The Exquisite Gift

by Nancy Rynes )

Ask not what Spirit can do for you, ask instead what you can do in service to Spirit. 
(My apologies to John F. Kennedy) 

I didn't have a clue that my soul was working on a spiritual revelation when I was heading to the office this morning. My drive took me on a country road and I marveled at storm clouds breaking up over the Rocky Mountains when it happenedNo, it's not what you might think. I didn't crash and have another NDE. 

As my car descended a hill, a sudden realization came to me completely out of the blue: ever since I "came back" from death, I've been carrying around a very quiet, deeply-buried belief that somehow God "owed" me for sending me back here against my wishes 

Wow. A little ray of light shone on a shadow side of me that I didn't know existed. 

While I felt gratitude for what I had in my life, including my health, deep down inside I kept expecting Spirit to give me what I wanted as some kind of payment for sending me back to Earth. Without really thinking about it, below my consciousness lurked very subtle sense of entitlement. I guess I wasn't nearly as grateful as I thought I was. 

I don't think it's uncommon for people in our culture to have a deeply-buried sense that they are owed something by God, the Universe, society, or even other people. So if you're one of these folks, or were in the past, you're not alone. For me, feeling entitled was not helpful to my spiritual growth. The more I didn't receive what I thought I was owed, the more angry I became. It prevented me from fully living in contentment in each moment, and it put up a barrier between the Divine and me. 

Yeah, even people who have had an NDE aren't instantaneously enlightened. We may get a jump start, but we still have a lot of work to do. 

In that moment, though, driving to the office, the residual anger about being "sent back" to life evaporated in a moment of pure loveunderstanding, and acceptance that seemed to come from outside of me. I pulled off the road at a safe place and simply let myself experience it. I almost felt as though I was in Heaven all over again, surrounded by the Divine presence. Perhaps that love and acceptance I sensed were indeed Divinely-inspired, or perhaps it was simply me, fully embracing my own faults and foibles.

I understood in an unusual flash of insight that God doesn't "owe" us a thing. Not me, not you (but especially not me). We've been given the exquisite gift of living on this Earth with endless opportunities and paths toward joy and enlightenment. That's enough. The rest is up to us. 

It's up to us to listen to our inner wisdom, to follow our own paths, and to go after our own joy. It's up to us to feel gratitude, and to learn love and acceptance for ourselves and our fellow beingsSpirit may indeed give us rewards, opportunities, luck, stuff, or even answers to our prayers. But it's up to us to choose to live in a state of joy and gratitude for whatever we do have in that moment, whether we achieved it ourselves or we received it as a gift. 

While sitting there in my car, a wave of strong emotion washed over me. I felt deeply sorry for continually telling God I was owed, and my sense of gratitude for being here deepened and strengthened. I didn't beat myself up about making this mistake. I gently accepted that it was something I needed to learn, embraced it with acceptance, and let go of that sense of guilt. My feeling of love for Spirit and for this life theexpanded beyond what had been possible for me only yesterday. My heart opened up even more. 

God doesn't owe any of us anything, really: health, a great job, a loving spouse, kids, money, fame, a nice car, or happiness. The gift of being here is more than enough; the rest is ultimately up to us. Think of an artist, perhaps an oil painter. She can be given the best paints, easel, canvas, and brushes, but the painting doesn't just create itself. The canvas will still be blank days later if she simply sits back in her recliner and waits for someone else to paint the picture. It's up to her to make a start, to  be active in her own creation. 

In reality, we're the primary artists of our own lives. We're given the basic raw materials but putting brush to canvas is ultimately our job. Spirit may step in and rework some brushstrokes, guide our hands for a time, or give us another color or two to add to our palette, but we have to step up to the easel with brush in hand and fearlessly start painting. We can't expect God to complete the whole painting for us, start to finish. There is no fun or learning in that anyway, nor is there a sense of accomplishment. 

For me, those feelings of anger and being owed were yet another wall around my heart. After that wall fell today, my sense of gratitude and love has expanded level. I'm sure I have a lot more heart expanding ahead of me, but I'm grateful for what I learned today. 

For yourself: are you harboring a deeply-buried sense that you are owed or entitled to certain things, "just because"? If no, wonderful! If you are, is it getting in the way of living in true joy and gratitude? If you'd like to change entitlement into something more positive, try starting a gratitude practice. Many books are available to get you started, but I like "The Gratitude Connection" because it's easy to read and full of super ideas and encouragement.

Posted by Nancy Rynes, author of Awakenings from the Light ( )

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2015