I want to learn from my miseries.
I want to know why I ran that nostalgic sentimental film in my mind, especially since I know that doing that can compound misery
But I also want to know about that because many, if not most, people who grieve know what it is to be triggered by seemingly insignificant things. “The least little thing can set me off.” I want to be able to help them by learning what helps me.
Here are some observations:
First, there is a triggering object or event that serves as a link from the present to the idealized past. Scrambling eggs today is linked to scrambling eggs then. (Not any ‘least little thing’ sets us off. It seems to be particular things that set us off. Why this thing versus that thing? I don’t know.)
Second, these kinds of experience are not deliberately chosen but spontaneously emerge ‘on their own’ from within. I never said to myself: “I think I’ll go down into the kitchen, grab some eggs, and scramble them so as to make myself miserable.” (Chances are that if I had deliberately tried to make myself miserable I couldn’t do it. Emotions can’t be ordered around..)
Third, if these sorts of experiences emerge they must emerge from somewhere. That observation opens up several possibilities: is God at work in this? Is the Spirit? Is it me? Is the devil trying to crush me? While I’m open to possibilities, we do know far more than we think we do and are far wiser than we know.
Fourth, we can benefit from being attuned to that inner wisdom. We encourage our children to listen to that ‘inner voice.’ Maybe we adults would do well to cultivate that habit ourselves. I like to think that there is an unconscious side ot myself that looks out for me and knows what I need even as my conscious self has no clue.
Fifth, it is possible that what we experience on the painful surface is an evidence of grace at work within us. My flood of tears over the egg bowl need not be seen as collapse but as liberation from the bondage of that painful numbness. Why do people think that someone who weeps at a gravesite is ‘not taking it well.’ The truth may be that the mourner is ‘receiving it well.’ Perhaps the grace of God or the inner wisdom of the human spirit knows which buttons to push so as to deliver the mourner from her agony.
Why do we often see tears as little drops of failure rather than showers of painful joy that serve us when we don’t how to serve ourselves?
What if we came to see grief not as a journey of ten thousand steps but as as a voyage across deep and dark seas? Why do we see it as plodding along rather than as riding upon the winds of grace?
The rusted hinges of prison doors screech when they are opened. Freedom cries as it is being born. The winds of grace howl sometimes and we, like wilderness wolves, join the chorus.