Sunday, May 13, 2012

Life's Lessons

Sunday Service Discussion Notes for May 13, 2012

Last Sunday our topic for discussion was Life's Lessons.

One of the interesting dichotomies during this discussion was the idea that there are individual lessons for each of us to learn, but that there are also universal lessons that we all learn. Some of us felt that it was one way or another, and some of us believed that both were true.

At the core, it was suggested, all of us are learning universal lessons, like love and forgiveness, but that each of us is traveling a different path of experiences to learn these lessons. We were reminded that all of the clich├ęs and adages we hear repeated have been born out of these type of universal life lessons. Sayings like, "Don't judge a book by its cover," or "It's always darkest before the dawn," have survived the generations because they have proven themselves true as humanity remains essentially the same despite the turning of the years.

Some participants believed that each person comes into this life with specific lessons to learn that are tailored to their individual spiritual progress, but that we could still learn from others because we live in a very big world that provides us with other people who share things in common with ourselves, who may be learning the same lessons that we are.

It was posited that "To Love Unconditionally" is life's greatest lesson, and that it is actually easy to love everyone if we cease to be judgmental of each other. Someone had seen a T-shirt online that spoke to this. The headline said "Love They Neighbor," and below it continued, "Love thy Muslim neighbor, Love thy black neighbor, Love they gay neighbor, etc." illustrating this idea.

It was also suggested that all lessons are positive ones, regardless of how painful or pleasant the learning of them may seem at the time. That each lesson is essential for your spiritual growth. This idea was met with another point: that sometimes an event can happen, and what we think we've learned from it can actually be a "false" or bad lesson. For example, a person whose partner has left them and created negative feelings may now feel that they have learned the lesson that, "All men leave." Is this true? No, of course it is not. But this person may feel that it is true based on a bad experience.

We encounter many lists and examples of life lessons as we explore our world. How do we determine which of the lessons applies to us? One participant said that, "It's not true when somebody tells you it's true. It's true when it feels right and true for you."

Our facilitator this week, Lara, asked the group to share some of their life lessons:
We heard from one person that they had a devastating house fire and they lost all of their possessions. She was contemplating the disaster for a time afterward, trying to figure out what lesson she was supposed to have learned from an event like this. Her son pointed out to her that she was always helping and giving to others, and that she  had never really learned how to receive help. This event had now forced her to learn to receive help and good will from other people.

Another participant talked about how he had moved to California many years ago, but he committed to making trips home to the mid-west several times a year, even though he could ill afford it, and he could not figure out why he persisted in doing this as it was difficult and costly to do. After his parents had passed, he was having a conversation with his sister, who pointed out to him that he had not been making the trips for the benefit of his parents, but for his own benefit. She told him that he had been building a pattern of memories of that place and time so that it would be easier to let go when the time came. This revelation made sense to him, and he was able to learn the lesson that you should go with your feelings of what is the right thing to do - you will realize later the purpose that it served.

We also wondered if it might not also be alright to live for a time not focused on learning a lesson, but to just be. That this might be good for our peace. Lara shared a quote:
"They say that life is a great learning process, and that you can go on and on in a never-ending learning experience, but I am ready to let go of the learning. I am tired of the pain and the strain and the weight of heavy burdens. I am tired of the fears, the insecurities. I am done with learning; from now on I only want to have, to be, and to belong to. I can, because I am. Not, I will because I will learn to."  ~C. JoyBell C.

Overall we seemed to agree that the lessons we learn in life are important for our own spiritual growth and that they came in many forms, some pleasant, and others not so. We saw that we might not always realize what the lessons are right away, but that we were all learning them for a good reason.

We agreed that this session would wrap up our discussion on the topic of Life's Lessons.

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