Acid Test

Sometimes I pause for thought – “what is motivating my spiritual journey?” The fact that one continues on with a seeming enthusiasm, year after year, may not tell the full story. When we receive appreciation, respect, encouragement and a plethora of impending opportunity, it’s somewhat easy to carry on with a gusto and drive. There is, after all, an immediate sense of achievement, value and purpose. The defining moments, however, often occur when that reciprocation is not so forthcoming. That’s the acid test to measure the sum and substance of our spirituality. In those difficult times we witness where we are actually drawing our enthusiasm from. Is the driving force a genuine spiritual connection or more based upon material gratification? What happens when all the results are taken away?

Periodically, we’ll all be confronted with situations where people are oblivious to our sacrifices, unappreciative of our endeavours, and seemingly unimpressed with our contributions. People may even misunderstand our purpose and cuttingly criticise us. Swami Prabhupada talked about a period of his life where he was “crying alone in the wilderness.” Few who heard, even less who genuinely appreciated, and scarcely anyone who actually helped. He nevertheless continued on with no loss of enthusiasm. In such testing times, the level of our spiritual purity is exhibited and developed. One must be fixed in the consciousness that there is divine appreciation for our sincere endeavours, even if the individuals around us aren’t so forthcoming. When Mother Teresa scribed her poem entitled “Do it Anyway,” she concluded with a poignant reminder – “in the final analysis its between you and God, it was never between you and them anyway.”

Thus, in the rollercoaster journey of life, the ‘good times’ and ‘bad times’ all have their part to play. Whatever encouragement we receive is being willed by providence because it’s the ‘need of the day’ in our spiritual journey. Those times of stability, prosperity and recognition, should be utilised for spiritual immersion so we can build up assets of inspiration, gratitude, strength and unbreakable faith. And when the acid test comes, when we’re stripped of that encouraging support, crying alone in the wilderness, then we exercise the internal muscles by practicing resilience, humility, patience and tolerance. The test will expose us, educate us and hopefully inspire us. It’s a learning curve and I’m trying to remain alert – surprise tests are always around the corner.

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