It sucks, I know… when the love of your life turns her back on you, when the rejection letter comes after many sleepless nights, when your boss dismisses months of your hard work into the trash can… Certain events in life can make it seem that the whole Universe is conspiring against you, that the world has wickedly led you on and then slammed the door right in your face.
You sit in a pool of despair, surrounded by broken pieces of your heart, wondering if you would ever recover, wondering why, on earth, such fate should happen to you. Are you being punished for a past-life sin? Are you not good enough or worthy of grace? Are you “attracting” disappointments because there is some profound life lesson you’ve repeatedly failed to learn? What the hell did you do wrong?!
Before you rush to conclusions about those questions, let me tell you a story…about how I found the perfect dog.
A few years ago I decided to adopt a rescue dog. I had assumed that the process would be easier than ordering pizza. But it turned out that finding the perfect rescue pet was just like finding a soulmate—they don’t come just because you instruct them to.
I had a list of preferences. I wanted a pup that was affectionate but independent, athletic but loving the great indoors, easygoing and not a barker. I asked one adoption facilitator if he had seen any dog that would fit the bill.
“Yea. A stuffed Snoopy.” He helpfully answered.
Months of search yielded no results. I started wondering, out of great frustration, if my dream (of this perfect dog) would ever come true. (Sound familiar, anyone?)
One day on the website of a small rescue agency, I found a picture of a beautiful pup named Buddy. I was immediately smitten. When I met him at his foster home, it was love at first sight. Buddy was heart-meltingly cute. Though he didn’t walk well on leash, I dismissed it as a trivial issue. The foster mom promised that I could come pick Buddy up as soon as I got my adoption application approved.
The rescue agency came for a home visit, deemed me—thank goodness—qualified, and assured that they’d issue an approval soon.
But two weeks past and I didn’t hear anything back. Worried, I called up the manager of the agency. She politely informed me that they had indeed approved my application, but had changed their mind that very afternoon.
“I would have let the approval go through had the foster parents not asked me to look after Buddy for a few hours today.” She told me she just realized that Buddy was a hyper active dog and surely would not do well in a city home like mine. “Sorry, I hope you understand.”
But I absolutely did not! I felt cheated by fate. If only Buddy’s foster family hadn’t taken him to the manager’s care. If only my application had been processed one day earlier… Ugh, Why couldn’t I get what I wanted, for once?
I was heartbroken. Surely I would not find another dog as perfect as Buddy. A few weeks later, another agency sent me a picture of a shepherd mix. I called to arrange a meet & greet. The adoption facilitator praised the pup on the phone like he was the greatest thing since washing machine. But in the end she said, “Oh I forgot to tell you…don’t be alarmed if you see five inches of stitches on his head. He just had a surgery to remove a skin tumor. No worries. He’s as good as new, except looking like a Frankenstein!”
I braced myself for yet another disappointing visit. When the pup happily greeted me at the door, I gasped at the unsightly scar on top of his head. But the wound didn’t seem to bother him at all. He held his head high, jumped onto the sofa and quietly sat down next to me, claiming his space with calm confidence.
I was impressed enough to want to adopt the pup, whom I named Tolphin. His scars eventually healed. And Tolphin turned out to be the best dog ever, affectionate, calm, and well-adjusted, as though custom made from my wish list.
But I still missed Buddy, the dog that I thought was “the one”. I asked Buddy’s foster family to let him visit me for a weekend playdate with Tolphin. How nice it would be to have two cute puppies in the house!
To my horror, Buddy started tearing apart my sofa the moment he set foot in my apartment. The next thing I knew, he jumped on the kitchen counter and started destroying my house plants. The weekend turned out an exhausting nightmare. And I realized just how lucky I was that my adoption application was turned down in the first place.
Rejection, as the saying goes, is God’s protection. And I’d venture even father to say this: everything that has ever happened to you serves the highest interests of your soul. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do anything to change the situation if you don’t like it. But it does mean that even if it may not seem immediately obvious, the Universe is always on your side.
Granted, it is difficult to look at things that way when you are struggling through the trough of heartache. Since most of us cannot see beyond the immediate past and future, it takes a giant leap of faith to trust that fate is not against us. But if you at least be open to such an outlook, you’d find that your experience of disappointments drastically changes. You start feeling less victimized by circumstance and fear, and more inclined to follow the most constructive course of action.
And many of the doubts people have when they’re faced with setbacks start clarifying themselves—
Are you being punished for your past-life sin? No. Karma exists only to the extent that it serves the growth of your soul. You experience heartbreaks not because it’s payback time, but because you’re called to step up and be your most light-filled and expansive self.
Are you not good/worthy enough? Hell, no! Since the Universe is always supportive of you, it is simply incapable of dispensing favors based on your worthiness. Worthiness is a concept of man, not of God.
Are you attracting disappointments because of the life lessons you failed to learn? No way. You can always learn more for sure—at a pace perfect for you— but you haven’t failed anything. And you know what? Actually nobody is interested in keeping score except yourself.
What did you do wrong? Nothing. Try as you may, you seriously can do no wrong from your soul’s perspective. Since the Universe is always on your side, whatever you do is perfectly alright.
Now, try letting these words sink in a bit, and see if it lands somewhere within you and if it’s echoed by a certain knowing inside of you. In the quiet recess of our soul, away from the turbulence of thoughts and emotions, we always know the truth. And when pain and sorrow take you by storm, let that truth be your center.
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