In spiritual communities, I often hear people talk about looking for a sign but what I sense is that they are waiting for a sign. Sometimes that works … and sometimes it’s an abdication of personal responsibility.
Yes, we are guided along the journey of our lives by signs and tokens from our spiritual teachers and companions – in both the material and non-material worlds. Yes, our way is made much easier when we are aware of and open to those signs. And yes, there are times when we can sense that it’s not quite time to take action, and that we do need to wait.
However, there are too many of us who use “I’m looking for a sign” as an excuse to do nothing. We are not open to, and so we are not aware of, the signs that Spirit is offering every. single. day.
I know this because I’ve been this person. I’ve put things off, because I wanted to believe I hadn’t received the message to move forward. But, the truth is, the sign was already there and I hadn’t wanted to see it – so I didn’t.
I didn’t want to see the message because I didn’t want to know, I wasn’t ready to know what my next step should be. Maybe I was afraid. Maybe I was overwhelmed with the rest of my life. Maybe I was just darn tired. Maybe I didn’t want to do what I already knew was the next step. So I pretended I was waiting for a sign.
You know what? That’s okay. We can put it off for a day, a week, a lifetime. We are eternal cosmic beings having human experiences. We have eternity to be curious, explore, experience, learn, grow, and become more of who we already are. A paradox.
At some point, I realized that I wanted to take radical responsibility for myself. That I didn’t want to blame my choices on other people or experiences and I didn’t want to blame my limitations on ‘looking for a sign’. Yes, I had experiences that were painful, traumatic, frightening, stressful. Yes, I had to deal with them as best I could. And yes, I could take responsibility for how I choose to respond.
I discovered that when I took that responsibility for my life into my own hands, the signs were more clear – or maybe it’s just that I was more clear. Either way, life began to flow more easily. I felt more able to choose. I felt more aware of my capabilities in the moment and realized that the next moment was likely to be different. I let go of blaming others – and more important – I let go of blaming myself.
The signs were always there
- in a beautiful golden flower growing out of a rock face telling me I could thrive anywhere I chose to
- in a line of ducks crossing my path along the river telling me that yes indeed, I had my ducks in a row
- in all the systems of the house I was living in fail, one by one telling me it was time to move on instead of trying to tough it out
One last thing – signs will start out very subtle, very quiet, most of the time. If it’s important for you to ‘get it’ the signs will get stronger and fiercer until one day you are hit by a 2×4 upside the head. It’s best when that 2×4 is metaphorical, because I can tell you from experience, the literal ones will really wake you up!!!
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