What I like about truth is that it never changes. No matter where you find it, no matter what flavor it takes, it’s truth. One truth is that our lives are a dance with everything around us. What we do influences others, and what others do influences us. You could say there are no coincidences. (Or, if there are, they’re not coincidental.)

One way of expressing that truth—a way I expressed it in my Berkeley days—is that when the student is ready, the teacher appears. When we are finally ready to make an emotional commitment, for example, a new person appears offering emotional intimacy. Or, when it is time to learn Spanish, an online course pops up as a Google ad. Or something. It doesn’t really matter. When we look up, there’s exactly what we need. It’s kinda cool.

As with most New Age things—at least to my way of thinking—this is quite vanilla and devoid of negativity. There’s a place for devoid-of-negativity vanilla. No one is saying there isn’t. But I’ve learned that Christianity is more nuanced, more profound, and ultimately more satisfying. And only because it makes room for the dark night of the soul. Whether or not we’re ready, the Lord puts things and people in our lives that require tremendous growth on our part if we are to survive them.

The nuanced part is that we have always in some way initiated the chain of events that affect us. Sometimes it’s our higher (or spiritual) selves that attract challenges for their refinement. Sometimes it’s our baser (or natural) selves that attract consequences for their choices. Sometimes it’s our spouse or our children doing the attracting. All we did was get married and have kids, but here we are in the thick of our own challenges because of it.

The profound part is that it doesn’t matter whether the people and things are challenges or consequences because we can master either if we so desire. Consequences are challenges to master. Challenges are often unmastered consequences, either our own or someone else’s. In any case, the only way out is through. You can only go forward.

The ultimately more satisfying part is that it all means something. It means something because we are on a journey. Not a journey of self-discovery as many New Agers pursue, but a journey of self-mastery. We already know who we are—sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. Our journey is self-mastery because it allows us to become like Him. That is how we get to be with Him.

Christ’s infinite Atonement consisted of taking upon Himself every sin, weakness, transgression, infirmity, sickness, despair, and loss of hope. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He bled from every pore, so great was the intensity of that burden. If we want to be with Him in the eternities, we have to become like Him, and the only way to do that is to go through our own gardens of Gethsemane. We will weep from every pore, so great will be our agony at times. But it all means something in the end. In the end, it means you were ready from the time you were born to return home to our Father in Heaven. In the end, it means the Teacher was always with you.

photo credit: beltz6 The Lecture Hall via photopin (license)

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