Archives

Swimming Deeper

(My inner spiritual reflections)

You will not find pearls on the surface of water. To find such precious and divine beauty, you have to swim into deeper waters. And so it is with God.

Devotion cannot be a half-hearted effort just like a bird cannot fly by flapping only one wing. It requires a concerted effort, which, with practice, becomes automatic.

As a mother, I can say that my daughter is never far from my thoughts. I love her without ceasing. No one has to remind me to think about her. It has become automatic.

I believe one can experience such devotion with God.  I have to remind myself that everything around me, including the breaths I take, is a divine blessing from our Creator.  If I make a concerted effort on this, then my devotion too becomes automatic. I begin to pray without ceasing. My connection with the Almighty becomes constant. After all, how can I not see God or think about Him when I am looking at His creation? How can I not see His love for me when I am looking at my daughter or at my husband? How can I forget that He and only He is the source of everything?

But I do forget. I forget the Creator and attach myself to the creation instead. I develop a false ego, believing the material comes from me; that I created my job success, that I created my daughter, etc. When I begin to take credit for everything, when I fail to surrender to the universe, I lose sight of what is real and what is illusion, what is eternal and what is temporal.

And so, I have to keep swimming. Deeper and deeper. My devotion cannot be once a month or once a year. I have to immerse myself in this spiritual realm to keep myself on track.

As a lamp in a windless place does not waver, so the yogi whose mind is focused remains always steady in meditation on the transcendent Self.” – Bhagawad Gita Chapter 6, verse 19

Once I am centered in Him, then His love will pour out of me because to love God is to love all of mankind. I will not need to claim to be “devoted” or on a dharmic (spiritual) path. There will be no question as to whether I have found the pearls. The divine light in me will shine through my being.

My state of mind will no longer harbor fear or anxiety or insecurities. I will be content and at peace. I will no longer fight God’s will in my life. Rather, I will accept His doings. And I will be positive. No longer saying “no” to the universe but embracing my responsibilities, my sewa (selfless service), my karmic accounts with a “yes.”

Holy scriptures say it is a rare and difficult feat to attain such divine loving devotion.

Of many thousands of men, one will attempt to reach perfection; and of the few who reach this goal, only a rare soul will perhaps know Me as I am.” – Bhagavad Gita Chapter 7, verse 3

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” – Holy Bible, Matthew 7:13-14

That is why I must continue to swim deeper in the sea of devotion. If I stop swimming, I will drown. If I swim without purpose, I will stay afloat but the pearls will elude me. But if I continue to swim deeper, there is hope that one day I will find those pearls, that one day I can become that “rare” soul to know God, my Creator, my Sustainer.

It may sound like an impossible mission but I believe if I earnestly take strokes in the right direction, God will carry me through the rest of the waters.

For those who worship me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form, I carry what they lack and preserve what they have, both materially and spiritually.” –Bhagavad Gita Chapter 9, verse 22

How do I swim deeper? By trying my best to stay connected with my divine Father through sewa (selfless service), simran (prayer) and satsung (spiritual congregations). When I connect with my Source, I lack nothing. Those pearls that I once thought were far away are handed to me like a gift and the deep swimming I thought I had to do, He does for me.

ocean

Make Life a Celebration

Picture this- a couple standing in line waiting to get tickets to an amusement park. Their two sons meander off and start playing with these cute little ducklings. They are giggling and laughing when their dad comes to them and says, “Hurry up boys and get off the floor. We have to go inside the amusement park so we can START having fun.”

A light bulb went off for me when I read this story.

The father was telling his boys that they had to get inside the park to have fun while the boys were enjoying themselves right where they were.

How many times in our lives do we forget to enjoy where we are because we are so focused on the next goal, the next destination?

Oprah Winfrey has drawn a lot of attention to Eckhart Tolle’s book titled the ‘Power of Now,’ in which Tolle basically says that one shouldn’t think about the past or worry about the future because the only moment we have is right now.

It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living,” Tolle writes.

I don’t want to wait. I want to live.

The title of this article is Make Life a Celebration. But life IS a celebration every moment when we are connected with our true nature and to our source, God.

When I am aware of His presence within me, it gives me spiritual confidence. It reminds me that He is a part of me and I am a part of Him. If I am a part of an entity so great, then there is no reason for insecurities or low self-esteem.

When I am aware of His presence, it makes me strong. It allows me to face my fears. On the inside, I am afraid to fly on an airplane. But when I tell myself that God is the pilot, I find myself surrendering my fears and making it through countless flights.

When I am aware of His presence, it gives me peace of mind. Life does not have to be perfect for us to be happy. Peace doesn’t come from the material. It comes from the inside. And when we get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.

Dhan ka bisther mil jaye neend ko tarse naan,

{a person can be lying on the most expensive bed and still thirst for sleep}

Kanto par bhi sohkar aaye kisi ke man ko chaan

{while somebody else could find rest even while lying on a bed of thorns. – spiritual song

 Once I have connected with the Supersoul through prayer, congregations and meditation, I now have spiritual confidence, strength, peace and joy. My life becomes a celebration. I understand I was made in His image. So, everything He possesses, I do too. I can tap into love, peace, and joy when I tap into my awareness of Him. My mind, body and soul are in a state of bliss, a state in which I was always meant to be.

meditation_sun

 

Be Like Baby

My daughter Amaani teaches me something new everyday.

When she was about six weeks old, I decided to go to a Meetup event for moms. I know some people will think that’s too early to go out with a small baby but I just needed an outlet. And my purpose for going was multifold.

I’m new to the area and wanted to meet other moms in the hopes of making friends and building a support system for me and my child. I also wanted to learn things about taking care of newborns from moms who had been there, done that. And I wanted to get my nails done since the meet-up happened to be at a nail salon. I was craving a break and wanted to do something for myself…just one hour of “me” time.

I didn’t want to expose my baby to the salon so I brought along a sitter and parked them at a Starbucks for just an hour. Of course, things don’t always go as planned.

As I was about to park the car, a big red light surfaced on the car dashboard signaling our car had overheated and must not be driven. I went to the nail salon and real quickly introduced myself to the other moms and then dialed AAA. It got chaotic from there.

I don’t have any recollection of getting my nails done. All I know is I was simultaneously talking to the salon lady, the other moms, AAA and my husband. In the middle of it all, I had to leave to tend to my baby who was crying. There was definitely too much going on.

To make a long story short…I was told we can’t drive the car and I was trying to figure out how I would pick my husband up from work since we were sharing a car. Somehow that red light temporarily went away and I managed to get to my husband’s work when the engine overheated.

We ended up walking two miles home with baby in the stroller. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry at all the milestones I had to cross just to go to one Mom’s Meetup Event. My “break” turned out to be more work than I could have imagined.

But I learned something that day. Every time I looked at my child, I saw that she was relaxed and even sleeping through parts of that ordeal. She was going with the flow literally. She didn’t lose her peace.

I thought to myself, I need to be more like baby. She has faith she’s going to get home somehow. She didn’t get upset. She kept her calm and peace. I want to be like her- able to sleep soundly and stay relaxed even when things don’t go my way. I want to be able to trust the universe that things will turn out ok in the end.

Amaani doesn’t stay mad. She doesn’t hold grudges. She’s quick to forget and quick to smile. She welcomes everyone to play with her and she has a beautiful curiosity for life.

Maybe as we grow older we get wiser in some ways….but in other ways, I think babies have the right idea. That blissful innocence and love for everything and everyone is something too special to lose.

Amaani

Fasting

Growing up, I often wondered about fasting and why people do it. I know in certain regions of the world people fast for different reasons – sometimes for religious reasons, as a way to make requests known to God and in hopes of having their requests fulfilled.

In recent years, I’ve come to see fasting as a really resourceful tool of empowering yourself. And it’s a great way to cleanse your body system!

When I started fasting I discovered that the most important thing it gave me was a sense of discipline. All of a sudden, I had control over my body rather than it controlling me. In a world where certain situations and life circumstances are out of our control, it actually feels so good to be able to positively change what we can.

Most of the time I did fruit or vegetable fasts where for a period of 24 hours I would only eat something if it is a fruit or vegetable and that too only when needed. In addition to giving me greater discipline when it comes to my diet, this also helps me eat healthy. And I noticed that the discipline aspect helps me in other areas of my life. When you fast, it’s not easy. At times, you’re denying yourself what you want most – food. But the self-control this builds in you is very empowering. And soon you can start working the self-control into other areas of your life whether its finance, relationships, anger management, gossiping, etc. Fasting doesn’t just have to apply to food. One time, I even kept a no-talking fast for 24 hours just to help me gain control over my mouth, my thoughts and my words.

On a spiritual level, fasting is a good way to fight off your struggles. It’s amazing what a simple 24-hour fast can do in terms of breaking any strongholds in your life that have kept you in bondage. When you combine fasting with prayer, it chases down the negativity in your life and helps you resist temptations.

I personally think fasting is a great way to eat healthy, cleanse your system, gain self-control, and achieve a greater sense of balance and fulfillment in life.

Religion or Atheism: Is there a Middle Road?

A lot of people are weary of religion these days. I guess it’s not serving its intended purpose. More often than not, we see people discriminating and engaging in wars on the basis of religion. Does this mean we should give up on religion altogether?

We give ourselves so many labels – we label our ethnicity, our skin color, our nationality, our region, our gender, our education level, etc. Adding a religious label just further segregates mankind. We invent all these rituals and new ways to exclude groups of people.

I would like to propose this: if you have to pick one label today to describe your religion, how about choosing the label of humanity? This is one label that unites everyone and leaves nobody out. It encompasses what most, if not all religions, preach. After all, we all have the same color blood in our system, we are all human beings. If we adhere to this label, it will remind us all that our duty on earth is to embrace humanity. In essence, that means loving and respecting everyone. It means helping each other and living selflessly.

You don’t always have to choose between being a religious person or an atheist. More important than committing yourself to a religious label is the practice of pledging yourself to basic human values. I believe this commitment to love, peace, harmony, tolerance, acceptance and patience is the main purpose of human life. Rather than getting caught up in labels, we can ask ourselves if we have forgotten what the purpose behind religion is. True religion, after all, unites; it never divides.

I also believe you can still believe in God and engage in prayers without committing yourself to a particular religion or religious activity. Parents are usually more concerned with their children’s growth and character than they are with their children’s names; I’m sure God is also more concerned with our character and our actions than He is with which religious symbols we’re carrying around.

Letting Go is Letting Peace In

Letting go of anything can be scary. Letting go of expectations. Letting go of past hurts. Letting go of your dreams. Letting go of the person you love. Letting go of control.

Sometimes the act of letting go is a choice and the right thing to do. A parent “lets go” of their child when the child becomes an adult. A father “lets go” of responsibility when he walks his daughter down the aisle. A person “lets go” of sweets in an attempt to lose weight.

But sometimes letting go is not a choice. We are forced to let go of a situation or person or desire. Maybe no matter how hard we try to convince someone to stay, they walk away from us. Or maybe no matter how hard we worked, we were passed up for a job promotion and have to let go of that dream.

It might not even make sense at the time – you tried your best, so what happened? Why did it happen? These questions can plague the mind to the point of taking one into a state of depression or something even worse.

Here is what I have learned that has really helped me in my journey of learning to let go: having control, at the end of the day, is just an illusion. If you believe there is a Creator who made the world and is operating it and that you are a mere instrument or pawn in the game of life, then you understand you were never in control to begin with. Put simply, you cannot let go of something that was never yours to begin with.

In Hindi it is said, “Patha bhi nahin hilta iski marzi ke beghar.” Meaning, a leaf does not even move without His consent.

Therefore, refuse to be anxious or depressed or hopeless. If He wills it, it will happen. If it does not happen, there is a divine reason. And to embrace this understanding is faith in action.

This understanding can save mountains of grief if we can truly embrace it. Rather than being held captive by our desires, the truth- that He is in control- sets us free.

Buddha said that pain or suffering arises through desires or cravings. To be free of pain we need to cut the bonds of desire.

I don’t believe this means we cannot desire things at all; rather, it is about not being so attached to our desires that they take away our peace of mind. If you think about it, much pain that we experience in life comes from not accepting or from resisting what is.

Relinquishing control over a situation or letting go does not always mean giving up. In fact, sometimes it’s the best thing you can do- for yourself and for others.

When we hang on to something that God has not intended for us, it creates struggle and disorder in our lives. In fact, I have experienced many moments where I let go of a past dream that was bringing more disturbance than peace into my life only to find myself in a better situation.

Sometimes the reason things do not go as we planned is beyond our comprehension. We cannot grasp the divine plan with our limited intellect. That is where faith makes things easier.

Faith empowers us to let go of our way and accept God’s will. Or rather, it allows us to “let go” trying to do it all on our own and give it to God to take care of. It reminds us that God can do in one moment what we can try for our whole lives and still not accomplish.

The principle of “letting go” also applies to smaller, everyday situations where we do seem to have control.

Many times, people believe they are the victors when they have the last word in a fight or that they somehow have greater leverage and power when they get things their way. But the truth is, when we are able to “let go” of our ego and put the happiness of another above our own, we aren’t giving up- we are building character. We are practicing the art of “letting go.”

The best part of letting go? We get to let go of our worries, our anxieties, our plans, our troubles and give them to God. We can pray for God to remove all those desires in our Heart that are not good for us, and to replace them with what He desires for us.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7 Bible)

In return, he blesses us with a peace that surpasses all understanding. And the strength to let of anything we must let go.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 Bible)

He will direct our paths. He will give us wisdom. Trust Him, praise Him, and let go of anything you need to let go of right now. It doesn’t mean you are giving up. It means you’re accepting His will for you- and a lot of times, whether we choose to accept or not…. thankfully, it still goes His way.

It’s a Blessing!

To the world, Vivek Shauq is known as the Indian actor, comedian, writer and poet who recently succumbed to a heart attack. Those who knew him as the spiritual being that he was had the opportunity to learn much from him.

It was shortly after Vivek Ji’s passing away that I went back and listened to one of his last speeches given at a holy congregation. I’m so glad I did because his words were life changing.

In Hindi, the phrase “prabhu ki kirpa” can be translated to “God’s blessing.”

Everything is God’s blessing.

Vivek Ji takes this one step further and clarifies that as human beings, we should never try to define God’s blessing.

He gives the example of a father who one day says, “With God’s blessing, my three sons failed in class.” People laugh at this man and look at him strangely. And he replies, “If it was God’s blessing when they passed, then it is God’s blessing when they failed too.” This father was on to something.

Why is it we only see the passing grades, or the promotions at work as falling into the category of God’s blessings?? Why do we only say something is God’s blessing when it goes our way? It is a question to ponder.

Because when you believe in God and that He is in control and that He loves you….you also believe that everything happening is not only His will, it is His Blessing.

What is happening is God’s blessing.

What is NOT happening is God’s blessing.

If something doesn’t seem right to us in our limited human capacity to understand the omniscient, even then, there is a reason behind everything.

This was a new concept for me. I always believed everything happening is God’s will. But Vivek Ji showed me that it is not only His will, it is His blessing! And if we can walk with that simple realization, every step will be walked in peace.

The only thing we have to do is surrender to God Almighty. If something is not happening despite our best efforts, that is His blessing. Sometimes “mera kuch karna hi kabhi kabhi rukawat ban jata hai.” In other words, sometimes we try so hard to go for something that is not His will for us and that we ourselves becomes the cause of our own delays or roadblocks.

Word has it that famous Cricket Player Sachin Tendulkar failed tenth standard. But now, in one state in India, one of the lessons taught in the 10th class is about the living legend himself. Blessings come in different forms and different guises. He may not have done well in 10th grade, but Tendulkar is a success. God had a special plan for him.

That is not to say, we approach life with a “given up” mentality. No, we must be proactive and strive to not only work hard but also fulfill our responsibilities and spread love everywhere we go for as long as we are in this world. Once we do that, we can rest in peace with the assurance that when you do your best, God will take care of the rest.

So, the next time something does not go the way you would like it to, remember – it is His Blessing 🙂

A Spiritual Check-Up

When we need to know the status of our physical well-being, we get a health check up. That may entail a physical exam of our body, some blood tests, screenings, etc. But how do we get a spiritual check up? How do we track our spiritual progress?

I heard a parable about a Swami who was known for having conquered anger. One day, he was sitting by a dwindling bonfire when a gentleman who was cold approached him and asked if he could try to ignite some more fire to keep them warm. The Swami said, “No, there are no more embers left to ignite.” The gentlemen noticed a couple sparks and asked again. He got the same reply. After some time he wondered out loud if moving some of the logs might help ignite some flames and he asked the Swami a third time if it was possible to rekindle the fire. This time, the Swami raised his voice in anger as he replied, “NO! Didn’t I already tell you the fire has been put out?!?” The gentleman quietly said, “I was mistaken. It appears there isn’t just a little fire left but now I can even see flames (referring to the swami’s temper)!”

It’s easy to believe we have conquered vices like anger, jealousy, impatience, hatred until we are put to test in those areas.

Perhaps one mechanism of checking our spiritual growth is asking ourselves- How often do I lose my cool and get upset when things don’t go my way? How much time do I spend worrying and complaining instead of counting my blessings? How often do I find myself taking time out to meditate or connect with God?

At this point, you may be asking- why is spirituality even important?

I believe spirituality benefits us. The deeper we travel on this inward journey the more peace and happiness we find. And as long as we are connected and growing in this area, material and temporal circumstances will be less likely to shake us. Instead of worrying about things, our faith will encourage us to approach life with positivity, enthusiasm, and calm acceptance.

The Bible also alludes to the spiritual confidence that embraces us when we are spiritually connected: “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)

I recently started taking yoga classes, partly because I was curious as to why millions of people are drawn to this popular practice. You often hear Yoga is great for stress relief, relaxation, and health improvements. What I have learned is that spirituality is at the basis of this “remedy.” Yoga is a means to achieve a peaceful state of mind. It has been defined in several cultures and traditions as “union with the divine.”

“The man who sees me in everything and everything within me
will not be lost to me, nor will I ever be lost to him.

He who is rooted in oneness realizes that I am in every being;
wherever he goes, he remains in me.

When he sees all being as equal in suffering or in joy
because they are like himself, that man has grown perfect in yoga.”
– The Bhagawad Gita

This passage from the Holy Bhagawad Gita highlights the stability and peace that spirituality brings. Connecting with the Higher power within us helps us maintain a state of calm no matter what is happening on the outside. It helps us understand the oneness concept- the idea that at our core, we are all one. The supreme One manifests in every being and every thing equally. There is no point to anger because the one who we are getting angry at is simply a part of ourselves. When we start seeing God in everything, we stop fighting what is happening and go with the flow of every moment. As a result, there is an alignment within our mind, body, and soul and we reap peace and harmony when this alignment occurs.

It is often quoted at the Sant Nirankari Mission that, “If there is light in the soul, there will be beauty in the person. If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the house. If there is harmony in the house, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.”

This peace cannot be achieved by looking outward- at worldly belongings to fulfill us. This peace can only come from looking inward and connecting to the Supersoul or stable entity within us all. The by-products of this kind of spiritual connection are self-awareness, love, patience, tolerance, and peace.

If we go to a doctor’s office for a physical check-up, we can go to satsung (holy congregation) for a spiritual check up. Attending a spiritual congregation and keeping the company of spiritual beings can strengthen our foundation. Mediation, prayer, reading holy scriptures, and practices like yoga can also boost our spiritual immune system. Luckily, you don’t have to travel far for a spiritual check-up. You just have to look within.

When Nothing Makes Sense

A woman tries but cannot conceive a child.
A man loses his wife to cancer after five years after marriage.
A child is born with Autism.
A much needed and deserved job promotion never comes.

The most precious thing in your life is taken away from you without warning.
There are an infinite number of stories about challenges people face. Stories of pain, confusion, and loss that only one who has experienced a similar hardship can understand. And with such experiences, even the most spiritual are tempted to ask, Why God? Why me? God, you are so great and powerful, why did you not fix this for me? Why did my prayer go unanswered?

If we had the answers to these questions, we would be all-knowing and in essence- we would be God. To pursue answers to the reason for why things happen the way they do can be fruitless in many circumstances. It is our choice how long we want to engage in such an unrelenting pursuit. Albeit, it is completely natural to want to shed tears of frustration and demand answers from God the way we would from our parents when we are young.

Jho na mile mujhe tho gila tujko,
(When things don’t go my way, I complain to you God)
Hota rehmat par bhi shakh mujko
(Even though you bless me by closing doors for my own protection, I doubt you)

One of the most difficult actions to practice is to look for blessings in a critical and seemingly hopeless situation. Holy scriptures tell us to give thanks in everything, every situation. It sounds easy. But when we go through a difficulty, sometimes we only focus on that problem.

Faith is an incredible thing. It has the power to change your perspective even when a situation outwardly remains the same. Faith in God means the belief that nothing is an accident. It is all ordained by Him. It is the belief that everything that happens, happens for a reason. With this realization, you automatically begin thanking Him and seeing His abundant blessings all around you. And when you have faith that God loves you, you know –without question- He is taking care of you (even when it doesn’t necessarily “feel” like it).

Ek jholi mein phool barein hain, ek jholi mein kante
(Someone has flowers, someone has thorns)
Tere bas mein kuch bhi nahin, yeh bantne vala jaane
(Nothing is in your hands, only the Doer knows)
Are koi karan hoga, arre koi karen hoga…
(There must be a reason, there must be a reason)

When our faith is shaken, the most important thing we can do is cling to it more than ever before- because that’s when we need it the most. In fact, in our darkest moments, faith alone is what can help us rise up and keep going. Without faith and God’s grace, there is no room for possibilities.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.”- Holy Bible

Vicissitudes are a part of life. Dawn only comes after darkness. A rainbow only comes after a storm. It’s funny how nature often depicts what is so true for our own life. We have seasons – spring and fall, sunny summers and dark winters. The best part about these seasonal changes in our lives is the knowledge that there is always a spring or summer just around the corner.

No prayer ever goes unanswered- sometimes the answer is just ‘no’ or ‘wait.’ Many times things don’t turn out as we would hope for in life, but that doesn’t mean God is angry with us or is not listening to our pleas. It just means He’s protecting us from something that could prove bad for us in the end. Or He has a better plan for us that may take time to bear fruit.

When a woman is pregnant – just by looking at her, the world may not know that she is carrying a child. In fact, her condition does not become visible for some time. But she knows, even though she can’t see her child, even though she may not be showing outward visible signs of her pregnancy, she knows with confidence that she is carrying a child. But it takes months for this miracle to become visible to the world. Sometimes God works the same way – in secret. You can’t see or feel Him working and it takes time, but with confidence, you can rest assured He is preparing you for the next miracle He has in store for you.

Never give up on prayer. But also don’t cling to your plans- because God’s plans are better. There are a lot of things in life we don’t control – like natural disasters that suddenly leave people homeless. Life changes quickly. Successful people are those who adapt to these changes. Saints are those who surrender to God’s will. If you do things His way and seek His will, He will bless you with sufficient grace so that you can find peace and strength in any situation. God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him.

Getting back to those questions raised at the beginning of this article…Why, God? Why me? Notice these are not questions we ask on a daily basis when things are going smoothly in life. We only ask such questions when we forget that we are made by God and for Him. Sometimes God has us go through challenges because He wants to draw our attention to Him. Sometimes He wants to use our tests as a testimony to grow faith in others by showing that with God’s grace one can come out of even the most trying situations unscathed. Whatever God’s reasons are- continuously thanking Him, keeping the company of positive saints, and a strong faith can help stabilize us when we face challenges.

“Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.” – Holy Bible

Patience: A Divine Virtue

Throughout my life, I have encountered numerous moments when I was forced to wait for something. The four months I had to wait to receive college acceptance letters felt like four years at the time. I was not worried so much about what would happen because I know God will never fail to take care of me. But, I was impatient and I wanted to know things right away. Amidst my constant planning and waiting, attending a weekly holy congregation taught me the virtue of patience. This is what I have learned:

Each of us is destined for something, a purpose that is often unclear to us even when it is clear to God. We yearn to know the purpose of our existence and to be rest assured that we are not in this world by accident; that there is something for us to do, some difference to make, some goals to attain. Essentially, we are asked to be patient during such restless moments when our questions are left unanswered. Waiting is a process that is constantly occurring throughout man’s life. Do you remember when you could not wait to grow up, to drive your first car, to get your first job, to get married, to buy your first home. . ?

At times, even very spiritual beings can become plagued with anxieties when waiting becomes an unfeasible and intolerable task. After all, being patient in life is easier said than done. While we are waiting, we may be tempted to give in to our desires just as Eve did when she took a bite out of the forbidden apple. Her action only resulted in momentary pleasure but it cost her eternal happiness. Someone wise once said that life is the journey and not the destination. Because we spend more time waiting than receiving, it is important for saints to be good at waiting and not to fall for something that might be short of God’s plan. Patience is a divine virtue, which cannot be stressed enough as it is diminishing in a world that revolves around instant gratification and quick fixes (instant text messages, instant food, etc.).

Patience can act to help eradicate our anxieties about the future. This divine virtue grows only under trial. One cannot claim to have the virtue of patience if they have never waited for anything. Patience is not just an ability to wait; it is how one acts while they are waiting. Our attitude is something that we have the power to choose. For example, are we complaining while we wait for the fruits of our labor or are we singing? So much of our frustrations are over things that we cannot control. During such disturbing moments it is key to remember that things that are impossible with man, are possible with God. Why not turn to Him when things do not make sense? However, to receive God’s blessings requires knowing Him and spending time with Him. We will not know how to hear Him if we never speak to Him.

Patience must be allowed time to do its work because there is a season and right time for everything. Pride often makes us believe we deserve things before we are ready for them. Remember, God determines the timing in our life so we should not rush Him. Many of us try to figure things out while we are waiting and we inevitably come up with “backup plans.” But once we put our trust in God, we do not need a backup plan anymore. Do we really want God to do only what we can think of or do we want Him to work beyond our imaginations? A satisfied person is content where they are at because they know it is not where they will end up. Similarly, God never loses His joy because He has written the end of the book.

Often times, we want what God has not given to us. This is when ‘In God We Trust’, the words on American currency, becomes very important. It is important not to misplace our faith. If our faith demands miracles then we are not putting our faith in God – we are putting faith in our own faith. Patience is what we need when we are waiting for God’s timing, not our own. It requires steadfast endurance and a trust in God that we are exactly where we are supposed to be. But still, when things do not go our way and when we begin to doubt God’s plans for us, it is important to remember:

Jo bhi hota hai, teek hota hai, [firbhi maan kyoun udas hota hai]
Whatever happens, happens for the best, [still why does the heart get sad?]
Teri har bath mein, datar chupa, kuch na kuch raaz kaas hota hai.
In everything you do, O Lord, there is always a purpose, even though it may be hidden

“Even God’s smallest plan for us is bigger than any plan we can have for ourselves.” When we wait for things in life, we should wait with confidence, an expectant attitude because we receive our gifts from an omnipotent and great God who knows all our needs. As long as we place God on top of our list of priorities or ambitions, there is no way we will walk away dissatisfied. As many prophets have said: “We do not have to chase blessings. Blessings will chase us, if we chase God.”