Letting Go with Guy Finley

It seems almost inevitable: At some point, somewhere in our journey, we feel betrayed by someone or something. A friend lies, a loved one dies, our favorite pet prefers the company of someone else, you name it. And regardless of who delivers the blow, something else seems inevitable: the feeling of having been “burned” never seems to fade away; out of the blue old hurts are fanned back into life by freshly rekindled resentments. We may even want to forgive and forget, but there’s precious little we can do to free ourselves from this searing in our soul.

The reason it’s so hard to deal with these unwanted moments and their dark repercussions is that we don’t really understand them at all. Looking at what we’ve lost—or at what a friendship has cost from the standpoint of the Self that feels betrayed—it almost seems natural to go on being negative.

Yet, isn’t this kind of resentment just what small children feel when a caring parent says it’s time to replace something they love with something new that they’ll grow to love even more? Time to toss out that old stick-pony and let your father teach you how to ride a real horse! For a while, the child may feel like a victim, betrayed in some way. But the parent knows the child is being handed the keys to a whole new level of life that he or she can’t imagine. This temporary disconnect between the child and parent exists as it does for good reason: The adult can see both worlds at the same time—the child’s old one, and the new possibilities just ahead—while children see only the one in which they feel happy and secure.

In scale, this same principle holds true for us when it comes to our moments of loss. We may not yet see it as being so, but whenever unwanted situations come along—stripping us of some beloved attachment—it is the operation of one world acting upon another. There is our familiar world, the one we’ve always known—who and what we’ve been, filled with our preferences and possessions—and acting upon it is a new order of reality whose meaning is unknown at first, but whose secret purpose is to help us awaken to our own higher possibilities. But when in such moments—moments only these colliding worlds can provide, all we see is our resentment or regret—we lose sight of this spiritual gift that can be offered to us in no other way.

Yes, someone has hurt us badly. Yes, we feel rage and regret, and all the stormy emotions that attend such losses. But, as we’re starting to see, there is another story behind those bitter feelings of loss and anger. We live in a world where our earthly relationships are intended to teach us about higher, spiritual realms . . . where worldly affection is meant to be a stepping-stone to higher love.

In this instance, when we are hurt badly, the higher lesson hidden in this trial is to recognize the time has come to let go of who and what we have been up until the moment of loss. And “how” do we know this is true? How can we be sure there is something good in the “bad” others put us through? Because if we understand that events in themselves have no power to punish us, then who’s to blame for our pain when life changes as it must? The real culprit here is our present level of Self—literally wrecking itself—as it clings to what can no longer remain in our life . . .

Yes! It does hurt to be left behind, or to be lied to. Yes, we feel lots of grief and anger—those knee-jerk reactions that rush in and rule a heart that feels so wrongly compromised. But as long as we cling to the false idea that who we really are is meant to be defined by any “other”—regardless how sublime—we have no choice but to feel that we’re being pulled apart when our relationships change—as they must.

There’s a silver lining to this kind of suffering once we learn to see it! Strange as it is, how else could any of our secret attachments ever be realized and released . . . if not for the unwanted events that come along to reveal them! Each “troubling” event, seen properly, is the herald of a freedom yet to be known. With this in mind, here’s the higher lesson that awaits us on the other side of any loss, if only we’ll open ourselves to its healing.

In the spiritual worlds above us, we are the other. The man who came to own a successful horse ranch is— and will forever have within him—the small boy who couldn’t imagine anything better than his little stick pony. Nothing real can be lost. Just as the seed must give way so that the sapling it holds can spring from it, with all of its greater possibilities, we must learn to let go of what was, so that what may be can grow in its place. Love never dies, but only changes its form and expression that we may see its example and willingly follow suit.

One last thought. Our anger and resentment toward someone who has hurt us do not prove that we loved, and they didn’t. What our enmity really indicates is that we don’t yet understand the true nature of love, or we wouldn’t be ripping ourselves apart because someone tore from us something to which we had become attached. The hole in our soul that is created by any such loss must be left empty. If we let it be filled with negative states, we will never know the birth of a whole new order of love because there is no room for it to grow.

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