Imaginary Friend or Spirit Guide?
When I was a little girl, I had a best friend. This friend wore pink tutus and ballet slippers. She had flowers in her honey blonde hair and, by the look of her, it was hard to tell if she placed the flowers in her hair on purpose or if she’d been rolling in a field of daisies just before play time. Her name was America because that’s the name she gave me when I asked. America was always by my side and we got into a lot of trouble together. Well, I got in trouble. She always got out of it for one reason in particular.
See, there’s a word people use for a friend like America. Imaginary. They’d say she was a figment of my imagination. The workings of an overly creative mind who, bored one day in her backyard, invented a friend. Learning this, my first thought was “great!” If I could create such a lifelike, wonderful friend which I had in her again and again and again, playtime would be limitlessly enjoyable. So I tried to imagine up another one.
Now, I based this friend on Diana from Anne of Green Gables. The perfect, loyal friend, right? Long jet black hair and a willingness to run into a mud pit to catch a cow in her favorite white dress. But Diana was… fake. I had to think her thoughts for her and it got boring. America didn’t like her much, anyway. Despite being okay with the title of Imaginary Friend, she seemed a little offended at the idea that I had made her up.
America inspired me to think for myself. She wasn’t a rule follower per se. In fact, her knee-jerk reaction was to just about disobey every rule proposed. This included me punching my sister in the arm, giving her dead-arm, and blaming it on America. (Seriously though, it was America’s idea.) America believed life should be taken lightly, rules were suggestions, and you could improve a day by dancing in a grocery store.
But as I got older and gained friends of my own, America faded in the background. She’d pop up every once in a while and make sure I wasn’t following every rule but the older I got, the more I realized the importance of rules. No, America, I’d say, that rule exists for a reason. I have to turn in my homework. I have to get a good grade. I have to study. America showed up less and less and as a result, I became less and less happy. But those rules existed for a reason, dang it, and if I followed each one of them, I’d be happy again. Right? If I wasn’t happy, surely it’s because I wasn’t following a rule well enough and I just needed to try harder.
Let’s fast forward the school years. I aced my classes, graduated with honors, went to church, worked extra hard in the evenings to become a published author, and was miserable. Which sucked because I’d done Everything. Right. Down to the max but no matter how hard I tried, I didn’t fit. The rules I’d placed on myself just plain didn’t work for me.
I took some meditation classes. And then another. Three years later I received my certificate and decided to keep learning more. But in those three years, something spectacular happened. I learned about Spirit Guides. People on The Other Side who step in on your behalf. Souls who have volunteered to guide you through tough times and help you grow. Not only did I learn about them, my teacher taught me how to meet them.
See where this story is going?
America was… insistent on talking. Now, she wasn’t the Spirit Guide who needed to speak to me at the time. If I understand correctly, a bit of an argument broke out between the two over who should get take the spotlight during the meditation. In the end, I met them both. America demanded an apology from me for the continued use of “imaginary”. Meanwhile, the other Spirit Guide, an ancient male herbalist who wanted to help me through some health issues, kept rolling his eyes and patiently waiting.
In meeting America again, I realized the difference between the imagination and Spirit. Although I saw her through my mind (it’s not like it physically looked like she was bouncing on her toes in front of me), the image of her came from outside of me. It wasn’t my thoughts which created her but rather my open mind which allowed me to see her. She reminded me of her rule breaking ways and asked why I was struggling so hard to meet expectations which had no obligation to give me what I wanted in return? Which would not result in my happiness solely because the reaching for it did not inspire hope?
Talking to America forced me to take a long, hard look at my goals for life. What was I trying to force into myself for the mere purpose of checking it off the to-do list? I strove to be a successful professional in the heart of a city, the whole working woman, don’t-need-help-from-anyone go-getter. What did I actually want? I wanted peace. Rest. A successful profession which inspired a smile when I thought it. I wanted to make a difference in the world and have a strong enough support system to take risks safely. Wow. Talk about a difference. The two answers not only didn’t fit but were exact opposites. Imagine how miserable I would have been if I had reached the goals I’d set for myself?
Heaven, thankfully, forbad it. America intervened. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been in my life. I just moved to a wonderful city with access to pretty much every kind of food I want, time to focus on my meditations, and enough faith in spiritual guidance to continue directing me in the right path. I know what’s in store for my future. Not the details. I can’t tell you what my next task will be or the people I’m going to meet. I don’t have dates or times when things should be done. What I have instead is a strong, reliable promise that I will be happier. Joy exists in my future just as it does now, only more.
America has grown quiet in my house lately. She’ll pop up and say hi if I think about her but otherwise she seems busy. I’ve embraced the lifestyle of setting aside society’s expectations and she must feel she’s completed her mission with me. I can’t imagine her work load if that’s her aim but I wish her luck.
As children, we think one way only to be told later to think something else. When I was young, I believed in America like I believed in my sisters. Both were annoying, in my face, and absolutely delightful. I could see both and hear both and dance in the grass with both but when I started to label America as an Imaginary Friend, she became more difficult to discern. When I labeled her as a childish fantasy, then the older I got, the more I ignored her. Until the blessed day that I sat down, looked her in the eye, and accepted that I was right the first time.
Yes, sometimes we think one way only to question ourselves. It’s good to question our thoughts. Question everything. But know this: life will be even better if we trust our souls during the process.