Every once in a while I come across a book that touches my soul in a way that I never thought possible … it happened when I read “The Shack” by William P. Young, “Eat, Pray and Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert and “The Peaceful Warrior” by Dan Millman but one that sticks out significantly for me is “Your Soul’s Plan – Discovering the real meaning of the life you planned before you were born” (formerly titled “Courageous Souls) by Robert Schwartz. While I understand some people struggle with the concept of pre-birth planning, this book connected so many dots for me. Since reading the book years ago, Robert Schwartz’s message has deepened my perception of the journey of my life.
“Your Soul’s Plan” changed how I view life experiences. I’ve learned that even a slight chance in perception has led me to a peace and understanding within myself. I look at situations differently now – looking at them from the place of why is this particular situation part of my life and what am I to learn from it. I’ve had experiences where I knew without a doubt that I was supposed to walk through them – that there was a purpose for it coming into my life. This belief has helped me to become more open to what my life situations are teaching me. I have experienced relationships with others knowing that our paths were meant to cross – believing at the core of my being that specific relationship was meant to be part of my life – might have been with a stranger who I interacted with for only a brief moment or a co-worker or a friend or a significant other. For me this doesn’t just apply to the “good” relationships, it also applies to the interactions with others that turned into painful experiences. And realizing that an experience or relationship may very well have been put into motion before I even knew it was to be reminds me that there is an ebb and flow to life that makes my experiences part of my soul’s design – I just need to remain open to the experience. And there is an empowering element to that -- in seeing there is a purpose to things that happen in life creates an opportunity for the situation to not control one leading to forgiveness and love which ultimately offers healing.
Growing up I had a lot of dreams and thought life was a fairytale to be explored -- until my teens. By the time I was 20 I had experienced some real life situations that weren’t part of any fairytale I’d ever seen or even dreamed of. And the illusion that I had created of what life was all about had shattered; my heart had already started to freeze. I grew up in a family that was impacted from alcoholism during a time when there wasn’t the knowledge and insight that we have today about how addiction affects families or how it continues to affect the next generation if untreated or kept silent. In my family, communication about real life was pretty non-existent. Don’t get me wrong, my parents did the best they could. I’m blessed with what they did provide. There was love but little to no communication about the real matters of the heart which left lots of unanswered questions and nowhere to turn to find the answers. That was the start of my search for myself and my search for what this thing called life really was all about.
This journey found me getting in touch with my own emotions that had become buried – getting in touch with that voice deep inside of me that had become the holder of my emotions. Because of what I experienced around communication growing up, a long time ago I made a commitment to myself to have open communication and strive to be as honest and open as possible in my relationships. Some people embrace that while others struggle with it because they aren’t comfortable with talking about things that really matter … things of the heart. Oriah’s writing “The Invitation” says “It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive. It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.” This is the communication I yearn for with another. This to me is true intimacy with another – being present with another’s pain, their joy, their dreams. There is nothing else that can get one closer to another human being than to be vulnerable with each other – to share all parts of ourselves – the good and the not so good. And to share those moments with another walking by our side through what I call the “ring of fire” – that’s what truth is.
While this journey I’ve been on wasn’t the fairytale of my childhood dreams, it has been filled with some pretty amazing experiences and insights; things I would’ve most likely never realized had I lived that fairytale life. And for that I am grateful! I’ve learned that we never find exactly what we expected, but rather we find the unexpected. And in those magical moments and memories we capture that enrich our lives to come, we realize, “So this is why I decided to come”.
So maybe it was all part of my pre-birth planning to grow up in a family where there was the lingering impact of alcoholism and limited communication – how would I have learned what I have about life if I didn’t experience what I did? I have gratitude for the path I have taken because it's taught me so much about why I am here.