If there is anything I learned last year, it is that the Universe really does have my back. This awareness was confirmed in a very simple way, couched in a very complex and heavy situation.

When I decided to write The Healer’s Path to Post-COVID Recovery last year, I contacted several healthcare professionals I’d known throughout my training. One, my fellowship director for my post-doctoral training in family medicine, had become the chairperson of a family medicine department in Chicago. I interviewed him for the book and he also connected me with numerous other practitioners throughout his hospital system whom I interviewed as well. I remember having various conversations with him in my training about my interest in doing research related to spirituality. It wasn’t an interest of his at the time but he was supportive and encouraging nonetheless.

When I interviewed him for The Healer’s Path he, like most of the healthcare workers I spoke with, shared detailed information about how the pandemic had severely disrupted his life; this historic event impacted every single branch of his tree. We caught up on life, talked about our mutual interest in trees, and had some very in depth exchanges about healthcare and our own personal evolution. He was instrumental in writing the book in many ways, but mostly in confirming that I needed to write it to help healthcare workers create their own restorative journey following this harrowing event. In fact, I credit his story and support of my idea for the ability to write the book as I did—with compassion, heart and soul.

Just before we wrapped up our communication, I asked if he would share his first impressions about The Soul Health Model, which is quoted early in the book. He added that just five years prior he likely wouldn’t have resonated with what I was trying to convey because he had only recently started on his own spiritual journey. He then reminded me that I had contacted him after writing my first book, Soul Health, in 2012 to ask if he would be willing to write a review. At the time, he wasn’t as open to spiritual concepts and he said he responded to my email message with, “Define ‘soul’”. He said that because he didn’t hear back from me after his inquiry he assumed I thought he would be unsupportive and reductionistic of the importance of the soul in offering words about my book. The truth is, I never received his email message. I have no idea what happened to it, but it didn’t arrive in my inbox.

When I read his words, I immediately realized that had I received that message, I would have thought exactly what he described and wouldn’t have contacted him for an interview this time around. I was stunned and amazed.

The Universe clearly had my back. For some reason that email message did not arrive. If it did, The Healer’s Path would likely not be written in the way it was, nor would I have had such incredible and affirming interactions with him while the book was in its early stages.

While this might seem like a small artifact in learning to trust the Universe, for me it was immensely profound. Since that disclosure, I’ve reflected on many challenging and/or important junctures in my life. It has felt like my life has been passing before my eyes, much like a life review a person experiences prior to death. The movie screen in front of me was playing out all of the difficult situations, linking one thing to the other until I can now understand why my life has gone as it has. One missed email showed me that no matter what happens and how difficult life might be, all actually works out for my highest good.

Author Iyanla Vanzant wrote a book called Trust: Mastering the Four Essential Trusts—Trust in Self, Trust in God, Trust in Others and Trust in Life. She notes, “Trust is an essential soul need. The psychological injuries and emotional wounds we experience as children affect our soul.” She goes on to say that when we fail to experience trust, our soul does not develop in a healthy way and this can result in the emergence of various dysfunctional patterns. She says, “These needs, when left unmet and unaddressed, will fester and grow into disruptive and/or dysfunctional patterns that will impact every aspect of our lives.” While Vanzant doesn’t know about The Soul Health Model as far as I know, she understands the nature of how a lack of faith and trust can negatively impact our soul’s evolution.

To me, the ultimate test is to learn to trust the Universe. Some call it God, but I expand the thought to include the biggest energetic force that can exist, which unifies all spiritual and religious belief systems. While I’ve had my fair share of fights with this energetic force for things I felt unfair or unjust, the simplicity of that missed email message has changed how I look at my life in nearly every way. Even through the most stressful times and biggest challenges, I try my best to wait out the Universe’s dealings to learn what I am supposed to and discover the magic behind the events of my life path.

My life has been turned upside down in many ways this year, although many wouldn’t know this. Every leaf on every branch of my own “soul” tree is being examined, sorted and scrutinized. It hasn’t been the least bit comfortable to go through this process. But I have faith that it is the next step in my journey and the next phase of understanding my own soul’s evolution.

In what ways could you trust the Universe more? What challenges have you undergone that you now understand? What would happen if you exchanged stress and worry for faith that everything will work out?

Buddhists believe that we create our own suffering by fixating on our discomfort rather than allowing it to pass through our awareness before we let it go. This is a form of exercising faith that all will be well in the long run.

I told a friend recently that I feel like I’m doing a “trust fall” with the Universe. I’m opening my arms and falling back into its supportive embrace, allowing my discomfort to pass while observing and learning what I can in the meantime. I’m surrendering to what is to come rather than trying to control what I can’t. I’m finding peace there in those supportive yet invisible arms and hope to maintain this peace throughout the remainder of my evolution.

It is interesting that I will embark on a journey to raft the Grand Canyon in early September. The topic of the trip is “Flow Theory”—allowing yourself to surrender to a “flow” state as you travel through life—less struggle, less fear and more faith. Apparently, I trusted the Universe last December when I received the notification about the trip. Now I understand why I’m supposed to enter the “birth canal” of the largest canyon in the world. I’ll be there to learn more faith and trust, while stretching my soul’s edges to evolve.

How can you let go in order to let the Universe in?

Want To Learn More?! Watch Dr. Katherine T. Kelly, Ph.D., M.S.P.H. On YouTube