One of my client’s told me recently he was too afraid to let go. He couldn’t trust that Mind, Spirit, God, Universal Intelligence, Love, whatever label you want to use, would have his back. He believed he had to confront the challenges he was experiencing through his own brute force and willpower. In his certainty and fear, there was no room to receive inspiration and fresh thought. His behavior made sense based on his understanding there was nothing greater than himself. He believed letting go of the fight and struggle would ultimately result in catastrophe.
My experience tells me the opposite is true. It is when I let go of my struggle and my will that magic seems to happen. I suggested he reflect on his life and look for the experiences of grace that were present, big and small, to see what might be revealed to him.
As we were speaking, I was reminded of one of my most profound experiences of grace. I had been wrongly imprisoned in an immigration jail on my way back into the U.S. from England. I had an H1 visa at the time, and as a Canadian citizen, I wasn’t required to have the Visa stamped in my passport. I could carry the form with me.
I got a quick turnaround modeling assignment and just before I was about to leave, I realized my Canadian passport had expired. Since I had been living and working in Europe, I also had a British passport. So I used my British passport to travel back to the U.K. However, when my husband and I returned, I was separated from him, and told I was being denied entrance to the U.S. I explained I had my visa with me as well as my Canadian Citizenship card, but to no avail. I had the choice of voluntary deportation or being held in jail and presenting my case to court. I chose to leave, but still needed to stay the night in the immigration jail until I could get a flight the next day.
I was not able to speak to my husband to let him know what was going on. I was distraught. I felt scared. I didn’t know if I was going to be allowed back into the country. When I got to the jail, I asked to call my husband. The would not let me make any calls. I had the foresight to ask to speak with my attorney. They did not deny this. When I got through to my attorney, I was in floods of tears. I told him they wouldn’t let me call my husband, and asked him to call him and let him know I was safe and that I loved him. I am sure I sounded quite melodramatic.
I then went to bed waiting for the next day to come around. I started off the night restless and upset. I was scared and outraged this was happening. I didn’t know if this mistake would change the course of my life and my work. As I was becoming more and more distressed, I realized I was having a dark night of the soul, or as Robert Holden would say, “A dark night of the ego.” I was lost in my negative thoughts feeling completely disconnected from my Authentic Self.
I chose to calm myself down through prayer. As I prayed, I surrendered. I stopped resisting the situation. I stopped being angry at the immigration officials. I stopped being scared. I stopped judging myself for making a mistake. I stopped indulging in negative future fantasies. I simply quietened down. This is when I experienced grace. I felt the presence of God in my heart. I felt safe and taken care of. I felt sublime love. I felt calm. I felt peace. I experienced my true loving nature and knew all was well.
After this, I slept like a baby. I was awoken the next morning by the whole team of guards coming into my room. The looked menacing and stern. I was surprised because I knew my flight wasn’t until later in the day, but I was calm. They told me I needed to get all of my belongings and follow them. When I asked them where I was being taken they wouldn’t tell me. I wondered if I was being taken to another jail and would not be able to leave as planned. I was cognizant of not being considered to be on U.S. territory, and having no rights in this no man’s land.
Then, all of a sudden, all of the guards burst out laughing. They told me I was being released. They seemed just as happy as I was at this news. They told me this never happens. They had never seen anyone be released, and they were delighted. It turned out that my attorney had been so moved my by distress call that he had called the airport and spoken with an immigration official. He said he wasn’t calling as my attorney, simply as a friend. He was able to reason with the official and explain I had all of my documentation in order, just not in the form they wanted it.
Fortunately, the customs official saw the logic. I was given a fine, and then able to walk free into the beautiful California sunshine feeling very grateful. However, my liberation happened before I was set free. It occurred when I surrendered my dark thoughts in the middle of the night and dropped into my natural state of peace. I was still in jail at this point, but I was free inside. I was no longer tortured by my thinking, and I knew I would be okay no matter what.
I am now less disturbed when my I am gripped by fearful or stressful thoughts. I know they will pass, and any distress I am experiencing will dissolve as they dissipate independent of the situation I am in. My peace and wellbeing are a constant. The only variable is the quality of my thinking. It is only ever my thoughts that get in the way of me experiencing my Authentic Self. The greater capacity I have to relax and let my thinking settle, the more gracefully I ride these experiences out. I want to let the deeper wisdom inside of me do the heavy lifting in my life; therefore, letting go makes all the sense in the world.