No, I am not talking about pledging your life to God and cloistering yourself off in a sanctuary. Those are lovely Divine assignments but those are ones that I have no association with...like at all. And I am grateful for that. I have never wanted to be a nun or priest. I have never wanted the monastic life. (And if I am going to be honest, I suppose that I have lived in fear the whole of my life, that this would be my fate. So much against my will).
Instead, I am thinking about relationships. That all relationships are really Divine assignments. Testing grounds for two humans to check in with each other to see their growth, or lack thereof.
I have dated, a lot. Mostly because over my life, I have spent most of it single. I was married for over a decade, and I have been in several long term relationships that spanned a few more years. But what I have been most is single. Me, unpartnered in a world full of partnered people. It has take a toll but also granted me a great amount of time to get to know myself better.
It has also been Exhibit A in my issues with commitment and relationships. I felt alone most of my life, even when partnered. And that was mostly my fault. My fault for picking people who were content to let me feel that way, my fault for picking people to relationship with that were not really a good fit or match for me. I will admit, most ashamedly, that for awhile there, I relationshiped just to not be alone.
That ended some time ago, mostly due to the fact that this last few years that I have been mostly alone, has been one of the biggest growth spurts of my life. Seriously, I have done more growing in the last two years than I have in the last decade. And I am greatly for all of it, even the heart fucking terrible parts.
It is through these relations with others that I have come to know myself better, which oddly enough, then caused me to be alone more, which then caused me to improve the quality of the relationship with myself. Strange how these things happen. Which resulted in me having better relationships with others. Such a circuitous route...
Perhaps that is what relationships are, laboratories where we work on and out our shit, while the other person does the same. When I think of them this way, it is easy to see why and how these relationships get so tangled, mangled and ripped apart. Two wounded people trying to get their needs met by another wounded healer. What could possibly go wrong?
But all this time alone with myself has brought me to see the value of two wounded people attempting to grow a life together. That when done in the right spirit, this togetherness brings about a greater understanding of each other and ourselves. And can be a solid foundation for a life that is filled with love, purpose and divinity.
And if I look back over my dating history, I can see the Divine assignments. I didn’t know they were that at the time. And perhaps all dating behavior, even just a casual date here and there, are all Divine assignments. Just the right teachers sent to you at just the right time to show you where you are stuck, where you are still broken, and where you are healed.
I like thinking about relationships as being Divinely guided. It takes me out of the equation where I think that I know things. I can’t tell you how often I have been SURE that that one over there was the RIGHT one for me, only to engage and realize that it was not even close to being right for either of us. So I have surrendered to the idea that Divinely led associations, intimacies and encounters are just better and more worthwhile than anything I could come up with on my own.
This same thought, however, was kind of the death knell of believing in soulmates. I so want to still believe in that but this idea that there are Divine assignments kind of killed that whole concept. I guess because it is hard for me to see how one person could teach me everything I need to know. I have needed the variety over my life to get me in front of the people I needed to show me how off base I was, how much I was a collection of traumatic responses wrapped up in a good, albeit thin, cover story.
But as I have aged, I have become less social. Less wiling to fling myself out there and see what happens. And I have gotten in touch with that longing to be seen and heart and held by just one person. Dating just became something that I stopped doing and just sat back and watched what God sent to me. And then felt all the feeling that came up when there was no one in sight.
And over this dearth of dating partners, I have come to see through my Divine assignment with myself, doing that work, that where I really need the work is in that relational laboratory. That nexus between me and you. That proving ground of love, intimacy, sex and the past. Ripe and fertile soil to grow something new and exciting and not completely self directed.
This process has given me better access and insight into myself and others. I have grown more deeply and in areas that I really, quite arrogantly, thought I had done all the growing one person could do.
It is scary in some ways to think of relationships being test grounds for deeper insight because that always seems to beg the question that if growing is occurring, then growing apart is always part of that equation.
And this is normally something that would cause me to jerk my will back, hard and quickly. But this time working on the Divine assignment of loving Erin for Erin has given me a pause in this regard. I am not in charge. And when I attempt to be, it leads usually to the same lesson over and over again because that is all I can seem to produce with my limited will.
So this idea of relationships as Divine assignments has grown on me. It isn’t so much about getting it right, as it is about allowing for a communion of souls to be possible. Showing up in the most authentic skin I can and trusting another person to do the same. Hard stuff really. But I don’t seem to have the ability to shut it all down and stop the desire for this same communion. To be seen, felt, heard, held while doing the same thing for another person. I haven’t been all that successful at it, but fuck if I don’t keep trying.
I tend to see life as a deepening of understanding. Me learning on deeper and deeper levels who I am. And while some may criticize that as an over thinkers lament, I do not. I see that all the stuff that I engage in, all the people with whom I relate, are all here as Divine assignments to show me how to be more kind, caring, loving, giving and of service. And this will just keep happening until I am no longer of sound mind or body, or both.
And that is the kicker of all love stories, they usually end with one person being left behind to sort through the aftermath of that particular Divine assignment. And to see that they were lucky to have been give some, and to be even luckier to have survived at all. Because sometimes one assignment is harder than others, demanding more from us than we have to give. And that is what makes it so easy to think that there is something else going on. No divinity present, when completely inundated with self will.
But for me, today, I choose to see the hand of God in all the people that come towards me, if they dare. The ones that I can relate to and all the ones I can’t. I am not for everyone, no more than everyone is for me. But I have come to appreciate the process. The idea that each person who moves into my orbit is an assignment of love, of relation, of intimacy and like all assignments in this life, I will always have choice as to whether or not I want to do the work I am presented with...
And for the most part, today, I do. I want to evolve, moving closer to understanding who I am, how I got here, what I do and why. I want to do the work because I believe, rightly or wrongly, that that is why a person is presented in my life. An assistant, a helper to grow me into a more enlightened version of myself, while I assist them similarly. Often with pain, sometimes with abject joy and other times with bemused interest that belies how much I really care.
Assignments that are Divinely granted, as I have learned, will come and stay, stubbornly, until I am willing to learn that which I am attempting to be taught. And as much resistance I put forth, is proportional to how much I suffer along the way. So much easier to just accept, trust and abandon myself to the lesson, the assignment, the graceful benevolence that has grown me up this far. Always ready and waiting for the next Divine assignment to move me forward into whatever crazy light awaits me next. Always having to do the work to get my ego out of the way so that I may find willingness to grow toward God’s image and plan for me, instead of the crazy, fucked up shit that I seem to enjoy. So grateful it is just this one day at a time. And for all the Divinely led assignments that bless my life, sometimes with dubious honor, but always, always with that unrelenting grace that uplifts with purpose and joy and love.