Since I’ve been vegan for the past few months, I’ve never been sick. (*hair flip/#vegan*). However, humor me while I discuss sickness as a metaphor.
Almost three years ago I spent a month with intense sickness. At first it was a cold, and after it spiraled into a full-blown shitshow, I went to the doctor and was given medicine that would surely fix everything. Of course, after a week, the sickness had only gotten worse. I went through two boxes of tissues a day and forgot what it was like to breathe without struggle. Despite the illness, I visited my friend Stacie in Seattle, where my sickness got so bad that I slept in what we coined as my “coffin.”
When I returned home and saw a different doctor, she was shocked to see that my first prescription was inaccurate. My illness had been misdiagnosed as bacterial when it was actually viral. She couldn’t believe I had spent almost a month with this extent of exhaustion and struggle. “Honey, how did you survive?” she asked, and I said, “Honey, who says I even did?”
Had the sickness been diagnosed correctly upon my first visit, things would have been very different. I would have understood the root of my issue, and the steps to healing would have been effective and quick. However, the misdiagnosis was essentially an incorrect map that I believed I should follow, wondering why sustaining the behavior that was supposed to be helpful was, in fact, hurting me.
Spiritual tests are not unlike this sickness. The patterns in our lives—a shitty type of boyfriend, awful work habits, the desire to move and run away, unhealthy family dynamics—are all tests that present themselves to us over and over again until we know how to pass the test. When we misdiagnose this test as “just another life experience,” we are blind to the idea that this pattern is meant to be broken. We are blind to the idea that this pattern exists in such an obvious way so we can clearly learn we are meant to overcome it.
I smile and give a big ‘ole exhale when I think about the tests I’ve been served and the mixed results I’ve achieved. Sometimes I think I’ve passed the test, only to realize that the medicine I took was, indeed, not the right cure to the illness. Like the poisoned apple in Snow White, spiritual tests are often disguised as a golden opportunity. I believe our spirit guides present us with the most appetizing reflection of what we think we want and need. Will we indulge in the feast of our own downfall? Or can we refuse the plate and break the pattern, even if it temporarily brings us confusion and pain?
Sweetie, these tests are everywhere—on our dating apps, in our phone conversations, in our study habits, in our spending habits—and we have the power to pass. The first step to passing the test, however, is to acknowledge the challenge as a test. Naming it and leaning into the test will help us acknowledge the difficulty. Then, after we understand the possibility of succeeding, we will need to identify the opposite behavior that needs to occur for success, and while it may seem robotically unnatural to create a new map, we will not find success with our old map.
We hope that Real Talk Universe can be your tutors for these tests, henny. While the test is always individual, group studying is allowed. Create your studying community, bring donuts to the study sesh, and watch yourself fly with amazing results.