been working on developing and solidifying my spiritual beliefs.  I’m familiar with Christianity, but I can relate well to “many paths of enlightenment”; my belief is that God makes Himself known to us in a variety of ways and in a number of forms, and that we call him by a number of names, but it all rolls up to the Big Head Honcho eventually.  I suppose that makes me more of a Deist.    I don’t really need a label, and I fully embrace and support that other intelligent folks will experience life differently than I do, and may look at the same facts and circumstances and arrive at a completely different conclusion.  That’s awesome, because differing opinions help us understand each other better (well, when we’re not fighting about them.  So let’s not do that here, mmmkay?  So if you call God by a different name, or just have an unnamed Higher Power – I’m down with that.   And if you’re an atheist, I still like you.  Heck, I married one!  I’m fully on Team Coexist here.  Join me – we have the best cookies.)

Since I follow a Higher Power that I call God, I sometimes wonder about God’s Plan, and what that means for me.  Is there a plan?  If so, how do I know I’m following it?   As I reflect on this in the context of where I am and what I’m trying to do with my life, I had a couple of thoughts on that subject….

1.  The decision can be the lesson.  Sometimes, God’s plan isn’t dependent on which choice we make – it’s the process of MAKING the choice that prepares us for what’s next.

Let’s say you’ve been feeling a bit trapped living in a really little town, working a steady, but uninspiring, job for a few years.  A new opportunity drops in your lap suddenly….do you relocate 1000 miles away, where you know no one, to embrace a completely new adventure?  Or do you reject the adventure to embrace the stability and non-drama of regular income and a fairly predictable schedule?

You begin the analysis of “should I move across the country for a fabulous yet challenging Job A, or stay in Podunk, PA working at a job that keeps me ‘safe’ and ‘comfortable’ yet painfully restless?” Whatever choice you eventually select, you’ll have learned something about yourself and what you truly want.  You’ll likely have learned what you truly value. And you can use that knowledge to make changes that enrich the very essence of who you are and who you were meant to be.

You make take the new gig, or you may stay local and enrich your wanderlust in other ways (Volunteering?  More travel?  New extreme hobby?) but just making the decision will change you.  Based on the experience alone, you have more insight about who you are, and how to feed your soul, than you did before – regardless of which door you eventually walk through.

2.  A little growth is good for you.  Sometimes, we reach a crossroads, and we’re presented with options we just don’t like.  There’s no easy decision to be made, no option that’s obviously less painful. You just can’t understand why your otherwise happy and stable life got choked up by this event; you were doing FINE without this complication – and you might even wonder how you ticked God off so badly as to put you in this position.

This is not unlike when we were kids, where your delicious plate of mac-n-cheese was accompanied by a pile of GREEN THINGS.  And no way did you want the green things.  But Mom put them there because they’re good for you.  And you usually managed to choke down some of them.  Some, you buried in the cheese sauce.  Others, you tried to feed to the dog (and invariably, got caught.  Mom always knows.)  But you did eat them, albeit reluctantly.

But veggies are good for you.  You wouldn’t be a strong, healthy, robust person on a diet of mac-n-cheese alone.  You need balance; you need variety.  You need the nutrition that the veggies provide in order to grow.

And you know what?  Once in a while, you were surprised to find that the offending GREEN THING really wasn’t so bad.  (Side note – try roasting.  Brussels sprouts are DELICIOUS this way – and I am not a veggie lover.)

Besides – on a constant diet of your favorite childhood dish, wouldn’t you eventually tire of it?  On a consistent helping of everything you think you wanted, at the very least, you’d grow bored.  You’d likely take it for granted.  And after a while, as strange as it sounds, you might actually come to resent it.

It seems that we all need some contrast in our lives.  Conflict to appreciate the peace.  Noise to appreciate the silence.  Chaos to appreciate the monotony.  Pain to appreciate joy.

I’ll admit that there are days where I’d really like a smaller helping of what I’ve been dished up – on some days I want to send the entire dish back to the kitchen and complain to the chef.  But I have faith that as unpleasant as some of these life experiences may be, they’ll help me develop the spiritual muscles that I need in order to grow into exactly what I’m supposed to be.

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