Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Melting Ice and a Life of Thankfulness

Last Tuesday I encountered someone who made some (wrong) assumptions and treated me as though I had just murdered someone.  At least that's the way it felt and I fell apart--for nearly a week.  I spent most of Thursday in bed, numb. I spent the evening bawling and came close to calling the Mobile Crisis Unit.  I know that sounds like an over-reaction but that's the way it was.  Thankfully, Tom saw my pain and did what he could to show he cared.  By Saturday evening I wasn't much better so I sent an e-mail to those I know who pray for me asking for prayer.  One of the people to respond was my pastor who met with me on Monday to see how he could help.  I didn't expect what he said but it makes sense.

He thinks that my grieving for Mikael has been delayed and likened the grief to an ice cube.  Because I was already depressed when Mikael died, it's as if the ice cube was dropped in a glass of very cold water, so it's taking extra time to melt.  I suggested that the ice cube had landed on a cup of ice instead, which led him to talk about five levels of ice on a river.

  1. Sadness occurs when bad things happen.  It forms a thin layer of ice on the river but when the sun comes out, it melts away.
  2. Anger forms a thicker layer of ice.
  3. Self-loathing happens when the anger turns inward or when a person learns that it is not safe to express her anger.  At this stage, you can list the things you hate about yourself.
  4. Depression is when the self-loathing becomes so overwhelming you can do longer name all that you hate about yourself.
  5. Numbness takes place when a person has lost her will to live and her ability to care or show emotion.  All hope is gone.

Nathan sees me under the fourth layer of ice, chipping at it with a chisel or ice pick to get rid of it and suggested that perhaps melting it would be more effective.  How does one do that? I asked.  Love.  Everyone loves imperfectly and no one person, even a spouse, can provide all the love one needs.  He likened relationships or sources of love to wells.  When one has plumbed the depths of one well and it can't go deep enough, spread the net wider and dig more wells--or deepen the one you already have.

I told him that I'm afraid of love.  I push it away.  I don't feel safe with it because I'm afraid it will morph into something unhealthy or immoral or result in rejection.  He pointed out that love shows up and feeds us in a variety of ways.  It happens not only when I'm in a heart-to-heart conversation with someone else but also at the times I invite the charity canvasser into the house for a few minutes to get out of the cold, take a homeless person for lunch, stop to talk to someone I meet on the street or drive someone home from church.

I think I'm a rather thankful person already but as Nathan described his version of what living a life of thankfulness might look like, my heart leaped and caught fire.  Write! he said.  Write about the things you're thankful for!  Write about the encounters you have, the God-moments that occur in your relationships, whether deep or shallow, the times your heart sings!  I can do that.  I love to do that.  I used to do a lot of it but the last few years have been rather dry.  I could even begin to watch for God-moment opportunities or put myself in places where they're more likely to happen, such as going for walks in areas where hurting people move and live and congregate.  So I'm going to start sharing these moments--not to brag but to show my gratefulness that God has chosen to use me in some way or has opened my eyes to see things I would otherwise have missed.

I think I have some stories to tell.


Anonymous said...

I almost cried when i read this post. Please take care! Take Care!

Patricia said...

I am sorry that your season of suffering is so deep. Perhaps this new perspective will help melt the ice and warmth of heart will permeate your life.

I am looking forward to your stories.