Mourning to Dancing

If God is found in our hard times, then all of life, no matter how apparently insignificant or difficult, can open us to God’s work among us.  To be grateful does not mean repressing our remembered hurts.  But as we come to God with our hurts — honestly, not superficially — something life changing can begin slowly to happen.  We discover how God is the One who invites us to healing.  We realize that any dance of celebration must weave both the sorrows and the blessings into a joyful step….

The mystery of the dance is that its movements are discovered in the mourning.  To heal is to let the Holy Spirit call me to dance, to believe again, even amid my pain, that God will orchestrate and guide my life.

We tend, however, to divide our past into good things to remember with gratitude and painful things to accept or forget.  This way of thinking, which at first glance seems quite natural, prevents us from allowing our whole past to be the source from which we live our future.  It locks us into a self-involved focus on our gain or comfort.  It becomes a way to categorize, and in a way, control.  Such an outlook becomes another attempt to avoid facing our suffering.  Once we accept this division, we develop a mentality in which we hope to collect more good memories than bad memories, more things to be glad about than things to be resentful about, more things to celebrate than to complain about.

Gratitude in its deepest sense means to live life as a gift to be received thankfully.  And true gratitude embraces all of life: the good and the bad, the joyful and the painful, the holy and the not-so-holy.  We do this because we become aware of God’s life, God’s presence in the middle of all that happens….

If mourning and dancing are part of the same movement of grace, we can be grateful for every moment we have lived.  We can claim our unique journey as God’s way to mold our hearts to greater conformity to Christ.  The cross, the primary symbol of our faith, invites us to see grace where there is pain; to see resurrection where there is death.  The call to be grateful is a call to trust that every moment can be claimed as the way of the cross that leads to new life….

I am gradually learning that the call to gratitude asks us to say, “Everything is grace.”  As long as we remain resentful about things we wish had not happened, about relationships that we wish had turned out differently, mistakes we wish we had not made, part of our heart remains isolated, unable to bear fruit in the new life ahead of us.  It is a way we hold part of ourselves apart from God.

Henri Nouwen, Turn My Mourning Into Dancing:  Finding Hope in Hard Times, p. 16-19

Good Things Coming

Do not worry about how the good that has been planned for you will come.

It will come.

Do not worry, obsess, think you have to control it, go out hunting for it, or tangle your mind trying to figure out how and when it will find you.

It will find you.

Surrender to your Higher Power each day.  Trust your Higher Power.  Then, stay peaceful.  Trust and listen to yourself.  That is how the good you want will come to you.

Your healing.  Your joy.  Your relationships.  Your solutions.  That job.  That desired change.  That opportunity.  It will come to you — naturally, with ease, and in a host of ways.

That answer will come.  The direction will come.  The money.  The idea.  The energy.  The creativity.  The path will open itself to you.  Trust that, for it has already been planned.

It is futile, a waste and drain of energy, to worry about how it will come.  It is already there.  You have it already.  It is in place.  You just cannot see it!

You will be brought to it, or it will be brought to you.

— Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go, p. 368

Why Write?

We also write to know that we are not “the only ones” thinking and feeling what we do.  We discover and interpret the world, and perhaps live life more richly and rarely — because of the writing.

I write and share stories to experience life more than once.  In the writing and telling of my stories, others read, listen and respond to me and my words.

Most of all, I write because of the joy it creates.  Writing creates connections and magic and certain kinds of permanent bliss.  I can write myself in and out of moods and experiences, and create new places to live in my mind.  It’s kind of like pole vaulting with a pen.

— Sark, Juicy Pens and Thirsty Paper, p. 27

Control Is an Illusion.

Control is an illusion.  It doesn’t work.  We cannot control alcoholism.  We cannot control anyone’s compulsive behaviors — overeating, sexual, gambling — or any of their behaviors.  We cannot (and have no business trying to) control anyone’s emotions, mind, or choices.  We cannot control the outcome of events.  We cannot control life.  Some of us can barely control ourselves.

People ultimately do what they want to do.  They feel how they want to feel (or how they are feeling); they think what they want to think; they do the things they believe they need to do; and they will change only when they are ready to change.  It doesn’t matter if they’re wrong and we’re right.  It doesn’t matter if they’re hurting themselves.  It doesn’t matter that we could help them if they’d only listen to, and cooperate with, us.  It doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter.

The problem was, I didn’t know that then.  I thought controlling and taking care of other people was my duty, my God-given job.  My motto from then on became “Do for others what they refuse to , but should, be doing for themselves.”  If other people don’t want to be responsible I’ll pick up that slack.

— Melody Beattie, Playing It By Heart, p. 148

Haunted by Goodness

It strikes us that to hope in the kind of goodness that would set our heart free, we must be willing to allow our desire to remain haunted.  This side of the Fall, true goodness comes by surprise, the old writings tell us, enthralling us for a moment in heaven’s time.  They warn us it cannot be held.  Something inside knows they are right, that if we could do so, we would set up temples to worship it and the Sacred Romance would become prostitution.  We understand that we must allow our desire to haunt us like Indian summer, where the last lavish banquet of golds and yellows and reds stirs our deepest joy and sadness, even as they promise us they will return in the fragrance of spring.

— Brent Curtis & John Eldredge, The Sacred Romance, p. 140

Valuing Our Needs

When we don’t ask for what we want and need, we discount ourselves.  We deserve better.

Maybe others taught us it wasn’t polite or appropriate to speak up for ourselves.  The truth is, if we don’t, our unmet wants and needs may ultimately come back to haunt our relationships.  We may end up feeling angry or resentful, or we may begin to punish someone else for not guessing what we need.  We may end the relationship because it doesn’t meet our needs.

— Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go, p. 355

Loving What Is

I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality.  We can know that reality is good just as it is, because when we argue with it, we experience tension and frustration.  We don’t feel natural or balanced.  When we stop opposing reality, action becomes simple, fluid, kind, and fearless.

Loving What Is, by Byron Katie, p. 2

The Best Attitude

Giving up judgmental attitudes requires that we replace them with some other attitude.  Our minds will not remain idle.  The best attitude to cultivate and the one that changes everything and everyone — you and all of the people you formerly judged — is gratitude.  Having an attitude of gratitude is what allows us to see everyone in our path as necessary and an opportunity for us to express unconditional love.  You see, judgment and love cannot coexist, and we’re expressing one or the other almost all the time.  Seldom are we indifferent to our experiences, to the people we are sharing those experiences with, and to the set of expectations we have created around those experiences.  Becoming more loving, attempting to develop the attitude of unconditional love, in fact, is the real assignment we have been given in this life.  No one can do the work for us.  No one can prevent us from doing the work.  And everyone benefits every time any one of us makes even a tiny effort to grow in our willingness to love rather than judge.

— Karen Casey, Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow, p. 53-54