“Acceptance is a small quiet room.”
~ Cheryl Strayed
I opened a fortune cookie, pictured above, one night over a joyful dinner with my son. The evening was so special that I knew the message tucked inside, which resonated deeply, must be reviewed at a later time.
Days later, when I was alone, I pondered the poignancy of the message. For years I carried a broken heart from someone I love dearly, who rejected me. Every holiday, every birthday, every time I remembered the sweeter times, the sting of that hurt brought me to my knees, and often to church altars to pray. I prayed for an opening, a clean slate, and forgiveness for myself and this other person.
Years later, I learned that to heal our bodies, minds and even our finances, we must let go of our grievances. Abundance in any form rarely enters or stays in a resentful, angry heart.
To let go and come to acceptance, I had to let myself off the hook, and stop taking responsibility for something I could not control. Self-punishment damages our sense of worthiness and sinks us into more darkness; self-love and compassion elevate us into light and the learning that comes from any discord (even those relationship twists that catch us off-guard and seem unwarranted).
The greater lesson was learning to stop rejecting myself, which is where the true healing unfolded. With love and compassion, I honored the wounded parts of myself that would ever accept being treated in a less than loving way, and released the hurt, replacing it with forgiveness.
Then, after trying so hard for years to make the hurtful relationship different, I surrendered. My efforts did not matter.
It has been the hardest letting go of my life, to accept the relationship I so wanted, cannot be as I wanted it to be, and to trust in its continuing purpose to serve my highest good.
Slowly, I have worked up to gratitude, for seeing the painful relationship helped me reclaim my worthiness. I had to bring the power back within instead of looking for external validation. The change came when I shifted from focusing on my heart that felt like it was literally cracking apart, to choosing to fill myself up and give myself the love and validation I had wanted from another. Then, I made a choice to stay open, intentionally giving my power to the present moment, no rehashing past hurts.
I now teach privately a process that helps anchor one in love and acceptance, when an old angst tries to claim attention once again.
I share this story because the current pandemic forever changed our lives. Like with a broken heart and the inability to make someone love you or be present in the ways we hope, we cannot make the external circumstance of the pandemic better right now no matter how hard we try.
A similar type of surrender is required– to accept the life before us is the one we are presently in, with hope that long-term a better life will emerge integrating the lessons gained from this challenge.
Universally, many of us collectively are learning to let go of control.
“How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand, there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend.”
Re-opening businesses may offer temporary fixes, but we are not going back to the old ways of living. Dining wearing a facemask is not the same as sitting across from people you love and looking into their eyes. Teaching online does not provide the same energetic exchange as getting a pulse on a live classroom, or a student who may be struggling.
We are adjusting to “a new normal.” Growth will happen as new opportunities to do things in a different way with new skill sets emerge.
RESET: Learning to live in this moment
Yet, the real lasting changes will come from within. Transformation takes time. It is a process that requires stillness, reflection and commitment to honoring all your feelings–from grief to joy. Then, in quiet, you have the opportunity to get grounded and acquainted with your authentic self, and “who” you are called to be or serve right now.
Henri Nouwen, internationally renowned priest, professor and pastor brilliantly referred to a time of solitude as “a furnace of transformation.’’
By accepting, instead of resisting it, you can embrace solitude as a gift, a time to reconnect with the preciousness of life that is created from within.
How do you want to express yourself in this moment and the next juncture of life? What parts of you do you want bring forward, and which sides of you would you rather leave behind?
I remember sharing in my first book, published in 2004, these questions a priest told Oprah he heard most often by those who were dying:
Am I loved?
Did I love well?
Staying grounded in love requires an ongoing, moment-to-moment commitment. It is so easy to judge another or ourselves, or get stuck in fear.
Instead, we can choose to discipline ourselves to use love in this challenging time to elevate together, beyond the current circumstances, to create an even greater world.
And, by releasing past grievances and hurts during our time of solitude, we also are creating openings for the love within us to deepen.
With love and commitment,
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This post was originally published at SupportMatters.com