My whole life has been a struggle of some kind or another. Even though intellectually I have always known that everyone else struggles, too, I wondered why some people got occasional breaks from their struggles while I spent every waking hour praying for miracles. Maybe those people found a better paying job, or they came into money, or circumstances changed for the better in some way for them. For me, though, my life has been one endless stream of strife – financial, physical, and emotional. Learning how to survive has been one long relentless challenge that I’m still learning to overcome.
While I think I’ve been handling my physical maladies fairly well, I have to admit that I have failed to conquer the emotional and financial state in which I find myself drowning. But I’ve come to some conclusions about life in general and, after living for over 5 decades, I’d like to share my philosophy with you.
Because I believe that we are all spiritual beings inhabiting bodies for a short time, and because I believe that spirit is energy and energy lives forever, I know that the human life span – the time we spend on Earth – is, in the scheme of things, very short. As our spirits progress toward understanding our purpose for being here, I’ve come to believe that perhaps we summon ourselves before we are born to experience challenges we need to overcome and life lessons we need to learn in order to become One with God.
As I examine my current life, I have to ask if I was perhaps, in a previous life, a let-them-eat-cake kind of person. Might living my current life in poverty and near poverty teach me lessons I otherwise might never have learned about survival? Maybe I needed to learn empathy by actually experiencing life with very little material possessions, or maybe I didn’t want to be encumbered with a lot of stuff. The burden of knowing that nobody is willing to pay you the salary you need to raise your children is overwhelming. Whatever the reason, though, I’ve decided that I’m now comfortable with what I have. I don’t need a new car or my own home.
Maybe I was in perfect health in my past life, and, because I was fortunate physically, I criticized others for things about which I had no knowledge and over which they had no control. I remember a woman who appeared once on Oprah (I think), who criticized people for not walking straighter. As I watched her, I thought of people who, for one reason or another, couldn’t walk straight, and I realized how ignorant all of us can be from time to time about problems others experience. She felt the problem with people was that they just didn’t try. “Let them eat cake, let them stand up straighter, let them raise their four children on minimum wage, let them live in tents.”
From asthma, allergies, and arthritis to a bad back to cancer to migraines to a persistently swollen right foot to bad eyesight, I’ve experienced a wide range of physical limitations. From being molested and raped to being robbed, from losing jobs because perverted bosses wanted more from me than I was willing to give them, from feeling abandoned by people when I needed them most, I’ve experienced a wide range of emotional issues. And from never making enough money to raise my children or even to take care of myself, I’ve experienced what it feels like to live below the poverty level.
But like most other people, I survived. Like most people who go through challenges, I’m still here. And I wonder – what if we choose – before we are born (when we are still in spirit form) – to learn certain life lessons in order to advance our souls? What if we are the ones who control our destinies? But because we don’t want our former lives to influence decisions we make in this life and we don’t want memories of our past lives to overshadow the work we have to do in this life, we decide to become oblivious to choices we made before we were born.
If I killed someone in a previous life, for instance, and I was aware in this lifetime that I killed someone, I would probably become so focused on that horrific crime, I’d be more inclined to find the family I wronged and make up for my behavior than to focus on advancing my soul. If I believed in reincarnation and past lives, I’d probably want to learn my previous name and research my old self. I’d place too much time on my past and not enough time on my present. Instead of advancing my soul, I’d be stuck in the past.
Maybe, prior to the lives we live today, we create our own punishments for past crimes. I like to think that all of us, in our souls, live to a certain code of conduct and that all of our souls together – past, present, and future – connect to that one source of love that goes by many names, God. I’d like to think that at the end of our lives, when we view the way we treated people, we can ask for another chance, and God grants us that opportunity. Maybe our suffering has nothing to do with what God does to us and more to do with what we do to ourselves to heal our souls as we return to God. And maybe loved ones work together to help each other heal our souls.
So in answer to the question I proposed in my title, yes, everything I do matters. Every choice I make comes with a consequence or a reward, and though I may be unaware of the impact I have on the people around me or have any idea when those consequences or rewards will surface, I have to believe that for all of us, what we give out does come back to us and what we reap we do sew. God connects with us through our soul, lives in our heart, and guides us through our conscience. Just because we can’t see results today doesn’t mean they aren’t occurring. Karma may be waiting for us the next time around.