This is a belief I have seen people struggle with when they are in a middle of a healing crisis. Sometimes we just can’t help but wonder if perhaps God is punishing us for something we have done. Then we think—we deserve it so we might as well learn to live with it. I have never seen this belief ever help anyone. But I have seen it destroy people’s ability to bring true healing into their lives.
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This belief truly makes me want to cry. I can’t wrap my brain around the concept that a loving God is punishing me for doing my best. Yes, sometimes I make deliberate choices that are clearly not my best, but that is a rare occasion. And I deeply believe that is true for most of us.
Some years ago, I remember listening to a wise elder explain that one of the benefits of growing older is that you realize that most of the time most people are doing their best. In contrast to the concept of a punishing God, she had come to realize that recognizing most people are doing their best gives us cause to find greater compassion.
Perhaps you are a person that believes in past lives and karma. In that case, you have probably come to accept that you chose your lives and its challenges, so that you can find greater compassion for yourself and others. Through such a depth of compassion, you bring spiritual freedom to yourself and those you touch.
Whether or not you believe in karma, you would probably agree that every challenge we experience through illness does give us an opportunity to discover how far the depths of our compassion will reach.
In my first career as a Special Education teacher, I spent my first year teaching children with significant illnesses or handicapping conditions, in their homes and with their families nearby. I witnessed first hand how these beautiful and courageous children became teachers of compassion.
I rarely saw the children feeling sorry for themselves, the way we can as adults. They were more inclined to accept the realities of their current experiences, and squeeze the love and meaning out of every minute of their lives.
They were quick to be understanding and patient with the people around them. And the people in their lives—family, teachers, school mates, doctors, nurses, care givers, ministers, counselors and friends—responded by opening their hearts, honoring the courage and serenity they experienced when they were with the children.
If you were open, you couldn’t help but find a greater sense of spiritual equilibrium just being in their presence. Through their lives, they allowed us around them to experience a greater depth of loving compassion that we might not have discovered without them.
If indeed they made a choice to live out such challenging lives for their own spiritual growth, for the furthering of their karmic awakening, or to help others reach greater capacity for love, they fulfilled their missions with powerful and lasting affects on the lives of all of us around them.
It never occurred to me that God was punishing these children. But it did occur to me that they were contributing to a more compassionate world.
As adults, we are certainly more inclined to make choices throughout our years that we regret. It is understandable that we might think we have consistently made such poor choices that God would punish us for what we have done. Yet, consider another possibility.
If you are holding deep regrets within your heart, and therefore within the very cells of your body, is it possible that you are unconsciously creating a foundation in which illness can live? Is it possible that in harboring your feelings of regret, rather than transforming those feelings into self-love, that you are in effect punishing yourself?
When you are hard on yourself, it often follows that you are hard on the people around you. And the people around you are hard on you. Isn’t it possible that it is more of a self-created cycle than God’s punishment?
Is God punishing you? You will have to find that answer for yourself, but do consider the possibility that it may be you who is being so hard on yourself, and that is completely within your ability to transform it through compassionate love.