“A Short-Term Challenge for Your Long-Term Gain”

In autumn 2019, I came down with what seemed to be an unshakable cold. The symptoms lingered for weeks, and then strange new symptoms began: saliva in my throat so thick I was clearing my throat 20 or 30 times each minute; hoarseness each time I spoke for more than a few minutes. A visit to my doctor offered no clarity. Two months in, I awoke one morning and suddenly couldn’t speak—the laryngitis lasted five days. It was Buffy’s “Hush” episode come to life, and just as distressing. However, given my journey since 2016, I knew something larger was at play here—that this “illness” didn’t happen randomly or in a vacuum.

To quote from the forthcoming book Resurrection (St. Martin’s Essentials), “The trajectory of a life has a patterning to it, and the soul in all ways is the keeper of this pattern, which simply means that what you have come to learn will be presented to you because you are in alignment to it. And these events of a life, which are there to support learning, will contribute to the full evolution of the soul.” [My emphases.] I understood from my journey that everything that happens to us—especially the events that our ego, or personality self, judges as “bad”—are really opportunities for learning, and despite the ego’s fear of change, this evolution is vital and necessary. As I have learned to do, I asked Spirit re: my illness, “Why am I having this experience?” and was guided to go back and look at my journal, where my inner being often speaks to me. In August 2019 I had written, “I feel the need to eat more whole foods.” Now, I have been a vegetarian my entire adult life, but one with a love of salt and a rabid sweet tooth. Though my meals seemed healthy, I also regularly consumed lots of chips and salsa and fried snacks, and no day was complete without a sugary latte, ice cream, cake or candy. Later in August, I noted in my journal that I strangely—for the first time in decades—did not want to eat anything sweet that day. I wrote later that this abstention from sugar lasted a week, during which time I felt great, but I soon went back to eating the way I always did. 

Cue the “cold” that would not heal, the illness that flummoxed my doctor. I prayed and through guided research read about Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR), also known as respiratory reflux, a condition to this day unfamiliar to many doctors. Bingo! I knew this was what I was experiencing and, in my head, Spirit spoke and told me that this was “a short-term challenge for your long-term gain.” This message and knowledge came with a “download” of information: I understood instantly that my healing would come by drastically changing my diet—specifically I stopped eating virtually all processed foods and cane sugar—and within weeks I was completely well. 

(I won’t write at length about this here, but it’s important to note that much of our food supply on this planet, especially in the U.S., is tainted. Take for example a “healthy” food like almond milk. Here are the ingredients in my former favorite brand of almond milk, Califia: Water, Almonds, Calcium Carbonate, Sunflower Lecithin, Sea Salt, Natural Flavors, Locust Bean Gum, Gellan Gum, Potassium Citrate. Now I make my own nut milks, and here are the ingredients I use: raw unsalted nuts and water. And it tastes delicious.)

Note that I had been gently guided by Spirit to make these dietary changes back in August, and when I didn’t, Spirit gave me more of a nudge, via my illness, to make sure I ultimately did what was in my highest good. Though losing my voice, especially, was distressing, I AM SO GRATEFUL, SO THANKFUL, for this experience, because I feel lighter in my body now—and I understand why Spirit needed me to make these changes. 

I do not share this to persuade anyone to make different dietary choices, though being mindful of how we fuel our precious body temples is a good thing. Rather, I wanted to share how one small thing that “happened” to me, that most people would see as a negative experience, was actually a blessing from Spirit. When we are incarnated in a body, we tend to see things only from that level. Meanwhile, our True Self, our spirit, has the higher view, the long view. So when we go through that illness, that divorce, that job loss, we fear change and we judge these occurrences as negative. But the True Self, with the long view, knows that the illness may teach you to stop taking the present moment for granted, may introduce you to wonderful, kind new people who enrich your life; the divorce may gift you with self-reliance, may lead you to a new partner; the job loss may lead you to more purposeful and soul-fulfilling work. As Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward.” In other words, those “negative” experiences are always short-term challenges for our soul’s long-term gain—we choose whether we will meet them with fear, or love and compassion.