Living The Hero/Heroine's Journey
A Tool For Your Satchel
There were times in my life when I felt confused and lost, like I was wandering in a barren wilderness with no way out. There have also been occasions when my heart hurt so much that I thought I would implode from the pain. While others could accompany me through these trials, no one had the ability to rescue me from them. They were my challenges to overcome, my lessons to learn, because I am the only one who can live my own heroine’s journey.
In most, if not all of these seasons, being able to contextualize my situation has proven beneficial. Because I was reared in the Christian tradition, Jesus of Nazareth is my greatest hero and scenes from his life assist me in understanding my own life story. Two of these, in particular, are especially compelling in helping me navigate uncomfortable circumstances. These are encountering the devil in the wilderness and the crucifixion.
Confusion, shame, and fear are hallmarks of the wilderness narrative. Jesus has just received inspiration and an affirmation of his calling, and the enemy of his best self is challenging him. You know you are having a wilderness experience because the voice of the inner critic keeps making you doubt, feeds your feelings of guilt and/or unworthiness, and tries to convince you that it is unsafe to trust the process.
This is the time to stand against that voice, to bolster yourself with what you know to be true, and to rely on resources that support the dream and vision you have been given. But first you must make the commentary explicit. It is helpful to write down the challenges your inner critic is leveling at you so that you can gain clarity, then to counter with their opposites – – your personal truths that awaken you to faith, hope, and love. Don’t give a foothold to this accusatory voice. It is there to sabotage you, not champion you. The fruit of it is despair, so stand strong and risk believing in yourself. The gift of the wilderness is a renewed sense of purpose and hope.
In contrast, you know you are experiencing a Gethsemane event because pain is present and you are resisting the path forward. At this point in his journey, Jesus knew what he had to do, but the thought of it was overwhelming. Typically, these moments involve the invitations: a) to speak your truth in love/stand up for what you believe in, b) to admit that you acted or spoke unskillfully and to seek forgiveness, or c) to let go of something or someone you cherish. If these times were easy, it wouldn’t feel like you are hanging on a cross.
The good news is that your resurrection is on the other side. Crucifixion experiences help us to grow into deepening intimacy in relationships and in showing up authentically, owning our personal truths. Whether we like it or not, conflict is often necessary to take us to the next level of awareness. The gifts of the crucifixion experience are personal transformation and self-transcendence.
Contextualizing my experiences has provided a map to guide my way when I have encountered tricksters who confuse me and cliffs off of which I didn’t want to leap. And through recognizing the path ahead, I have been able to access courage, trust, and faith on this grand adventure of my life.
Take heart, able voyager. The next time you’re fighting a dragon, you might ask yourself:
Am I in the wilderness or am I suffering a crucifixion?
Then consider the tools at your disposal. You are meant to claim your victories, not wallow in defeat. Like Julian of Norwich, 14th century English mystic, learned in her near-death experience, your wounds are your trophies.
May your mind be peaceful and calm, may your body be relaxed and comfortable, and may your heart be filled with love.
Thank you for reading.
Blessings and gratitude, Ani