Chaos and Disorder: Right on Schedule

I am not this hair, I am not this skin, I am the soul that lives within. ~Rumi

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. ~Pierre Tielhard de Chardin

In general, we humans love order and predictability. We find comfort and ease in knowing what to expect, and we enjoy the sense of security when those expectations are met.

Our love affair with order and predictability will probably never change. And it doesn’t need to. It’s what makes us so delightfully human.

But, what if you could be even the tiniest bit open to the idea that the events and circumstances we call “chaotic and disorderly” are not at all what we’ve been taught?

What if the circumstances that we insist “shouldn’t happen” are actually the very things that help us wake up to who we are beyond our human costumes? What if our perceived chaos and disorder are the very tools that provide the necessary cracks in the façade that allow our formless nature to be glimpsed for the very first time?

In the face of the unexpected, we are often cracked open. We are invited to remember who we are.

We all come into this world of form having no real conscious idea of our formless nature. It’s actually the perfect design. We are immersed in form—in linear time, in causality, and in perceived separation from others and from life. We believe that we—our little prefrontal cortex narrators—make things happen because we figured out, managed, and controlled all the right things that needed to be figured out, managed, and controlled. Again, such a beautiful, perfect design.

All illusory, but what a wonderful, compelling illusion.

But, at some point, RIGHT ON SCHEDULE, something happens to lead you from ORDER into DISORDER. You are taken from the comfort of your predictable life to the seeming chaos and disorder of something you cannot handle with your own limited resources. You are brought to the end of yourself and led to your knees, to the pit, to the fire. None of this is personal. It’s not about you—the story of you that your adorable narrator has created. This is not punishment for doing life incorrectly. It’s not bad karma or a generational curse. It’s not happening to you. It’s an opportunity for you to begin waking up to something beyond the shape-shifting, ephemeral, fleeting nature of human experience.

It's the BEGINNING of your waking up to what is timeless, stable, sustainable, and constant. It’s an invitation to see the world through a brand new lens, free from the layers of conditioned beliefs that you’ve worn like a heavy cloak your whole life (without even knowing it).

When circumstances remove the things that we have spent a lifetime believing were the source of our worth, safety, and OK-ness, it hurts. When we have been under the spell of believing that we are valuable and worthy because of something like a career, a spouse, a leadership role, a bank balance, or a healthy body, losing that thing is bound to be painful. And, when it looks like we are whole, complete, and loveable because of our relationships with other people, it’s bound to be disorienting if we lose those relationships.

But, it’s in the disorientation and the pain that we discover, often for the very first time, where our value, wholeness, and worth actually come from.

For me, the chaos and disorder could not have been more perfect. I believed whole-heartedly that my worth and identity were dependent on two things: my image/appearance and my performance. It was very important to me that people thought highly of me and that people liked me. I was the definition of a people-pleasing perfectionist. I also believed that “productivity = worth” so I lived my life in a constant state of running, always looking for the next task that needed to be completed. My mind said, “After this one last thing, then I can relax. THEN, I’ll take a break.” But that imaginary finish line never stayed in place long enough to cross it. So, I never stopped looking for the next thing to hold my worth in place.

My chaos and disorder began on December 4th, 2017. I was giving a presentation to a large group of people. I was prepared. I was ecstatic because giving presentations was "My THING." I had a gift for presenting, driven in part by a rush of anxiety-induced adrenaline that somehow came across as vibrance and enthusiasm. I also believed that my worth depended on my performance in those presentations. Good presentation = I have value as a person. Bad presentation = People will question my competence and I won’t be able to handle that. About an hour into my presentation, I began not feeling well. I pushed through. I felt worse and worse, like I would collapse. Still, I pushed through because that's what winners do, right?

Then, my lips began swelling up like big cartoon lips. I didn't even know that was humanly possible. People in the audience began whispering and one finally raised her hand and pointed out that my lips were swelling up. Several people in the audience asked if they should call 911 for me. Others offered to drive me to the emergency room. I said, no at first, but eventually, the situation became concerning enough for everyone that I agreed to go in for an evaluation.

The chaos had only just begun.

I began a lengthy journey of chronic hives, lip swelling, and hopelessness. I spent more money on functional and alternative doctors and supplements than I care to admit, and my life became very small. I lost 40 pounds as a result of my fear of foods (those damn food sensitivity tests seemed so convincing at the time), and random people asked to pray for me because I looked like a cancer patient. I wanted my three daughters to have a better mom and my husband to have a better wife. It looked to me as though I was suffering the worst trauma of my life. Turns out, what I was experiencing was waking up.

Chaos. Disorder. Perfection.

Waking up was happening. And waking up is not something the mind can comprehend, so it calls it “suffering.” But, thankfully, I came to realize that the conscious mind is an adorable, well-meaning, protective little liar.

There was a gradual seeing that who I thought I was was a mere representation—a limited version of my true self. Beliefs that had lived in my subconscious, determining my perspective of the world, began to slip away, one by one. Lifelong programming passed down from generation to generation began to lose its grip. As beliefs and programming shimmered, life felt simpler. Lighter. Freer. More joyful.

Then, heavier. And then lighter again. There was a dance to it. Like a rhythmic see-saw, up and down, up and down. Each “up” was higher, though. And each “down” seemed less compelling. This dance continued. Up, down. My mind still hated the “downs,” but there was a deeper grounding in my trust for the overall unfolding of life. There were more and more moments of knowing that all is well.

I began to see more consistently that the energy my mind called “stress, anxiety, and fear” was never giving me reliable information about the world around me. Instead, that energy was letting me know that I had fallen back into believing I was a limited human costume, separate from life, responsible for navigating the world on my own.

The tight, contracted emotions that my mind had always attributed to things outside of me (including my body and appearance) were actually the perfect mechanisms for bringing me back into alignment with the truth of who I am beyond my narrator’s story.

These days, I still do the things that make sense to do in terms of keeping a fairly predictable, chaos-free life. Of course I do. The difference now is that I know that all is well no matter how life shows up. I imagine there will be more unmet expectations, disappointments, and disorder at some point in my future. But I no longer fear it. I no longer believe “that shouldn’t happen.” I trust the unfolding of life because I am part of its unfolding. I am not separate from it. I am inherently safe, whole, worthy, and design.



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