“Life happens through you, not to you.” Anonymous
Have you ever danced with someone who was in total control, who knew exactly when to turn and step to create a flowing movement of beauty and grace? When you allow the other person to lead, you accept their guidance and give up control. And together, you create a joyous sequence of steps that inspires, uplifts and possibly transcends gravity.
That same wondrous creation process is accessible when you accept guidance from the Divine. Think of it as a dance of creation, with God leading, nudging and guiding you to become a grander, larger version of yourself. His hand is always extended, palm up, in an open invitation to dance with him.
All you have to do is accept.
I accepted my invitation to dance while sitting in Torts class with 60 other first year law students. I was in the middle of the amphitheater classroom, sunk down in my seat, trying my best to be invisible. (Imagine a four-year-old with a blanket over her head, convinced that no one can see her, and you will be close to how I looked that day. Only I did not have a blanket). But no matter how small I made myself, it was a futile exercise, since we sat higher than the Professor.
I wondered for the 1,000th time why in the world I decided to go to law school. I was the “quiet one,” the twin who constantly read books and stayed in the background of everything. I was painfully shy, constantly withdrawn and thought my own shadow held a dark, scary secret. Why did I ever think in a million years that I should be a lawyer?
Because my father is a lawyer. My twin brother is a lawyer. My mother had her PhD in Clinical Psychology. My older brother has his PhD in computer science. Are you starting to see a pattern develop?
There was no way that I could stay in my low paying job at the bank’s marketing department (even though I loved it) and survive in my family. Doing so meant that I was “wasting my potential.” Law school was the logical choice, so after three years of pressure, I finally gave in and took the easy route. I applied and was accepted to law school.
Not because I wanted to. Because I felt that I had to or remain an outcast in my own family, destined to be overlooked and undervalued.
So here I was, sitting in Torts that first day, my thoughts flaying down their usual path of recrimination and bullying, until I heard the two words that I dreaded most in the world at that moment.
“Ms. Eriksen,” Professor Johnson said, a tinge of exasperation in his voice.
Sheer terror froze me in my seat, eyes glued to the massive 500 page textbook that was opened in front of me. Blood rushed to my face and I instantly knew what the term “fight or flight” meant, because all I wanted to do was flee this moment and never return. There were 59 pairs of eyes focused on me, some with pity but most relieved that it was not their name the Professor had just called.
I slowly looked down at Professor Johnson, just to make sure that he really meant to call on me. His were the only pair of eyes that I truly cared about at that moment. What I saw in them surprised me – he actually gave me a subtle wink that said, “We have to do this…just play your role and you will be O.K.”
My terror disappeared and I suddenly felt peaceful and calm. A strange sensation came over me, almost as if I was watching myself from above. I could see every detail of that classroom and feel the emotions in the other students – relief, anticipation and anxiety dominated. But the most amazing thing was that I could see myself, staring down at the Professor, making a decision that would change the rest of my life. Would I continue with my story of the “forgotten twin” or would I dare to stand up and create a new story?
I dared to stand up.
I do not remember what I said that day. All I know is that I decided to take a different path and I became an active creator of my life. I accepted God’s invitation to dance with him and that has made all the difference.
The thrilling part about my experience is that it could have happened in any setting – at my job or with family or friends. What I learned that day set me on a journey of discovery and awakening to the process of living authentically. I certainly did not create this process – I only discovered how it worked for me. But I have distilled the steps so you can also learn how to use it in your life.
YOUR STORY IS YOUR STORY, UNTIL IT ISN’T
A “story” is your collection of thoughts, beliefs and ultimately, your actions concerning a person, an event or set of circumstances. It is your interpretation of the events that reflects its meaning back to you. But what is easy to forget is that the original event or occurrence is neutral.
A glass falls and shatters on the floor. Food is spilled or dropped. These events are just that – events, until you place meaning on them. If you are a parent, have you ever admonished your child to “not be so clumsy” or “to take more care” when they are carrying food? If so, your story about your child’s “clumsiness” was superimposed on the neutral occurrence of food dropped on the floor.
I created a story about being the “forgotten twin” and constructed my life around that belief, even though it was not true. That belief was the lens through which I made decisions, which only perpetuated and supported the original limiting belief. It was not until I realized that I could make a different choice that my life changed dramatically.
Are you stuck in your story like I was stuck in mine? Have you ever wondered why you experience the same things over and over, when all you want to do is be happy?
I wondered the same thing for years, and finally realized that I always reacted from the victim mindset. All I wanted was to be happy – why did I make myself miserable?
For one simple and inescapable reason – because I enjoyed it.
Remember, you choose the roles you play in your life. You decide whether you are the action hero, hapless victim or damsel in distress. If you find yourself playing any role that makes you feel small, take a long look to see if your ego isn’t directing the show. A hard and fast rule to remember is:
If your ego is in charge, you will always be small.
The ego is that voice in your head that always sides against you. When you hear critical words or feel guilty for no reason, I can guarantee you that your ego is behind the curtain like the Wizard of Oz, pulling the levers and pushing the buttons that make smoke to cover up its game. The ego is a bully extraordinaire, always looking for ways to make you feel small and insignificant. And it is terrified of only one thing.
That you will accept your Divine Invitation to dance.
When you allow the Divine to guide you, your ego is relegated to a place at the back of the stage, where it belongs. As you develop a relationship with God through meditation, prayer and stillness, you will never be lonely, unhappy or depressed. Instead, you will dance with joy, laugh with love and smile constantly. You are in love with life and yourself.
The choice is always yours – do you want to stay unhappy, depressed and feel worthless (all products of ego-based thinking), or do you want to change your script and accept God’s invitation? When you do, you will lead a life of lightness, joy and love.
That moment in law school, I dropped my victim story and accepted God’s invitation to dance. I discovered that instead of things happening to me, they happened because of me. This shift in thinking was cataclysmic in my life and it set me on the messenger path that I still enjoy today.
My latest book, Dance with the Divine, A Guidance Story (available on Amazon.com) explains this entire process in the fictional setting of a modern American family. Haven Hartt is a troubled teenager who is thrust into a family crisis that threatens the very foundation of her life. She is faced with the choice of reacting as she always would, or looking deeper and choosing love, no matter what the consequences.
To learn more about my work as a messenger, please visit KathrynEriksen.com. Join my email group and you will receive much more information about the Divine dance.
Are you ready?