It’s a lie. A big, fat, “liar, liar pants on firer” BOLDFACED lie. Pop psychology, modern spirituality and even traditional Christianity perpetuate it, but it’s still a lie.
The lie? That you (or anyone) will have life figured out and you can “have it all together”. It’s NOT TRUE! You can meditate and deep breathe all day long, you can “have the power of positive thinking” or follow all the “rules” and it won’t make a difference. Why? Because life is hard! Period. Life is hard and we get bumped and bruised and sometimes scratched and stabbed and left bleeding. And techniques, tools and coping skills are not going to get you to a place where you”ll have it all figured out. And I’m mad, really mad at the lie, because it leaves people, you and me, thinking we are supposed to figure it out and have it together, and when we don’t we either give up trying or pretend we have it figured out. Doing either of those, we end up hurting, bumping and bruising others more than we could otherwise avoid.
So what’s the point? The point is not to “figure it out” the point is to live, to live full and free. Life is a menagerie of vicious and victorious, chaotic and contended, destructive and delightful. We cannot stop the onslaught. What we can to do is lean into it, all of it. Lean in to the beauty and the pain. “But pain hurts” you say. Yes it does. But it hurts more when you deny it, or brace yourself against it, or fight it off like it can go away. And it hurts more when you numb it – numb it with activity, or religion, or alcohol or people or whatever. But you can’t just lie down and take it either. We are not to be victims of our pain, but survivors, over-comers, thrivers.
So how do we lean in. We face it, converse with it, sometimes wrestle a little. If it lies to you, tell it the truth. If it tells you the truth, accept it. Let the suffering you embrace be the fertile place for compassion to grow, for kindness to flourish, for mercy to reign.
The journey of life takes us up a mountain, but its not a straight trail up. The trail winds its way around. Around and around we travel, a little higher and a little higher. We often find ourselves in a similar spot, dealing with the insecurity, or fear, or discouragement or anger or hurt that we thought we had already dealt with, shaming ourselves thinking “I dealt with this already. I should have this taken care of by now.” But that’s not how it works. We are at a similar spot because the journey is never over, there is always a deeper healing, a greater growth. What we have to do when we find ourselves in a similar spot is to look around and notice that we are a little higher up than we were last time and take comfort in that. Then let the deeper healing come and grow a little more. Then keep walking and say, “see you next time around.”