Relationships as Spiritual Lessons
It was the end of a relationship and my unexpected stumble back into the dating world that caused me to realize exactly what being a spiritual person meant. I had met a few friends for dinner, drinks, and dish. There was about eight of us, a table full of thirty-somethings representing every demographic of race, spirituality, and sexual orientation (cuz my friends are awesome like that).
I was bitching – in my usual way – about the lack of men in my life. I had unemployed dudes who played PS3 like there was a paycheck coming when they got a high score, and wanted to ‘hook up’ at 2am. And I had guys, who were mainly concerned with the date: sex ratio (i.e. “How many times do I have to take her out before she’ll let me fuck?”) and mentally deficient when it came to common courtesies like calling me on my birthday. But there was a serious lack of MEN in my life – that is, an adult male who, in addition to being hot as hell, had some type of spirituality, went to work and paid his bills like a grown up, and treated me with love and respect. (the “man checklist” is waaaaay longer than this… Samantha over at bitches gotta eat explains it better than I can).
I had a tendency to get caught up with dudes and guys, instructing them in the basics of being a civilized companion. Like no, it’s not appropriate to make fart jokes on a first, second, or hundredth date. Yes, it is rude to ask me out to dinner and then expect me to pay. No, it’s not okay to ask me a question and then check your phone will I’m talking. Yes, foreplay actually IS a real thing, and no, it’s only boring if you’re doing it wrong.
Half these guys I didn’t even like. I stuck with these mini-relationships more often than I should have, caught up in a guy’s potential to be a man, blindsided by my own daddy issues, and trying to prove I was worth something by making anything out of him. But that night, I was over it. WAY over it. I was tired of training dudes to become guys, guys to become men. I was fed up of being the emotional and physical obstacle course a guy ran before he moved on and found a wife.
“Where are all the men?” I whined. “Why do I always get stuck with the ones who need to be taught how to be a decent date, a decent boyfriend, a decent person? It seems like I’m always preparing a guy to be a good man for his next girlfriend. And then he finds that chick and marries the heffa, all the while telling me what a good friend I am and how much I changed his life for the better. Why do I keep attracting these clueless assholes instead of the man who’s already done the work? I’m sick of teaching!”
I went on like this for awhile, generally making a fool of myself and boring the hell out of everyone at the table, until finally the Buddhist monk of the bunch looked at me and chuckled. “Well,” he said slowly, “you’re the one who wanted to be a High Priestess. You’re a teacher, so you attract the ones who need to be taught.”
We’ll skip the real world applications of my rant – like the fact I’m a high-maintenance, gift-loving chick with self worth issues who really needs to stop searching for dates at comic conventions – and deal with the spiritual relevance of my romantic life.
This is not to say that my situation is different from any one else’s – it’s just a different perspective. Every man and woman has at some point, felt taken advantage of in their search for The One. Every person on this planet is a teacher when it comes to relationships, whether those connections are romantic, familial, or otherwise. We all learn from others, and they learn from us – and this new knowledge helps us to live in a better, healthier way, where we can cause less harm to the population. This story is just an example of my personal issue that got me thinking about my spiritual life on a deeper level. How as spiritual people, we often make dedications to things and paths we don’t fully comprehend at the time.
I was the one who wanted to be a High Priestess, which meant that at a young age I had accepted all the things that path entails – both positive and negative. My dedication to the Divine would be continuously tested by the scientific convention of the modern world. Living by the gift economy and allowing the Universe to be my source of abundance would conflict with my love of stability and Ferragamos. And being a healer and teacher would affect every relationship and connection I had. What my friend was saying is that I am a teacher – by birth, by design, by choice. Which means that in every aspect of my life, I have the tendency to attract people who need to learn something I can provide them with, regardless of whether they wanted to learn or if I wanted to teach. But why the hell didn’t anyone tell me that when I signed on to this path?
When I asked that question of the table, everyone burst out laughing. “We thought you knew!”
No you fuckers, I didn’t know that committing my self to the Divine meant I would always be in service, and constantly pushing towards growth every minute of every day. Or rather, I knew but I didn’t completely understand. I was fifteen when I started this shit, and it never occurred to me to read the fine print, and it never occurred to anyone else to discuss the details with me at length because they assumed I knew. But if I had known part of my lessons/growth would be every male I ran across would basically be a student, that I would have to be the one to lead while still keeping my ego low and my heart open, and having a slim-to-none chance of finding anybody willing or capable of handling my crazy ass – well, I would have given the finger to the Path of the Priestess.
Hmph. Maybe that’s why nobody said anything.
The full implications of the things we pray/ask for often go unsaid, both by Spirit and our teachers/guides. In the beginning, no one talks about what happens when we achieve our desires, and what that means to our lives and the lives of others. All those conversations are saved for after the fact, when you’ve already done the deed and are knee-deep in the confusion and indignation. I suppose this is because we all learn best by experience, and no one can share wisdom about things they don’t know.
And let’s be real – if the people who did know told us about all the trials and tribulations we would face by being spiritual people, most of us would have run in the other direction. We’d have never moved forward, never grown, never enhanced or bless anyone’s life because we would have been too afraid of all the ways things could go wrong. We’d would have been too caught in up in how our service affected us, instead of how it affected the world around us.
I was discussing this with my goddessmother Dee, and how weird it is that life works like this: we call in things we think we want without knowing the fullness of it, and later on when the fit hits the shan it seems so obvious that this is the way it would be. And Dee said, “I know! When I told Spirit I wanted to be a lightworker, and then I made the dedication to do so, no one told me that meant I was going to be the light. No one told me that meant I would be surrounded by darkness all the time.”
As we grow older in years and skill, we learn the nature of the world is light and shadow. When we call in a situation, or make the dedication to live life a particular way, we are calling in everything that goes with it. And most of those details are unseen, a mystery. When we dedicate ourselves to live according to a particular doctrine, we accept that some part of it will always remain unknown. And truly, that part is the exciting bit – waiting to see what the Universe will unfold.
I guess I just never realized that some of those mysteries would suck ass. No one talks about that fact because its implied, expected even as just a part of life. Some lessons rock, some lessons suck. And when we reach the point of suckiness, that voice in the back of our head goes, “Well, duh. You didn’t think it was gonna be all rainbows and moonshine, did you?”
Being a spiritual devotee means that when we take on a new task, we must be prepared for every aspect of it, even the facets that remain unseen. The trick is when those hidden pieces become visible to take it in stride. For me, that meant coming to terms with being a teacher in both the magickal and the Muggle sense, and being able to decipher the macrocosm/microcosm of each situation. And being a good teacher means being a good student too – being unafraid to ask questions, learning to push aside embarrassment or fear of looking stupid when confronted with things I don’t know or understand.
And who knows? My next lesson could be how to change things for the better.