This week, I became aware that it’s possible to transform old experiences from memories of something painful into memories of learning something new and for which I can be grateful, and by developing my integrity, which can only happen during times of conflict or stress. Needless to say, this is not something for someone who runs away from fearful or troubling memories or is unable to act out of courage and faith.
On Monday, in a community education class, Gratitude Castle, I learned that a gratitude journal provides a way to record past or present experiences from a perspective of acceptance and appreciation. It provides an invitation to view difficult experiences from a perspective that’s different than the one used at the time of an incident. It allows the brain, the mind, the body, soul, and spirit to integrate into a collective understanding, with a sense of knowing that whatever happened was for a reason, for a lesson to be learned, and was for one’s ultimate good, and for experiencing abundance in this life.
I can choose to remain stubborn and remain stuck with the memories and feelings of a past incident, forever rehashing what happened, from my perspective, at that time, only to relive the same feelings and thoughts over and over. I could continue to ask myself, “Why did it have to happen that way?” or “What if it hadn’t happened?” or Why me?” or “How can I get past this?” or tell myself, “I should have known better!” but each of these responses only digs the rut of those same thoughts and feelings deeper and deeper.
As I learned about keeping a gratitude journal, I heard about how I can practice “living through gratitude,” as a way of being and looking at the universe, the world in which I live, including the spiritual aspects of life. I recall Bible verses I have known and sought to live by, including: “Give thanks in all circumstances” and “Rejoice in the Lord always.” (See: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and Philippians 4:4) I have interpreted these verses to mean, “Try to do this! Try to look at the positive side. Try to see the silver lining in every cloud,” but after a while, darkness sets in, thoughts and feelings repeat, and a rut is formed. It’s very difficult to get out of a well-worn rut, especially during storms when the rain is pelting down so hard that it just makes the mud deeper and more slippery. There is no or very little traction found in a muddy rut, especially during the difficult storms of life.
My friend and teacher, Linda Abbott, explained how life’s experiences, no matter how difficult or unbearable, become our life’s lessons and it’s those lessons that become our memories. Our memories, no matter how painful, can be transformed from shock, terror, disappointment, disillusionment, unbearable grief, deep loss, and heartache to something totally new, surprising, even joyful… such as what I wrote in My Grandma’s Love, where, after forty-three years of grieving my grandmother’s death, five days before Christmas when I was twelve, I was finally able to celebrate her life, each year, and every moment I think of or remember her. I am also able to sense new things about my grandmother and her life, and imagine her loving presence with me, when I need a grandma’s love. Learning how to fully grieve her untimely and sudden death, decades after being unable to, has taught me that I can find ways to let go of other deeply personal and difficult emotions from old hurts and wounded places in my heart, mind, body, and soul.
In his book, Rock the Boat, Resmaa Menakem wrote: “Integrity only appears when there is conflict or stress. It doesn’t take integrity to do the right thing when nothing stands in your way.” This, too, fits my need and desire to take an honest look at old memories that have not yet been transformed, bringing my heart, mind, soul, spirit, and body into full agreement in what was meant to eventually be an integral learning experience for my good and for the good of others.
With these things in mind, I look forward to continuing with this class and learning from one who has lived through extremely difficult times and found ways to transform the ashes of her difficult experiences into beauty, with love, truth, faith, hope, acceptance, and gratefulness.
This is what I want to do, as I seek to allow God’s Spirit of love and light to shine into my dark and hidden places, revealing truth and lessons to be learned, as I choose to look at and ponder these things from more than my single-minded, myopic perspective.
I believe, as I allow the Spirit of Love to enter more and more of my being, acceptance, trust, hope, and faith will grow, and that’s when and where I will see transformation happen!
Precious Linda, c. 2015