Message from the Universe: Just a Test to Make Sure You’ve Got It Right
Dammit! A month in and I‘ve already failed. A long lost friend of mine used to tell me that the Universe has a way of ensuring that you’ve made a particular change in your life that you want to make. She used to say you can go days, weeks, months, even years on a new path and the Universe or God, if you will, will throw something in your path to test you. Just to make sure you’ve got it right.
I’ve just been tested and I’ve just failed. On Thanksgiving Day, I made myself a promise that this year would be different. At the Winter Solstice, at my burning bowl ritual with a non-denominational spiritual group I reiterated my plan for this next year…the plan I had been following for the past month.
That plan was to put ME first. This is different for me as I have long tended to do things that are good for other people but not necessarily for myself. Then I get burned and then, then I get resentful. So this year is all about seeing how my life will be if I put my own needs ahead of others. I did really well in that first month. Acquaintances and strangers, as well as those closest to me asked for help. And, while I did the minimum required, I didn’t go out of my way to spend the hours of time giving them something extra. It did cross my mind several times that there were many more things that I could do for them that would really help their situations but could harm my own, and so I stopped short. That was different. But it was also good for me not to get dragged into their dramas.
I invited several people to work with me on projects important to me. Not because they needed to money or they needed the job or they needed the things that I could give them, but for what they could do for me and what they could do for my project. The worst I’ve ever been burned financially has been in helping people desperate for money by giving them a job or helping them find a job. Not because I needed it, but because they needed it and I knew that I could help. You would think I would have learned that years ago, the first time I hired an acquaintance, who couldn’t feed her four babies, for a work-at-home job that I subsequently trained her for and paid her for in advance just so she could buy baby formula.
Yeah, I’m a softie at times.
But, this year is about fixing that. I made some other changes too in that first month, really good ones that I could not have made a year ago or six months ago…probably not even six weeks ago. I made some decisions that pleased my family and friends—they’ve been hounding me long enough—but displeased them in the way I planned to carry out those changes. Then again, it wasn’t about them or what would make them happy. It was about me and what I needed to do and how I needed to do that. It wasn’t about me asking permission from anyone else.
The biggest decision I made in that month was to find a way to get to forgiveness and peace in a previous relationship. Not for him, not for any of the things he’d done, but for me. Because carrying around so much hatred and anger is an awfully heavy burden and there are so many better things I would rather be carrying.
And so, at the end of the first month, I was feeling pretty good about my progress. “I’ve got a handle on this,” I thought. Even with everyone around me stressing out about Christmas and New Year’s, I managed to take care of myself first. And then….the Universe slipped me a fast one.
Christmas was over. My holiday company was doing their own thing and it was nearing my bedtime. The house was clean. I was caught up on all my chores, and I found myself with two whole hours of free time before bedtime. Time that I could spend working on the novel I hadn’t touched in months or editing the non-fiction guide on empaths and shielding that I’m working on or just reading articles on archaeology and ancient history. My point is, I had been given this beautiful gift of time–two whole hours–to do anything I wanted that I had not planned in my schedule.
And that’s when I got a message from a stranger asking for help. There was a family connection, but a very thin one. I could have deleted the message and pretended I’d never received it. But then, I’m the one people call at midnight when they’re suicidal. Yes, seriously, I’m one of a few dozen people that dear ones call at midnight when they’re suicidal but I’m the only one who answers and stays up all night with them. That’s happened quite a few times, and I’m usually in trouble with my boss the next day for being late to work or sleepy on the job.
Maybe I was just tired on this particular night, but my new first resolve faded quickly. Her question did interest me and I knew, when I read it, that I had a near-ready answer. Just not one I was 100% sure was correct. It would take me about three minutes–five minutes max–to provide the information that was requested. Her email was a long one, explaining her plight. Her primary question was one I could give a short answer to, and then a series of secondary questions were harder.
I provided the short answer in less than five minutes, but before I hit send on the email, I thought about this woman’s struggle. I didn’t have the answers she was looking for, but I did have access to them at my fingertips, literally. The database was already paid for, for my own use, so it wouldn’t cost me anything extra to give her the information that I had access to. And, it would take only a few minutes whereas this woman might spend years obtaining the same information.
“Easy for me,” I said to myself, “but difficult for her.”
That’s when the little voice in the back of my head said, “Lorna, what the hell are you doing? You didn’t even have to answer the message at all. Why are you spending your time helping this person?”
I argued with myself that it would only take a minute. It was a good deed. It wouldn’t really cost me anything.
Five seconds later, I had logged into a paid membership site that had the information she was seeking. I found what I was looking for almost immediately.
“See?” I told myself. “It only takes a minute. And, this really helps someone else out.”
“What about your writing time?” the voice argued back. “Or your reading time? What happened to setting Focus-At-Will to 100 minutes and pounding out as many words as possible in that time?”
That’s when I hit pay dirt. That’s when I found exactly what the woman had been struggling to find. All right there, right in front of me. I felt that familiar thrill of excitement of helping someone else. Of saving her months or years of time. Of helping. Of being the giver I always have been.
And then lost myself in my treasure hunt for her.
A few seconds later, I glanced at the clock on my computer and saw that another 45 minutes had passed.
“Log off now,” The voice told me. “Go back to your writing. You’ve still got an hour before bedtime.”
I waved off the voice in my head and kept digging. I was having so much success finding exactly what this woman had asked for.
It was then that a different voice took over in my head, one that said, “Lorna, why are you doing this? Let her buy her own access to this website or let her spend years finding this information on her own. That’s what you would do for yourself.”
Then, the second voice lowered into a prophetic tone, “This woman will not appreciate what you’re giving her. She doesn’t know the money you’ve spent on this effort. She doesn’t know the time you’ve spent on this effort. She simply asks and you will have it magically appear before her and no cost or effort to her. The cost and effort are all yours.”
That was the voice that persisted for the next hour.
I sent a lengthy email full of two hours of my effort. The moment I hit send, the moment I looked at the clock and realized it was bedtime and I hadn’t written a single word or read a single word, that I’d spent it on someone else’s needs, at that moment I knew the second voice was right.
In the morning came the return message. Not only did she not appreciate the information I had provided, but she took exception to it because it wasn’t the answer that she wanted. Oh, she wanted the information–she just didn’t like the answers to her questions. She also wanted more of my time to answer more questions, to dig for more information. And, no, there wasn’t a single word of thanks for what I had provided and especially not the depth of what I had provided.
“Why did you forget about putting yourself first?” the gentler voice in my head asked.
(These voices, of course, are not real voices. They’re intuition.)
I made a split-second decision to answer an email instead of putting my needs first and then I made another split-second decision to give this woman all the information she had asked for, even though I’d known it would eat into my “me” time. I gave a stranger with a family connection two hours of my life, and the whole time my intuition was reminding me where I needed to be spending my time and that this help I was giving would be a futile effort for me.
Yes, after a month of intentional successes, I had failed the test the Universe had set before me. I suppose it’s a good reminder that I can’t beat a lifetime’s way of being in six weeks. It’s a slow change, these attempts at personal evolution, with frequent slips and frequent scrapes. I won’t kick myself anymore over this slip-up. Instead, I’ll be grateful it wasn’t something bigger, something life-altering. That it was only two hours of my life and an incident I will forget with relative ease. It is an annoying paper cut, and not an amputation. But the annoyance serves me well enough to know that it will be many more months before I fail such a test again.