I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February this year, a second diagnosis in just five years. I may have gotten off ‘lightly’ the first time around but my second brush with my mortality was far more sinister. The cancerous tumour was deemed aggressive and had spread to my lymph nodes which meant I was facing chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and suggested hysterectomy. I can assure you there is nothing like a life-threatening diagnosis to bring you to your knees and have you asking some of life’s biggest questions.
Have I lived a life that was worthwhile? Did I truly make a difference?
Is there a God or universal force greater than me at work here?
When I was young, our family went to church every Sunday without exception. My sisters and I were encouraged to put on our best clothes, best behaviour and biggest smiles and off we went to model to the minister and church congregation that we were good, holy and the perfect family.
And as I sat on the wooden pew, admiring the coloured light coming through the stained glass windows and singing the hymns at the top of my lungs as though God could hear me, I felt the hypocrisy even then.
As I grew into my teens, I learned that going to church was actually compulsory in my family and that I had no choice in the matter. And as I expressed my disappointment, the requirement for my attendance at church grew stronger. And so did my resistance to playing the part of the ‘good’ girl and my desire to wanting any relationship with God. So I did what any hormone raging teenager would do and rebelled.
My rebellion played out in a number of ways. I started looking outward for pacifiers like alcohol and boys and it was around this time that I grew angry with God and refused to accept that God played any part in my life. I projected the frustration I felt onto my parents and onto God. And as soon as I turned eighteen and moved out of home, I never went to church again.
And it was around this same time that a sadness took hold within me. I felt lonely. Lost. Disconnected. I tried to placate this sadness with love. Love from the wrong sort of men. Love from travels and adventures. Love from food and alcohol. Places that could never fill the void I felt deep inside.
“We’re like snow globes, creating a flurry around us, distracting us so we never have to face the truth within us.” Glennon Doyle
Until one day I attended a workshop with a dear friend Mel, who made me realise that my sadness and frustration and anger was actually my separation from God, from others, and from myself. That my quest for peace would end when I could reconcile with that part of me that yearned to connect. And surrender to it.
You can imagine my shock, disappointment and refusal to accept this as my truth. My active monkey-mind rejected it but, my inner knowing accepted this truth immediately.
At 49 years old, I was confronted with the truth that the void I felt in every cell of my body, was a longing for a connection to God. I don’t like to use the term ‘God’ as it reminds me of the religion that was once forced upon me and my refusal to accept God as an ally in my life. I prefer the term the ‘Divine’ as this feels more feminine, loving and neutral to what I have known in the past.
So my journey to connect with the Divine began when I had the maturity to see things with fresh eyes and an agenda that was much more life-threatening than before.
How do you unlearn patterns that are so deeply entrenched in you and who you identify with being? How do you find love for something you have refused to believe in your whole life?
And so my journey began.
In the Hawaiian Hoʻoponopono practice of forgiveness, I learned that having faith is the pathway to joy, happiness and inspiration. To let go and let God as they say.
Going to church made me feel separate from God. It made it feel like God was something external to me and that I had to ‘go’ to this special building to access God. But the truth is that God is all around us as much as she is within us. We are all beings of God. So connecting to God doesn’t require a visit to your local church as much as it does to connect to the knowing within you.
So how do you get to those quiet moments that have alluded me my entire life? Perhaps the very moments I have been running from my whole life as I filled my days with endless tasks and superficial relationships.
The first step is creating space for quiet to begin with. To be still. To honour my inner knowing and be receptive to it.
Before my diagnosis, there was very little quiet time in my schedule. I didn’t value it so I didn’t make time for it. It was a simple as that. And even during my chemotherapy treatment, when all my work commitments had disappeared, I found my schedule getting busy once again. Medical appointments, exercise, therapy, reading, zoom catch-ups with friends started filling my days leaving me tired and disconnected.
The art of saying no and asserting loving boundaries was key to my healing journey and creating space for stillness. I started experiencing divine moments in the shower, while driving my car, while writing in my journal. I received glimpses of inspiration like suggestions from my soul as to what I should do next. It wasn’t like a voice or an image but more a feeling of an idea. It felt good and it felt right. So I started listening more. And trusting in it.
I can feel it in my body now too. There is a new sense of calm that’s taken the place of tension. A faith in something divinely bigger than myself and a powerful faith in myself too. And as I take a well needed ‘soul sabbatical’ from my coaching practice, I am now having bursts of inspiration about my future business direction and the unique way I would like to be of service in the world.
Finding stillness has been the most beneficial practice to re-ignite my passion.
Love + wisdom,