Is our life really mapped out for us? Does God have a definitive plan for each of us, with each step clearly marked?
Do we really have the freewill to make choices, to change direction?
How do we cope with life when it doesn't live up to our expectations, dreams and goals?
It is commonly believed in spiritual teachings that yes - our lives are mapped out for us. We arrive in this incarnation with a definite plan for our life's purpose. The lessons we have to learn, our goals, our pathways have been decided before we reincarnate. Some believe that these goals are indeed set by our own spirit before we return. Others that God decides. Perhaps the two things are the same as we are all a part of God, we all have God within us.
Is that plan rigidly set in stone with each footstep carefully choreographed with no deviation? Or do we have a certain amount of freewill? We are told that God did indeed give us freewill, the ability to choose.
I am sure we have all made what we would call bad choices, perhaps we have gone against our better judgment and taken a pathway which we know is not good for us. This choice may prove to be destructive and may appear to steer us off course onto dark and frightening tributaries. However, in retrospect, it is often these "apparent" wrong choices which teach us our most important lessons. So one could then question whether these seeming wrong turns were actually part of our life's plan after all. The whole of our life's experiences shape who we are and without what we perceive to be the bad things we would not be the same people. So we could question whether we do indeed have freewill or whether we are following the pathway to the letter, and that freewill does not actually exist, or that our freewill was executed before we returned to earth, we just don't remember. We will, of course, despite endless debate and consideration never know the answer to this most profound of questions. It will be only when we "go home" that I believe we will clearly see the plan which we have chosen.
And what of coincidences? Spiritual laws tell us that there is no such thing. That what we perceive as coincidences are really signposts which can change our direction completely. Perhaps it is in the form of meeting a person who will bring some new insight, teach us something or indeed change our direction in life. Coincidences can come in any guise - a passage of a book, the lyrics of a song, a radio broadcast to name but a few. Following these flashes of serendipity is of course a choice, we may choose to ignore them and carry on along the same lines as before. We can exercise our freewill and not pursue these coincidences, but another one will follow shortly and perhaps this time we will choose to pay attention. If we do ignore these signposts will we inevitably change the course of our lives or will they keep appearing until we do take notice.
And how do we cope when our expectations are not met, our dreams are not fulfilled? Growing up as a child of the fifties expectations were very limited. We expected to finish our education often leaving school at 15. Higher education was a privilege in those days certainly not an expectation. Our career choices were varied, hairdressing, office work, factory jobs, nursing or shop work. It really didn't seem so important following a career because what we really craved was to meet the man of our dreams, to marry, to have children and of course, to live happily ever after. A fairy tale ending is I believe very rare and often we can find that actually all those things which we hoped would fulfil us and sustain us don't really do it for us. We cannot guarantee happiness and we certainly cannot expect another human being to "make" us happy. Happiness comes from within and takes nurturing and working on.
It would be so easy to become bitter when life does not pan out as we expected, to feel we have failed and to rail against the obstacles which have blocked our way. Perhaps we have suffered loss, ill health, financial ruin or a myriad of other problems. There is nothing more trite that someone saying to us "oh well it was meant to be", "there is always a reason for why this has happened". How very infuriating that is to hear when our dreams have crashed down around us, when we are lost and desperate. Not helpful to hear that I know, but actually leading a spiritual life of faith and trust there is really no other way to look at things but we must be allowed to find that for ourselves. We must believe that nothing is random, that the universe isn't conspiring against us or that "we must have done something terrible in a previous life to have to suffer so in this one".
Life can be full of disappointments and regrets, no one is exempt from life's blows, but remember we all have the freewill to choose how we react to them, whether we sink or swim, whether we find a way to be philosophical about the swerve balls life throws at us or whether we wallow in self pity and sadness, hankering after the dreams we had, or whether we do find a way to accept gracefully that we do not have control over every part of our life.
So in conclusion, I am sure that there is a plan for us which we can clearly see when we look to the past and the way in which our lives have unfolded, to the coincidences which have changed our lives, sometimes dramatically. Otherwise life would become a random set of circumstances impossible to navigate. I do believe that God has a plan for us and that the gift of freewill is about how we choose to respond to life.
- K. S