When I decide to inwardly change, why do I start facing hardships?

The buoyancy that uplifts the spirit when you decide to embark on the path of inner transformation is revitalizing and animating. The freshness of this resolution consumes you with the joy of a new energy that had hitherto been unknown. Instantly you feel transformed, you feel refreshed, you feel uplifted beyond the infernal reaches of daily trivialities and personal iniquities. You are riding high, victoriously tittuping on the white horse of untouchability. You feel inwardly celestial like the repentant thief on the cross after the Divine Proclamation of Jesus regarding his eternal destiny. Yes, you feel like the antipodes of your former self. Felicity abounds and floats magically in the river of the soul like a blessed island of peace.

But eftsoons this transcendental period, you start encountering obstacles, hardships, and afflictions that cause you to bitterly struggle. The sun of euphoria is slowly eclipsed by the ominous clouds of sorrow and painstaking toil. One after another, the adversities come in quick succession like drops of rain that suddenly erupt into a torrential downpour. You are soaked, overwhelmed, even feel abandoned. Doubts, frustrations, vexations, fears, and an endless array of proclivities start sprouting. Overnight they propagate and even seem to awaken and strengthen with each adversity. As if each hardship is the fertilizer that harvests a host of foibles unsuspectingly buried deep in the soul. It feels too much, you struggle bitterly with yourself everyday. You think “this is not what I hoped and bargained for”.

You start questioning “Why is this happening?” “Am I spiritually sinking?” “Why do I feel worse off than ever before?” “What am I doing wrong?” Where is the joy and bliss I once experienced daily when I started this path?” “Is it worth the heartache anymore?” “How come others who seem indifferent to inner transformation appear more content than me?” “How come I am more flawed than the average person?”

So the once sweet wine of newness starts tasting like a sour draft of tribulation. But…what lies behind it?

The desire to be new is not synonymous with becoming new, even though it bears some components of newness. Hence when we seriously make the decision to inwardly change in all sincerity, it is a volition of the spirit. It is a new thrust of will connected to the Universal Light of Love that brings with it a fresh wave of power. This wave fills the spirit, pervades the soul and permeates the physical body. In its effect we literally feel new, and to some degree — through this volition — we are. Yet this light is also spiritual fire and heat that has an animating effect on everything within the spirit. When you have dirt in the bottom of a pot of water and turn the heat on, what happens? The dirt, under the pressure of the heat, is compelled to rise to the surface! When you put an ostensibly fresh shirt to the hot iron, what happens? Any hidden stench, under the pressure of the steam, is compelled to rise and reveal its true noisomeness to the nose.

The point is, the resolution to become new is only the starting point of an inner purification process, not the end. It only marks the end of our hitherto lackluster desire. So from the point of our earnest volition, we start experiencing circumstances and situations that not only show us every particle of the inner proclivities that exist deep in our soul, but it even summons it to an awakening for us to confront. It brings it to life so it can reveal itself to us outwardly, so we can see the true contents of our inner being. So that in the recognition of these iniquities, we can conquer them one by one through the decision of the moment to exercise the good volition on the path of permanent change. It compels us to do battle with the frailties of the soul — to confront ourselves — in the crucible of life experiences. We are led through the spiritual washing cycle so we can cleanse ourselves of old ways.

Many become weary and even see this as misfortune. Many tire in the process and do not realize there can hardly be a greater blessing than this. We are taken through the mills of renewal that leads through the path self-recognition. We are tutored in the dynamics of our inner life, we are given an insight into the decisions and tendencies of the soul so we know where and how to direct the energy to permanently change and thus free ourselves. We are enlightened into the host of misconceptions, proclivities and tendencies that still hold us back, so we can overcome them for good. For it is in the battle with ourselves and purification process of our hearts that we eventually become new. In this exertion, we start understanding the struggles of our neighbors. In this understanding, the clarity of the weight of our own wrongs, i.e. the beam in thine own eye, naturally compels us to forgive others for the weight of theirs. We become less critical of others not because we do not see wrongs, but because are too busy with the exertion of trying to correct ours. A sensitivity, consideration, gentleness, compassion, and kindness awaken in our hearts. It governs our attitude and treatment of others, because in the good and bad of others we see the full spectrum of tendencies in our own soul.

We do not become indulgent and weak thereby, a frail doormat upon which any bystander can exploit and stampede! No, for if severity and sternness is required to address any rascality or injustice, they are forthwith summoned to flaming action. So we do not become weaklings, but vigilant victors in the journey of renewal. Hence our inner tone and underlying attitude toward others change that bespeaks a magnanimous humanity.

Each moment, each second, each experience now seems impregnated with a panoply of lessons that tutors us about the condition, decisions and inclinations of our inner consciousness. Step by step we are urged to look into the mirror of life that shows us ourselves and what we need to inwardly grow. We are compelled to see the subtleties of cause and effect, seed and harvest, sowing and reaping, all called forth by the movement of the human spirit. The exertion costs us immense effort and constant exertion, for it strengthens us into a perpetual watchfulness that prevents a hampering indolence from persisting unchallenged by an awakening. But in this movement is vitality, a victorious invigoration that initiates the spirit into an unknown happiness of a consciousness of power. And it is in the continued application of this consciousness of power, of this self-conquest, of this unceasing exertion that we eventually become new. New in spirit, soul, mind and body.

For the newness is not a destination of slothful rest and relief, but a state of eternal movement and growth of spirit that constantly revitalizes and refreshes in the ever-deepening experiencing of felicity. But the journey to this state leads through the recognition of self, and it is this merciful knowledge that each experience brings through the apparent hardships. Hence it is not misfortune, but a grace. A luminous blessing that urges us along this path of purification and newness. Even if we cannot see it now, one day only an incandescent gratitude will undulate from the spirit at the immeasurable blessing and grace inherent in the experiences that we now— with limited vision and understanding — call hardships and misfortune. The inevitability of this urges us even now to seek this understanding and gratitude in the moment, regardless of the effort required.

~Ikenna Q Ezealah

About Ikenna Q Ezealah

Ikenna Q Ezealah is a writer, author and essayist whose themes embrace human-spiritual development.
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