There are universal laws of spiritual farming, laws of reaping and sowing, of judging not lest we be judged. We know they’re true, even though we don’t exercise ourselves often or well enough to get to the place where all we sow is goodness, love, and light. We don’t, because we cannot gather the courage to pluck out the dark eye and cast it from us. We don’t want to enter heaven maimed. Little do we know that heaven is full of maimed people.
Even though I know better, in weak moments I still like to imagine that other people make me feel certain ways. The thing is that others can’t make us feel anything. My own feelings about the words, behaviors, or sometimes even the look of another person are reflections caught in my mirror of self. Until I’m transcendent and fully loving, I believe that what I see out there often reflects something about myself. There’s so much room for growth and love, if only I can clear out what stunts and cripples.
When patterns and signposts in my life repeat often enough to make a pattern, they show that I’ve had many healing opportunities in the past that I didn’t recognize or didn’t have the courage to accept. Because people are bent on wholeness whether we like it or not, we will keep drawing potentially healing experiences to ourselves until we are healed. Even if we reject those healing experiences, react against them, or choose destructive and defiant acts to spite them.
Digging Up the Ancient Stones
Over the past week or two, I’ve been the fortunate recipient of some synchronous and uncanny opportunities for healing of archaic wounds, wounds I thought were healed by now but which I find are telling me, “you’re not finished yet, my dear.” Not finished yet. That makes me smile. I’m grateful to be always able to grow.
These opportunities come from every direction in life—from people we live with, work with, neighbors, strangers, and, yes, even from other bloggers. In my own case, I’ve had some regular readers inadvertently send me damning but healing words that have me returning to my childhood, where like everyone else I laid, and had laid for me, the foundation of the home for the self I would later become. As we all know by now, these foundations are often off kilter, and the whole house that takes its shape from it is similarly skewed. Most times there’s nothing to be done but raze it to the very foundation. Some of us must dig up even the ancient stones.
The Gift That Keeps On Giving
I don’t quite understand the mechanics of sowing and reaping among human hearts, but I know that if you plant a marigold seed in the earth, you’ll grow a marigold and not a begonia. So whatever seeds of false identity, false identification, wrong thinking, or hatred I grow in my heart, or project onto others, will produce a crop of the same. It stands to reason, then—and this is what we helping professionals teach our clients—that we pretty much all get what we need even more than we get what we deserve. This is because we unconsciously and habitually throw away from us the very things we need to bring home with us. Thus, we always get the experiences we most need to heal us.
The dangerous part of this equation is that healing opportunities can be harmful if we don’t choose wisely. For example, we often told clients in marital therapy that we tend to marry our parents, finding someone who will re-create for us the same environment the family of origin gave us. We can then either do something different with our spouses, growing through the experience and finally becoming whole; or we can re-create the emotional climate, make the same old choices, and be the same people we were before. We can then leave and blame the marriage, moving on to the next relationship where we’ll do it all over again. And people often follow this pattern, for the divorce rate among second and third marriages increases exponentially among folks who can’t sort themselves out.
As I’m going along in life, and other people distress or upset me—even if only a very little bit!—this is a wonderful signal that something is missing or lacking or may need adjusting in my life. Very seldom do others see us clearly enough to be able to do the specific acts that will bring us to our knees or break our hearts. No, we are best able to do that for ourselves, and so we attract hurtful experiences or words like flies to honey, until we can no longer be hurt by them because we are healed. Or until there is nothing but a gaping, gangrenous wound. The choice is ours.
When I judge another person, or hold expectations, or want another person to change so that I can feel better, or see another person as less than perfectly acceptable and loving, or even when I draw unbecoming behavior out of another person, these are all wonderful clues to how I really perceive myself, first and foremost. I’ve written before about how, when I get upset with others, I make a quick and dirty list of just how terrible that person is. And then I divide the page and write “I” statements about all those qualities, because I absolutely have them too. And if I think I don’t because I’m having a self-aggrandizing, delusional moment, I have a husband and children handy who will laugh out loud if I dare to ask them, “I’m not such-and-such a way, am I?” I’m always such-and-such a way; I just don’t always see it.
What I mean is that I get upset when someone resonates in me the parts of myself that I’ve disowned, denied, rejected, and then projected onto them. They show me, and reflect to me, what I need to see and accept in myself. Seeing my bad, embarrassing, and sorry traits isn’t enough. I must move on to accept myself, warts and all, as they say. I must love myself fully because until I do, I am absolutely prevented from loving anyone else fully.
The Finger in My Wound
Other people are responsible for the part they play, too, of course. We each participate in the dance as willing partners. Each party to the encounter receives exactly what he or she chooses. If we’re discerning and careful, we may potentially receive better than what we choose: we may receive healing. We may transcend the wounds that are trying to be healed. We may achieve wholeness. Finally.
The person who provokes me and puts the finger into my wound is my friend. I bless and thank that other person for giving me the chance to practice love, forgiveness, and acceptance. I thank the other person in my heart for striking the match that lights the candle that sheds light into the darkest places of my self.
When people say or do things that are provocative, I start telling a story about how wrong they are and how right I am. When I take the victim stance, I am merely showing myself and the world the unhealed part of myself, the part that sees crooked. But, if I’m willing to let the light shine, so that I can see things differently or more clearly, then I can find restoration and share it with others, too.
I’m going to be writing about how this process of restoration has worked in my life in the past and presently, for over the past few weeks I’ve had some handy experiences with readers that perfectly illustrate the process of healing. I’ll go there by a meandering route, telling stories as I go, because stories illustrate truth as well or better, sometimes, than case studies.
It takes a lot of courage to work through what has pained you all your life. Not everyone started life with the best circumstances. Not everyone was wanted or loved. Not everyone wishes for their mother when they’re ill or needy; some people have had terrifying mothers. Some people had no father at all. Some people had no real parents to speak of. Some people grew up with cardboard others who were called “family,” but who were more like stage props. Some people lived with vampires. Some people had parents but were orphans anyway.
If you go to the grocery store or the mall and sit and watch people for a few hours, you will see several mothers screaming at their children. You will see fathers jerking their toddlers by the arm. You will hear husbands saying cruel words to their wives. You will overhear mean and horrible things from cell phone conversations. All these people saying and doing hurtful things publicly do them ten times more behind closed doors. Most of them have children, and they are cruel and hurtful to their little children, too. Most of those children grow up. And all of those wounded children are just that: wounded. They need healing. And they become adults who need healing and love, and probably don’t get it. And they crash into one another in attempts to get it. When we crash, the police come; the fire fighters come; and the ambulance comes. Someone rushes to help us. It is much the same with wounded people crashing about. You may be one. I may be one. And if we don’t learn to heal ourselves one encounter at a time, with forgiveness and mercy extended to that other person who was so mean, so rude, so stupid, then we will remain unhealed. And so will they.
I’m here to do for myself what my mom and dad didn’t do for me, and what I haven’t felt worthy to have done for me by others: to love me, to nurture me, to get help for me, to be kind to me. God is always love, always acceptance, always kindness, always goodness. I too can be all this. I am a pearl in the eyes of God, and so are you. I’m worthy even when I’m helpless or vulnerable; and so are you. In Isaiah, it says that even while we were helpless and naked infants, squirming in the blood of afterbirth, God passed by and picked us up, washed us and cared for us. And until we pass by the messiest, most helpless parts of ourselves, and pick that squalling infant up, wash it, and care for it, we are not yet where we ought to be as human beings.
And that’s what I’ll be writing about next.
Or perhaps it’s what I’ve always been writing about.