Letting Go

Letting go of an ambiguous loss is often the most challenging and important task we face.

At some point in our lives, we all experience it. Someone important to us isn’t willing to talk. Maybe we need to talk, but the other person needs not to. The more history involved and the higher our expectations for that relationship, the more painful their silence.

Painful events happen to all us. But our real problems arise when we attach to that pain.

Often we have this fantasy that somehow by holding on to our anger, the other person will magically decide to apologize and/or come back. As long as we hold on to our anger, we hold on to our hope. Or so we think.

But while you’re sitting there ruminating, the person in question may very well be out having a wonderful day at the lake. The simple fact that you’re the only one suffering, should be your own best argument for letting go.

Negative attachment is still attachment.

Anger is often the glue that keeps us stuck, expressed as an ongoing obsession about “why” this person has wronged us. It’s human nature to want to understand behavior. But the fact is, it’s hard enough to understand our own, let alone somebody else’s. And we simply can’t force another person to talk to us or own up to “the truth” as we see it.

Sometimes we just have to let go.

A sad ending doesn’t negate the value of a relationship. And while it takes two people to form an intimate relationship, it only takes one to end it.

We have to learn to leave the table when love’s no longer being served.

It’s as simple and as difficult as that.

The Intersection of Death and Creativity

As the saying goes, “Genius is sorrow’s child.”

mourning

Psychologists Christopher Long and Dara Greenwood recently investigated the connection between death and creativity. They asked a group of undergraduates to write humorous captions for New Yorker cartoons. Some of the students were first primed with subliminal messages of death. These students produced cartoons judged to be more creative and more humorous. The conclusion is that the inability to acknowledge and mourn loss leads to a shutdown of vital creative impulses. On the flip side, the resolution of loss allows for a fresh start and renewed access to sources of creativity.

Mourning, it seems, is not only vital for our mental health but for our creative lives as well.

This might explain why a disproportionately large number of creative geniuses lost a parent, usually a father, at a young age. A study of some 700 historical figures found that 35% lost a parent by age 15, and nearly half by age 20. The list includes Dante, Bach, Darwin, Michelangelo, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf and more. These creative geniuses possessed not only an ability to rebound from suffering but also to transform that suffering into creativity.

Suffering and Happiness: A Choice

“If you look at your life you will find many excuses to suffer, but a good reason to suffer you will not find.

The same is true for happiness. Happiness is a choice, and so is suffering.”

-Don Miguel Ruiz

A Story of Redemption and Experiencing God’s Grace

Redemption

 

1 Peter 5:10 “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

I have suffered for a while. These past two years have been the most difficult times of my life, with one thing piling upon another. I wondered when I would see the light. But perhaps most importantly, I never doubted that this light would come. I never doubted God’s love for me and His goodness. I knew He had a plan and purpose for everything that was/is happening to me and I never stopped trusting Him. Probably clinging to Him tighter now, than ever before. Exactly, how He likes it- completely, wholly, even desperately dependent on Him.

This is a story about my restoration, about the light returning to my life. It is a joyful story and certainly not a complete one. But more importantly, this is a story about God and His grace, which never fails.

It was the Thursday night before I was scheduled to film my debut music video that Saturday. After a frustrating week of nagging my producer for details with no feedback, I was having a breakdown. I was furious. The shoot was Saturday and I had planned my whole week around it. The producer wasn’t holding up his end of the bargain. Where were the location lists, call times, wardrobe, crew names ect? Even if he sent me this information on Friday, I didn’t feel that one day was sufficient time for me to prep. I wanted to call him and scream at him! But can I? Is it right for me to bring my emotions into a work relationship? How much power and say do I really have in the matter? If I tell him how I feel, what will be his reaction? Will it change anything about the situation? Would it be worth it? If I don’t tell him how I feel, am I disrespecting myself? My feelings? Am I undermining our relationship and the honest, open communication that forms its base? These were all questions that were tormenting me that Thursday night. I struggled with them even as I fell asleep. I don’t like confrontation. I don’t want to confront him.

Friday morning, I had a meeting with my therapist. As usual, she asks me if there’s anything I want to talk about. I couldn’t think of anything “serious” that I felt I needed to talk to her about but because this music video situation was still on the forefront of my mind, I decided to give her a briefing of it. I figured at the least, she would be a good ear for me to get it off my chest. Maybe she would have some good advice on it, too. Boy, did I underestimate how God planned to use this frustrating situation and my time with the therapist that morning to work in miraculous ways.

Long story short, the therapist and I spend the hour “working” on the situation. We end up clarifying and defining my fear of confrontation as the root for why this situation was causing me such distress. Further, we even pinpointed specific events from my years in elementary school as stems for this irrational fear, which all revolve around my being unjustly shamed.

My fear, then, was not just a fear of confrontation, though it was that too. It was more a fear of being shamed. A fear of people making a big deal out of something in response to my actions. All it took was my pinpointing this fear, defining it, finding the cause of it, and rectifying that event within myself.

Before I knew it, the fear and anxiety was gone. By the time the session ended, I was no longer tormented with questions of what to do in response to my producer’s lack of follow through. I was eager to call him! Not to yell or vent but simply to talk about the next steps. It is what it is, I thought. And this is no confrontation. He and I will work this out and I’m excited to see when we can reschedule and start preparing for the new shoot date. Done and done. No anxiety. No fear. Suddenly, it wasn’t a big deal at all anymore. It was almost laughable that I let it torment me to begin with… It was never that big of a situation that I should lose sleep over it.

A huge weight was lifted from within me that Friday. Surely a day I will always remember and a blessing for which I’m indescribably grateful. The very thing I perceived as a mess the night before, had suddenly become a treasure to me, because it helped me to grow and to heal a part of me that had been carrying this burden of shame deep inside. Is God amazing or what?!

I share this story today in hopes that one of you, my readers, will relate to it. If you are feeling frustrated, anxious, or scared, I urge you to seek the cause behind those feelings within yourself. Everything you need to move forward awaits inside of you. God will take care of the details.

Curing vs. Healing

We thought we could cure everything, but it turns out that we can cure only a small amount of human suffering. The rest of it needs to be healed and that’s different.
– Rachel Naomi Remen

Suffering Breeds

Just like if humans were to create robots that turn against us, so does suffering breed the very thing that ends it: compassion.

A Poem: “Suffering Is”

Suffering is

the dark cloud

that produces tears

like

rain

watering the flower

of compassion,

enabling it

to

grow.

Where is God in Suffering?

A year ago, my world fell apart as the ground on which I stood was snatched from beneath me. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the ground taken from underneath you, but I pray that you do.
When you lose the ground you stand upon, you find the Rock that you can rest upon. The only true solid ground that exists. And you experience His grace in ways you never thought imaginable.
 It takes a while to see it from this perspective, and you may never totally understand His ways but I can assure you, you’re suffering is not in vain. God’s calling you to know Him more, while a million other things are trying to distract you. But if the goal is to know Him, to really experience Him, then whatever it takes to get your full attention  is worth it. Even if it’s painful, and my God is it painful…

Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand. – Patti Smithhelping-image-2