I'd like to start off with a prayer I've recently adopted. It goes like this: "Dear God, please don't answer my prayers."
I have become deeply grateful for being taken out of control. But even more than for being taken out of control, I am grateful to be in acceptance of being taken out of control.
I have lived most of my life in the belief that the circumstances I would choose for myself would be the best possible circumstances for me. So many times I've thought to myself if I had been allowed to choose my family, if I'd been born into privilege, I'd have been happier. If I'd been given the choice never to been teased by the kids in school, or dumped by a boyfriend, my life would have turned out more pleasurable. While I think a lot of us recognize that our difficulties have shaped us well, given us gravity, cultivated power within us, and taught us perseverance, few of us can welcome them with open arms when they're upon us. It's usually in retrospect, if ever at all, that we are able to be grateful for all we've been through, what it's taught us, and where it's taken us.
But imagine accepting everything that came our way without fighting against the tide? I mean, isn't it a bit arrogant not to accept what life offers us? I have to keep asking myself "Have the times when everything went comfortably according to my plan ever taught me anything? Have those experiences ever expanded my perspective or presented me with opportunities greater than what I could have designed for myself?" No they couldn't have. So why do I do that? Why do I try to control everything? Why do I insist that I get it my way? Why do I make rules and boundaries and try to police every part of life that enters into my field as though I were a sovereign land and life were a foreign army marching upon me? Why not let myself be taken out of control and be open to, and even grateful for, whatever comes of that?
My honest answer? Because I thought that I could design my life through control better than I could through surrender.
I have been living with the fear that if I give up control I'll be tortured by circumstances I didn't choose. But my realization is that it's never the circumstances of my life that torture me. The circumstances only feel torturous when they don't align with the way I think things are supposed to go. It's my attachment to things turning out the way I want and the way I plan that tortures me. It's this self-righteous idea that things should go how I want them to go solely because I, in my imperfection and limited perspective, want them to be that way. It's arrogant. And it's an unfortunate mindset because I actually have to suspend my faith in the perfection of the universe in order to experience the events of my life this way. I have to forget all the wonderful growth I've ever experienced through things not going according to my plans. I have to convince myself that loss is not an antecedent of new beginnings. I have to pretend I'm more competent than the whole of nature. I have to be in the delusion that I, in my extremely limited knowledge of the workings of the universe, am the single most suited entity to be making decisions about how my life should unfold.
But the truth is, if my experience so far is any indication, I'm not at all qualified to design my life optimally. Never has anything ever played out exactly according to my plans, nor should I want it to.
So when I pray that the universe will hand me something I think I want and need, my silent subtle prayer beneath is "God, please don't answer my prayers"