A few months ago a friend of mine wrote me to say he was going through a rough time. The emotional pain made him feel like he was dying. I’ve lived long enough to have felt that way more than once. This post is based on my reply.
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Do you suppose dying is something you do only once?
It’s not. Your body will die just once, true enough, but your life, your self, contains many themes, many stories–many lives–woven together into a fabric you think of as just one, when it is really an overflowing abundance.
Creation and destruction embrace in a dance that builds for a time, then must destroy so that building can, once again, follow.
Not hearing the music, we see this dance as a fight. We take a side. We cleave to building, getting, having, achieving and progressing. When destroying and losing and pausing happen it feels like we’re dying. But we die many such deaths in life. The result is not death, not the end. The result is rebirth; the result is life.
How many days have you lived? How many times have you seen that the sun sets and it gets dark and cold–but after an interval, the eastern sky gets lighter and the impossible happens as it has happened a trillion times before, and a trillion before that, and will trillions more: the sun rises and a new day begins.
How many times have you seen the trees lose their leaves, and the ground become hard and cold, watched the earth die? And then, after a season, watched it be reborn anew? Are you and I so different?
Some say that one day justice will be done; we’ll die and be judged. Actually, we don’t have to wait for that to find out. It is built into reality that each of the many threads we live within the context of what we call “our life”–all that we cultivate and identify with–is judged within our life by the passage of time.
In such times of testing, our lives flow on the current into narrow confines that bring a rush of pain and terror. Fighting the current to turn back just exhausts us, offering no relief. We have to bear down and get through to the other side.
Such moments are called “pivotal” because we must pivot. They are called “turning points” because we must turn. It is by this turning that we steer our lives.
In this moment, conquered, wounded, lost–you’ll judge yourself more harshly than any earthly or heavenly parent ever could. In pain and distress, there is no one and nothing to lash out against so you’ll cruelly “lash in” at yourself.
Lay down the whip. You’ll need that strength.
Look at yourself the way you look at those you love most. It may take a while, but keep trying until you have that perspective. If you’re able, allow God to open your eyes to this. It’s the way He sees you.
Climb. Stand on that high place and see.
I know the weight you carry is great. You can barely lift your head to look beyond the road under your feet. Crushed, you’ve come to a halt. Set all that you are carrying down a moment; lift your gaze to the horizon.
Look at your life with the brutal, beautiful, clarity this moment has brought you. Then…just:
Face the future you choose to know is meant for you.
When you have done that, bring your mind to rest on one single point: putting one foot in front of the other.
In time, trust me, you will come to see this moment for what it really is: a precious gift, purchased at great expense–a doorway that opened for you to walk through to what you were meant to be.