I had a birthday a few weeks ago. It was the first one in a while where I felt older. The day seemed to be marked by a distinct recognition that the years I have lived are gone forever, and those ahead are fewer in number and will surely fly by faster than the ones before.
It was a sobering and yet somehow sweet reflection. It felt real and raw to recognize with such visceral awareness that this is the nature of life. And while it was at once tender to acknowledge, it also felt nourishing to a very deep and human part of me.
It was as if my soul were whispering to me, “Do not turn away from this my dear, for it is a holy moment when our own impermanence rises into view.”
I don’t think it is a coincidence that this experience appeared on the heels of a year that has been so profoundly challenging. One that has taken me to my edge and back. Though, I must admit, I do quite often still feel like I am dangling out on that edge.
A year like this however, can also catalyze great and momentous change. This, along with my recent birthday, I believe is why I am feeling older. Not just in years, but also in perspective.
When I see my face in the mirror these days, I see so clearly a woman who has matured. It is not always the easiest sight to see, but when I stop trying to look past the fine lines I see a woman who is more settled, more steady, and more sure.
This ground has been hard won, and I still struggle to maintain it.
The funny thing is — the thing I feel most sure about is that I can never be truly sure about anything. And the thing that feels more steady is that I have simply stopped trying.
I have spent so much of my life trying so damn hard. Trying to be “spiritual.” Trying other people’s way. Trying to find answers. But mostly just trying.
While a part of me wants to cringe at this reflection, another part feels so much compassion for this version of myself. After all, I was just trying.
But this is exactly where I feel so many of us get stuck on our chosen paths. We think we are looking for answers. For certainty. To find some sign or divine omen that will tell us exactly what to do and where to go and as long as we listen we will be perfectly aligned. Which of course, also means we will avoid suffering because otherwise it wouldn’t be “aligned.”
But, I call bullshit.
And I think the wisdom I see reflected back at me in the mirror is from finally having dropped this faulty belief.
Instead, I have settled into a place within myself that feels more grounded and somehow also more expansive. I am no longer trying to play God or predict the future. Because in truth, I don’t think that God can actually be known in these ways. God is far too grand and mysterious for us to pretend we know his precise will for us. To claim so, I have come to see as both a delusion and inflation of ego.
When we let go of this need to know, we are left to cope with the gaping void of uncertainty. It’s no wonder we run. Uncertainty can be nauseatingly uncomfortable and frankly even terrifying. What’s more, it is precisely what so many of us are using our “spiritual” lives to compulsively avoid in the first place.
But the thing is, pretending we have certainty requires so much energy to maintain. We must work constantly to convince ourselves that we know what we think we know, molding and reshaping our story to fit the the contradictions that will inherently surface.
Letting go of this burden in and of itself is a massive liberation. It opens us to a greater truth. One that says there is no one perfect path for our lives. No one right choice at a crossroad. No one divine destiny for us to either discover or miss entirely.
How could God work like this anyway? It is far too limited and narrow a view for the most unimaginably unifying force in the Universe.
This leaves us to navigate our own choices — no bypassing into the illusion of certainty. And while this is a much more expansive path to take, it also ultimately a much harder one to walk.
It is up to us to navigate well, which requires us to bring God into whatever path we choose and where ever we find ourselves. This is the only certain prescription that God has for us. To bring the highest virtues of life — love, acceptance, compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, and all the rest — to all of our choices, crossroads, and paths.
It is not that God is telling us where to go. But how to go.
And this is what holds us as we surrender and trust fall into the limitless void of not knowing.