When it is dark, when we have spoken the entire day about what she believes, I ask her to decide, and it is a bit confusing for her when I do. We have been discussing her religion all day. However, she has not thought about it in the scenario of one vs. the other. She has only consciously thought of one and then the other. While she was thinking only of being with her family, she had resigned her faith to the very back of her mind. Now, when faced with the opportunity to ‘be with God.’ When asked to choose, she does not know how to respond.
Most of us never face this choice. Imagine asking mothers to part with their children. How deep is their faith in God if given this condition? We all want to believe the choice is obvious, but even our smallest doubts will challenge what we thought we knew when everything is on the line. How willing are we to walk away from our children, from the love of our life, from our families, especially when we believe we need to protect them? This is what we face in the desert, questions like these.
Amber is not sure how to respond.
“Remember the teaching of eternal life, Amber. Do you believe in them?”
“I do.” She’s quiet, afraid of the trap her answers might build.
“Do you believe God can protect your children?”
This question is where she falters. I can see she wants to say, ‘Yes,’ but she’s not sure.
Because of her fear, I must show my hand. “I know about the man.”
She freezes, afraid to think I might know of her suffering.
I continue, “Remember our first meeting?”
Her eyes narrow as she becomes nervous and distrusting. She doesn’t trust anyone who knows too much about the man who tormented her.
“I flushed him away, Amber. Do you remember? I saw what happened at the door and came here to help you and for you to help me. We have all worked, me, my guides… your family.”
She looks shell-shocked as it all comes together in her mind. Her mouth opens, but she has no words. She simply sits hard upon the couch, trying to process what I’ve said.
I allow her time to absorb the information.
She’s not thinking of where I might be going with this or why I’ve not spoken before now. She is merely putting pieces together in her mind. Finally, they form a straight line. Finally, they land in order, into a thought she can comprehend. It does not constitute a picture for her but more of an understanding. Maybe she doesn’t know what is happening because–and this is the most important realization of all–she realizes things have changed.
Most spirits who do not pass right away cling to a story. The rules of the story repeat in their head, and even though they may interact with others, the rules do not change. This is why they cannot come to a new ending because it would require a new beginning. At this moment, Amber’s rules are changing. This moment is significant. It is an opportunity to change her story and open the door to a whole new ending.
I allow time for pieces to click together, and then I speak, “There is a tear in your soul. You don’t want to remain here. This is not what you want. Remember what you believed on Earth before the illness. Return to what you knew about God then. Your experience has tested your faith, but you can still remember the commitments you made in the temple and how you felt when you made them.”
Now we follow the simple but painful path of reason, “Did you have faith then?”
She did, so she nods.
I ask, “Did God allow the man to hurt you or any of your family?”
The question is confusing at first. Her confirmation bias says he did, but he didn’t. She answers quietly, “No.”
The question will seem harsh, only because it does not exist in any other way, and it needs to snap her into a new reality, a new story. “Amber, do you have more faith in this man’s ability to harm or in God’s ability to protect?”
Her head drops. I can tell it hurts because I know this is a woman who prides herself on her faith.
As I continue, it will hurt more, but I can’t stop because, in the truth, lies her freedom. “Amber, do you have more faith in your ability to protect your family or in God’s?”
She looks resigned, like a person who has failed. She has heard my words and finally understands. She understands how she allowed her ego to take control and understands how she allowed her fear to overcome her faith. The only thing she doesn’t yet understand is now this also means she can let go.
The lives of others are not in our hands. They are not even in God’s. They are in their own, and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. This is not a curse. It is a blessing. It is the gift of free will.
It is a long time before she responds, but finally, she stands up and walks around the edges of the cave. She casually examines the cave walls as she says, “Where is the place you went? Where is the doorway? I want you to take me there.”
I respond gently, “It is not for you to decide, Amber. Not this way. He must call to you. He must open the door. Do you think I open these doors? Do you think I decide? It is He who calls unto us.” I pause, knowing as she does, her ego has betrayed her once again.
Realization is not always the crux of change. Sometimes it only comes with practice.
I continue, “It is important for you to pray, Amber. You need to find your humility again. I know you have fought long and hard in this battle, but you need to realize how your ego has allowed you to deny your faith. You must find the purity of your faith once again. You must pray and ask God to remind you of your humility. You must find ‘Him’ again. Fear is a form of worship, and you have put another God before your own by having more faith in a mortal’s ability to harm than in God’s ability to protect. Search your soul and find the words to bring true faith back into your heart. Only then will you find the humility required to ask ‘Him’ to allow you into ‘His’ kingdom. ‘He’ will decide when you are ready. You will be here alone, and you will pray. When you have found your faith again, ‘He’ will send for me, and I will return, then ‘He’ will tell us what ‘He’ wants of us. Do you understand what I am saying?”
She nods. She is in tears now, but this means she has heard my words, and she has taken them into her heart. I do not like carrying this message and do not speak it from my faith any more than anyone else who may read this, but there is something each of us must clearly understand. This is not our story. It is not about our faith. This is Amber’s story, and for her story to be true, it must be of her soul. Truth can never be about what any of us wants for her. It must be longing born from the deepest stratum of her soul. This is where her healing begins and for it to work, she must do it through her faith.
I do not remain as an icon sitting at the center of the space. I am no longer a source of comfort. For any of us to find our faith, we must have the opportunity to be alone in the world, and now, with all of the distractions of Amber’s illness finally gone, she can fill the space with a truth that is her own.
I hold her for a moment, and then I return to my place in the center of the room. I close my eyes and bow my head, but I do not appear to be in meditation this time. I slowly fade until she cannot even see the trace of where I was sitting. The cavern is so empty she may, on some level, wonder if I was ever really there.
Now she is finally alone, and she cries. Those who love her are not the only ones to feel loss over what has happened. Amber must mourn her decision and make plans for moving forward, in just the way those who were left behind must heal. These tears will be healing, and in these tears and at this place of being alone, she will find God again, and ‘He’ will give her faith.
Outside of the falls, I walk away, along the path, and out of the forest. I find my way home. I will return to myself until I receive ‘the call,’ then Amber and I will speak again, but this time it will be very different. I will not return to her again until she has found her faith. No matter how long it takes. I will wait.