"You have to show that you're willing to suffer for what you want," he said as we drove, "that's the idea... are you willing to suffer for your prayers to be answered?"
It was late afternoon and we were preparing for our time at the sweat lodge that evening. We had given our prayers to the medicine man and were headed to the kitchen to prepare a feast as an offering to the Grandfathers who would not only receive, but hopefully answer them. "I feel like that's what this year has been about for me," I replied with a knowing nod. "Am I willing to lose everything in order to step into what's next, am I willing to let it all go... and I am, I have been."
We ask a lot.
We pray to God and the Universe for healings and guidance and all the things we think we need to be happy. We ask for money to rain from the sky so we can buy the stuff we want and pay the bills we've racked up over time. We plead for signs and support. We expect miracles, simply because we asked. Simply because we're in need. Simply because we're wanting.
But sometimes I think we need to stop and ask, what are we willing to give?
We like the happy, effortless stories. The ones where someone sits down to meditate for the first time and suddenly they attract all the money and clients and fame they desired. The ones where someone goes to the healer for a single session and miraculously recovers from whatever was threatening their life that very morning. The ones with ease and miracles.
There are plenty of people out there who will only focus on the happy stories, because that's what sells. People who only want you to see the good and shiny parts of life and growth and change. The ones who believe that flow and divine support is only present and possible with polished positivity and big smiles.
I'm not that person.
I'm not that person because, in many ways, life has asked me to take the harder route. Life has asked me to struggle and face challenges, big and small and life altering. Life has asked me to walk into situations and relationships that left me shattered. Into losses which broke my heart in places that may never mend.
And because of the paths I've chosen over the years and the ways life has taken me out at the knees, I'm not interested in the happy, effortless stories... because anyone who tries to tell you that something worth having can only come with ease and positivity and fluffy mantras is doing you a disservice.
Sometimes, yes. Most of the time, no. Growth and change and things worth having take more than just happy thoughts and good vibrations.
The question is simple, though you may not like it: are you willing to suffer for it?
At the end of last year I chose a simple guiding word as a focus for the coming 12 months of my life, like I do every year. I chose the word expansion. I wanted to experience expansion from the core of who I was... to step more deeply into my truth and my purpose, and to create greater alignment in my work, my life, and my relationships.
With one simple word, I asked a lot.
Life, God, the Universe... something far greater than me immediately asked if I was willing to walk through what it would take to reach the kind of expansion I desired. It asked if I was willing to fall to my knees, to be ripped wide open from the depths of my soul, and to face all the things inside that had been holding me back.
This year flattened me before it even began. It's been colored by more losses than I can count and more kinds of heartbreak than I can name. It ripped me and my relationships and my business to pieces. It stripped me to my core and forced me to rebuild from a place of pure truth, because there was nothing else left.
This year brought more expansion than I knew was possible.
Because I was willing to suffer for it.
Before you get mad and say that I'm implying everyone must suffer and struggle and lose everything in order to have what they desire, hear me out. Sometimes life is going to ask you to struggle and suffer in ways that force you to grow more quickly than you ever have before. Sometimes it's going to present you with harsh opportunities to learn and expand. Challenges and obstacles that teach you how to pivot and shift as you need. Life lessons that leave marks and bruises as they go.
This is a fact of living in the world.
A hard truth about life.
But sometimes life simply wants to know, are you willing to fall to your knees in total surrender? Are you willing to admit that you don't have all the answers, and commit to what's next with complete trust and faith? Are you willing to face what must die inside of you so that you can become the person you're here to be, big or small?
Because while we think we're asking for simple things, like a little bit of expansion, oftentimes we're asking for more than we're capable of handling in the moment we send up our prayer to the heavens. I don't believe in a cruel God or a harsh Universe... I simply believe we have to be willing to walk through what's required of us in order to grow into the person we need to be to have the things we desire. That's it. Sometimes it's messy. Sometimes it's easy.
But the question still remains, in whatever capacity is asked of you in response to your prayers and requests: are you willing to suffer for it?
Stephenie Zamora is the founder of www.stepheniezamora.com, a full-service, life-purpose development, design and branding boutique and author of Awesome Life Tips book. Through her Mastery program, she merges the worlds of personal development and branding to help men and women build passion-based lives and businesses they love. Click here to access her free Foundations for Unshakable Joy™ video training series and learn the unexpected trick to transforming your life with one single question!
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