I was talking to my friend Gail* recently about a friend of hers whom she has supported and stood by for the last 10 years, often at the expense of her own time and money. This friend recently asked for Gail’s help with something else and Gail agreed but mentioned that she would have to leave before the job was finished because she had to be elsewhere. Her friend was furious with her and refused to drop her home, instead leaving her at a train station to make her own way back and causing her to be late for her appointment.
This is not the first time this sort of incident has occurred and sadly Gail has decided to end the friendship. She feels devastated that after 10 years she has had to let this person go out of her life on such unpleasant terms.
One school of thought says that there are some people and situations who come into our lives to teach us something, and if we don’t learn the lesson we will keep repeating it until we do. Once the lesson is learned, the person or situation will leave because their mission is complete and we can move on.
This is just a theory but it’s one that makes sense to me. In this way, we can look at the people who hurt us and make our lives difficult as our greatest teachers. What Gail finally learned in the above situation was that her needs were important too, and there were times when she needed to respect herself even if it meant saying no to someone and risking the friendship.
We teach other people how to treat us and what to expect from us. If we start out abandoning ourselves by consistently putting other’s needs above our own, some people will begin to just expect this from us, and will naturally be angry if one day we tell them ‘no’. However if we are able to make it clear from the start that, while we respect others and want to be there for them we are not willing to disrespect ourselves in the process, then we not only set up realistic expectations from the start, we also provide a good role model to others on how to have healthy self-respect.
The other benefit in respecting ourselves from the start is that the people who don’t value us or who are uncomfortable with our healthy boundaries will simply move on. We won’t find ourselves stuck in an endless cycle of conflict and hurt while we figure out what the lesson is, because there is no lesson to learn with this person.
Neale Donald Walsch, who wrote Conversations With God, also wrote a children’s book called The Little Soul and the Sun. The story involves a little soul who lives in Heaven in the Light. Because he and everything around him is light, the little soul has trouble understanding who he really is, and is told by God that in order to fully experience himself as the light, he will have to surround himself with darkness.
The little soul agrees to this, and decides he also wants to experience himself as forgiveness. God reminds him that just as there is no darkness in Heaven, there is also no-one to forgive – everyone is an angel. That’s when another friendly soul offers to help him:
“I can come into your next lifetime and do something for you to forgive.”
The little soul is surprised that the friendly soul would volunteer to slow down his vibration so much that he could do something so awful that would require forgiveness, but the friendly soul reminds him that they have done the same thing for each other many times.
This is when the friendly soul becomes serious and tells the little soul something very important – in the moment that he strikes and smites the little soul and does the worst he can do, they must both remember who they really are.
“Because, you see, I will have been pretending so hard, I will have forgotten myself. And if you do not remember me as I really am, I may not be able to remember for a very long time. And if I forget Who I Am, you may even forget Who You Are, and we will both be lost. Then we will need another soul to come along and remind us both of Who We Are.”
In agreeing to experience the darkness, the little soul also experienced his own light which he could not see when it was burning alongside every other light in Heaven. And in agreeing to do something terrible to the little soul, the friendly soul gave him the opportunity to experience forgiveness.
In the same way, maybe Neale Donald Walsch’s parable gives us the opportunity to reframe the situations that traumatise us and the people who hurt and betray us in a different light. Nothing can take away the pain and the darkness we experience at these times, but it might help us to remember what the little soul remembered throughout his next lifetime:
“Always remember,” God had smiled, “I have sent you nothing but angels.”