Doing Spiritual Jail Time
What happens when God puts you in time-out and how to move through it with (some) grace.
Those who know me know that I am a changer. I have lived and traveled to many countries, held many different roles in my work and life and started, and not always completed, many projects. In fact, change has been one of the few constants in my life. And about every three years or so, God, the universe, my higher self, puts me in time-out.
Three years is generally the amount of time that one job or lifestyle keeps my attention. After that, I have a need to shed my skin and grow another one. But like the mighty butterfly, I must first be a caterpillar, and then a cocoon, before I can emerge in my new form (By the way, did you know that caterpillars turn into actual liquid goo while in there? As in, their body completely dies and liquifies before it can re-build itself and emerge as a butterfly. This has always amazed me.). So that’s where I am now, the goo inside the cocoon. And it doesn’t feel great. It feels like death on many levels. In fact, the only way that it doesn’t feel like I am dying, is in this faint glimmer of inner knowing that I am being groomed for something amazing.
There are many things I find challenging in this place. Socializing, for one, I am almost completely unavailable for. Doing work that drains me in any way is impossible. Applying for jobs that sound like they would drain me, is in itself, draining. Even looking at or considering doing something that I don’t genuinely want to makes me tired. Travel feels impossible, as does going shopping or any long outings for that matter. What I can do each day, is make a healthy green smoothie. I can go for long walks and do a Pilates class, (but only once or twice a week or else my body screams its limits in my face). I can meditate, read, nap and watch movies. I can spend a short amount of time seeking work opportunities. SHORT. I can meditate more. I can pray, cry, have healing sessions and call on my support system as needed. Sometimes I am a puddle of tears, sobbing uncontrollably. Sometimes I feel normal and sometimes even high for brief moments. Mostly, I have limited energy and require a TON of self-care.
It has been over three months of this. I have literally zero idea when it will end, or what my life will look like on the other side. I don’t know what my goals are, what I’m striving for or how to get there. What I do know for sure, is that the only way out is through. Sure, I could will my way out, force myself to do things to get to where I want to be, but I’ve learned that doing so would only serve as a spiritual band aid which would prolong the time until my next opportunity to integrate this lesson on healing. It is deep work and deep work requires us to get uncomfortable. Like, really uncomfortable.
When I look back to the other times I’ve done spiritual jail time, I can see that it was my chance to speak directly to my soul and become very specific about who I am and what I am here to do. That means learning to say no to all things that are not aligned with that, no matter how attractive they look, or how much my ego and mind try to convince me that they are the exact things that will get me out of here and into the light, where life makes sense again. I’ll say it again, mostly for myself, that the only way out is through. Otherwise, this lesson I’m learning will present itself again and again, until I finally know my worth, my soul purpose and the absolute strength and beauty of my heart.
So this time around, I refuse to use force, but rather, I am practicing the art of surrender. It feels totally counter-intuitive most of the time. My impulse is to respond to the seemingly external problem called, “I have no idea what to do in my life and work” with an external solution called, “get a job you lazy piece of shit.” And then I am presented with jobs that I know in my heart and soul are not for me. So, I politely decline. And wait. And surrender. And trust. And cry. And feel confused and scared and sad a lot of the time. Surrender does not mean lay down and stop doing things. What it does mean though, is try things and see how they feel. Be willing to try lots of things and realize that they are not it. I’m learning to speak up for myself, make clear requests and imagine the life I would be so glad to wake up to each day. That is what I’m being groomed for, rehabilitated for. But the only way out is through. No shortcuts, no shiny objects, straight through the goo. For the first time, I can say that I am finally ready and willing to surrender. TBD on what’s next.