For the last six years, this saying has made me very angry.
I felt I had been taught lessons that were more painful than I could imagine but were occurring repeatedly. I thought, only I can judge `when I was ready to be done with whatever lesson I was supposed to learn, and I was positive that the time had passed.
A string of years of difficult life events can weigh on you until there’s only a portion of you that belives an equilibrium will ever arrive. For me, hope returned multiple times, only to be quashed by a never-ending trail of negativity and judgement tied to my past mistakes.
Life became a matter of searching for anything positive that couldn’t be blocked by the lesson. I felt suffocated by failures that refused to let me breath.
Although, we have all seen the feel-good movie where a hero or dramatic experience rescues someone from their fate and life turns around, I no longer believed that these movies or stories were possible. Feeling there was no purpose remaining was a significant challenge to my religious beliefs.
Unlike the movies, I found that a hero doesn’t show to rescue you just once. But instead, during each one of those miserable days, you’re growing a little bit at a time. The growth is occurring without realizing it, as it does when you were a kid and getting taller. Instead of a bone or muscle, it is your faith, integrity, resilience, determination, and hope that is expanding, while simultaneously shedding the negative skin of shame and guilt.
As I move to “the other side” of the painful lessons of the last six years, I now believe Pema Chodron’s saying is true. But it is not a magical force that appears with a bang and removes the painful lesson, it us up to us to do it. We are responsible to take the event, internalize it, take responsibility for the behaviors that led to it, make significant personal changes, and attack the world again.
What I have learned is “nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know”, but it is up to us to define the lesson, grow, and move on. The power is within us and with dogged determination, it eventually does “go away”.