For ten years, I’ve offered a long weekend intensive called What’s Next? It’s four days of deep diving, soul poking, truth excavating work, guiding you to take a clear and honest look at who you truly are, where you’re getting in your own way, and what is the next step you can take toward your truest, brightest self. In a 2021 session, we had gathered on the second day to check in before starting the work. One participant shared a reflection— almost a mantra or a prayer— that had surfaced for her as she tucked into bed the previous night: “May I be strong enough for what is coming. Make me strong enough for what I am becoming.” I wrote it on my giant sticky note tablet. It’s still hanging on the wall. I get chills down my arms and tears fill my eyes even as I type it. This. “May I be strong enough for what is coming. Make me strong enough for what I am becoming.”
This moment resurfaced after a recent 1:1 session with a longtime client. She’s been in a season of grief and loss, and we were talking about how practice and age have made clear to us the understanding that the sweet, rich, good times are (in part) preparing us— shoring us up— for the storms that will inevitably come. While we don’t want to live waiting for the other shoe to drop, perhaps it’s good to remember that that shoe is going to drop whether we are waiting for it or not. This is life. Love, loss, change. Wash, rinse, repeat. So I’m not suggesting living in half joy and half dread, rather I’m urging you toward full joy immersion with eyes wide open.
She then asked, “so what is THIS preparing me for?” The answer came through instantly from the Source of all the answers (as in, not my busy monkey brain). What are we being prepared for in the hard times? What is the purpose of our pain, our struggles, our hardships? Maybe this isn’t always the answer, but it resonated for her in the moment and it resonated for me, too.
If the good times are filling us up, bolstering and nurturing and nourishing us; if sweet abundance encourages us to feel joy, to continue loving and serving, and taking another step, I believe the difficult times are preparing us— even inviting us— to let go.
For as much as we are here for the joy, we are also here for the surrender. We arrived with nothing and we will depart with nothing. And if we are really doing the work with raga (attachment) and dvesa (aversion), we are in an ongoing process of shedding: releasing layers of stories and attachments, as well as outdated ideas about ourselves and the nature of this life. If we are doing the work we are continually being offered a reflection of where we are attached, and given the repeated invitation to let go. Over and over and over.
I am gently holding this prayer as I continue to move through a time where the path is not clear, and the challenges seem more plentiful than the boons. Becoming more ourselves requires us to let go of everything we’ve gathered along the way: every external trapping, every label, every attachment, every role and relationship. We must release all of it to become the embodiment of the singular version of grace, grit and magic we were each made to be. The “what we are becoming” is not something new. It is unveiling what we have always been, under the surface, in the center of our being-ness.
Where does that land for you? What does it feel like in your bones, in your heart, in your soul as you let those word wash over you? “May I be strong enough for what is coming. Make me strong enough for what I am becoming.” Is this season shoring you up with abundance and ease or are you being asked to reach into those once-gathered reserves and peel away another layer, taking you closer to yourself and to ultimate freedom?
This is the life. This is the practice.