The last five months have been intense. There have been external pressures, but much more importantly, there have been massive internal machinations. The process began with the reconciliation of a relationship that I had long since abandoned.
The letting go of that hurt, something which has defined me in some ways, meant that I could begin to tackle some of the deeper elements of unforgiveness. Over the intervening months, one after another, I have been able to acknowledge the pain, and then to let it go.
The end result has been the emergence into far greater freedom. And with it, a sense of being able to relax.
When end this particular journey began at the beginning of Lent, I had no idea what it was going to be. In fact, I had no idea that it was going to be a journey at all. I thought it was end of a very long process of forgiveness with that particular person. I wasn’t aware that that lack of forgiveness was blocking my dealing with a couple of other things.
I have no idea quite how I ended up here. I know is that the Holy Spirit has clearly been working. And I have had a few wonderful companions. It has been a period of tremendous grace and I am deeply grateful.
This last week has taught me a great deal about my own introversion. The interior shifts that have taken place in recent months seem to be bearing fruit.
It began with dinner last Sunday. I am not of a fan of groups – and by ‘groups’ I mean more than three people. It’s not that I am socially awkward – although I can be! Rather, that I find conversing with more than one person seriously taxing. Dinner, last Sunday happened at a friend’s house. Four of us were present, the fifth person cancelled. And yet, it was I found the evening genuinely pleasant and relaxed.
Then I spent three days at a conference. Again the experience was relaxed. I knew a good number of people at the conference, but I also made some new connections (aided by social media!). Normally I find conferences very stressful.
The culmination has been a weekend spent in the house the parents of my closest friend. We are here in a different city giving talks on science for people of faith. The welcome I have received from her family has been very warm. I really do feel like an adopted sibling in a way. And again I have found the weekend far less stressful than I anticipated.
I know my own interior process of finding my own freedom has been a big deal in the last few months. But I am genuinely surprised by the way in which that has translated into my relationships with others.
I have known for a few years that I can do social interaction. What has surprised me in the last week, is that all of it has been less taxing than I anticipated. I can only attribute that to comfort in my own skin.
A friend of mine made a comment on Facebook earlier this week – ‘It’s far easier to write tragedy that feels important than to write a great happy ending’
It got me thinking about why that is the case. I suspect it may have something to do with the uncomfortable reality that as adults we learn far more through suffering than we do through success.
But that doesn’t mean that we do, in fact, learn more through suffering. It is an active choice. It is not the fact of having suffered that makes us wise – mostly the fact of suffering just makes us bitter!
Wisdom comes from the distillation of reflection on the experience. It requires a willingness to allow ourselves to be taught; a willingness to see the possibility of our own unconscious complicity or perhaps conscious fault; a willingness to see things from a larger perspective than our own.
And yet there is still more required for true wisdom to emerge – a willingness to let go of sense of identity as ‘sufferer’. We need ultimately to let go of the incident that has shaped us. We need to forgive those who have caused us harm.
It really is only in actually letting go, allowing the emotional tags to fall slack, that we can begin to access the fruit of suffering.
To think that suffering or tragedy is instructional on its own is to entirely miss the point. It is the equivalent of waiting for something to grow from a trash heap. You need to separate out the potential compost from the rubbish, and then you need to plant the seed of hope.
I find it amazing that I have reached my 200th blog post! When I began this blog in November 2012, I didn’t really think about the number of posts I would produce. So I haven’t really been paying attention to the incremental change in the number of posts. A few weeks ago I spotted that I was coming up on this particular milestone and it seems worth celebrating.
I’ve been thinking a little about why I began the blog and what has emerged from it. I began blogging because I did an online course on how to market your book and having a blog seemed to be a major factor. As I was in the process of completing Rooted in Love it seemed like a good idea.
Before I began this blog I had made attempts to start two other blogs. In both cases, I didn’t make more than a handful of posts. In both cases, I was afraid of putting my thoughts ‘out there’. The shift to marketing Rooted in Love meant this blog wasn’t about me, it was about the book. I had to make it public and I had to share what I was writing.
In the end I am not sure that I have used this blog at all well as marketing tool, it has been largely about what was going on in my head on any given day. I think that’s okay. I am glad that I had the courage to begin it because it has brought me at least two unexpected blessings.
Committing myself to a regular schedule was a good idea. It has meant that I haven’t just written when I have felt inspired, but rather, I have simply written about the things I am thinking about it. It has surprised me to see what people connect with! And it has been fun putting my thoughts out there. As a strong introvert, it has been probably been good for me to expose my interior process a little!
Undoubtedly the greatest gift though, has been the connections I have made with people in far flung places through the blog. I really didn’t expect that I would find new relationships through the blog and yet that has happened!
To all those who have connected with me through this space – thank you!
The last couple of weeks have not been easy. Last week I was as close to burn out as I have ever been. But as the week wore on I found energy slowly seeping back into my being. By Saturday I had enough energy to go for a walk with my sister and my nephew.
We walked in Newlands Forest as we so often do. We walked at a reasonable pace for about two hours. The first half of the walk was enjoyable enough, but in the second half I suddenly became aware of my body relaxing. The tight muscles in my shoulders exacerbated by all the exam marking last week gently loosened a little. I became more aware of the beauty around me.
By the time we got back to the car I began to feel quite normal again. The gentle rhythm of walking and the beauty of the environment had done its magic.