Drama Is Optional
By Rev. Dr. Iyanla Vanzant
Human beings, particularly those of us with a deep attachment to the ego, the voice of separation, have a tendency to be very dramatic. When our backs are up against the wall; when we are being stretched or pruned or corrected by the circumstances of life rather than knowing and believing that things are working together for our good, we more often than not immediately assume that we are in grave danger of extinction.
When I think back to the most challenging experiences of my life, those moments when everything I thought I knew and believed were being tested, I must admit that the greatest difficulty I encountered was trying to control the rampant thoughts that seized my mind.
I now recognize that in those most difficult moments my thinking became resistant, fearful and dramatic. I conjured up my own suffering. I lost faith and trust in all that I knew to be true.
Feeling sorry for myself, blaming others, not wanting to go through the trials of whatever the situation was at the time, I expected the worst and more often than not, that is what I got – – the worst possible scenario I could imagine. And, since it was in my mind, I experienced it in my life. It seemed real. It felt real.
It was a very dramatic manifestation of my own thinking.
There are certain life experiences like death or separation from a loved one that engender fear or sorrow. A challenge to one’s health or physical well-being can also be frightening and will give rise to resistance. Things like the lack of funds to provide for your basic needs or hurt, harm or danger to your children render you helpless and desperate.
In these moments and for countless others it is very human and almost expected that the most dominant thought will lead the mind to the worst possible outcome rather than the greater possibility.
As humans, when we cannot see the end or control the events, we immediately assume that something horrible, painful and tragic will befall us. Lack of vision and control are sure to trigger the drama response.
In other situations, when something we do not want nor like or have not planned for presents itself as a life experience, we reach out for the support and input of others. Unfortunately, we often lure them into our experience by embellishing the worst parts of the story and refusing to entertain anything other than what we believe is happening, can happen or will happen to cause more dramatic suffering.
This kind of drama, like an infection, spreads quickly not just to all the cells in our body but to the people and other situations in our lives.
My experience has been that the more dramatic my responses to any experience, the faster and more widespread is the infection in other areas of my life. When I do not make a swift and serious effort to calm myself, focus my thoughts and eliminate the fear, I run the risk of having the small manageable infection grow into a rip-roaring plague!
What I have come to know and believe is that at all times, in all situations, and under all circumstances, my only job and often the most difficult task I face is to trust in the goodness of God and to make myself available to God’s love and voice.
I often say that if God is the Alpha (Beginning) and the Omega (the End), then the middle is already covered by the presence of God.
Initially knowing this does not make hearing difficult news or facing a frightening situation easy. However, learning to lean into God’s presence rather than chasing my own thoughts has proven to save time and subdue the drama that is created when I think I am on my own.
A dramatic, fear-based, resistant response to life’s circumstances is a function of a broken line of communication with the Creator of my life.
Insisting that things must be the way I want them to be, believing that I can somehow control life and how it unfolds, avoiding the unpleasant moments, the testing situations, and the inevitabilities of life will always result in a dramatic plague that I have to clean up.
Drama calls for a villain and a victim, conflict, and control, a winner and a loser. Most dramas make really great entertainment but they can also limit the spiritual growth and healing possibilities for those involved.
Every life has difficult moments just as many stories have tragic elements. What makes a really good and dramatic story may not necessarily have an ending that promotes truth and faith or trust in the Divine Potential of the Human Spirit.
As human beings, we must all face tests that make us stronger, even when the tests make no sense to us. We are not going to feel prepared for the situations that we face. Surely it seems that some of us get more than our fair share of challenges, tests, and difficulties.
None of this changes the truth that right where I am, the fullness of God is making drama optional to this depth of trust and knowing.
If in the quiet times, the calm before the storm, I spend more time in connection and communion with the Commanding Officer of my life, the battles will seem less deadly and more purposeful.
Moving into a new year, a new time of possibility and opportunity, I am committed to making my life a drama-free zone. This means that I will need to train my mind to seek first the lesson, learning, and healing available by sending my ego to the corner when a challenge first shows its face. Not an easy task for sure but I have walked through enough plagues in my life to make me willing to do a new thing. How about you?